Episode 13- How To Get True “Enrollment” in Education!

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“Nobody ever learned anything against their will, sooner or later it becomes voluntary, you need enrollment. Enrollment in the sense that you want to learn” –¬†Seth Godin¬†

In this episode I am talking with Michael Hirsch, the Executive Director of Loveworks Leadership. Loveworks Leadership, Inc. is a leadership organization committed to empowering youth to become leaders by giving every student an opportunity to lead. We discuss how students learning through their passions changes the dynamic in education and how we can see more of that type of learning connected in our schools. You can find out more and contact Michael at: https://www.loveworksleadership.org/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-hirsch-b0998348/

Transcript

Erin Starkey:
Welcome to Re-imagining Schools, a podcast from the Edupreneur Academy. Today, I’m talking with Michael Hirsch, the executive director of Loveworks Leadership. His program helps students in middle school see entrepreneurship and leadership dreams come true. Hi, Michael, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. How are you doing?
Michael Hirsch:
Thanks for asking, Erin. Great to see you. So happy to be on.
Erin Starkey:
Me too. Yeah, I know. We’ve kind of known each other for quite a while now on and off, but I’d like to start with that because I know you work with Loveworks, and this is kind of your dream and your background right now. It says dreams come true here, for those listening-
Michael Hirsch:
That’s us.
Erin Starkey:
… that can’t see that. So I would love to just start with kind of your dream and your vision and how you got started in all of this, your background and what led you to education entrepreneurship and all the things that you’re doing now.
Michael Hirsch:
Fantastic. Erin, those are a lot of questions. So how far back do you want me to go? No.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, wherever you’d want to start.
Michael Hirsch:
Well, you know this.
Erin Starkey:
Wherever it’s meaningful to you.
Michael Hirsch:
Well, myself, our team at Loveworks, we are great admirers of you and just the tremendous work that you are doing and just your vision for just re-imagining schools. So this is awesome, just how you have this platform, and I’m really excited to be able to join another… be added as a guest or host that you’ve already had. So taking you back, Erin, the word entrepreneur, it’s interesting because… And I’m not going to date myself here. But when I was growing up in school, entrepreneur wasn’t a word that, I don’t think, anyone used. But growing up as a kid, I did a lot of things that were entrepreneurial, had a lot of ideas, the way that I would use my imagination. And unfortunately, and not to fault to my upbringing… I love my parents, but I didn’t have that nudge at home or that guidance in an entrepreneurial direction to pursue some of those ideas that I had and even things that I was doing, nor did I have a program, say, like Loveworks that I could be a part of.
Michael Hirsch:
So it was kind of unfortunate, but I would say that I experienced maybe two decades of just laying that aside and then pursuing what I thought was going to be the big dream, which is to play professional baseball. And that didn’t quite work out, and so at the age of 21, I needed to really just rediscover what it was that I was passionate about and what it was that I was going to pursue. I ended up getting my undergrad at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I majored in local church pastor, and I minored in communications, but I would say… So that’s a little bit of just my entrepreneurial background.
Michael Hirsch:
And then fast forwarding, I’d say, Erin, it really wasn’t until my 30s really that I entered, I would say, just the realm per se of education. And that’s when we first reached out to our local superintendent and had a meeting and shared the vision behind the organization Loveworks Leadership.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, and that was such an amazing time. I remember that coming about and thinking what a great idea that was. So if you wouldn’t mind just sharing a little bit more about what Loveworks is and kind of the vision for what you guys do.
Michael Hirsch:
Absolutely. So even going back to that meeting, we shared this vision about wanting to create an organization that could meet a need that we saw in our local community. It’s important even just to talk about that just for a moment, because we didn’t approach that meeting by saying that “we are the answer. We have it all figured out. Loveworks is the silver bullet. We’re the answer to all of life’s problems.” More than anything, we just said that “we saw a need in our community. We have an idea, and we want to play a part. And we believe the part that we can play is to be able to meet the need and the gap that exists, not only just in our community, but we believe just across the nation. And it is for the lack of positive after-school enrichment opportunities, and in particular, for middle school age.”
Michael Hirsch:
So depending on your district, of course, that can vary, but here it’s about the range of 10 to 15 years old. So we call it the gap between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM, and in that meeting, we just expressed our desire to be able to fill that gap of time with leadership. We believe that everything rises and falls on leadership, and that regardless of a student’s age, that they are a leader because they have the ability to influence either in a positive way or a negative way. If you don’t believe me, just hold onto a six-month-old baby, and I promise you, if you hold onto them long enough, they’re going to influence you in some kind of way.
Michael Hirsch:
So we wanted to fill that gap of time between 3:00 and 6:00 PM with leadership. So at Loveworks, we call it our three buckets. It’s our focus on leadership and life skills. It’s also too now our focus on business and entrepreneurship. I hope we get a chance to talk about that in just a few minutes. And then also, too, just our focus on character development.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, that’s great. I just want to reiterate, it’s personally important to me and impactful. I had a son that went through your program and loved it, and I can still see kind of that influence in him in terms of thinking entrepreneurially. He has his content on Upwork, and he’d love to be a voice actor someday. So even into high school now, he still kind of uses those skills and, I think, thinks differently because of that. So it was personally something that was meaningful to my family, but I think it’s so important for all kids to have that experience. So I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about the business and entrepreneurship part of that, the buckets.
Michael Hirsch:
Absolutely. It’s been so exciting, and I hope that we have the next three hours to talk about it. I’m just kidding.
Erin Starkey:
Sure.
Michael Hirsch:
But I wish I could say, Erin, that I was that smart 10 years ago when we started Loveworks, and we had the idea that one day that we are going to start businesses, and we’re going to start companies, and Norman is going to be known as the entrepreneurial hub of the world, where visitors and tourists are going to come to us. I’m not that smart. But our vision here at Loveworks is to give every single student an opportunity to lead. We want to help to be able to raise up a generation of dreamers and doers, and so part of our… One of our programs here at Loveworks, as you know, is an after-school leadership opportunity, where parents and guardians will either drop students off at our physical campus. We have a great relationship with our local district that works out transportation to bring students over to us.
Michael Hirsch:
And there are a couple secret ingredients that, I’d say, really distinguish our leadership program here. But one of them, as you know, is our hands-on experiential learning. So I’d say that hands-on experiential learning really is part of the secret sauce and recipe that I really believe makes Loveworks work. And why it does is because it does bring in professionals from our community that are so generous with their time to be able to work alongside our students.
Michael Hirsch:
So about five years ago, a group of students were working on a five-week culinary project, and they started working on a salsa recipe, various salsa recipes. And they got to the point where they wanted myself and other staff and leaders to taste the salsa. And Erin, I know that I’m biased, of course, because I’m Loveworks, but I looked at them and I said, “This is absolutely the best salsa that I’ve ever had in my life.”
Michael Hirsch:
And about a week later, one of the students that was part of that group, she dreamt out loud, and she didn’t even know that she was dreaming. It was just casual, like you and I are having a conversation now. She said to her peers and the leaders of that group, “What if one day this salsa that we’ve made would be sold on the shelves of grocery stores?” And I love that it starts with the “what if.” And where Loveworks comes into play is we are the “why nots.” Well, why not? Let’s see. It’s the “why not,” Erin, that I wish I had at age 7, 10, 12, 14 years old when I had a few of those entrepreneurial ideas, however crazy they were.
Michael Hirsch:
So we said, “Why not?” They got busy. They started working hard. They didn’t realize that it would take about two and a half years to get there. But believe it or not, kind of a bad joke, but on April 1st, 2017, they sold their first jar of salsa in one of our local grocery stores, and now they’ve expanded into 13 stores across the metroplex area.
Erin Starkey:
Wow.
Michael Hirsch:
And now Erin, as you know, that has just sent a domino and a ripple effect across just our campus and with our student body, that are dreaming now dreams of what it’d be like for them now to start companies. So we’ve had the opportunity to do that now over the last five years.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, and it is good salsa. I’ve had it. I remember.
Michael Hirsch:
Well, thank you.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah.
Michael Hirsch:
I wish those that are watching and listening could taste our salsa. Feel free to contact me, and we’ll send some your way.
Erin Starkey:
Yes. Yeah. And I know they’re available in several stores, I think, maybe Homeland and Crest. And there’s some other stores they’re available in, right? It’s really good. And it’s called Kitchen Salsa?
Michael Hirsch:
It is. It’s called Real Kitchen salsa.
Erin Starkey:
Real Kitchen salsa.
Michael Hirsch:
But it’s just been beautiful. It’s just been beautiful to watch how it unfolded. And I think that’s the beauty of where Loveworks, as an after-school program, has been… Again, we weren’t the answer, but we were able to come alongside a school district, and we were perhaps able to complement and be able to maybe offer opportunities that during a school day, because of several reason, aren’t able to really offer that hands-on, project-based learning.
Michael Hirsch:
I love the partnership that we are able to have and be able to working together. A district that focuses on the academic side and then Loveworks that can come in on the other side and offer the hands-on experiential learning, which, I think, for a lot of the students that we work with really helps them to connect the dots and to make further sense about what they’re doing. Whether it’s in the four walls of the classroom or now remotely, how it makes sense. How are they going to use it? And they get a chance to really do that in a lot of these hands-on experiential learning projects we’re doing and, of course now, in our various businesses that we’ve been able to start.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. Yeah. And there’s a couple of things you said there that I want to talk a little bit more about. One of them is just your connection with the local district and how you kind of negotiated that. I talk with a lot of people across the country who are thinking about that and trying to figure out how to solve that issue of that after-school care and also provide something that’s valuable for students. How did you kind of get that partnership started with the district?
Michael Hirsch:
Yeah, thanks for asking. I think a lot of it… And I mentioned this, and not to be repetitive, but I think, for us, we definitely had a district that was very just willing and open-minded to be able to just hear an idea from us. But I think that the way that we approached it did make a big difference, that we discussed that we just wanted to do our part. We wanted to play our part in the community.
Michael Hirsch:
Erin, then we also did our homework. And that was a big part that first year when we were just waiting for the wonderful paperwork to be completed to stand up our organization and to incorporate it as a nonprofit, that we researched across and we scrubbed our state of Oklahoma and then also too nationwide. We literally traveled West Coast to East Coast. So not only did we do our homework locally to see and assess where the needs were, where were the gaps, but then we did our research, and we really looked at other best practices.
Michael Hirsch:
So I believe it was us being able to articulate and communicate the need that we saw. The district was in agreement, seeing the same need as well, but then also really liked our plan. So we had a plan. We didn’t have it all figured out, but we were able to cite other credible organizations across the country that were doing works. So I just think that played a part. And then kind of like the give and take and where the district was willing to then evaluate and look at, well, what kind of resources? They might not be financial, but transportation was a resource that was just huge for us and made a big difference not only when we first started, but still makes a big difference today when we have 55 to 100 students that are dropped off at the Loveworks campus. And so I don’t know how [inaudible 00:13:40].
Michael Hirsch:
You know, [inaudible 00:13:54] and the importance and value of relationships. I think sometimes that we go into meetings, and even the ones that I described with our district, and we want to kind of be that Lone Ranger, Superman, Superwoman type of approach. But I think just having a posture of heart, of being willing to connect and to be able to collaborate. So yeah, I think that just created a great synergy from the beginning. And over the last decade, we’ve been able to work very closely with our district for the betterment of our students in this area.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing all that. I know that transportation was a big deal to me as a parent, especially that challenging time for parents that are working, trying to figure out how to get their kid picked up after school. It was so helpful that the districts partnered with you to make that happen so that you could do that. And then, I know that you’ve used a lot of community businesses and things to connect with, and I really appreciate that too.
Erin Starkey:
I think that also kind of ties into the future of education. And I’ll just share that when I presented this question to you in email, we had a conversation about it because you were like, “I don’t know if I can really speak to the future of education.” But I would definitely pose to you that I feel like you have a better handle on that maybe than you’re giving yourself credit for, because I think what we really want to do in schools is to provide students… Especially in middle school, right? That’s kind of the time where it’s like… Elementary school, you can still see that passion in students and that love of learning. And somewhere in that 10-to-15 age range is when that kind of dies out in a lot of students, and that’s sad to see that happen. I think that a lot of that is about not seeing the bigger picture and not understanding how the things that they’re doing in school can really apply to their life later, and you’ve really figured out the key to making that happen.
Erin Starkey:
So when you present students with things that they’re passionate about and then sort of sneakily weave in, “Well, let’s figure out how to use that. Let’s figure out how to use that in your life as a business, or to promote something that you’re passionate about, or to be involved with this throughout your life,” I think you’re… That’s really the secret sauce for how you create a school and students that care about what they learn about and then move forward. So I think you’re doing a lot more for the school side of things than maybe you realize. But I would like to know, how can we get more of that in our schools? What do you think about how the future of education could look in terms of getting more entrepreneurship in schools?
Michael Hirsch:
Wow. Well, if I figure that out or you or one of your listeners and watchers, that’s a New York Times best-selling book.
Erin Starkey:
For sure.
Michael Hirsch:
It’s interesting because I look at public school, if I could use this analogy, as the Titanic, and I could imagine what it would be like… You just don’t turn the Titanic on a, let’s say, dime. It’s a slow turn. It’s a slow burn. It’s a slow process. And I feel that that’s where public education is today. Fortunately, individuals like yourself, other guests that you’ve had on this show, we’re not driving the Titanic, sort of speak. So we’re agile. We have the ability, and now I’m speaking for myself, to be able to pivot, to be able to change course, to be able to go with the wind, sort of speak.
Michael Hirsch:
So I think that one of the keys… And I always think starting with who, that our educators that we call just our heroes in our Norman community, whether it’s remote-learning educators, in the classroom, I think that it starts with the who. And I always think of, and, Erin, I’m sure you’ve got thoughts and ideas about this, but just what professional development could look like. I think that would be one of the ways. And I think of… I love Carol Dweck’s work about mindset.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah.
Michael Hirsch:
And just thinking about just what does it look like to develop and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset? Because you think of entrepreneur, I think sometimes we think of the Webster’s and Oxford’s dictionary definition of starting a business, but it more has to do with creating and innovation and carrying just a mindset and a way of thinking. So I think that’s a part of it because we can then bring that creativity and that innovation into our individual, unique classroom. So it just doesn’t have to start with the top, with the superintendent or a principal per se.
Michael Hirsch:
But something that we’ve been able to do here at Loveworks, that I’d love to see take place in other districts and where I see the future heading with education, is along the lines of customization and personalization. I think that is one of the keys. Students here, they don’t necessarily care how much we know, but they want to know how much we care.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah.
Michael Hirsch:
And I think when we approach it with that unconditional love, believing in students wholeheartedly and finding ways and opportunities that we can really nurture just the gift that is inside of them and figure out ways that they can explore that, whether it’s in the four walls of a classroom or if it’s in schools like your micro schools and pods that you’re creating or in Loveworks’ organization, it gives them a chance to be able to just express just their interests, finding outlets, positive outlets, and then ultimately being able to connect with a purpose and passion.
Michael Hirsch:
I think a lot of that happens through, again, personalizing and customizing. There’s a lot of process in that. It takes a lot of time, but that’s definitely where I would like to see just the future of education go. And I think if we can steer students in that kind of direction, our communities are all going to be better for it. Our nation is only going to be better for it, and our world is only going to be better for it. I believe if we could do that, I believe that our best artists’ works of art, engineers, pilots, chefs out there are waiting, and I’m really believing that the best is still yet to come.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that you said, or at least what I heard from what you said, is that it’s almost like we look at it backwards, right, where we in schools have typically, traditionally started with, “Here are the things you need to know, and we’re going to teach them to you,” and then try to think of creative ways to do that, whereas the opposite of that is to kind of create an environment where there’s things that students are interested in naturally, that they get to decide what it is that they’re interested about, and then we figure out how to help them do that. And in that process, they learn the things that we wanted them to learn in the first place.
Erin Starkey:
So it’s kind of looking at that from a different perspective and starting that in a different way that, I think, really appeals to the way that all of us want to learn. Nobody wants to be told what you have to know, because that’s where you get into the like, “Why do I need this? Why do I need to know this?” Whereas if you’re starting it from a business perspective and like, “Well, if you’re going to get that salsa into those grocery stores, what are the things that you need to know to make that happen?” and out of that will blossom all the things that you would wish that you would have taught them in a school. So I just feel like that’s such a great approach, and that’s really… In the experiences that I’ve had with students, and you may agree or disagree, but that’s where I really see students learn, is when they care about it and they want to figure it out.
Michael Hirsch:
No, absolutely. No, that’s wonderfully said. Even just look at just the context… That’s more than I do, but just the context of a business. Yes, it may take an individual and/or a business partner to come up with the idea, quote-unquote, the entrepreneur. But what makes a successful business work? And that’s been the beauty of what we’ve been able to see, not just with the salsa business. We launched… A couple years ago, we launched a technology company called Wristworld. And they’re now selling their products in over a hundred retail outlets, over 17 countries. We piloted a brand-new kids’ accelerator program, where we’ve seen now 31 brand-new kid businesses go through that.
Michael Hirsch:
But the beauty of it, Erin, is getting a chance to see not just the solopreneur that has the idea, but then seeing the guy or girl that’s the numbers person, and now they get to use the numbers as a junior CFO for the company. And oftentimes, you hear in circles, I think, a lot of the negativity surrounding, say, technology and social media. But how beautiful is it in the context of a business that we get the opportunity to walk alongside students and show them and teach them ways that you could leverage technology and social media in a positive way. And there’s so many just life lessons just along the way that they can pick up there: just writing and then, of course, the gift of gab and communication and sales. So just the list goes just on and on when you just look at just a business and what it takes. So yeah, it’ll be exciting to see just how that’s going to unfold. And I believe when you talk about the future of education, I really believe that the kids’ business accelerators and incubators are really going to be a big part of it.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. I totally agree, and I think you’re really onto something too with the business world and the education connection. I know you and I have probably had conversations about this before too, but we know that we don’t know. That we’re preparing students for careers that we can’t even really imagine right now. We don’t know what those are going to look like. So the skills that are most important for our students to have are those skills like critical thinking and how to solve problems, because we don’t know exactly what to prepare them for because it may look very different.
Erin Starkey:
I mean, if you think about the… Nobody ever thought you could be a YouTuber or a TikTok creator, content creator, and people are making real money and real careers out of that now. It’s certainly not something that you or I, as young children, would’ve ever had thought to dream of, but it is something that our children now think about as a career. So in that, I think that you guys are doing exactly that. You’re preparing students for those kinds of skills that they can’t… that they would apply to any career that’s possible out there in the future. And that’s really the important piece of what you’re doing.
Erin Starkey:
Just to kind of think back a little bit more on your entrepreneurial shoes as you were kind of getting this started, is there anything… Because you mentioned Carol Dweck and her work on growth mindset, and I think that’s fantastic, and that’s a big part of it: your connection with the district. And figuring out ways for us to work with districts and with the current school system and not against each other is kind of what I see as the biggest piece of mindset that we have to figure out how to shift in Oklahoma especially, but, I mean, across the nation too. But looking back at kind of the way that you got started with entrepreneurship, is there anything that made a big impact on you, mentors that you had or books that you read or things that you wish you would’ve known in the beginning, those kinds of things as you were getting started?
Michael Hirsch:
Wow. So are you asking, Erin, just in the beginning just around the Loveworks time, rewinding 10 years ago?
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, yeah. In the beginning of your process with Loveworks.
Michael Hirsch:
Yeah. I mentioned this earlier. I think one of the greatest lessons that we just stumbled into, we had a posture to listen and to learn, and that played… So what it looked like then was us just with the travel. And I’d look at just the different organizations that we had met and individuals that we had met with. I think of, even in Oklahoma City, there’s a studio that still today does the experiential learning, and they were just very influential at that time.
Michael Hirsch:
During our travels, I mentioned from West Coast to East Coast, we ended up attending an event. It was a day-of-leadership event at a charter school, grades K through 6. And they were the first school to integrate the late Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People into the seven habits of highly effective kids. And each student, out of the 500-plus students in that school, actually had a position of leadership, a role of leadership in their school. So we traveled out to South Carolina, and we attended a day of leadership. And I would say that that experience really then punctuated just the program offering that we brought into just that initial meeting with our district and has played a big part in the programming that we’re doing with our students today.
Michael Hirsch:
There have been several resources and books that have been very influential. I think of the organization Growing Leaders out of Atlanta with Dr. Tim Elmore. In fact, he just wrote a book that was a team read of ours called The Eight Paradoxes of Leadership, which is absolutely fabulous. We’re having our coordinators here at Loveworks read that.
Michael Hirsch:
Then I’d go back to just the… I hope I’m answering your question, but just the collaboration. I am so grateful for the community that we really have the privilege to serve in. When we often get asked, whether it’s by a governor, a director of secondary education, a superintendent that sees our outcomes, oftentimes we’ll be asked, “What kind of curriculum do you use? What are the books that the students are reading?” And while a curriculum has its place, a book has its place as well, but, Erin, it’s been this village, this community, my heroes of the countless hundreds and hundreds of men and women that have generously given their time to be able to lend and to share their passion. And it’s just been a beautiful picture for me.
Michael Hirsch:
We’re living in a very unique time, where for the first time in history, we have seven active sociological generations all living at the same time, starting with the senior generation, which Tom Brokaw would say would be the greatest generation, to Gen Z. And here at Loveworks, Erin, we’ve been able to have all seven active living generations in our building at the same time, pursuing big dreams together.
Erin Starkey:
That’s incredible.
Michael Hirsch:
They’ve been the heroes. The notes, if you look in my phone or my tablet, so oftentimes they come from the great men and women in our community that have just been generous with the time that they’ve given here at Loveworks.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. Well, perfectly answered, and thank you. The reason I asked you that question was because, as I’m talking with entrepreneurs as they’re getting started with their school ideas or their business ideas, that’s typically one of the things that they wish they had more of. What are the other… Entrepreneurs who’ve been down this pathway before me, what kinds of things did they… challenges did they have, struggles did they face? What did they do to overcome those? Was there anything that they read that was really valuable to them? So I appreciate you sharing that information about what was helpful for you. I agree that what I hear often is kind of collaboration with others, listening and just talking and making those connections from a genuine place, like you guys have done so well at figuring that out.
Michael Hirsch:
That’s good. It’s been said, “If you find yourself in a room and you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
Erin Starkey:
Right. Right. Yes, definitely.
Michael Hirsch:
We’ve got to live by that adage here. Let’s surround ourselves by as many diverse individuals as we can and great thinkers. Again, like I said earlier, it really does take… They say it takes a village to raise up a child. We would argue and say, “It takes a village to raise up a leader.”
Erin Starkey:
Absolutely.
Michael Hirsch:
So it’s been fun to watch.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah, and you’re never done, right? You’re never really to the top of that process, which is, I think, important. And remembering how we be good leaders is to continue to learn and to always be… to live a life of learning. So thank you.
Michael Hirsch:
That’s it.
Erin Starkey:
And that kind of leads into, and maybe you’ve kind of answered that there, but what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs that are kind of getting started? Is there anything that you would suggest that they look at or think about or read or try?
Michael Hirsch:
Oh, I love that question. I hope a few thoughts that I shared earlier were helpful. There’s a talk that I do give and I would just share briefly. I’ve thought about this often over the last decade and even before that. My three big thoughts with leaders of all ages and anyone that’s looking, of course, that’s a self-starter and looking to start something, is to be clear in your why. Know your why, because there’s going to be a time… There will be a time where it’s going to get hard. And I know this sounds real simple. Simon Sinek’s Start with Why was a huge inspiration about 15 years ago through a Ted Talk that he gave. If your listeners and watchers are unfamiliar with Simon, I’d encourage to check that out. But know your why.
Michael Hirsch:
I believe it was Viktor… Viktor Frankl said, “When you know your why, your reason for doing something, that you can endure any how, challenge or circumstance.” So even over the last two years, since March of 2020, that’s helped me just personally in my leadership: Remember my why, why we’re doing this, bringing me back. I think it’s just as important sometimes to reflect on, when you started, where you were when you started compared to even just where you want to go into the future. And that can keep you humble.
Michael Hirsch:
I would also suggest… So know your why. I’d also say this: plan to fail. Plan to fail and be okay by that and not be surprised by it. And that’s why I love… Our students here at Loveworks keep me young because… I’ll give an example of that. We had a student that applied for our brand-new business program, and he submitted his video. His pitch video was 30 seconds long, and he had an idea, not a prototype, but an idea for a robot. And we circled back around with him, and we said, “We love the idea, but in five weeks, if you don’t have a prototype, it’s probably going to be unrealistic in five weeks for you to have something that’s ready to be sold out in the marketplace. We have other programs that are designed for that.”
Michael Hirsch:
So here’s this young student, who then circles back around with us, Erin, an hour later, and he says, “Oh, I have a new business.” I’m like, “What’s the new business?” He’s like, “My grandmother in Peru has a recipe for smoothies, and they’re amazing.” So he wasn’t thrown off by it. And I think as we get older, we could. If someone gives us loving… It wasn’t even negative. It was just honest feedback. That could throw us off for the next month. We could hear that in the beginning of January, and we’re like, “Well, here we go again in the year 2022.”
Michael Hirsch:
So plan to fail. Know that that’s going to be part of it. And my last thing that I would just say to encourage your listeners and your watchers, and part of this comes through my experience and my passion hobby, which is the sport of triathlon and Ironman, and it’s just to push through the quit, to persevere and to endure. And all the while, you’re going to build resilience. So know your why. Remember your why. Refresh yourself with your why. Plan to fail and to push through the quit, and be the next one that is going to go out there and just do great things for this next generation.
Erin Starkey:
I love that, Michael. That’s great. And you do such a good job of modeling that in your personal life and in your professional life, so I appreciate that advice and sharing that with others. And that kind of just leads me to-
Michael Hirsch:
Oh, thank you.
Erin Starkey:
You’re welcome. Plans for the future for Loveworks? Where do you see you guys going in the future? I know you’re doing some cool online things now to kind of pivot when needed, but I’d love to hear more about your plans for where Loveworks is going.
Michael Hirsch:
Oh, thank you for asking. Our next big dream is along the lines of our newest program, which is called Business Boot Up at BBU. And we want to give every student between the age of 8 to 15 years old that’s living in any suburban community, rural community, urban community, literally around the world, access to our curriculum, our five-week experience. And we want to be able to come around those students and be able to walk through a process of ideation, service development, product development, and we just want to get them out there and put themselves out there to be able to put out their idea, their product and their service and whatever it is that they’re dreaming up. So that’s the next big thing that we’re working on that I’m believing is going to take Oklahoma by storm. Our students from our tech company, a couple years ago, had a meeting with Nintendo in New York, and they were touring Nintendo headquarters, and we then were asked to pitch. So you had 8, 9, and 10-year-olds pitching to executives at Nintendo.
Erin Starkey:
That’s incredible.
Michael Hirsch:
And after like eight or nine minutes, they stopped the students from giving their pitch. And I’m like, “Oh no, the record scratches. They don’t like it. They hate the product. They want them out of here. Call security.” And they said, “Kids, this is unbelievable. You are showing us New Yorkers what Oklahomans are capable of doing.”
Erin Starkey:
That’s awesome.
Michael Hirsch:
And I know there’s a lot of other great things in the state of Oklahoma that are taking place outside of Wristworld and our tech company here at Loveworks. But I believe that the state of Oklahoma is going to be a beacon, and it’s going to be a light. And part of that light is going to have to do with our young people, the next generation of students that are going to be believed in, loved unconditionally, and are going to be given a chance to dream. And we really believe that the business program is going to be a big part of that, and we’re open arms and wanting to work with and collaborate with as many like-minded, like-passioned people around the globe that would be interested in partnering with us on that effort.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. Thank you, Michael. That’s great, and I agree with you. This is the time that innovation can really happen, and I think there are so many great people and resources in Oklahoma to make that happen. So I just really appreciate you being a part of that and sharing everything that you guys are doing. I’d love for you to just share how people can contact you. I know you have a website and maybe some other ways that people might be able to reach out to you with specific questions.
Michael Hirsch:
Definitely. Well, I’m pretty easy to find. In our organization’s history, I’ve always had my cell phone on our website.
Erin Starkey:
Oh, nice. Brave of you.
Michael Hirsch:
So you can just visit loveworksleadership.org, and you can call me anytime. I do have three kids, and so I do tend to get a little bit of sleep, but they’re always keeping me on my toes. But that’s the best way that you can reach me directly, by phone, by text message, by email. Loveworks Leadership is found on the usual suspects. You mentioned a couple of those platforms already, Erin, but LinkedIn and Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We’re very active there. And then also, too, we launched two podcasts as well. Thank you for giving us a chance, Erin, to be able to share about those.
Erin Starkey:
Absolutely.
Michael Hirsch:
They’re called Dreamers and Doers. One is our leadership edition, where we’ve now interviewed the last two years over a hundred guests that have been a part of the Dreamers and Doers Podcast. And our other podcast is called Biz Boot Up, and that is co-hosted and completely led and produced by our students here at Loveworks. It’s really special, where they will interview two different guests. The first guest is a seasoned professional in our community. A lot of business owners have been on that podcast. But then also too, Erin, I think you’ll love this: a young entrepreneur that he or she is just getting started. And it is absolutely incredible and inspiring to hear their young voices talk about the business acumen that they’ve acquired over the last six weeks.
Erin Starkey:
That’s great.
Michael Hirsch:
So those are a few ways. Those are a few ways that you can find us.
Erin Starkey:
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate everything that you’re doing, and I’m really excited to continue to partner with you in the future, because I believe that what you’re doing is critical to the improvement in our schools and our education system. So thank you, Michael. Thanks for being here today.
Michael Hirsch:
Oh, well, thank you, Erin. Well, you are leading the way for so many. So thank you for the pathway that you are paving, and it’s a thrill to be able to be with you.

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