Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Grant Aldrich
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Introducing Grant Aldrich
In todays episode of Join Up Dots we are joined by the founder of OnlineDegree.com, a for-profit company that allows people to take courses and earn degrees from hundreds of participating universities, all for free.
After he graduated from college with an overwhelming amount of debt, and after hearing his wife lament that there were very few resources for mothers that were trying to go back to school he had an idea.
He started OnlineDegree.com in order to change the way that the world went to school.
As you might expect, he can now offer a deep look into the American student debt crisis and why it has become everybody’s problem, as well as offer his perspective on running a business that keeps the lights on while adhering to his values.
How The Dots Joined Up For Grant
As he says “We’re Making Higher Education More Accessible & Affordable For Everyone.
At OnlineDegree.com, anyone can take online courses at their own pace and within the confines of their existing busy schedule…completely, free.
After completing courses, students can then receive college credits at participating universities across the country, saving both time and money.
We want to help the millions of people seeking a college education who’ve been unable to take the first step. University and college education can still be too expensive and unapproachable for the majority of Americans.
Normal distractions of work, bills, and home life, often prevent someone from getting started with education or being able to dedicate time and money to a traditional 4-year degree program. We’re going to change that.
By removing barriers and focusing on world-class education, we’re enabling everyone to take the first step with full-time education.
So are there common issues that everyone stumbles into as the debt increases around them.
And why with the ease of entry into online world, do so many people feel that they have no other option around
Well lets find out as we start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Grant Aldrich
During the show we discussed such wide ranging subjects such as:
Grant reveals why we should have the core of our inner morals and strategies in tact and remain so moving forward no matter what happens.
We discuss the reasons why Grant’s first steps into the entrepreneurial world were all about freedom, but actually he became a slave for the task.
How Grant had the epiphany of finally doing something that he really loved everyday in his life, which was going to be bigger than himself.
Why living a truly frugal lifestyle is often the fastest way to achieve the lifestyle you truly want.
Grant discusses the model that he has chosen to allow students from across the world to gain free education.
How To Connect With Grant Aldrich
If you enjoyed this episode of Join Up Dots then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as Ted Yoder, Sean Swarner or the amazing Alfie Best
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription Of Grant Aldrich Interview
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 [0:25]
Yes, hello. Hey, good morning everybody. Good morning and welcome to another episode of join up dots every time I do a podcast episode you never know what type of guests you’re gonna get. Some are prepared. Some ill prepared. Some don’t even turn up but today’s guy not only has he turned up his shoes, the prepared he’s got everything organized. He’s my favorite all time guests. It’s a love fest. You always hear that for the show. I’m gonna I’m gonna squeeze these little cheeks and and and make an appt No, no, no, no, I’m not gonna go that far. But he is the founder of firstname.lastname@example.org. a for profit company that allows people take courses and earn degrees from hundreds of participating universities is the kicker or for free. Now after he graduated from college with an overwhelming amount of debt, and after hearing his wife lament that there were very few resources for mothers that were trying to go back to school, he had an idea. He started online degree.com in order to change the way that the world went to school. And as you might expect, he can now offer a deep look into the American student debt crisis. And why it’s become everybody’s problem as well as offer his perspective on running a business that keeps the lights on while adhering to his values. As he says we’re making higher education more accessible and affordable for everyone. Online degree.com. Anyone can take online courses at their own pace and within the confines of their existing busy schedule completely. here’s the kicker for free. After completing courses, students can then receive college credits at participating universities across the country, saving both time and money. And we want to help the millions of people seeking a college education and be unable to take the first step university and college education can still be too expensive and approachable for the majority of Americans. And with normal distractions at work bills and home life, often preventing someone from getting started with education or being able to dedicate time and money to a traditional four year degree program. We’re going to change that over the kicker of it being free. I’m not saying that I don’t know what it is. But I’m removing barriers and focusing on world class education. we’re enabling everyone to take the first step with full time education. So are there common issues everyone stumbles into as the old data increases around them? And why would the ease of entry into online world do so many people feel that they have no other option around been to go to university? That’s a contentious question. But let’s find out as we start joining up the dots with the one and only Mr. Grant Aldrich. Good morning, Grant. How are you sir?
Grant Aldrich [2:54]
David, thank you so much for having me. And I you know, that compliment about being organized, I’m so glad this is being recorded, because I want to play this from my wife. She will never believe anybody gave me that compliment. It’s a
David Ralph [3:06]
funny old thing, though. Because in the online world, I think it doesn’t take a lot to be organized. But more often than not the people that I speak to are all over the shop. And I think to myself, if you like that, when you’re just coming onto a podcast, what you’re going to be like in real life. It’s not about that is it?
Grant Aldrich [3:24]
I agree. It’s not that hard. And yet, as you and I both know, because being organized as a result of what we see around us, and all the things we don’t like around us, it just pasted the organized.
David Ralph [3:38]
I am the most organized person in my life, it drives my wife to distraction, my drawers organized, my cupboards organized, everything is organized around me. But now I’ve got to that point where I want it to go one step further. And unless I walk around naked, I don’t know how I can strip down anymore. I’ve got to that point where it’s almost an obsession of having six systems that were processes that were covered set, you can find stuff in. When you look at your own business, you were very open with me at the very beginning that you said for the first 10 years you did everything wrong. Do you think that you was in that state of just having stuff is organized around you? Do you think there was a lack of focus and clarity in those first 10 years? You know,
Grant Aldrich [4:22]
actually, I think that’s a very insightful way to put it. Not in the physical sense, but I think mentally Yeah, I think you could say that I was completely disorganized. And, you know, because I look at myself and as a cautionary tale. You know, you’re you’ve got such a interesting group of listeners who, you know, come to the show and get to hear great stories about people who break out and you know, of the corporate life and get to start doing what they want to do the awakening. And I think that most people, when they take that bold step, they assume that everything’s going to be okay. But no, you can, you can really mess it up as you go out and take those first steps. So really, I feel that I’m a case study in what not to do early on in my career. And of course, I was able to fix that eventually, but I did a lot of things wrong.
David Ralph [5:17]
But But aren’t you supposed to make mistakes? Isn’t that the human way? Agron? It would be a bit Terminator, wouldn’t it if we all just raise into something where you know, absolute focus and clarity from the word go surely was supposed to Bumble about I just read, keep aware before this episode, I recorded an episode. That’s called something like you’re better than you think you are. Because so many people that I speak to online, they sort of say, Oh, yeah, I just need to do this before I go live. I’m just need to do this before I launch. But it’s the stumbling that actually finds the real thing that we should be doing, isn’t it? You know,
Grant Aldrich [5:54]
that’s true, I will agree that you know, the doing everything wrong is a part of it. But I think I’m a big believer in philosophy. And that you’re, you have to have a core of your beliefs. And the core of your strategy has to be intact and sound. And then, of course, even if my strategy is I’m going to climb that mountain, I’m going to trip a bunch of times, I’m going to fall, but at least I know that my goal is correct. To get to the top, I’m enjoying the journey and you expect all of the mistakes you’ve made. But I think you got to get down to the the foundation and make sure that there are no mistakes.
David Ralph [6:32]
So how do you do background? I imagine we’ve got somebody in front of us and they they’re, they’re being bombarded by the knowledge from probably the two greatest online brains around today. Okay, it’s grown. And Davey, we’re joining forces, how can we give that person that core strategy of foundation to get going?
Grant Aldrich [6:53]
Okay, so I think I’m going to go back to my, one of my favorite quotes, which is a bit of ancient Greek wisdom. So and the quote is Know thyself, and that quote, was in the, on the, in the Temple of Apollo in ancient Greece, it was unscripted on the very top. And I in the rationale for that is that you can never really attain true wisdom. If you don’t know yourself, like, if you don’t know yourself, what can you possibly know? Yeah. And I thought that’s fascinating. And I think that, at least in my case, my early mistakes was because I didn’t know myself well enough. And I made all these mistakes in Well, let me take a step back. My goal with being an entrepreneur and getting out of the rat race was for freedom. And not everybody has that goal. Some people want a big car, some people want security, some people wants to build it, you know, the vacationing off St. Barts, for me, it was none of that I wanted just the freedom to do whatever I want to learn whatever I want. And the irony is, is for the first 10 years of my startup career, I’ve been in Starbucks for 15 years. I I actually irony is that I became a slave in my pursuit of being a trying to attain freedom now. Yeah, it’s it’s so sad. And yet, it’s totally true. And I think it was because, again, back to now, going back to knowing myself, when I structured my company in the very beginning, you know, I was trying to leave the corporate america template, you know, of, you know, checking in nine to five and managing people and doing all of these things. And yet, as I built the company, I just replicated all those mistakes. I had an office and I would come in and we hired people, and I had to come in at x time and leave at x time and managing people. And I basically duplicated all the things I didn’t want to do in the process. And it’s it was sad, it took me a long time to rectify. And what’s interesting is that, even through those 10 years, I seemingly had a successful run, I think, to startup companies in that period of time. And yet, when I look back, I think, wow, I did it all wrong. I messed up so much.
David Ralph [9:07]
I agree with you totally background I do. As I’ve set through on my entrepreneurial journey. Money hasn’t been important to me as much as the ability to say no, if I fancy saying no. So if something comes true, and I say this a lot on the show on Thursdays is my join up dots recording. So I have to be here because you’re going to be here, and we’ve agreed to time and that’s it. But away from that is an absolute lockdown of control on my time, so that I can just sworn off to the movies in the afternoon if I want to do it, you know, and I was very aware of that at the very beginning. But why did we you know, why were you not painting yourself closest to the door by making those those structured decisions about the freedom that you wanted?
Grant Aldrich [9:54]
David, I think you’re smarter than I am. I think that’s what it came down to. I think you made better decisions than I did. You know, it was I think I was very young. And when you’re young, you are not as willing to say no, I think I think you nailed it. I think it’s the it’s the assertiveness to know what you want and to say no, as everything creeps up in your life to distract you from that. Because it’s if you really want to be happy with the journey in your everyday life. You have to be comfortable saying no and swatting flies all the time. Because everybody it’s like the old Zen thing. You know, everybody wants to create ripples in your pool. Yeah. So I think that I just wasn’t very good. I didn’t I hadn’t identified what I was good at and what made me happy about my work. And as a result of that I got you know, you get caught and you get you stumble into these things. Like, again, I’ll give an example. Coming in driving into an office every day with employees. Every most companies would say, well, that’s just what you’re supposed to do. And maybe that makes some people happy. But for me, I don’t one that I like you said, I want to be able to focus my time maybe work all night if I want to. And then I can, you know, relax the next day and really collect myself I don’t want to have to be beholden to someone else’s schedule. And that’s a sad thing. And so no, I you know, I don’t know the answer other than my, you know, youthful exuberance and and old stupidity.
David Ralph [11:22]
I think we should all be married grand, you know that because I had the I had the greatest trainer in saying no, because every night for about the last 30 years, I get my wife in bed, and she says no. And I think that is the the beauty of it. And I learned those skills. And I took them with me into entrepreneur life. Now, of course, you have now got this success. And it’s like a mission entrepreneur. It’s something that is bigger than yourself. And I love these kinds of businesses where, you know, so many people come through to me, and they go, Oh, yeah, I’m a life coach, or boring. I’m on base and boring. But yours is something my first thought was, well, if it’s all for free, where’s the kicker? Are you making any money from it? That’s my first thing. And and I don’t want you to be in a box grown, I don’t want you to be living there providing all the service for people. So how do you become a mission? premier? And I hate that word, but it works.
Grant Aldrich [12:18]
Well, you know, that’s actually it’s a good point. So I think to understand it all, I have to kind of go back to now what I wanted to do right after I reflected Finally, and I kind of had my own second awakening saying to myself, okay, how do I want to structure my next startup, I just exited my last one. And I was able to, I really was lucky in the sense that I got to say, Okay, I clearly done so many things wrong. From the beginning, how do I want to structure this, and one of the pieces that I thought was missing was I there was no grand thing I was doing, I was helping out pharmaceutical companies. And don’t get me wrong, that’s satisfying me, there’s a lot of good things that happen every day, but you don’t. You’re not waking up running to your desk to help pharmaceutical companies, you so I thought that was something that I really wanted to do was, every morning when I got up aside from making a successful company was I really loved what I was doing. And the thing might, I can go into a lot of the background, but my family was all part of education and the student debt problem. And people not going back, being able to go back to school, working adults, single moms, anybody really bothered me. And I thought, you know what, we can solve this. And and now this is me talking with my wife, I said, you know, we can we can do something, we can create a solution that helps people get back to higher ed, because you look at higher ed, and it’s just swimming with issues and accessibility problems. And that was really the genesis of the mission.
David Ralph [13:56]
Why you grant because you know why? What made you you not go like so many people? Who am I? Who am I to tackle this problem? Surely I haven’t got enough in my armory, because it seems to be about the world. And it’s a bit of a bugbear of mine at the moment has got a handbrake on, I can do amazing things, but they can only think the next person’s going to do it. Or it’s not going to be achievable, because I haven’t got all the skills. So how did you throw that away and steam straight into online? degree.com? And I have to say, that’s a great URL you did well to get that one. When I saw that, I thought Really? Was that available? And he managed to get online? degree.com?
Grant Aldrich [14:36]
Yeah, I know that that’s a story in itself. I actually bought it and it took months and months of negotiating to get it and I thought you know, I can’t let this go. It’s such a great domain for the Finally I was able to get it. Yeah. No, that’s a great question. You know what this is, I’m going to give you the snappy answer, which I actually think is true. In this case, I usually don’t like sappy answers. But I think it’s because got a supportive it was it was the right time in my life, where we were just financially secure enough with the previous exits, where I could be bold, and have that freedom to do it. And then, you know, my wife, who’s very supportive, who was able to tell me, you know, you can do anything, and so pick go big. And then, of course, my own ambition that I don’t it’s almost like, you know, you pick challenges and journeys in your life for the at the right time in your life. And this is the time my life, I want to do something really big. And so I was really emboldened to swing the bat and swing for the fences, where I think in the next part of my life, maybe I’m going to want to do something very different. Maybe I’m going to want to be more focused on completely on philanthropic efforts. So I think it was just the perfect storm.
David Ralph [15:51]
I was expecting over that you were so passionate, then I’m just expecting more. So the perfect storm, does that occur naturally? Or does that occur just because of action? You know, it’s, do you actually have to create your own Perfect Storm? Because I actually understand what you mean. And I was having a conversation with somebody the other day, and they said, you know, what do you think the worst thing about your life is? And I said, I think it’s about I’m going to run out of time to build what I’ve got in my heart. Really, that was the concept, you know, and I do feel that same thing that the perfect storm has sort of got around me. But do you have to actually make that happen? Or does it just occur naturally?
Grant Aldrich [16:30]
No, I think you have to make it alive. It’s making it happen. You know, I I look at things now when I’m making any decision in my life. This may sound a little dark, but I look at it through the lens. I’m on my deathbed. And looking back at this and what am I going to feel about this? And what am I going to feel about this pathway? Am I going to is there going to be remorse that I didn’t do something? Is there going to be happiness that I did. And one of the things was that I really wanted to go big. I wanted to like really have a huge dream, tackle a huge problem, and really try to make it successful, and yet at the same time, not sacrifice the things that really mattered to me like family, and, and my freedom and those things. So yeah, it was more by design. I think
David Ralph [17:19]
it’s amazing why everybody ends their life in a deathbed, isn’t it? I always pump them out. You know, no one ever says to me, I ponder that last moment of my life when all my passengers are screaming as I am really off the side of the road or whatever. Well, why do we just die? No, baby, it can’t happen.
Grant Aldrich [17:39]
You’re right. I think that would it’s probably more accurate. What you’re describing. Maybe you don’t want to think about it. But I’m sure that’s more true. We’ll we’ll find out.
David Ralph [17:47]
Oh, at least it goes viral when you spend all your life trying to get an online profile. And in that last minute, yeah, yeah, go everywhere. When you’ll be you’ll be Twitter feeding and trending all over the place. But let’s play some words now. And then let’s delve back in to grants life because he’s got some fascinating stuff to share is Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [18:04]
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 [18:31]
Now, have you ever been in a state in your life grant that you’ve had to survive? Because I don’t think I have I don’t think I’ve flourished at times. But I don’t think I’ve ever had to survive, as he ever been that sort of dark for you.
Grant Aldrich [18:44]
Well, that was a great quote from Jim Carrey. That’s, that’s amazing, by the way, um, you know, I think I’m fortunate that no, I share that with you where I don’t think I was ever at the point of final desperation of pure survival. And I say that because there are people I know, you, of course, could in any person’s situation, I think, say Oh, it was just it was a dire situation while they’re eating caviar. But I can’t I don’t think with any with in good faith could say that I was ever in that position where you’re literally faced with starving or success. And I mean, we’ve definitely gone through many low periods where things looked dire. You’ve got people, you know, employees who lives depend on you, at least in that moment. And that, you know, what are you going to do to make payroll, things are crashing, I’m going whether many of those storms as an entrepreneur, and it’s all, you know, you take it very seriously. But I can’t sound like I can say that I was ever at that point yet. Maybe I think I’m lucky in that sense.
David Ralph [19:50]
Well, actually, it’s kind of leading question, because I actually think that the majority of people nowadays aren’t, yeah, there are people that are really sort of a low and no backers. But the people that are listening to my podcast, for example, and they’re walking around with internet connection, and they’ve got their mp3 players, and they’ve got their Apple phone and all that kind of stuff. I think really, even when life whacks you in the face, you’ve got enough around you to just keep moving forward. I don’t see hardly anything in the last five years of my life, and I’ve had the same dark times when I think oh, what the hell am I doing? But I realize now that those dark times were just because I kept on trying to folks through that dark time, where I should have just turned a light on for a start. And, you know, and done things in a different way. I was just on one track. Do you see what made on that ground?
Grant Aldrich [20:42]
Yeah, you’re right. Well, you know, in, you know, aside from the the physical of, you know, maybe I’m making a decision whether I can eat or not. I’m also a big believer of your mental health and every day. You know, you have to you go through those dark periods. Like, you know, you remind me a lot of myself, David, except for I’m not funny, and you are bad being a big difference. Are you sexy as well, Ben, Ron, are you sexy as well? Yeah, yeah, we share that. Yeah, yeah, I think so. So, you know, when you the darkest, the, you know, the darkest, same mentality periods happen in your own mind, you know, where are our toughest critics, you know, when you, when you think about it, you you a lot of these things that maybe aren’t so awful in the sense that you’re going to survive inside internally, you’re very hard on yourself, it’s very dark, it’s very scary, and hard, you know, look, your journey as well to do what you did. There are nights where, you know, I’m sure you were terrified, going into doing what you want to do. It’s a scary thing to go out on your own and take that first step, and you’re in charge of your own destiny. It’s terrifying.
David Ralph [21:48]
I don’t think I ever had the dark times starting, I think there was a naivety of it. But I suddenly ran out of money about four times I didn’t realize growing, what I’ve grown, how much investment it takes certain times to move on to the next level, is because you kind of look at other people’s businesses, and you just kind of think, well, it’s just all profit, but it’s not. And that’s the bits where I sat here thinking limey, you know, how am I going to get those that 3000, that 4000 5000, or whatever it is, but I need to actually develop the foundations to move to the next stage. And I just couldn’t see it. But little by little, you find your way around. And I remember setting and some shares, I forgot ahead and doing some other stuff and sort of wheeling and dealing just to keep going. And I just think we’ve got enough around as most of us to be able to find our way through most problems.
Grant Aldrich [22:42]
Well, you’re totally right. And that’s, that’s very interesting, because, you know, I think that you just nailed, you know, that struggle, that financial struggle, I think that that’s the, that’s the dirty secret that no entrepreneurs really talk about is that we all go through that in a multiple times, not just once, but like you said four times, I can probably count at least four or five times where I’ve had that same experience. And it’s it is that I think that is the greatest reason why most people don’t leave their cushy, you know, guinea pig cell to actually venture out and do something on their own, because they put security and stability on such a high priority where you and I would say, Well, you know, you’ve got to throw that out the window, it’s especially the beginning, you live a very dynamic life initially to get to that point. And it’s, it’s exhilarating. And when you get there, you do have a much better life. It’s a leading it’s, it’s, it’s incredible, but it’s challenging. And you have to you have to find your way through it.
David Ralph [23:45]
I was watching YouTube the other day, and you know, when you watch YouTube, and then you forget, you’re watching YouTube, and some random video comes on. And it was some kind of mid west TV news anchor talking. And what he was doing was going going around and he was rubbish, how he got on TV, I don’t know this old guy. But anyhow, he was on there, there must be a lot of TV stations in America because he wouldn’t be on our TV for a star he would. And he was talking to these guys who basically had retired at the age of 35. By saving everything they could, while people were out partying while they were having a nice life, you know, downsizing, and just making financial decisions. And they said to them, you know, what, what is it giving you because you’re basically retired now, and they just said choices, just choices, you know, we can decide what to do. And I think that for the listeners out there, I think that’s one of the greatest things you can do. Come back, come back, come back and realize that actually, that surplus income can provide you with the way out, you know, actually build a nest egg before you actually go into whatever venture you want. And have that sitting there just for those moments that me and grant are talking about when you send me Me, me. I need to pay back next week, and I just haven’t got them. Oh, yes, I have baby is because I didn’t have that holiday or I bought a second hand car. What do you think, Ron?
Grant Aldrich [25:09]
Yeah, you know, you’re so right. You know, one of the things that I feel very fortunate about initially is that when I first got when I first became an entrepreneur, my 20s because it was so tough. For the first few years, I begin to live such a modest Spartan lifestyle that has now carried its way through all the way to my point. Now I’m in my late 30s. And that initial time really got you to appreciate that No, no, if I find the whole point of me doing what I want to do every day is that that is the excitement. That’s the enjoyment not me buying a next car where every time you make, oh, I get $1,000 raise, and I just get a brand new car with new shackles that go around me stressing me out every month, why can I can never break free of that, that I mean, that to me is the greatest travel the that people just expense all the way up. And to the point where they can, they’ve got so little room, they’re just they’re building a little box around themselves. It’s so sad.
David Ralph [26:10]
It’s funny in my life, my wife is the opposite to me. I just bought her brand new car, you know, straight off, it’s got like 60 miles on the clock, whatever. I’m driving a 10 year old car, where water drops through the roof when it really rains on to me, you know, I’ve got no desire to change it. And she says to me, you know, why don’t you get a new car got I don’t need a new car. It does exactly what I need to do. And she’s you know, driving off in a new one with air conditioning and heated seats. I that’s one thing. I don’t understand heated seats grand. Do Americans have heated seats? I have got into cars. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if you know, the steering wheel was warm, you don’t get that I’ve never gotten now. So I need a warm bottom. I’ve never felt that. And it just makes you feel like you put yourself my dad who is it keeps on getting in. And I keep on turning on maximum. And he’s now thinking he’s losing control of himself, which is quite amusing. Due to that that warm, spreading feeling up his legs. To which he leaps out and looks for refuge somewhere away from the family. I don’t understand heated seats, do you?
Grant Aldrich [27:18]
I know that like the decadence that we live in today. Right? I know. And but if you’re living like that, that 10 year old car, I love it, because that brings you peace. It’s the it’s the peace, that you don’t need something else. Like it fulfills all of your needs. And you know, for example, I bought a new car, but because I’ve got a family, I’ve got new little kids now. And I’ve and I wanted to get something that would be functional. Because to me, if you spend something to make your life better, and it makes it functional, because now you’ve got the space that you need to carry them and all these things great. But I bought a simple I bought a simple minivan. I mean, I and like most people would say, Oh, you know, that’s, you know, you Well, you know, hang up any last vestiges of your sexuality, and they’re right. But I did it anyway.
David Ralph [28:07]
I love the fact that you say you’ve got new little kids, you know, like, like, you could actually have old little kids, which would just be really scary looking when you’re sitting there smoking and you know, and having tattoos and stuff. You don’t want that new little kids, I think generally they are all new ground. They are all gone. So So let’s jump back into online degree again. So what was the step forward? Ben? Because I’ve been over there. And to my brain, I kind of think I don’t know what the first steps would be. Yeah. Okay, you got the sexy URL? That’s really good. But how do you bring that much information into one place, and not have like a half done three quarters done sort of platform? Or maybe it is maybe it’s growing all the time?
Grant Aldrich [28:55]
No, it was, it was an incredible amount of work to get this off the ground, because so often, let me just just kind of quickly describe what we do. And then that way, it’ll bring the context. So an online degree calm, anybody could get started within 60 seconds, register, take as many college level courses as they want. And we’ve worked with creating pathways with 1400 universities in the United States, where they can get credit towards their degree. So they finish the course, they generate the transcript right through our platform, and they can go and save potentially 10s of thousands of dollars towards their degree. And why that’s so important is because obviously, cost is a huge factor that will prevent working builds from getting started. But also anxiety, timing, their full time job. I mean, nothing has been made easy for a real adult, who has responsibilities and has bills and things that and has not been a classroom for 20 years to go back to school. And so that’s what I saw. And so in that, I said, Okay, how do you really tailor to that person, right. And in doing so, you, I thought, we just have to make a bridge to get people I don’t want to create a whole university, it’s too much work. And it’s it’s not necessary, we can create this platform that helps people take a big chunk, out of that, that step they have to take and get them to go wherever whatever school that they want to go. And so it really just started to evolve from there. And in doing so, it’s a lot of work, because although I’m not a University, where third party, you know, educational platform, and we just have these relationships with universities, you have to be on the same level. Because if they’re going to accept, let’s say, your, their accounting course, to be equivalent to their accounting course, where they’re going to hold you to the same kind of intellectual rigor and standards that they would expect from their own. So it took an immense amount of time, it took over two years to build the courses, build the platform, really understand how we were going to do it, and then launch to launch the service. And I mean, it’s just it’s been an incredible sense. I mean, it’s been there’s been a huge response. But But yeah.
Hopefully that answers the question, at least in part, when he does, but
David Ralph [31:24]
it makes me wonder, you know, in true entrepreneurial spirit, people say, validate the idea as quickly as possible before you spend two years building it. How did you validate it? Or did you just go on blind faith?
Grant Aldrich [31:38]
I know that I’m also I really adhere to that strategy as well, where you try to create that, you know, that first prototype very quickly to validate. But the problem was, in this, again, this grand idea, there really wasn’t a way to prototype it. Because, you know, you got to create courses, and you have to have that course articulate with the school, before you can really gauge the students interest. And just getting to that point, it’s such a huge ordeal. You have to hire professors, you have to build the coursework, you have to organize the articulation. And I think that part of the reason why someone hasn’t done what we’ve done today, it’s just I mean, looking back, I mean, now Wow, what a huge amount of work, and let alone to keep it free. Well, yeah, this is the key thing.
David Ralph [32:28]
Yeah. So right. So So how are you justifying all that work and not actually getting something from it?
Grant Aldrich [32:37]
Well, so this, this was more of a Genesis of what we do. So my, describe my thinking about it first. So in the mission, and where I think that the true value comes, is that working adults, or anybody with any kind of schedule, any financial situation can get back to higher ed, and I, you know, to create real change, it has to be free. Because if you don’t, then you know, that’s just enough impediment, that people are not going to take that first step. And really, I’m trying to create a whole new platform, a whole new method for people to go back to school. So I knew it had to be free. So if you can
David Ralph [33:14]
just jump in now. But yeah, I know, in the online world, but people don’t value through the world is full of people that have signed up for programs and haven’t even logged in because it’s free. How do you know that people are actually going to get the value from your work?
Grant Aldrich [33:31]
That’s a great point. You know, I, my hypothesis on this is that because normally to just for full disclosure, I hate I hate startup models, where it’s only about adoption. It’s only about adoption, there’s no business model. And you know, we’re all just typing away at some messaging platform. And hopefully, that’s the one that sticks for us to be billionaires, I think that’s foolish, and you should just make something people want. So, but I think my remedy, we do have a business model that I think is going to work very well with this. But and But to your point, for the motivation of the student, we’re offering something that’s so valuable, that’s not out there today. And so you know, let’s say you want to try a new messenger app, and it’s free, you know, that’s not something that’s really going to impact your life, whether you love it, or you don’t love it. But there are millions of people who are in a situation where they want to get the better job, explore more opportunity, go back to school, and they there aren’t good options for them, they have to take this huge leap of just going into a school, going to get their old transcripts, taking a huge loan out right away without even knowing what they want to do. And so my belief was that the value is so high, the demand is so high, you can still make it free and get people engaged. And that’s actually what happened.
David Ralph [34:56]
Okay, so that’s, that’s a win, and I’m now happy for you. I’m happy and I can sit back and 50% of myself can relax. But we’re coming up Christmas now you’ve got presents to buy for these old new kids that you’ve got, you know, they want cars, they want driving lessons, they want all these kind of things, how are you going to do it when when the passion and the motivation, any investment, because it doesn’t come for free? What you’ve done, you put a load of money into it. It’s got to be found from somewhere.
Grant Aldrich [35:26]
You’re right there, they’re smoking. Now, those old news, show me they’re shaving.
David Ralph [35:33]
And again, was well, which is the amazing thing.
Grant Aldrich [35:37]
That’s a great point. So the way that I’ve done it is we’ve made it advertising and sponsorship supported. So I took a page out of open source software’s playbook, where you give it away for free, it’s free, right? If you go to Mozilla, Mozilla is free for everybody. But the way that they make money is through their relate enterprise relationships are actually retiring to, you know, the big corporations. And in my case, it’s to the universities. And so the way that we make money is a few different things a few fold. For the student, the value is incredible, not only can they get started, and instantly instant gratification, and hopefully spark the initiative to go back to school prove they have the time management to do it within their busy lives. The value for them is obvious saving money, the value to the university, it’s incredible as well, for the university, one of the things that nobody talks about is that with online education booming, and really being the future of education, there’s also a high dropout rate. And so for and for the university that’s detrimental because everything is, is built their accreditation, all these things on the student finishing what they start and think about it from their position. And now today’s day and age, all they have to go of is looking at a is an application and an essay of whether this person is going to finish their program, that’s not a very dynamic, modern tool to determine that we’re our platform is real world. It’s like the minor leagues real world demonstration of intellectual abilities, determination. So when they look at our platform, the students saw their want are proven that they want to go to school, it’s like a sell itself vetting. If I’m here, and I’m completing courses, I’m most likely going to finish my program. So for the schools, they want to advertise, they want to be there, and they’re willing to offer our students all kinds of interesting things like tuition breaks, because they want those the students that they want.
David Ralph [37:46]
And can it work for people across the world? Or is it only in the US and Canada?
Grant Aldrich [37:52]
No, you know, we’ve had so as of today, it’s been only for us students, but right very soon, we’re going to be opening up internationally. And the what’s very interesting is that the international demand has been greater than the domestic demand, people want to come, you know, I guess the United States for all this problems, still has a very good higher education system, one that’s looked up to across the world. And so many international students want to come but they look at the costs of going to school in the US, it’s outrageous. So we’ve had, I mean, I can’t tell you how many emails I get every single day of people who are asking when it’s going to be open international students, and it’s coming very soon, so that it will be
David Ralph [38:37]
you save up now you’re an American, you’re going to build a bloody Great Wall all the way around it. And you’re gonna, you’re gonna stop anyone getting in, that’s what happens,
Unknown Speaker [38:46]
Grant Aldrich [38:48]
You’re right, I’m gonna, you know, thank God for these notions. Right? Yeah, I know. I know.
That’s the that’s always a tape. But now, I mean, to me, we could. There was actually a student the other day from Nigeria, who had wrote and, you know, took the time to really talk about his story. And it was just heartbreaking and going going to school in the United States being the dream. Now, that’s, that’s going to happen. I, I, there’s too many people who want to do it. And I again, like there’s, there’s no Americans aren’t better than any other people in the world. And so I want to make that accessible for everybody.
David Ralph [39:25]
Yeah, good on you. Good on you. Now, let’s play some words from a classic college dropout, who did rather well for himself is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [39:33]
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 leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [40:08]
Now, he obviously dropped out, and he did very well for himself. And I must admit, I have a huge problem with the extended education system. Because I see people, they go through it, and they come out with a degree in Roman agriculture. And you think really, what’s that going to do moving forward? You know, isn’t it about the sort of the real world experience isn’t isn’t the real life education, more powerful, especially as we said, at the very beginning, with the ease of entry into online world, you can create something remarkable, like you’ve done, we’ve sort of almost no education. You know,
Grant Aldrich [40:46]
you’re right, I, so many people, this is not for everybody. And you’re right, that I would never, I think the problem that we’ve gotten into today is that every person is prescribed a college degree, to go and do whatever they’re going to go do. And you’re right, that Roman agricultural degree, probably doesn’t matter when they you know, end up getting a, you know, trying to find a job in finance. So it’s just, it’s just a waste of money. And you could argue that they were education is education, but I mean, not at any cost. And especially not when you can open up YouTube and learn about anything you ever wanted to learn about. And it’s fascinating. So no, I don’t think this is for everybody. But as a realist, and I think you would appreciate this too, as well, David, is that, but not everybody can get to that awakening, and get to whatever their dream is going to be to do whatever they want, and can self learn. So many people’s dreams are either in careers that still require college degrees, it’s, it’s an apparatus that’s been that’s been there. And it’s not going anywhere, like an accountant, or they they base, their goal is the stability, and they want to work for a really great company that’s going to provide them those stability and benefits. And those
David Ralph [42:08]
dream ground is a dream, you use the word dream. And I bet if you’ve got those people a little bit drunk, and you said, you know, what would you most like to do? They’re not going to say an accountant for a big company early, they’re going to go, you know, I’d like to play at at a base for the New York Red Sox, or whatever you call them over there, you know, but they would have some kind of big sexy dream surely.
Grant Aldrich [42:32]
Here, I guess if you ask people, most people what their dream is, they’d say, I’d want to be Michael Jordan.
But okay, I guess I should have said goals. Because, you know, even though everybody wants to be Michael Jordan, not everybody should like, for example, I should not be on a basketball court, that would be embarrassing, and unless it was for a comedy show. But many people I think, have direct goals to make their lives better. And you know, that person who, let’s say, is studying at night, you know, let’s say the example of a single mom studying at night, wants to get a good stable job. And it’s important for that stability, because she may not have the the ability to really branch, you know, just Hey, I want to start coding or the propensity to want to code. They don’t right now, that’s happening millions and millions of times a day, and they don’t have a good way to get back to school and do it in a horrible way. I mean, that’s just, it’s just a reality. And even though if I want to say poof, change the world tomorrow, where we’re all entrepreneurs, and we’re all learning in an organic, self driven method, it wouldn’t happen tomorrow. And so there’s, there’s, there’s things we can do today to help people toward the goals that they want.
David Ralph [43:50]
today. I watch a lot of YouTube and I like YouTube, because it’s like 15 minutes of something, and you just all like this leads on to something else. But my kids can come man, and my daughter came in the other day, who’s 14, and she’s very into YouTube. But she likes to kind of how to put makeup on and people living lives. And I don’t get that I say to you know, we’re living lives. Why don’t you want to talk to us? No, you’re not as interesting as the people on YouTube. I just, I don’t get it. But I was watching this guy. And he was a Chinese man. He was Chinese. And he was basically saying about how life should be easy. And it’s a great TED Talk, if anybody wants to look it up, can’t remember his name, but his life should be easy. And he was saying there that when he was a kid, life was easy. And he just ran around the East Village and went to bed at night and woke up in the morning. And life is easy as a kid. And when it got harder and harder, because people were saying to him, you need an education. And you know, you need to go to Bangkok to get that job. And so he did. And he just followed it all the way along the line. And when an epiphany occurred when he realized, actually when he broke free from that and went home, with his tail between his legs, because he wasn’t cut out for it. But actually, everything he had as a kid was all he needed. All he needed was a roof over his head, some rice, a bit of clothes, you know, and where he struggled with the education because it was so boring, he suddenly had free time to sort of like, delve into what he’s passions where he’s interest. So real good at TED Talk. And I think that a lot of people nowadays, are surrounding themselves with the wrong kind of inaccessible motivation. It’s just not their head. Brilliant. YouTube is brilliant. And you can just see how people live a different way. And then when you get that spark, maybe you go, I know what online degree.com is going to do for me, I already know where I’m heading, let’s find that resource. And let’s make it work instead of going through it and then trying to make it work with what you’ve got at the end. You see?
Grant Aldrich [45:56]
Ya Well, that’s very powerful. You know, IPOs, Bunny is about I first thought about that, guys, I thought, you know, he probably doesn’t have kids.
Not to say you can’t live that way without children. But I just I kind of off topic. But
I think that that’s a very, that’s a very true statement. And I think that for any person, really, what that moral comes down to is that you have to, you really have to look inside yourself. And I think touch on what I was talking about the you have to know yourself and what’s going to make you happy. And whatever that is that’s going to make you happy you pursue it with a unrelenting zeal. And that could just be that, you know, why are you going to complicate your life and do and fill it with so much nonsense that you don’t that doesn’t really bring you any satisfaction, having the most expensive car on the street or, or going to fancy dinners that aren’t that that aren’t that good. And I think that would for him. And again, haven’t seen that talk. But I guess he boiled it really down to the fact that no, I mean, there’s there is happiness in simplicity, and happiness and peace of mind. And I agree with that.
David Ralph [47:09]
And I think you’ve got that, haven’t you? I think after 10 years of kind of doing everything wrong, it sounds to me that you have got simplicity and happiness in your life.
Grant Aldrich [47:20]
I do I you know, and again, not I don’t always like when people get sappy but I I think I do. I think that I’ve really worked hard this time to remedy those mistakes. And, again, the thing that drives me is that I want to spend as much time as possible with my family. And I’m not I don’t want to compromise that, like I’m watching my and you could appreciate this. You have children, I’m watching my two and a half year old son grow up and I every moment I’m not there, it disappoints me, because I want to be I know that one day, I’m going to look back at these days and just say I wish I could go back to that white to that teenagers.
David Ralph [47:59]
And you won’t be thinking that
Grant Aldrich [48:05]
it’s funny how anything a parent tells you is always true.
So I you know, for me, I there was things that I’m not going to compromise on now. And I really feel that I’ve put myself on that path. And it’s not the easiest path. I mean, I might, I’ve got, you know, partners and people I worked with where they went, you know, after the last startups went right into corporate america and a very high paying jobs and, you know, they and that brought them happiness, but you know, very low stress really, you know, I’ve been I don’t want to do it. I’m just not willing to leave the house and you know, go punch the clock for, you know, 50 hours a week on someone else’s schedule.
David Ralph [48:45]
Yo, yo, a delight. Mr. Aldrich, you really are you worked, you persevered, and you’ve got where you are. And it’s, it’s the happiness, I think the happiness which is missing in so many people’s lives. And it was certainly missing in mind, you know, at least two years ago, where I was so driven to achieve I’d forgotten that actually, what I’d already got is good enough, you know. And I think that 10 year old car, I probably will keep out until it’s literally falling to pieces. Because as Sheryl Crow once said, The legend by Sheryl Crow is not having what you want. It’s wanting what you have. And I think you’ve already mastered that.
Grant Aldrich [49:26]
It’s a daily struggle, though, right? Sometimes you really have to take stock of everything and say, Wow, now this is exactly what I want to be doing. And I don’t there’s nothing else that would make me more happy in this moment. It’s true, in a way because it goes it’s sometimes it runs contrary to the the human psyche of always wanting more and being. So I applaud you for doing that as well, because it’s not easy. It’s not it really is a daily struggle.
David Ralph [49:52]
Yeah, I agree. And all those sports of sharing with the Spice Girls, I push them away. It’s not what I’m need. So it’s not what I want. You see, I’m, I’m not the the Buddha of podcasting. And I can move on from that. Well, we’ve got to the point now where we are going to 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 young grand, what advice would you give him? And what age Grant Aldrich would you speak to? Well, let’s find out because going to play the theme. And when it fades you up, this part of the show is the Sermon on the mic. You know,
Grant Aldrich [50:48]
I would want to speak to my 25 year old Grant Aldrich self, who was just getting started with the first startup. And I would want to tell him that don’t forget to enjoy the journey. It’s not just the end result, but it’s the lifestyle and every day that you have to enjoy as you embark on this journey, you’re doing everything right, in that you’ve decided you know that you want to achieve freedom, it doesn’t matter that you need to know what you want to do yet, but you want to have the option, always do what you want to do. But you have to enjoy the journey. Don’t be a slave to yourself. And I think from a practical standpoint, I would tell them, You need to reflect often question everything you’re doing, and be very opinionated, to say no to all the things that are going to try to come and distract you from achieving that. And hopefully, you’ll do a lot better. And you’ll be happier through the process. As you go through that journey.
David Ralph [51:58]
It will grant little grace, yes, gonna be fun, my you’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna grow out and be very happy and content and online degree.com by the URL maybe 15 years earlier, and then you’ll save yourself some money, just just just just jump in and get that. So ground for all the people that have been listening today, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you? You know,
Grant Aldrich [52:22]
I think LinkedIn is a great way. I’m very active on LinkedIn. And I love hearing from people and talking with other people who are either you know, doing cool things or or want to break out. And so you know, you can, it’s easy to find me there aren’t that many grant all riches on LinkedIn. Or, you know, if you go to online degree com, you can also contact the platform, I read every bit of either fan mail or hate mail, I read every single one.
David Ralph [52:47]
I do as well, and I get more of one than the other. I won’t tell you which way it goes. But it makes for a spicy life, it really does. Well, we will have all the links in the show notes. And Grant Aldrich, thank you so much for spending time with us today, john, lining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures Grant Aldrich.
Grant Aldrich [53:10]
Thank you so much. Thank you, David.
David Ralph [53:17]
So online degree.com. And it’s free. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine you can actually tap into this resource that has been created, as as you know, because I have built many online businesses and they’ve been hard to do online degree.com I’m thinking I don’t even know where to start. You got to disclose you gotta get the information, what happens next year, when the when the test results change, and the papers become different, you know, this is a big block of work. So salute to Grant Aldrich for even tackling it because I don’t think I would have the ability or the desire to do that. That’s when desire really comes into it. That’s why I say to anybody who is looking to create a business goals. And that’s why my coaching literally the first week we spend about knowing yourself really delving into your strengths so that you can find something where the passion will help you overcome the difficulties because there are difficulties ahead. But if you’ve got that passion, you can create something like online degree.com, just like Ron has. Until next time, thank you so much for everybody who has listened to join up dots. If you want to build your own business, take control of your own life, have no boss freedom, and whatever, just drop me a line, just drop me a line. And we will connect. And I will tell you about what we’ve got going on in join up dots. But until next time, look after yourself. Cheers. Bye. Bye. So you’ve now listen to the podcast. And are you interested in creating your own business because creating an online business isn’t too hard. As long as you do the research and you get the foundations in place. And you have a strategy? Well over the last five or 10 years I’ve created multiple online businesses and cemented that information by interview so many people through join up dots. And now I have a four stage strategy back and teach you how to do the same. Create a business that will bring income into your life create freedom, and say goodbye to the alarm clock and the boss forever. Now, this is a 30 day program. But I personally take you through the giving you all the steps that you need to do before you get to the stage of actually creating your business, you’re pretty much guaranteed that the business is going to work as long as you put the effort into it afterwards. If that’s of interest to you, then just go over to the join up dots homepage and click on the 30 day course there’s a video of me and you can just send a message through to me saying that you’re interested Do you want to register on the next course. And I will personally connect with you and talk you through it to make sure that you are fit for what I’m able to teach you. If that’s of interest, as I say go over to join up dots, the 30 day business course and I hope to speak to you soon