Mark Barnes Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Mark Barnes
He is a man who unlike so many of us, was not ready to leave school behind as quickly as he could.
With an experience gained by over twenty years standing in front of students, he is a man on a mission.
A mission that takes him from his own classroom, into every other classroom on earth.
He believes that the world should connect in order to discuss, create, and encourage new and improved ways of learning into our children’s lives.
How The Dots Joined Up For Mark
And unusually, or at least it seemed to me, instead of saying “And one of the things we need to do is stop the fascination with social media and Facebook” he actually encourages these tools.
He wants the educators of the world to connect, or join up their own dots, to create a powerful force of classroom improvement.
And now with six best selling books, a keynote speaker, TED veteran, and leading advocate for the no-grades classroom he is connecting to make a huge difference.
So why does he feel that instead of saying, keep social out of the classroom, we should be saying “Lets use its power for connecting?”
And of course, in true Join Up Dots style, does he remember his own passage through the education system as inspiring, or just get me out of here?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs on todays free podcast, with the one and only Mr Mark Barnes
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Mark Barnes such as:
Why he didn’t enjoy school and the education system, so is surprised (as much as his friends are) that he ended up becoming a teacher.
Why he embraces the power of social media, to use it as the perfect way to find the right people across the world to fix problems.
How he worries about the money that his “Hack Learning” app costs in development, but feels that money should never be the reason to “Not do!”
Why he realises that he is a person that gets bored really easily in life, so he has to find the passion that ignites his own personal drive.
How after so many failures in his life, he has come to the realisation that there is a true gift from failures, and we need to teach that to our children.
How To Connect With Mark Barnes
Or of course you can check out thousands of podcast interviews in our archives here
Full Transcription Of Mark Barnes Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Today’s show is brought to you by podcast is mastery.com. The premier online community teaching you to podcast like a pro check us out now. podcasters mastery.com
when we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:37]
Yeah, Yes, hello there, everybody and welcome to Join Up Dots Join Up Dots with David Ralph coming from the United Kingdom, Episode 389. And I feel like the most powerful person on earth today because I have dragged today’s guest out of bed at five o’clock in the morning. It’s funny how I can do this across the world to fully grown men and I can’t get my children to get out of bed till about lunchtime. So we’re going to touch on that because he spent his life dealing with children in the classroom trying to get them out of bed and, and standing in front and giving them wisdom because he is a man who, unlike so many of us was not ready to leave school behind as quickly as he could with an experience gained by over 20 years standing in front of those students. He’s a man on a mission, a mission that takes him from his own classroom, into every other classroom on Earth. Now, he believes that the world should connect in order to discuss, create, and encourage new and improved ways of learning into our children’s lives. And unusually, or at least it seemed to me instead of saying, and one of the things we need, I don’t know why he’s got an English Northern accent. He’s American, but anyway, and one of the things we need to do is stop the fascination with social media and Facebook. He actually encourages these tools. He wants the educators of the world to connect or Join Up Dots to create a powerful force of classroom improvement. And now we’ve six best selling books a keynote speaker Ted veteran, and leaving leading advocate for the no grade classroom he’s connecting to make a huge difference. So why does he feel that instead of saying keep social out of the classroom we should be saying let’s use its power for connecting. And of course in true Join Up Dots style does he remember his own passage through the education system as inspiring or just get me out of here? Well, let’s bring him onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Mark Barnes. How are you Mark?
Mark Barnes [2:27]
Morning Morning for me, David. Maybe not for you and still
David Ralph [2:32]
Mark Barnes [2:33]
I’m doing great and I really appreciate being on
David Ralph [2:37]
so I’m going to cut to the chase mark. How did I managed to drag you out of bed when my children will stay there till it’s bedtime again?
Mark Barnes [2:46]
You’ve got it you must have a very long arm to reach across the pond.
You know, anytime I get an opportunity to talk about the education and and improving teaching and learning on a global scale, I’m eager to do that. So I’ll get up anytime to do it.
David Ralph [3:05]
I want to push you for four o’clock in the morning, they know three o’clock. I can see how far I could go. Because you are a man on a mission or you are somebody who is very different from me. Maybe it’s different nowadays. I went through the education system back in the 70s. And to me, the teachers were just there until they could go down the pub, it was literally, it was a job for them to do so that they could shout at us pro Blackboard rubbers that tells you that sort of time and just sort of get through the day isn’t very different now is is the world full of teachers who are inspiring people to take action?
Mark Barnes [3:46]
Well, I like to think so. And you know, you and I went to school about the same time and my experience was the same. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with heading down to the pub after a hard day’s work. But I did See that when I was young, you know, it seemed to me that teachers were sort of just mailing it in often standing up, deliver their message and get out. And I was not very inspired as as a student. And in fact, when I ran into friends later in life, they were they’re always shocked that I went into education because I didn’t like school very much. But I like to think that today’s educator is different. I think that teachers are faced with a very difficult challenge. Right now we’re in a time that is filled with standardisation and high stakes testing and all kinds of new mandates on educators. It’s a very bureaucratic system. And I think it’s a difficult one to work in. But what I see certainly on social media, because that’s where I connect my dots is that teachers are out there trying to get better every day. They’re trying to work through the day. difficulties and they’re reaching out to an incredible global audience of teachers and learners. And they’re doing everything they can to work their way through the difficulties to help kids.
David Ralph [5:13]
And do we see that Ben, he’s not just you on a mission now are people on the mission all over the place, but you’re just trying to connect that passion?
Mark Barnes [5:22]
Absolutely. There. There are tonnes of people on these missions, as you put it. I think there’s a lot of educators who are doing what I’m doing, who are connecting on social media, who are writing who are getting out at conferences and and presenting talking about what they do. I know people who are starting their own schools, they have this incredible vision of what they believe education should be. And for some of them to sort of circumvent the red tape. They say, you know what, I’m going to build this new thing of my own. So there are many People all over the world. I talked to people almost every day in countries like I’m doing today talking to someone in another country. But I talked to people in far away places. It’s unbelievable. That’s the power of social media, and just say, you know, tell me what you’re doing. And it’s unbelievable that people around the globe are truly trying to make education better. I think we’re headed for the best years yet.
David Ralph [6:30]
So are you still a full time teacher? Or have you transitioned into what you’re doing now? What we’re talking Yeah,
Mark Barnes [6:37]
I have transition. You know, I tell people all the time that that I’m a teacher and I’m an educator, I feel like I will always be that and I do continue to visit classrooms. I think it’s important for people who move away from the classroom as a classroom teacher, but still want to work in education to get into the class. classroom, I’ve run into authors and consultants and presenters, you know, who have been out of the classroom 20 years and and haven’t been back in it and, you know, a decade and they’re up there trying to tell educators what the best way to do things is. And you know, I’ve always found that a bit hypocritical. So I do get into the classroom often, I visit with teachers often, but I, this is what I do. I, I write, I publish, I present and I do everything possible to get educators to connect and to talk about best practices.
David Ralph [7:37]
But obviously, we’re going to talk about your big app that you’re creating, which is one of the reasons why you’re on the show because you you asked for my shows to to be part of your platform. But I need to go back to that question. If you didn’t like school and all your friends are quite surprised that you became a teacher. What made you do that?
Mark Barnes [7:59]
Oh, that’s a Great question. I appreciate getting and love to answer on what school was very difficult for me. You know, back in from just beyond elementary I actually had a pretty good experience in sort of the case six days but when I got beyond that I think that’s when school really started to change and and it became a very much sort of shackled by the bureaucracy and teachers changed how they were delivering information and it became very much about the teacher and not about the student. And, and I just grew to hate it, and I couldn’t get out fast enough. And what happened is I took sort of a circuitous route back to the classroom. After college I sort of was muddling and saying, what, what do I do right now because I just wasn’t feeling any kind of professional calling And it took, it took working with kids to make me realise that I loved working with kids. And I was always very involved in sports. And I ran track and cross country in college and played a little basketball and I just loved most sports. And I had a friend who was a teacher, and at his school, they needed a basketball coach. And he sought me out and said, Hey, I know you love the game. I know you’ve played you, you know, you’ve been around all sports all your life. Why don’t you come in and coach for us? And he said, You know, I know what you’re doing it fits in your schedule. So I did that and but why
David Ralph [9:45]
I’m that moment. Why did you not go? Now school was dreadful school was dreadful last being I might like sort of hanging out with kids and stuff, but no, no. What What made you do that?
Mark Barnes [9:56]
You know, because David, it wasn’t so much about At that very moment, it was more about doing something that I love, right with kids. It was coaching kids. And it wasn’t being in the classroom at that very moment. I wasn’t a teacher, I was only a coach. And I was working. I was actually in journalism at the time I was I was working at a newspaper, covering sports. And, and which, you know, a lot of people were surprised that I left that because I had some really neat opportunities as a sports writer, and and got to meet a lot of famous athletes and it was a an interesting job. But I found that when I was coaching and working around kids that I that was the best part of my day, and I was having this conversation with with the gentleman that got me this coaching job. And a year or two later after doing this and continuing to write at the newspaper. We’re having a discussion one day and I just said, You know what, I just love being around the kids and coaching a whole lot more Than I like writing for a newspaper, and he said, You should be a teacher. And you know, it was just it was one of those moments, you know, the light went off. And I thought, Wow, that sounds amazing. But could I do that I had already been out of school for three or four years. And, you know, I just did it. He said, go back to school, get your teaching licence and do what you’re really passionate about doing. And, you know, I brought up the fact that I had hated school and he said, You know what, though, you can go and make it what you want to make it now as the teacher, and and that sort of resonated with me, and, you know, here I am,
David Ralph [11:38]
and that’s your spirit. Now, isn’t it but you can go out and make it as you want it to be?
Mark Barnes [11:45]
Absolutely. I have that discussion with educators all the time, especially now when when, you know, so many teachers are frustrated, and they say, you know, I like kids and I love being a teacher, but I Don’t like what education has become. And I don’t know that I can do this. And often my response is, keep in mind that once you get inside that classroom, away from administration and away from the bureaucracy of teaching standards and teaching kids how to be good at tests and all of that, right? You can do what you want when you’re inside the classroom. You truly are driving the car. And and I think I had success with that. And I know a lot of teachers who are as well. But we
David Ralph [12:35]
had a chat on the show. I’m trying to think what episode he was I look it up as we’re going called Mike ferry, and He is an educator in America, and one of the things that he bought into his lessons and now it’s kind of taking him slightly away from the classroom into authorship and speaking is by teaching children not to go after the success bank. Go after the happiness which ultimately leads to success. And so he started having happiness sessions in his class. And it was totally a new principle. It wasn’t something that he even ran past anyone, he just kind of started doing it. And it’s had a big effect, because it’s just a different way of thinking. And it’s just one man’s idea, but it can make such a powerful difference. Episode 292. I’ve just found him. So if anyone’s interested in that conversation, but Mike ferry would be somebody that would have a similar outlook to you in many ways.
Mark Barnes [13:33]
Yeah. And, you know, an interesting connected dots story, David is that Mike ferry is, you know, he wrote the book, as you know, teaching happiness and innovation. And his book now is a part of the hack learning app, and I found Mike ferry through your show. So there’s a wonderful way of looking at this sort of connected Globally, it was a it was wonderful for me to hear him on your show. And then I immediately went and grabbed his book. And this was right at the time that I was building the app. And I thought, Boy, this really fits with the idea of changing how we do teaching and learning and his philosophy and mine are very similar. And, you know, sort of my transition in teaching, which we haven’t talked that much about yet, but you know, I sort of rebuilt myself as a teacher over time. And much of his philosophy was sort of what came through for me that kids do need to be happy and they do need to enjoy learning and I think oftentimes, we get so caught up as teachers in this, you know, I have to get kids to pass a test and and rigour you know, rigour is a is a really trendy word in education and teachers sometimes get so caught up and how can I make learning rigorous that they can Forget that if learning isn’t fun, kids aren’t going to want to learn. So, yeah, that really resonated with me. And I’m happy that you had him on because it was a great connection.
David Ralph [15:11]
So let’s talk about what you’re doing. It’s almost a perfect segue. So where we’re bringing to the fore earlier. So tell the listeners the idea of what you’re building and how that idea came to the fore.
Mark Barnes [15:25]
Well, it’s an interesting story, at least I think it is. I’m working on a book. I’m co authoring a book with a lady named Jennifer Gonzalez, and she writes a very popular education blog and site. It’s more than a blog because it provides a bunch of resources for teachers. It’s called Cult of Pedagogy. And really interesting, I think people would love to see it. But anyways, Jennifer and I have gotten to know each other through social media and because we do the same things and We started talking about education and about fixing problems. And there are, you know, some things we it’s difficult to say, Well, I’m going to tackle the Common Core and education and I’m going to change the whole thing. Those kinds of things, not that we shouldn’t work to make them better. But you can just grab those problems and fix them immediately. You can’t say, well, testing is bad. I’m going to get rid of testing tomorrow. But we started talking about some problems that can be fixed. We said, what are the kinds of things that plague teachers what made us crazy? When we were in the classroom, that we thought, you know, this can be fixed if it was just done a different way? Well, that ultimately led that conversation led to our co authoring a book that we call the hacking education. 10 quick fixes for every school. And we said, you know, hacking is this idea of taking something that exists and sort of turning it a different way. You know, we think of the classic company hackers and often they have a bad reputation. You know, when people think of hackers as the ones who are breaking into your computers, and often the computer hacker is the one that fixes a problem because they see something that others don’t see. And, and Jennifer and I had many conversations about this. And we said, you know, education needs to be hacked. learning needs to be hacked, because there’s so much there. But we seem to be missing it, we sort of look beyond the fixes to the problems because there’s assets around us that we just don’t know how to use. So that’s what we started tackling with 10 quick fixes for every school. Well, as our conversations went on, we started brainstorming a list of other things that can be hacked in education. And we talked about assessment, you know, and I’ve already written widely on assessment, but I said there’s so much that can be done with assessment, and there’s a lot of quick fixes that can be done if they’re handled the right way. Well as as this conversation grew, we started using the phrase hack learning. We said, Well, this is hack learning. We’re taking, teaching in learning, and we’re looking at it differently. And we’re trying to change it and reframe it and rebrand it. And the next thing, you know, what one book now has turned into three that are currently being written. And, and then the app came, I said, you know, we can deliver content in a variety of ways. We’re writers, I love to write, but people like to get content in other ways. They they like to listen to podcasts. They like to watch video, they like to consume bytes of information. And you think of Twitter and Facebook, often those are, it’s sort of micro blogging, and it said, What if we could put this kind of information in people’s hands and you could deliver hack learning in books. Video in podcasts and in short articles. And the next thing you know, that’s what that was my project for the last three or four months was building what’s called the hack learning app.
David Ralph [19:13]
So how do you get that idea which we all have ideas, every listener out there will be working away? They’ll be doing something and I think, wouldn’t it be great if something was around? Or would it be great if I could do this? But how do you take that idea and think to yourself, I’m not just going to be throwing money away? If there is a value out there? How did you bench test it?
Unknown Speaker [19:36]
Time will tell if I’m not throwing money away.
David Ralph [19:40]
So you don’t want me to about that a moment?
Mark Barnes [19:42]
Well, I you know, I always worry about that. But it doesn’t stop me and unfortunately, I have a very supportive wife because if I didn’t, she might put the brakes on a lot of my projects. But you know, I’m always thinking and I don’t think I’m Unique this way, I think, as you sort of put it, everyone is always saying there’s something, there’s something different, there’s something better. But I think that there’s a lot of hurdles that get in the way of things getting done. And most of the time, it is money. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things out there swirling around in people’s brains. And I think they say, Well, I would like to do this, but it there’s, there’s a cost involved. And you know, when you creating an app, you know, it’s an immense project. And you have to have a team of people to do it. You know, I don’t know anything about coding. I mean, I know a very little bit but only enough to be dangerous. And, you know, you have to have professionals behind this thing. You know, people pick up their devices and they, they open up, you know, Kindle or something else that’s really popular and it just works. Well. The work that goes in behind the scenes to make that function is incredible, and there’s a whole lot of things people involved and they’re all making money. So there is a lot of money involved. And I think that gets in the way of a lot of people taking their fabulous ideas and saying, I can make this work. Sometimes it’s, it’s not having the complete vision, I like to think that I’m able to see something and see the long term, the end result. And that’s something that I think over time I’ve sort of developed that skill of saying what what does this look like in the end? And what are the backward steps to get there and who are the key players involved? That will make this dream become a reality. And that’s important you have to have a team you have to put good people in place to help you so that’s sort of what I’ve done. I just you know, the ID honestly I have to go back to giving Jennifer Gonzalez a great deal of credit she’s she’s a truly creative mind and she’s helped me flesh out a lot of this. And and she’s got her own projects. In the beginning. I was trying to get her to come on would say Learning and sort of be my, my partner in the whole thing and, and she said, Oh mark, I’ve got so many of my own projects, but I’m always happy to talk to you about it. So it you know it, it was sort of a dream and a vision of, of putting information in people’s hands. And I think in the mobile world, we have so much opportunity now to deliver information and content in marvellous ways. And right now, it’s it’s still a work in progress, and it’s really exciting.
David Ralph [22:30]
So how do you decide what goes on there? Because what you’re creating, isn’t it just what the internet is people just search for stuff and find what they like, how do you decide what it’s going to be valuable for your your audience?
Mark Barnes [22:43]
Yeah, that’s a great question and a really important one. And I think that it’s, I imagine it will be what will make hack learning successful is the choices of content. And, you know, I think part It is you have to have a philosophy. So sure you could find most of the content, probably all of the content that’s on hack learning, you could find in other places on the internet, people could certainly find Join Up Dots on the internet, and on iTunes and, and other places. And I have other podcasts and other videos and all kinds of content that there’s videos on the hack learning app that are on YouTube. So someone could find that on YouTube. But what I do is I think that I’m trying to be sort of a clearinghouse for education, shareholders. And that’s an important word because hack learning isn’t just for teachers, it’s for everyone interested in education, which I like to think is most people because for one reason or another, we all have some sort of a stake in education. So what I think is, first of all, I believe in progressive education. So you know, if you’re someone who’s, who’s looking for ways to generate the next great worksheet, or test hack learning is not going to be for you. Because that’s not what this is about it we’re hacking education, we’re looking at things that exist. And we’re taking them and turning them and moulding them into something better. We’re very much about the student. It’s sort of a whole child movement. So first, I look at philosophy and say, What do we want to do? Well, I want to open up people’s eyes to teaching to the whole child, and helping kids become independent learners, and then showing educators and parents and administrators ways to sort of cut through the, the red tape. So I’m always looking at content that fits that mould. And also the other big thing and this is on on the website, and I talked about this often is our mantra is sort of learn tonight implement tomorrow. So I’m always looking for things to that. Maybe they they have a great vision, but they also have a simplicity to them so that someone can Pick up the app and open something up. And they can say I could take something away from this. And I can take it back to a classroom to a school to my home if I’m a parent, and I can use that to make kids better. So I’m always looking for that kind of content. You know, when I found Join Up Dots. I the first show I ever heard of yours. actually wasn’t Mike ferry. It was Mark sick way. I’m not quite Yes. Yeah, at first show I heard of yours. And, um, and you know, that was really inspiring to me, because he’s a guy that’s doing a lot of really important things in education. And he’s, he’s delivering content that’s helpful. And, you know, so that was great. So when I heard that I thought, wow, there’s good stuff here. And then of course, I started listening to more episodes, and then I came across Mike Berry. And I thought there’s so much here that someone can listen to and even though it’s a very casual friend conversation, you can take stuff away, and and go to your job or to your classroom or to your home and say, This is something that I can use. You know, when Mike ferry talks about happiness, I mean that that’s so important. And for me, I took away from that a reminder of something that I’ve used for a long time, but you can never forget the idea that you have to make people happy to want to do things that are important, and just to make life Great. So, you know, that was a quick message that I could take something from and I can implement right away. And that’s what hack learning is. So I’m always looking for that. What is something that maybe someone could stumble upon on the internet, depending on what kind of search they did? But if they get hack learning, they’ll know the kind of content that’s there. And you know, it’s not all about me, either. David. I have a large audience of people who helped me You know, a large social network and educators that I talked to I mean, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app box or, but it’s, it’s sort of a voice chat. It’s think walkie talkie. And voxer allows you to create groups of people. And you can record a message sort of like I’m talking to you now. And you can record short messages. And then they can listen to them whenever they want to, and then they can record back. So if you were on boxer if we were having this conversation on boxer, I might say what I’m saying now and you might listen to it an hour from now, and then think, okay, I want to respond to that. And you would say something back. It’s a growing app, and there’s a lot of conversations. I’m in a group called talks with teachers. And it’s a fascinating group because there’s there’s probably 40 or 50 people in the group. But every week the moderator just kind of throws out a subject and he said You know, this week we’re going to talk about how to wrap up your school year because you know, our school years are wrapping up. So So what things are you doing in the classroom that are keeping kids engaged, and then an amazing conversation goes on. So oftentimes those spark thought for me on Oh, this is a great idea. For the hack learning app. This is such a rich conversation. Let me find more content, and put it on this app and talks with teachers as a podcast to and run by Brian Stadnik. And he’s another guy that’s been generous enough to allow me to add his content. So it’s one more audience. So people who have the app say, Well, I know I can get Join Up Dots there, and I know I can get talks with teachers there. And it sort of funnels a lot of the progressive minded education into one place,
David Ralph [28:52]
but it’s probably the words of Jim Carrey now, which always takes us into the next stage of the conversation, which I suppose will Really is grouped in the in overcoming fear taking that scaredy cat that we all have and saying, hell, I’m going to move past this. This is Jim Carrey.
Unknown Speaker [29:10]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [29:35]
Now, you’ve kind of done that maybe two or three times Haven’t you taken a chance on doing what you love? Is it is it because you get bored or is it the case but as you move on in your life, you realise more and more what you truly love?
Mark Barnes [29:53]
Well, David, I’m smiling so big right now because I love these questions. This is just it’s the perfect question.
It’s an it makes me think I honest, I love that sound bite by Jim Carrey. I’m a huge fan too. And, and I want to be careful because I know later on, I’m going to talk to maybe my earlier self, and I don’t want to step on that, but this sort of bleeds into that. I do get bored. And, you know, so I, in all honesty, I, I am the kind of person who gets bored. You know, I was a classroom teacher for about 22 years. And, and that’s never boring. It was super exciting. But there was a time about seven years in to my career, that I wanted something else. And I actually left the classroom for a year to explore another opportunity. And, and I, I love teaching but I think there’s I’m always thinking there’s there’s something else, what else what else is out there that’s going to maybe enrich my life or help my family or help other people? So I think that that is that is what risk takers do and you’re right boy, I’ve taken a lot of chances and, and I’ve failed a tonne and and I love the idea that Kerry puts out in that that God is about failure and what it does. I’m privileged to get a sneak peek of a book that’s coming out in August, called the gift of failure. And it’s it’s written by Jessica Leahy, who is she’s she’s an educator and she’s written for the Atlantic and the New York Times and and and this is a really important book that has a whole lot of advanced marketing behind it. She’s going to be out travelling the world talking about this. It’s super important. But you know that idea of failure as a gift. I Love that title, because it truly is. And I think that’s one thing that we really need to an idea we need to instil in kids. And it took me so long to figure this out. I had to fail a bunch of times myself, and realise that it wasn’t such a horrible thing. And I’ve had failures, honestly that that would, would make people want to, you know, give up on everything. You could give us
David Ralph [32:27]
an example of one Mom, what was one of your doozies your big failures, or as we say, your learning points.
Mark Barnes [32:32]
This is a this I got a doozy and it’s a you know, it’s the kind of thing most people don’t share, quite frankly. But many years ago, I got into some bad investments and actually went bankrupt. And it was it was one of those, you know, I saw the prize in front of me, it’s that you know, you can you can get rich quick, you know, I think I know in America and I think even around the world, we sort of have this fascination with, you know, Show me the money right now. And, and cutting corners, because we’ve heard stories of people who have done it. And I think a lot of it’s easy to say, Oh, I could do that. And then you see an opportunity to go, Oh, yeah, this is it. Um, and that was a really sobering moment in my life to say, to do something that I thought was maybe going to change my life financially. And and then to have it go so badly. Um, so that was an important one for me. But I, you know, I recovered from that. And, and it was, it was an important lesson because I learned a lot when I did it. And I’ve talked a lot to people about how that all worked and the lessons that I took from that. And I think that we, as I said, we need to teach that kind of thing to kids and we’re often in education to too afraid to do that, you know, we don’t like to talk about failure. And all all we hear from the politicians who are writing the laws is that, you know, we’re comparing ourselves to every other place in the world and saying, Oh, well, they’re better than us and we can’t fail. We have to be better. But if you don’t teach kids that failure is okay. It’s really difficult to learn.
David Ralph [34:21]
But But I know I love it, because one of my bugbears I’m going to jump in there, Mark really annoys me is when you go to like these football competitions, or soccer competitions, and everyone comes back with a medal and you go, you were rubbish. You lost eight new every single game and you still won a medal. What’s the point in that was and I see that more and more in the United Kingdom. We don’t let our kids have disappointment. It seems to be the case where everybody has to be a winner and that’s not really in life is it?
Unknown Speaker [34:53]
Well, no, it isn’t. And
Mark Barnes [34:56]
and you know, I think we I’m a I am a fan of I don’t know about saying rewarding but about recognising effort. And I think that’s the the idea behind the the metals down to seventh and eighth place. I’ve nailed that
David Ralph [35:11]
rubbish. I’ve made no effort at all.
Mark Barnes [35:17]
Well, I don’t know I how do you judge effort? You know, maybe the other team was just that much better. But But I think the point is that when you talking about learning on, we do have to recognise failure as a good thing. And I don’t know that that necessarily is rewarding it, but I think it it really is about having a conversation about it. And that’s another thing we don’t do enough of in school. Ironically, a place where students and teachers are gathering and talking every day. We don’t focus that conversation enough about what a student did, why he or she did it. What went Wrong, and then saying, you instead of looking at it as Okay, I can’t learn this because I failed. Let’s look at why you failed and what you could do differently next time. And that’s such an important conversation. And when we start having that with kids and give them the idea, as Jessica Leahy is doing in her book, that failure can be a gift because it can make you so much better. You think of great people, the people that most people in the world look at as great people who have done things like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Winfrey and you know, all these people that have accomplished so much, I can’t imagine that any of them would ever have said, well, I’ve never failed in my life. In fact, I would imagine their stories would be rich with the failings that they’ve they’ve had and how they overcame them. So it’s such an important conversation.
David Ralph [37:00]
I found every day and this is the first time really, but I think that I’ve bought in totally to what you’re saying that failure is great. And when you grow a show, obviously you live and die by your audience speakers. And there’s certain ways that you can get an audience quite quickly. But there’s certain ways that you get a loyal audience. And I’ve gone that this sort of latter, I want the show to work on word of mouth. And every day, I’m trying one thing and another thing and pushing it up and forward. Now other people say to me, oh, you’re successful, whether you’re at the top of iTunes, you are here and your bear and all those kinds of things. But
Unknown Speaker [37:37]
I like the
David Ralph [37:39]
process now. And I like the fact that when I log on in the morning to see if my downloads my audience, speakers have gone up naturally, and they’ve gone down, you think to yourself, okay, is that a failure? No, there’s some kind of angle. It’s like cracking a site. That’s how I describe it. And each day, I’m just trying a different code until you get to the point But what you’re doing all the time you’re building up your knowledge on you, you’re building up your knowledge, you’re building up your experience, you’re getting better at it. Until when success does come to you. You kind of deserve it. So somehow, which you don’t on the Quick, get rich quick schemes, you kind of almost self sabotage because you don’t deserve it.
Mark Barnes [38:18]
Yeah, I agree with that. And I love the way you talk about, you know, with your, with looking at your audience and, and gaining and losing and saying, if I, if I’m down a certain amount of users, instead of saying, Oh, no, I’m failing. You sort of examine that and diagnose issues and say, Well, what, what can I do to be better? And I think that’s an attitude. That is an important one for people. And again, going back to education, one that we need to instil in kids that it should always be, what can I do to be better? How can I take this experience and look at it and then look back at myself, which is awesome. a hard thing to do. And you know, that’s sort of the the negative, at least the negative connotation that we put on failure is that I’m bad. I did something wrong. I
David Ralph [39:12]
love Michael Jackson moment.
Unknown Speaker [39:17]
I’m a big fan of Michael, you’re
David Ralph [39:18]
gonna grab your crotch and
Unknown Speaker [39:21]
I’m moonwalking in my house right now.
Mark Barnes [39:25]
But you know, I do I think I think you have to do that we have to instil that attitude that instead of I’m a failure, what happened and how can I make it better? And I love your example. Because you know, I write a blog, and I and I do a lot of that same kind of stuff. And of course, now with the hack learning app, I’ll very much be looking constantly at downloads and what people are saying and reviews and all of that. And I think it’s important to look at it and say, instead of, Oh, no, I failed. What could I do better and you know, your Never going to please everyone, that’s for sure. But you do have to always look and say, What could I do differently? That would engage people because that’s what we’re doing. That’s what this is about. It’s about engagement.
David Ralph [40:11]
Well, we’re going to bring on the legend that is Rocky Balboa, who said something in Rocky six that was so profound, and funnily enough, it’s gone down as one of those those mantras one of those quotes that people actually throw back at me, but this is Rocky,
Steve Jobs [40:26]
you, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward, how much you can take it, keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.
David Ralph [40:42]
Now that really touches on what we were just talking about, isn’t it that you you haven’t got the answers. You just do stuff and you’ll get whacked in the mouth, but you just get up and you keep on going. And all the successful people, the Oprah’s the Steve Jobs, the Bill Gates, they’ve all been wrapped in amount of time and time and time. Again, by the You want themselves down and up? They get what? What makes you want to keep on moving forward when you haven’t got those answers Mark?
Mark Barnes [41:11]
Well, that’s a really good one. And I, it’s, it’s hard for me at least I know some people will will spit out an answer immediately to that question. But it’s difficult for me. And I’m not sure that I know exactly what it is. I think that perseverance is one thing. I feel like in in kind of extending on the conversation about failure, that when you quit, that’s the only time you fail. That that’s the way I look at it is if I just say, Okay, well, that didn’t go well. And I’m never going to do that again. Or not going to try something new or not going to take a risk because I’m afraid of that. That’s when I feel like I failed. I I feel like I want to continue to move forward. To conquer whatever it is, I tried, you know, we’re talking a little bit about the app business today because of the hack learning app. And interestingly, in this one, boy, my I think my wife was a little shocked when she found out that I wanted to develop a new app. Because speaking of failing, I was in the app business about five years ago, and tried to create a gaming app. And this was sort of a hobby while I was teaching, and I was involved with my brother and another friend, and we said, Hey, why don’t we give this a go? And, you know, it’s sort of fun, and I had read a book about it and and that that failed horrifically because we were just inexperienced and and didn’t surround ourselves with the right team, and it just wasn’t successful. And we walked away from it. Well here a few years later, and I’m getting back into the app business and I’ve had a lot of people say, wow, that didn’t go well. The last time you sure you want to do that? And for me, the feeling is, I want to do it because I feel like I’ve learned a lot. And I think I can do it better this time. So I think that’s what drives me again, is that making myself better and doing something that I think will make other people better? I think the first go around in the app business for me was more about us. It was more about some guys saying, let’s let’s create something again, maybe that we can make some money from because you know, so many people are making so much money in the app business. And and people think, Oh, well, boy, if I put an app out there, you know, sell it or whatever I do, I can make so much money so fast. And I think that that was a good lesson for me again, and that failure. The lesson was that it has to be about what you’re given to people and anything you’re doing. Again, going back to the people I mentioned earlier, and the people who have been successful and have become extremely rich financially. Most of them will tell you that it’s about what you give before it’s about what you get. So for me, I want to overcome those failings and I want to be better this time and with hack learning. The whole vision is different. It’s not at all about money. It’s about creating something useful that will make teaching and learning better.
David Ralph [44:19]
So for you sitting there now in your in your pyjamas, I imagine did you do with hoping your pyjamas and you’ve got like a superman outfit under there? Well, what makes you different from the listeners that people who are sitting there going, I can’t do this. I can’t do that. What makes you What’s your superpower?
Well, I feel like I gotta choose my words wisely because I think you can really sound arrogant and answer that question. Um, I made me come. I come across Tony Africa when you asked me that question. Nice hair. That’s
Mark Barnes [45:00]
Yeah, I don’t have seen fixers got a lot of grey hair.
You know, I think that, for me the superpower is, is a support team. You know, I think that there’s so many things you can say that maybe you could say I have this and I have that that other people don’t have. I’ve got a certain vision or intelligence or whatever. And I don’t know that that’s true. I think so many people have that. And and so many people have great skill sets. What I have is, is a support team. You know, I have a family and in a close knit group of friends who, when I say after failing years ago in the app business, I want to do this again, their first reaction is, okay, well, that didn’t go well. Last time. What’s going to make it successful this time? Their first reaction isn’t? Oh, no, you don’t want to do that. That’s crazy. And there’s there’s failings throughout throughout the process, you know, this developing something new and gathering content and talking to people about providing for you. It’s a challenging thing and there there are often days that things go wrong. And for me when I can turn to a family member and and sort of just vent and say, Oh, this this is terrible this one so badly today, and their reaction is, well, what what can I do to help and what can we do to move forward past this too? shall pass is something that my wife says a lot, and I appreciate that because it emboldened me, so I think that’s a superpower. I think you have to have people. I’m a huge believer in team I just don’t think you can do it alone. So for me that that and and drive and I’m a big believer in in motivation and you know, intrinsic motivation that drive to move forward to to leap the hurdles that are in front of you. And when you trip on one and fall down, to get back up,
David Ralph [47:13]
let’s play the theme of the whole show. These are the words that Steve Jobs said 10 years ago. And I the reason why we call the show Join Up Dots, this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [47:23]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [47:58]
So what’s your big day Mom, when you look back on everything becoming a basketball coach failing or perceivably failing on that app to where you are now, when did it start going truly in the direction you wanted?
Mark Barnes [48:14]
Well, I had a year in teaching. Oh boy, I don’t know, probably 789 years ago. That was a horrible failure. For me. It was one of those years that I was ready to give up. Because I had already taught for, I don’t know, 1314 years. And it just hit me at the end of one school year that I wasn’t helping kids. I had a group that was a difficult group to work with. They were reluctant learners. They were kids who came from from difficult home lives. And school didn’t mean a lot to them. They were a lot like I was growing up, they didn’t love school, and in fact, a lot of them hated me. And I just reflected and thought something’s not right here. And I, I decided that summer that I was either going to leave education for good, or I was going to do something different. And, and that was important for me I spent a summer reading I one of the huge I mean, for me, dots are often authors, you know, I write and I’m a huge fan of, of reading nonfiction and looking at people who have done things that have made a difference in lives. And I spent that summer and, and I there were some powerful books for me. I read drive by Dan pink. And and this is all about what makes people want to do things. And for me, it wasn’t so much my own drive, but it was what’s missing in my classroom, that I am not driving kids to get better. That they don’t, they’re not interested. And there was so much rich content in there about what motivates people, Dan pink spent about a decade researching motivation, and looking at psychologists and psychiatrists and all the work that they had done, and teachers and people and said, what makes you want to do something? And there’s some amazing lessons in there that struck me and made me think I’m not doing this with my kids. And, you know, go back to Mike ferry the idea of happiness and innovation. I wasn’t doing that. So for me that that was a huge day in my life, because I said, You know what, I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I think a lot of people who have been in education for a long time, they just sort of keep going, even if the wheels are spinning, and you’re not going anywhere. And do they do things the same? And, and that was another one of those risks. We talked a lot about risk today. So I said, You know what, I’m going to rebuild myself. I’m gonna do it completely. Everything is going to be different in my room next year. And that was a complete transformation for me. After many years in the classroom, I went back the following year and, and I changed everything. And that ultimately led me here today because I feel like that was after more than a decade, I had finally started reaching kids and making them want to learn.
David Ralph [51:24]
And Are you happy now in a position that you are now do you think yeah, this is pretty pretty damn good be a month bombs?
Mark Barnes [51:32]
I do. Yeah, for sure. Um, I, you know, I think that someone just asked me the other day if I if I miss being in the classroom, and this is only my second year away from from being a full time classroom teacher. And, you know, I said, Absolutely, I do. And then they followed up with the same kind of question you just asked, you know, but but do you like what you’re doing? And I said, you know, the thing is, I’m still a teacher. I’m still an educator. You know, sort of what I said in the beginning of our conversation. It said, I think that I’m sort of broadening my net. I’m trying to help more people. By doing what I’m doing. I’m still seeing kids in the classroom. I’m out in front of educators. And and I’m, I’m writing, I’m connecting daily on social media. And I’m continuing the conversation about how to get better. And now I’m developing what I hope is going to be an incredible tool that every educator around the world is going to say, I have to have that because hack learning is really the best way to do it. So every day brings new riches.
David Ralph [52:39]
Well, I’m sure it’s gonna be a global success because it comes from the right place. And I think time and time again, if you listen to every episode of Join Up Dots, the people say the education systems flawed somehow they don’t know the answer, but I don’t know how to resolve it, but I feel it is so anyone who’s doing something different increases. It plays to the passions that we have now in our lives, almost the addictions that we have with social media being connected all the time. I think it’s a good thing and I’m looking forward to seeing hack learning, being blasted around and being and being on things like Pat Flynn, smart, passive income and stuff. It’d be right up through I’m finding out about that.
Mark Barnes [53:20]
Well, I certainly hope you’re right, David. And I think that conversations like these will only help and you use the word passion and I think that’s, that’s key. You know, again, for me, the big lesson has been to, to come from a different place. And I think anytime you’re coming from something with with passion and something you truly believe in and you’re willing to get behind and to, to take those hurdles. And, you know, I think that’s what really makes a difference. So I feel like this is something that’s going to be good for people and that’s what’s important.
David Ralph [53:53]
Well, let’s bring the show to an end now as we always do with the Sermon on the mic and this is when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the unmark, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re gonna find out, because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades you up, this is the Sermon on the mic. With the best
Unknown Speaker [54:20]
bit of the show,
Mark Barnes [54:36]
Mark, you’re in your mid 20s now, and you you’ve done a few things in your life, but you’re sort of stumbling around and you’re just not sure where to go. You’re going to be given an opportunity to make some easy money. You’ll even consider changing careers for it. You’ll see quick riches and much easier life ahead of you. Think about All you’ve worked for and the things you already have. There’s no easy road. And even if there is, it isn’t worth trading, your passion and the hard work you’ve already done, and the preparation you’ve you’ve had for what you’re doing the rich experiences that await you in education, what you’re doing now working with kids, it’s hard. You don’t always feel that what you’re doing is right or, or the best thing for kids. But as a teacher, and a writer, and someone who has the ability to reach a large audience, you may not find easy riches, but the experience and impact you’ll have on others will be worth far more in the end. Keep your eye on the prize mark, and that is helping kids and helping people be better.
David Ralph [55:58]
Mom, how can our audience connect with you.
Mark Barnes [56:02]
Well, the easiest places on social media, I’m on all day. On Twitter, I’m at Mark Barnes 19. That’s the number one nine. I’m also at Mark Barnes 19 dot com, which has a landing page that’s on my blog, which is I’m happy to say it’s pretty popular and education. There’s a lot of great content there similar to hack learning. You can find my books on Amazon just by searching Mark Barnes. And again, the hack learning mobile app, which is now available in the Google Play market and will be available on iTunes very soon. So please, it’s free. It’s it’s filled with content. It’s not about money. It’s not about riches. It’s about improvement.
David Ralph [56:45]
Mark, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining those dots and connecting your past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Mark Barnes. Thank you. much,
Mark Barnes [57:01]
David, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. love your show love what you do. Thanks again.
David Ralph [57:09]
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of Join Up Dots brought to you exclusively by podcast is mastery.com. The only resource that shows you how to create a show, build an income and still have time for the life that you love. Check out podcasters mastery.com.
Now, David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.