Andrew Barry - How to Make (Online & Offline) Learning Suck Less

Why should you learn from experts as well as from people who are just a little ahead of you? How do you capture and keep people’s attention in online trainings? Where do you find the courage to quit your job and start your own business?

Peter Akkies [00:00:22] Heeeeey folks, today I'm speaking with Andrew Barry. Andrew helps people teach better online. He owns and runs a training business in which he helps rapidly growing companies educate their people and their customers. Separately, he works with online course creators, helping them to create engaging cohort based courses. Andrew also hosts his own podcast titled How Did You Learn That? Over the past few months, Andrew kept popping up on my Twitter feed since I sell online courses, meaning I teach people online, many of his insights resonated with me. I've been interested in how to teach and how to learn better for many years. I remember my theory of knowledge class in high school. In college, I was a teaching assistant for a variety of economics classes, and I also worked in our colleges writing center helping students to improve their papers. Today, of course, I am a productivity teacher, but aside from that, learning is how we grow and enjoy life more so we should all be interested in how to learn better. Andrew and I discuss why you want to learn from experts as well as from people who are just a little ahead of you, how to capture and keep people's attention in online trainings, how he found the courage to quit his job and start his own training business and much more enjoy the show. Hey, Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew Barry [00:01:41] Thanks, Peter. Great to be here.

Peter Akkies [00:01:43] So I do a little background research on my guests before every episode. And one of the things that caught my eye when I was reading up on, you know, your background was on your Twitter bio. It says that you are an investor in a gym. What is the story there?

Andrew Barry [00:01:58] Yeah, so it's actually it's a growing brand and which started out as drawing studios in New York City and is now obviously with covid. They went there and they're lucky enough to be doing this a little bit of cover, but they went on into of the at home growing thing. So they make this beautiful at home, rather like a peloton, you know, but farrowing. And there's classes that you can take. And the story behind it is I became good friends with the founder. She was in a sort of mastermind group that that I was in here in New York. And we I helped her out with some work through my company. So am helping them create some instructor training. And yeah, we just became very close. She's got this amazing old female founded team, got to know them really well and just really, really like what they are building. And yeah. And just also so is my first sort of investments in a company and this just felt like a right fit where it's like, you know, back the back, the jockey. And, you know, like I really I really believe plane lands and she's phenomenal. And I think her and her team are going to do incredible things with this business. So it's very much an investment in her and her team.

Peter Akkies [00:03:14] That's awesome. And is this like a mostly for fun thing or you like you thinking about more of it from a business perspective?

Andrew Barry [00:03:20] Yeah, I definitely would like to get more into that. Having spent the last six months out on deck now, I've been a lot more into this world of like angel investing and startups and all that. So I've I've started learning a lot more about it. That was very much I got to this middle of last year with Citi and it was very much a new thing for me. So, yeah, I would I would definitely I like the idea of making making bets, you know, on people that you believe, because I think, you know, I'm sure we'll get into this. But I think the creator economy and the builder economy is the future. And I think, you know, now's a good time to to support people as they as they hit that trajectory.

Peter Akkies [00:04:01] Absolutely. And I do want to talk about that. But first, I want to back up a little bit because you were a corporate trainer for some time. And, you know, when I think of corporate training, I've had some very bad experiences. So I want to ask you about that, because I used to work for a consulting firm, which I shall not name. And there were definitely a couple of times when they were like, guys, we're going to have training. It's going to be like the whole day or like two days in a row. And they would hire some external person to come in. We'd like never heard of, you know, didn't ask us anything ahead of time. This person would come in. It was just like, all right, I'm going to teach you how to do X, Y, Z. I don't even know how to communicate better with each other or something vague like that, you know? Yeah. And then we had to sit through a very cringe day or two of, like, you know, awkward exercises, bad slideshows and stuff like that. So so that's sort of my experience with corporate training. What does good corporate training look like into you?

Andrew Barry [00:04:56] So my my background's in in professional services firm, which is a very similar to what you just described. And it's I will say it's changed iMac that company actually happens to be a client now of my current business. But it's it yeah. It's sort of what you just described as the classic like Band-Aid approach. Like we need some training. That sounds good. And it's just let's just invest in this. And now we can check the box that we had training. And that's not obviously going to do anything. It's not going to transform people. So good corporate training is all about transformation and transformation is all about, first of all, focus on the learner or focus on the student. That's the key. So who are they? What prior level of knowledge do they have coming in? And then crucially, what do we want them to be able to do differently at the end? And with that sort of information in mind, you can map out the journey for how to go from where they are to where they're going, and then you can start to apply some principles like, you know, connecting. They must be personal, meaning you going through that workshop in your firm wasn't helpful. If you didn't actually feel like there was something personal you were going to get out of it or you had like a reason to do it. Right. Giving learners a chance to connect with what that thing is. And the outset even shared that with the people putting on the training that should be peer to peer learning that people are learning for. Well, actually, before that, even the prompts to action so that there's like some activity that they've taken some action in the real world that gets them practicing what they're doing. Right. And the peer to peer learning is the sharing of that. The reflection is a reflection in there as well. But the sharing of I did this thing, this is what I learned. This is what this is what I struggled with. And then sharing that with people who had the same struggles and maybe found ways to overcome them and to that's where you can really accelerate learning in corporate environments.

Peter Akkies [00:06:56] Yeah, I love that you emphasize those points because I remember some of the good trainings we had were, you know, the consulting firm where I worked. It was litigation consulting. So a bit different from your management or strategic consulting, but still consulting. And what happened is basically they would have second and third year analyst teaching the first year analysts who were coming straight out of college. That training was very good. That was like the first two weeks I got to the company. I learned so much, you know, but as people who have gone through real projects for a year or two now or maybe three years are teaching you this is an almost an exact replica of a real project that you're going to be doing. Let's go through it. Inevitably, you're going to make mistakes. And and then they would you help you fix the mistakes or they would teach you to anticipate stuff. And you already know, oh, I'm actually going to work on these actual projects, so I'm interested. There's some use for it, you know, and it's very much like based on their experience of what they were struggling with, which are going to be the same things that you struggle with. And so the contrast was huge. Right. As opposed to this outside person coming in is being thrust upon you and you're like, I don't need this. I didn't ask for this. What am I doing here? Yeah, so. So what was it like as a as a working as a trainee? Because it was for what, like ten years or something like that. Yeah.

Andrew Barry [00:08:07] Yeah. But for us that what you just described is the difference between destination and journey content. And you're those people coming in and giving that workshop or giving a destination like this is how to be more effective as a speaker and then to a couple on models. And you know what? Not in you practice them, you know, and that's fine. That's good, because it's it gives you something to react to and something to practice and something to adapt to and see what works best for you, what you just described, where you're learning from people who are one or two years ahead of you in the company, who are probably working the same projects as you, having just done the type of work you have to do. That's the journey. And that's that's so powerful because that feedback, those people empathize better because they know they've just gone through all of this. They know where the pitfalls are and then they can relate to you better and vice versa. And so it's so you've got to have both. You should always have you got to have some North Star. Like this is how we this is how we get feedback. This is how we communicate. This is how, you know, that kind of stuff. And then the journey is that's like really bedded in and and it's like applied to the job. That's the key. So you're learning from, like mentors. So that's yeah. That's that's the destination journey. So that was a great example of it. But just to go back to your question about the corporate training part, it was I mean, I got to be the journey mentor, which was fantastic. I got to back in South Africa when when I was doing this thing, I got to fly around the country for three weeks out of every four to go and deliver training. I was in my third year. I was a new manager. And so, like, fourth year, fifth year. And I was teaching people in their first, second and third year. And it was just and it was just so much fun. I could go and do these live workshops. And, you know, it was a five day event and it was it was a lot of hard work during the day, a lot of, like, workshop stuff and practicing. And then it was it was a big part of those things. I'm sure it was the same for you with socializing and getting to know each other. And so there'd be like lots of fun events at nights. And, you know, this was in the accounting field. So there was there was definitely quite a few drinks at night for these things. And yeah. So it was a lot of fun and, you know, said three three weeks of the year and then the fourth week I would just be sleeping on the couch because it was just so exhausting. You put a lot of energy out there and you're up in front of a room full of, you know, forty, fifty people for five days. But those days was so much fun. That's what got me that gave me the bug that made me want to teach and seeing the, like, light bulbs go off and people and seeing them like being motivated to learn and want to get better at this thing, that that was now their job. That's where it all started,

Peter Akkies [00:10:53] and so these days you do a lot of digital trainings, right? Or at least you're helping people prepare digital training. So I'd like you to explain a little bit what you do there, sort of for the consulting side of it. And we'll get into the online course of it in a bit. And in addition to describing it, I'm also really curious whether what you just said, like seeing people light up, is that a thing that you get online as well or as much as in person?

Andrew Barry [00:11:19] Yeah, so no, definitely not. The good analogy with this part of it is that it's like writing a book. So you're, of course, creative. You just don't go through it. Course. Now you know that. Well, first of all, I think I think it's fair to say that writing a book and writing a course. Yeah. Writing, of course, are very slim. Right. You think of it in chapters. You delivering information. Yeah. And with the course, you go deeper into application and you get especially if it's a lot of coordination once you get that live interaction with your audience. Whereas with the book you could probably get some more people. But you don't you don't see that. You don't get that that immediate feedback. So in the sense that sometimes so the digital training that we do is it has that same distinction. And then the other part of your question was the company that the consultancy that that I have curious and we never do one without the other. There's always I mean, that's there's a few clients that only want like prerecorded content but are like cool products. And what we recommend to our clients is you've got to have both. You need a hybrid. And it's very easy to play a very important role that digital training is. We call that pre training. So that gets you familiar with the concepts and the ideas and the frameworks and the definitions and all that kind of stuff that you that you need to use to apply to the real world. And then the live sessions are there to talk about application. So that's typically the facilitator going through a lot of examples of how to use it, you know, stories, that kind of thing. And then a lot of practice, you know, using Zoom, using breakout rooms, that kind of stuff, to allow people opportunities to rehearse and practice and get immediate feedback on the what they're doing. And then they go and actually take action in the real world. And we always do this. We do this like two week sprints for for a topic. So it's like pre training on the on the concepts, frameworks, definitions, lab session to talk about how to apply it and then to like kind of make a contract with everyone else. Like this is what I'm going to do to apply it. And then in the second week get back together and say, what, what did you do, what didn't you know, what worked well? It didn't work well and kind of debrief around that which in those sessions, a facilitator plays a very passive role, just kind of like keeping the conversation going. And we find the learners that can this is like senior VP level stuff at some, you know, pretty big public companies that never have this opportunity to talk about these things. And now they're like, oh, you know, applying some framework to like some, you know, performance issue in their teams. They can really see the benefit of it. And then and then the things that they struggle with. Someone else in the organization had that same struggle and they had, you know, an approach that they can suggest. It's just it's such high leverage time that these people spent.

Peter Akkies [00:14:12] Do you feel that it's generally easy to get people to talk in depth about, you know, whatever the topic of the training is, or does it take a while for people to warm up? And especially when you're talking about sort of senior vice presidents and whatever, you know, feel like tend to be people who choose their words carefully, you know, is it is it easy to get people to open up?

Andrew Barry [00:14:31] Yeah, definitely not. No, it's that's like a big part of the special sauce, I think, of what we do in those and what anybody does this needs to do in those first sessions to create you have to create the space for this to happen. And that space is characterized by vulnerability, you know, first and foremost by empathy for others that are in the room and, you know, connection really like deep connection. And so and the best way to do that is, is to have people talk and to, you know, use breakout rooms in smaller, intimate conversations and do as many of those as you can early on to just give people opportunities to connect with each other, to learn about each other and even stuff. It's not related to the topic that they're there to to discuss. But what it just breaks down the barriers and gets them primed in a way to so to be in that space that they can, you know, open up and talk about them. And then then I'll say once you've done that, then they'll never stop talking. You know, that's like it's great because they yeah. They just never had that opportunity. And so once those once that connection is there, it's just fantastic. You just let it run

Peter Akkies [00:15:42] and then and then sort of people do the work for you. Yeah. Yeah. So digitally. Right. I was thinking about this because. I'm a member of a Toastmasters club. Have you heard of Toastmasters?

Andrew Barry [00:15:54] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Peter Akkies [00:15:56] It's pretty fun. I'm the president of my club this year. And so for the past year, it's kind of sad because we weren't really able to meet in person. I think we may have one in-person meeting sort of at the end of this month before my term as president is over. And I was thinking about this a lot because we've had a bunch of people that joined our club during the time when we've been doing some meetings. And I feel that those people who have joined are not as close to each other or to me as are the people that I used to see sort of three times a month in person for two or three hours per evening, you know. And so I really have been feeling this like we tried very hard to make our online meetings fun. And they are fun, but they're not as fun as in-person meetings. You know, we did a lot to, like, keep them. Normally, we'd go for two and a half to three hours. We were like, we can't do that with not I mean, it's got to be an hour and a half max, you know, because people don't have the attention span, especially people doing this outside of work. Maybe they've been on zoo meetings, like, all day long, you know, so and so. I was just curious if there is anything, you know, that you have learned in giving both digital trainings and in-person trainings where you could say this is a couple of things that people usually get wrong that kind of prevent connection online as much as you could be connecting.

Andrew Barry [00:17:10] Yeah. So the one big one is that they're like, so you touched on all of it and good points about zoom zoom fatigue, you know, everyone has been doing all day and, you know, online courses are similar, I think, to what you just described. And now you're asking people to spend this extra time, this voluntary time that they are often paying for their ta ta then. Yeah, to help them have have a have a deeper connection. So I think one key thing is that not to go on for too long in any certain state, I keep changing it up. There's I don't know if you've heard of West Cow, she's just create, you know, cocreator all timba with Seth Godin now is co-founder of a platform called Maven. And she has this great concept that she's written about called the States Change Method, which is essentially that it basically talks about this, you know, constantly mixing it up like I have no I don't know if she but she puts actual time limits. But it's like certain periods of time. It's you talking. Maybe it's me and you. And on some sort of hotseat, you know, it's like two people talking and then breakout rooms and people posting in the chat that to take away. So you're constantly changing up what people are doing. That's super key. And that's something I definitely saw work really well. I think I just finished now 16 live sessions of of the course create a program I ran of eight weeks and the ones that were the hardest to get through. And I think for people listening was the ones I did a lot more of the talking, you know, so so that's can definitely change it up as much as possible. You've also just got to think of it as a performance. It's it's so true. Like you are you are on you've got to perform. And I'm talking about more like is the host. Yeah. But I think anybody can draw from this a little bit. You know, that is you're like you're on camera. You know, it's it's a different experience. You don't you have you've got to be much more deliberate with your body language, your facial expressions, all of those kind of things, which I think if you bring that energy to it and everyone sort of does that, that helps to kind of kick start things. So, yeah, that one's easier said than done, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

Peter Akkies [00:19:34] Yeah, but I'm hearing a lot of things that also apply in person. Right. Like mixing things up, like we even know this in our Toastmasters meetings. Right. It's like don't have one person on stage too often for too long. Like it will get boring, you know, don't have six speeches in a row with the audience not interacting or able to do anything or even just, you know, get their butt out of the seat and like, get a glass of water or something. But but I do think in online meetings, gatherings, whatever courses, you know, for some reason, like, we are not as used to thinking of, like, mixing things up that way.

Andrew Barry [00:20:06] Yeah, it's true. Yeah. I think maybe that goes back to your point about like boring corporate training that many of us have sat through, which is just just drones on and on and on and all that. And that's yeah. A friend of mine, Campas, of course it's the sage on the stage. This is the guy to your side and like you and sort of trying to think of it being more as the guy to your side as opposed to the stage. And the stage is is a key part of this. And then also just breakout rooms, just so key like that is just such it's a super power of any, you know, any person who has to facilitate a meeting. I would say even on them, just like I did this with my team earlier today and I was made and the first time I've been in a breakout room, which blew my mind, it's like, well, we should be doing this. I'm often but just having them go in a room with one or two others and do like we did like three questions today that they asked each other and then that we came back and talked about it. And it was it was it was a team meeting just to, like, get to know each other. But that that was that was the results. You know, it was it was really, really impactful. So.

Peter Akkies [00:21:11] Yeah, so you mentioned that you now sort of also teach people how to build better online courses. You also mentioned your team and I want to ask about both of those things. Let's take the online courses first. Can you just briefly explain for the listeners what is this fellowship that you just finished? Like, what is it all about?

Andrew Barry [00:21:27] Yeah, so. So it was an eight week program to bring together course creators from, you know, from people who had an idea for a course to people who've been running a course for many years. And I took them through, like I said, 16 sessions of recovered these five pillars basically monetizing, which is everything from the idea itself to then being able to monetize afterwards, and so validating the idea of monetizing and scaling the course, the learning architecture, learning design and of course, the student experience and then the peer-to-peer learning design. And so it was talking through. So it's very it was very ambitious. Oh, yeah. A lot of that. That's everything. And that's a lot to cover in eight weeks. So it was an excellent time for an online course as well. And there was 150 people in it. So it was just it was an intense firehose of information and can end really awesome. This was one of the best parts. The community was so strong and they all dove dived in headfirst to get to know each other and spend time with each other. So there was a lot of deep connections and actually, you know, people now working with each other and some working for each other and just like awesome partnerships that have developed and friendships and then. Yeah, and then and then all the content we covered and tried to to also support people in doing the work. But it was it was tough. I mean, there was a we covered a lot of content in in that period of time. And I think a lot of people are now sitting here. And the day, you know, the first Monday afterwards thinking like this is like a bit of relief, like we needed to to process all of it. Yeah. And then a really good way, because I think the feedback was phenomenal. I mean, there was just a lot of support today on Twitter about this, about just people just felt a transformation like they are now better course creators for having gone through it. And you know what? The funny thing is that I don't know if I don't feel I definitely I'm not solely responsible for any of this. All I did was bring together my experience in doing this as a as a sort of framework for people to go through. And then the community did most of the rest of the work, you know, which which is incredible. And, you know, I think the team that I built that I definitely should take credit for bringing those people together. But once they were together, we had the framework in place. It was just it was just incredible to witness and really, like, dove into it and start to, you know, just help each other out and support each other. And so it was it's a very strong, very rich experience for a lot of people.

Peter Akkies [00:24:06] Yeah. And great inspiration, I think also for anyone listening who does any kind of training or online courses. And one thing that struck me is when you're doing corporate training, whether it's in person or, you know, digital, a lot of times I think people are they know each other. I mean, they may be new employees somewhere. Right. But all these people in this program that you just did like, they probably did not know each other before. Right. So in a sense, it's even harder to get them to connect.

Andrew Barry [00:24:33] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's interesting. Like, I've been in this online course for a while now on the very beginning of it, which is not that long ago, you know, it's like 2019 kind of thing. And it's, you know, it predates that a bit. But like as things started to really pick up, it's like building a second brand rite of passage of these other courses. It was still kind of weird back then in twenty nineteen. So like jump on a call with a stranger on a Zemko. I think that was still kind of you didn't just do that randomly now like it's so normal. So if you get through this. Yeah. Right. It's amazing. And I've certainly seen some of my biggest career success and acceleration come from from random meetings that I said yes to and talk. And, you know, and this is a good example, but he knows where we're where this conversation ends up, you know. So I think I think that's I think that's a big, big part of this now is that people are more open to it. And and so you can like, wow, big focus in the beginning of the eight weeks just to to get people as many as as high surface area of the rest of the community as possible. So lots and lots of one on ones and opportunities for small breakout rooms of people before and then later on, we sort of like got them in groups and like more curated matching. And at the beginning, it's very much like I just get as many as you can types of things you get people to see like who they resonate with and and then these these subcommunities can form. And we would set up, like I mentioned, journey groups. We also set up accountability groups, which is two or three people. And their goal is just to meet every week and to kind of, you know, keep. Keep each other on track and all of that kind of structure helps this community to then move forward with a purpose and, yes, some kind of direction.

Peter Akkies [00:26:20] Yeah, well, you're doing such a good job pitching this man. I should I should see if I can apply to join next time.

Andrew Barry [00:26:26] You should be glad to have you.

Peter Akkies [00:26:28] That's how I can get it. So how did you get into, like, teaching on like whether it's sort of digital trainings or specifically helping people make better online courses? Because like you're saying, that's much more of a thing now than it was a few years ago. But how did you sort of get into that, you know, going out of the corporate training space?

Andrew Barry [00:26:48] Yeah, yeah. So I was it was a lot of like small transitions at the beginning. I, I at this company I was at before we we had an executive education team, so I joined that and started then creating training that we would package and sell to clients. And that was initially a lot of live sessions and then we would create digital training for them as well. And then I've also always had this sort of entrepreneurial spirit. And in fact, I remember a back in Johannesburg when I was working in that office, we had one of those people was like, I don't know what you call them. Like those companies come and deliver training for us. And that one was actually a really good one. It was like it was like a Dale Carnegie, you know, branded thing. And I remember the guy that was running the facility that said to me after, it's like you're not cut out for this corporate life. I was like that. And I mean, yeah, I was still like I was young and, you know, it was it was definitely the right thing for the time. But I knew. I knew. And he knew. And so it was always a matter of time. So this executive education piece was one step and then friends of mine in South Africa started a hospitality training business and it grew really, really successfully. They moved to Geneva. They had, you know, Hilton, Marriott, all of those companies as clients. And then they I helped them open a New York office. So I left the professional services firm, joined theirs and started this New York office. I then came up with their learning methodology, which was all there really existed. It just needed someone to, like, formalize what was basically documented. And that's what I did. And then, yeah, and that's that was like, you know, I was still employed, but it was like a startup. So it was a different type of experience. And then I finally had the courage after about a year and a half, two years, that to leave and do my own thing. And that's when I started Curious Line. And, you know, it's funny, like when I started Curious Line, the goal was to to do high quality video production, what we were doing for these these hotel, you know, companies, hospitality companies. But for banks and I had a friend at JP Morgan and I thought everything was lined up and I'd probably be able to sign JP Morgan as a client. I've actually never had a bank as a client like since the beginning. You know,

Peter Akkies [00:29:15] a bucket list item.

Andrew Barry [00:29:17] Yeah, no, not really. I just thought it was just thought like it was this it was like just seemed like the most viable and definitely lucrative option. And I was like, oh yeah. Like it's a no brainer. We're going to make great video based training for full compliance stuff in banks because they have all the money. And and yeah, it just it never, never turned out that way. And then what did happen was other companies would I would like writing a bit online and posting and stuff and someone some people would find me. It was actually all very lucky that beginning then we started doing so good to clients and we started doing a lot like software training. So helping them create training for their customers. And we got a few other companies, clients like that. And yeah, just sort of like one thing, that's another. And then eventually we we grew to have now like a few public companies that we've worked with for two or three years. We've actually grown as they've gone public and stuff. So that that really worked out well for us. It's it's just a lot of time. It's like putting in the hard yards and also just listening to what your market once that was a big, big lesson that I didn't. I thought I had a sense of what people wanted to, but they told me otherwise. We were quick to adapt to that. Yeah. And then and then the end of the story is that like middle of last year, I took rite of passage. And of course, I mentioned before for the second time, I was a mentor in that program and really made a few deep, deep relationships, friendships with people in that carried on sort of doing. And then right after that, I just started writing about basically applied all of the stuff I knew about creating training for corporates to cost creators. So I was like translating theories and things that had worked for me and writing that and just started like just sort of putting out tons of content on Twitter and to the to the point that I now. You go to my profile is like the first 10 tweets and there's like 120 threads on creation and that that was over, you know, four or five months that I just put that stuff out there and just started just started seeing interest and traction and people with big audiences starting to reach out and be like, hey, you know, can I can we do. Can you chat to me about this? Like, I'm about to launch my cohort and, you know, I'd like to know a bit about it. And so I started helping people informally. I basically in return would get free access to a course, which is like a huge bonus to me because I am addicted to online courses. So it was great. Yeah. I got to help them to take the course of FRAGO to meet more people and just carried on. Carried on inspiring.

Peter Akkies [00:31:55] Yeah. No that's that's so fun and such. So should such an easy way I think of rolling into this new opportunity and like good timing as well. Right. So definitely like. Yeah. Perfect timing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean it sounds like you worked hard for it. So one thing I'm very interesting. I want to I want the listeners to get a little bit of a sense of like how you work. The podcast is, after all, called how they get stuff done. So you have your can we call it consulting business? Is that a good way to describe it? The training?

Andrew Barry [00:32:24] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's consulting and production. We also do a lot of production.

Peter Akkies [00:32:28] Oh I see. Okay. Yeah. Let's call it sort of the digital training or training business. Yeah. And you just did the on deck course creator fellowship. Right. So how did you split your time between those things like.

Andrew Barry [00:32:42] Yeah, not very well, OK. Yeah, I don't yeah, nothing was perfect by any means.

Peter Akkies [00:32:53] We can make this what not to do, if you would like.

Andrew Barry [00:32:56] Yeah, no I mean, there's some good lessons in there that the one was having a very strong team to begin with. There's no absolutely no doubt in my mind I could have done this course to finish up without having a good team in place at Crestline where yeah, I have someone who I was very lucky to come across and it just the right time. She just came in and just like just took over operations for me at a very detailed level. And that was that was huge. The sacrifice I made, though, was not I pulled back on any business developments. And so we just focused on on current clients. We got some referrals. We still we're still growing, but just not as quickly. But that was a calculated move. And then and then also also actually built a very good team and had an amazing person, Jackie, who helps me as the program manager for this sort of thing. So. So that's first and foremost, you've got to have someone as your right hand who's like who's good at the things you're not good at. That's so cute. And then you've got to have you've got to make it fun. You've got to enjoy it with them because it gets really hot and you have to have that to begin with. And then I'm I'm a big proponent. I don't know if you know August Bradley, I've heard of those. Yeah. So he's got this life operating system that he's developed in motion. And it's. Yeah, to me, it's I think the best way to describe it is the balance between alignment's and action. So one thing I was always really good at before I came across his work, I was always really good at just like cracking ladwig, like I can get like very focused and just churn out, you know, deep work and just get a bunch of stuff done. But I wasn't always doing the right thing and I was doing a lot of stuff like, you know, so it wasn't like leading to me, leading me towards the goals that I was set for myself. And so his his approach is a lot lines, those two. And so, you know, and it's not actually I mean, I say, you know, he he's been great because he's pulled it together and it's created a motion system forward which which I used. But it's it's essentially it's weekly reviews, monthly reviews, quarterly reviews and obviously annual reviews. And if you can start this with an annual review, which I did with his, it just sets you up for so much success where you're thinking, like, what do you actually want in life? One of the top priorities you want to have, you know, so when you have that kind of high order alignments with what you're doing, you can then and you and you trace that all the way through. And you have a system that allows you to connect that with the goals that are going to get you there and then the projects that are going to get to those goals and then the tasks that you need to complete those projects, then you can just sit down, put your head down and just crack out those tasks, you know, so you don't I don't know. I no longer feel like I'm wasting like I may be going down the wrong path. I mean, you know, that happens because maybe the goal was wrong and that's fine. You recalibrate that sort of thing over time. But like, that's been huge. I would say it's had to really be able to, like, head down and then head up every now and then with those reviews and then head down and head up and that balance. Thank you.

Peter Akkies [00:36:08] Yeah. I love that you brought this up because like what you're describing, that's the whole purpose of the course they just released yesterday. The is just the tip. It's like I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, wow, I should like use that language of a sales page

Andrew Barry [00:36:22] You’re free to take it.

Peter Akkies [00:36:23] I'm sure I'm sure the details are different from August Bradley system, you know, but it's that same thing where, like, you know, some people are naturally good at like like you at just like sitting down, actually getting shit done. But, you know, you can run really fast in the wrong direction and you want to make sure you don't, you know, do that. So good problem to have, but still a problem. Yeah. And so one thing I'm curious about is you said that you gave up some business development to make time for these two other things you had going on. Right. Making sure that your training business kept running, but also that you could be the program director for the fellowship. Did you say ahead of time, I'm going to give up business development for a while to make space? Or is that just kind of like as you went, you were like, oh, crap, this is a ton of work and you just didn't get around to it?

Andrew Barry [00:37:09] Yeah, it's a good question. So I don't think so. I never so I basically replaced it because I had soul and it's this is what happened is that the opportunity to work at a company like on deck. And and because I was part of the story I hadn't talked about, we can get into this if you want. But I had announced already on Twitter that I was going to create this online course. And then on that came to me and said, hey, sounds like, you know, they wanted of course, of course, as it says that you like the guys working on that, like, should we get together and do it? And then and so I launched it. So I knew that and I had no chance in hell I would have been a hundred and fifty percent cohort on my own in four months. I under no illusions, if I had 20, I would have been very, very happy with that and try to build it at the time. But I had this great opportunity to elevate my profile, you know, through through their network and. Yeah, and the network of all the people I worked at. And I knew that that was while I was giving up. Business development activities for Caroline, I knew this would have like an overall spillover effect in terms of just promoting myself. So I did think of it intentionally and I didn't think I was. I completely ignoring it either.

Peter Akkies [00:38:25] Right. Right. No, but this is such an interesting thing to consider, because one thing that I often run into with my students is they like, you know, I'm like, OK, what do you want? And like, we translate some goals into like projects are action steps. And then I'm like, OK, so what are you not going to do then now that we've identified this additional thing that a lot of the times people are very reluctant to give up on anything like what? What are you going to do then? Are you going to work more hours or what? Like you're going to have to give something up, sort of by definition, even if it's just being on Twitter. Right. It can be

Andrew Barry [00:38:55] whatever that one of the benefits of I think sounds like what you teach is that you you see it all there and you're just like there's no ways you can do all of these things. So you have to give some of them a lower priority or put on hold status, you know, like someday maybe status.

Peter Akkies [00:39:11] That that is the hardest part for so many people is like I'm almost like, OK, are you going to work on this in the next two weeks or not? If not, why don't we just put it on hold for now? Right. So that's kind of like at a very, very low level. Right. Because a lot of the times people are like, here's 400 tasks that I'm theoretically going to work on soon. And I'm like, you will not you will not complete all of these one in the next two weeks. Yeah, but it could be tricky because people don't want to give up on something that almost some somethings can feel like your baby or, you know, you know, totally. So, yeah. Changing tax here a little bit cause I'm very interested in this for your training business. I looked a little at your website, a curious line, and you you offer, I think, what we might call productize services. So there are services that you offer where the scope is very fixed. Right. So, you know, you can go on your website and say, for this price, we will do this for you right now. Can you can you just briefly describe, like, what that is like, what those options are? And I'm very curious in how you develop those from just generally helping folks, whether it's consulting or production. How did you go to, hey, let's make this into a productize thing? Because that's something I'm just fascinated by.

Andrew Barry [00:40:26] Hmm. Well, first off, I'm really glad that that's that came across that comes across in the website, because that's very much a transition that's already happened in the last years. But because at the beginning it was just do anything for anyone, whatever you want to make it. And and that, I think, is a lot of business to start out. And it's good because you learn a lot of different things. And most importantly, you hear what people want. Yeah. And yeah. And then you can you start to see patterns and. Yeah. So that's essentially what I went through that process for a good few years. Yeah. So what it is, is it's a first of all we also everything we do is custom so we don't have any off the shelf stuff. You can't come and not get training for new hires or onboarding. Training that's like prepackaged. It's all custom, which is a big value-add for a lot of the companies because. Right. Pinterest has a very specific way that they want people to learn how to I mean, obviously the systems and processes and culture. But then even just like how they interview people we're doing right now for that, the recruiting teams. And it's yeah. So they have a very specific so that that level of customization is very important. But obviously I couldn't you know, that was that's a lot of like to scope out a project like that every single time. Yeah. And let it go wherever the client wants it to go. It's like that's not a business that can really grow. Very exhausting. Right. Totally exhausting as well. Yeah. You starting from scratch every single time. So so that was obviously the impetus behind it. And basically what I started to see was that a model that really works for this and that once and the model you can drop in whatever content you want is a model. It's actually very similar to a cohort based course, which is, you know, some some videos or e-learning or like the digital stuff we talked about that you watch ahead of time. We talked about it and like the live sessions and then kind of the debrief sessions. And so we've we've taken that broad approach and packaged it in a way that's. So basically what what our clients are getting is a six week sprint. That's three sprints over six weeks. And it covers usually like six topics. And it works really well with. Things that are inherently based transitional stuff like onboarding, you know, new hire onboarding, new management onboarding, that kind of stuff where people benefit from like going through it together and get the benefit from the relationships, the practical applications that actually go and take the steps necessary to get on board it in whatever it is. And then they benefit from outside relationships. Yeah. Then and then it's scalable. And the beauty of why it's scalable is that and once they understand the model, we can come in and help them create whatever content they need to keep feeding the model. But we've essentially built the model for them and we can help them fill it with content. But also the model is understandable enough that they can be. The best way to do this is the second time they run its use alumni from the first one to basically be a facilitators. And now like we're the company like like Pinterest that has thousands of employees. We can and we typically recommend only doing sort of 20 to 30 per cohort. They can quickly scale that to that level by having you know, once they've done one, they can run, you know, potentially 20 of the same thing the next time and get to everyone. And so, yeah, it's it's very it's very scalable as well as a relationship focused, practical and scalable. And those are the key things for for a lot of companies now.

Peter Akkies [00:44:03] Yeah. And how did you, like, decide? OK, let's, you know, let's go away from, like, whatever you want, you know, we'll do it for you. Do OK. You know, there was that like you sat down with your team and you were like, OK, guys, we need to have some more structure here. Was it just that it just seemed like an easier way to talk to your clients and be like, this is something we can do for you? Just making it easier to explain. Like what you know, what's the value adding?

Andrew Barry [00:44:28] Yeah. Yeah, it was actually a conversation with a client. The the longest line we've had. It's a company called Page Duty here in the States that San Francisco based went public last year. And we've been clients of theirs for like they've been clients of ours for like three years already. And I so PJ, she's she's the head of talent there. And she when she started in her role is when her and I met. So it was like we sort of have grown up together in her and her role in my company. And it was in a conversation with her. I was like, hey, I've got this crazy idea that I've been thinking about. It's called the Curious Line Learning Flywheel, and it's an app flywheel idea that's designed to create this culture of continuous learning because like, once you get the flywheel moving, it pretty much can sustain itself and people learning throughout the year. And she was just like absolutely obsessed with this idea. I love love the thought of it. And so she she was like, let's brainstorm it together. And so we just did a whole bunch of sessions outside of the project working on the time to brainstorm this. And so she was extremely helpful in terms of making it the concept real to, you know, her users, which are our customers, essentially the learners, employees of the company. And yeah. So that was that was huge. And it was basically, you know, very much a collaborative effort with her and. Yeah. And so we actually going to be we're going to be presenting it together at a conference in San Diego in a few months. She's been a huge part of that. And yeah. So that's kind of to answer your question, it was very much from a conversation with an existing client.

Peter Akkies [00:46:06] That's fun. Is that going to be an in-person conference that you're going to?

Andrew Barry [00:46:10] It actually is. It's yeah, I know. I'm excited. It's it's the ASU GSV Summit. It's in San Diego in August. And yeah, first time I've been presenting in front of a room full, I don't know, since twenty years for me.

Peter Akkies [00:46:26] I will I will wish you a lot of luck trying and get rid of some of that rust.

Andrew Barry [00:46:30] Yeah I know it's going to be weird looking around tables and people sitting and. Yeah. Looking for that.

Peter Akkies [00:46:37] It'll be very, very weird at first. Well it's been lovely to talk to you about a bunch of things, Andrew. That's all the time we have for today. Before we go, is there anything that you would like the listeners to check out whichever side of your life they are most interested in?

Andrew Barry [00:46:53] Well, I would definitely encourage check out your chorus, because it sounds like it's something that's very it was very beneficial to me, this whole concept. So I definitely would like that. But yeah, I would say so. Definitely. What is the best place to find me as a writer on that visit said, Ah, Utøya and I respond to all my DMS. If you have any questions around macOS creation, that is definitely the place and interested more in the corporate stuff. The flywheel idea, you can reach me through the curious line websites or I'm just Andrew at Curious Learning Come

Peter Akkies [00:47:29] and I'll make sure to put all of those links in the notes for this episode so people can find you easily. Awesome. Thank you very much, Andrew, for coming on.

Andrew Barry [00:47:37] Thank you, Peter. Thanks for having me.

Andrew Barry - How to Make (Online & Offline) Learning Suck Less
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