Andy Rodford is the Principal of Venture Gained Consulting and works with school, camp, and business leaders to build capacity. He’s been involved in education for 30 years, holding senior roles at various independent schools, and is passionate about experiential learning. He has degrees in Science, Education, and leadership and loves wood carving, outdoor adventures, and helping others unearth potential.

Show Highlights

Every interaction is an opportunity for managing trust and building relationships.
Overcoming the ‘yeah, but’ stage challenge of receiving hard feedback.
Make a goal board for effectively receiving and implementing feedback.
211 degrees will change the state of your school.
Throw a ‘Failure Fest” to celebrate productive failure.
Consulting and counseling in leadership to avoid isolation.
Live out what’s most important to your values with a ‘dump journal.’
“There’s nobody that’s going to help you move ahead in your leadership and as a school leader than the people that you’re working with. And if you try to pretend that you’re something that you’re not, when everybody is giving you feedback that you’re not doing what they hoped that you would be doing, you’re going to be ground into the halt over time because people will just start to disconnect. And that is part of the management of trust.”
- Andy Rodford

Dr Chris Jones

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Read the Transcript here.

Transformative Leadership – From Failure to Trust

Thanks for hitting play. Do you feel like a square peg trying to fit into the round hole of education? If so, then you’re in the right place. I’m Danny Bauer, and this is the Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast, the original Ruckus Maker podcast for visionary leaders who want to do school differently and make a legendary impact on their campus. Thanks to Ruckus makers just like you, this podcast ranks in the top 0.5% of over 3 million worldwide shows. Today I speak with Andy Rodford, and we cover topics like how difficult feedback can be a gift, productive failure and how to learn from it, creating a failure fest for your school and how to build strong relationships within a school. Once again, thanks for listening, and we’ll be back after a few short messages from our show sponsors. Hey, Ruckus Maker, I’ll make this quick.

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The Teach FX instructional coaching app is like giving every teacher their own instructional coach whenever they want it. Imagine teachers gathering their own objective, private, research supported feedback with just the push of a button. Learn how TeachFX could help your teachers get students talking by visiting teachfx.com/ruckus. Question, would you serve your own kids the same food you serve your students in your cafeteria? Quest food management services elevates the student dining experience, serving scratch made meals using high quality ingredients that are sourced locally and responsibly. Now that is food you can be proud to serve. Learn more about quest food management [email protected] or follow questfood on social media. That’s questfms.com dot. All right, Andy, welcome to the show.

Thank you. It’s great to be here, Danny.

Let’s go back to 95 in your leadership style. Your whole leadership style changed with one conversation. which is very interesting. Bring us to that moment.

I was super lucky when I was growing up to be, I feel like, in the right place at the right time with so many of my jobs and rules that I had. I went to camp for 25 years in a row, starting when I was six. And I translated it completely from the traditional camper world into CIT World into a program, into canoe tripping, program directing and all that kind of stuff. I actually became the director of a large camp that had 140 staff and 900 kids in the summer and a 400 acre property so lots and lots of kids from 17 countries worth of kids came to camp, and we had horseback riding and tennis and waterskiing, like all that kind of fun stuff. I think it was four when that happened and which is really super weird to be having that kind of responsibility at that age. And, but, man, I took it on and I tried to be everything to everybody and I tried to be that guy that was like, at the campfire that I was, like, running stuff and I was like, all over the administration and just trying to do the best job that possibly could be dead. And it was interesting. Finally, after a couple of years, I had a colleague of mine who was part of the ownership group who works in the independent school world. I asked him for some feedback and to do a full 360 kind of evaluation. And to make a longer story short, he came and gathered all kinds of great information from the staff and just data collection, and we decided that we were going to meet at his cottage to get all the information back. I went to the cottage. It was supposed to be a fun day, steak dinner staying overnight and getting all this feedback. And the guy that was delivering it to me is somebody that played for the Toronto Argonauts, which was a professional CFL football team. He’s like a giant human, like the kind of guy that shakes your hand up to your elbow kind of thing. Big, big guy. And he had done all this work, and was going to deliver this to me. And as he started to go with some of the feedback, I was completely in that stage of what I refer to now as the Stage of leadership. He would give me some feedback and I’d go, nah. But I would explain how something like that could possibly be. And then he’d give me another one. And so I bite him. If that’s a bird, I don’t know. I mean, I bite him.

Make it up.

A whole bunch of times in a row and. And I could tell that he was getting super irritated and at one point or another asked me sort of one final thing and I Butted him and he lost it on me. I just thought he came flying across the picnic table, slammed his hands down in front of me and basically said, you don’t effin.

Get it, you pompous little.

Yeah, And he went up one side and down the other and that’s really, like, he yelled at me more than I can remember. My old parents kind of being at me and yelling at me when I was growing up and I had two brothers, there was lots of reason to be mad at me.

Yeah. Ouch. Yeah.

So he just went up one side and down the other and what was supposed to be a fun night of staying over, steak dinner and all that kind of stuff, he basically sort of threw me out of his couch. Basically said, you got to go, and said, we just can’t carry on with this is just ridiculous. And the big theme that he talked to me about in that yelling moment was the management of trust and the fact that so many of the things that I abutted, related back to this concept of management of trust, what sort of vulnerabilities I show how best to communicate to people so that they’re left intact and they get what they need and they understand the lines of communication and the lines of management and all that sort of stuff.

Anyways, he really highlighted the fact that the management of trust is work, and I wasn’t doing that work. So I drove home and it was like an hour and a half drive. It wasn’t easy in the car, sort of rattled, sweaty, and just had all this alone time in the car to think about all the things that he had said. And then I went right back into camp mode so I had to go, I had to put my game face back on and get right back into, like, campfires and morning announcements and all that kind of stuff. And then he showed up two days later in the parking lot and basically just sort of walked up to me and he’s a big guy and so he just sort of bumped into me. And his opening line was, ‘I’m glad you’re still here’. Some people would have just sort of folded up, crumbled just crumbled. Just took their ball and went home. And so I think that he, that was his way of apologizing, I guess, that he had been so nutty on me. But the thing that happened was that in that one conversation, I changed how I entirely view leadership and the concept of management of trust and the notion of how important relationship building is and seeing, empathetically, seeing who’s around you and what they need.

And I think you and I chatted before just to put a dot on it for your listeners. I mean, the notion of what the management trust example was that it was using. And it was the case where some counselor didn’t have a light on. Their light had blown in their room. And they caught me as I was walking across the camp and said, Andy, I need a new light. And trying to be good for everybody. I wrote it down on my director’s flip chart pad of paper. And then the reality is that because I’m the director, I’m dealing with all kinds of other things, not light bulbs. That it just drifted to page two and three of my to do list. So I didn’t even think about it too much again. But meanwhile, that staff member is now sitting in the dark on day three thinking that I hate them because I just haven’t. And I’m walking by them and they’re giving me the evil eye and all that sort of stuff. And I’m trying to figure out like why is that person, what’s their problem, what’s their deal? And when really what I should have done is when they came to me to ask for the light bulb, I should have said as the director, hey listen, you know what, I get it, I empathize with you. I don’t light bulbs. You need to go and talk to the maintenance guy who has a whole supply of light bulbs. Even though that would have been a non starter conversation for the person. They didn’t get their light bulb from me. The reality is that they went directly to where they should have gone, they got the light bulb they needed right away. And more importantly, they will never ask me again about light bulbs. So truly the notion of relationship building and sort of being open and honest and not worrying about having to please everybody, all those sorts of things that you get tied in knots about as a leader in making your decisions, became way more clear as a result of that. And then I’ve just carried that through since that day in 1995.

It obviously had a big imprint on your life. I appreciate the story. It reminds me of my friend Nick Hoover, New York City guy, although school leader in Delaware these days, central office, was a principal for a year, launched a school, did all sorts of really great stuff, but I brought the New York City thing, went to a Yankees game together, super fun time, but very direct he’s a direct guy and something I admire about him and the similarity between him and the way you wish you had handled it is basically if people sent, I’m gonna call it a stupid email, that’s not a nice way to say it but an email that really didn’t need to go to him. He went in his New York City direct way, would let them know who should have gotten that email, if anybody, and to make sure it never happens again. And it’s not to be mean, it’s actually out of service because the director, principal, there’s things that only you can do as the leader. Changing light bulbs now, there’s times where you roll up the sleeves and you show that you are on the team and you’re not above the work. But I think educators are especially susceptible to if you can lean too far into servant leadership, actually doing that. Almost to a point where you do it because you actually want to be a martyr. And the other thing is, if you’re doing the light bulbs the metaphorical light bulb in your leadership, whatever that is, you’re not getting to the real work you’ve been hired to do. And that’s because the light bulbs aren’t scary. Like, it’s not hard to do. And sometimes the work we’re hired for is the deeper, harder, scarier work. But that’s your job.

And you know what’s interesting, just to sort of full circle this 1995 story was that if you jump ahead to 2018, and I’m now ahead of a big boarding school in Western Canada, and we get accreditation visits every seven years, basically. And it’s a full, comprehensive look under every rock in the place. And ironically, that same guy was the chair of the committee. So full circle all those years later, and one of the things that I have in my office is I have a board with all kinds of inspirational stuff on it that’s just for me. And one of the things that exists is his name printed and put on the boards. Because all through those years, if ever, anytime I waiver, it’s just a reminder. I just put his last name on the board and I see that and I’m like, but he came into my office and sat down and then looked up and saw his name. As soon as he saw his name, he just sort of said, ‘oh, yeah, I remember that.’

I was going to ask, does he know that he’s been enshrined?

Yeah, I told him years later just how significant that was. But for him to see his name up on my bulletin board was a pretty full circle moment.

I think he’d agree, but I’m not sure. The idea of budding as you’re getting feedback, especially 360 feedback, seems to indicate a challenge in receiving feedback. And maybe hard feedback at times. I’m wondering if you agree with that. What would you say to the Ruckus Maker listening who at times will get feedback that could sting it, could hurt it could. But there’s some truth there. And even in feedback, who’s from people you know, I think there’s truth in all feedback. An opportunity to learn. You don’t have to own it and wear it for the rest of your life, and it doesn’t have to become your identity. But can you find the kernel of truth that will help you get even just 1% better? Back to the question, what’s a Ruckus Maker to do in terms of receiving feedback that could be helpful even if it hurts?

I think that feedback is an interesting thing, too. Just as you say, you have to acknowledge what those words mean relative to your practice. I think lots have been discussed about having a growth mindset and the reality of being open to it. But when somebody gives you something that does sting, it still stings. Understanding what the perspective was of where the information came from is the first step in sort of rationalizing how you’re going to bolt something new into your practice. And for me I’m super overt about it. When there’s a whole list of feedback that comes my way that’s come from, say, the staff group or whatever it is, I’m more inclined to actually summarize it and put it right up on the big screen at the next staff meeting and saying, here are the things that you said you would like to see more of and things that you would like to see less of in my practice and just put it right out there because there’s nobody that’s going to help you more move ahead in your leadership and as a school leader than the people that you’re working with.
And if you try to pretend that you’re something that you’re not, when everybody is giving you feedback that you’re not doing what they hoped that you would be doing, you’re going to be ground into the halt over time because people will just start to disconnect. And that is part of the management of trust. So put that up in lights and let them know what it is that you’re doing. And it is great to have colleagues that you can talk with. There’s lots of you always have a sort of a bestie or somebody, a colleague in the organization that’s outside your school that you can have a conversation with. And sometimes that’s really assuring because somebody, when you present something to them outside the bubble, they might say, well actually there’s a kernel. I thought that’s pretty true, and I’ve noticed that, but I’ve just never been in a context to offer it to you. And so the reality is that you do start to boil down what those things are that you need to pay attention to. Again, this is my practice. I wouldn’t say it works for everybody, but I put those things on my bulletin board. So just like the names that are reminders of people in your world that have made a difference for you, the putting your goals, feedback goals up on the board, you need to look at them every day.

Visibility. Right?

Visibility on every front.


And when those people are in your office and they look at the board and they start to realize that that’s you saying, I’m working at this every day and I’m not hiding it that’s. That’s a great leadership model. Everybody needs to be in that mode. Teach and we. And I think the teachers of the world,for those of us that are teachers, give feedback all the time, but not always are good receivers of feedback.

Topic for another show. I raised my camera a little bit and just talked to the Ruckus Maker audio wise. It’s not necessarily feedback, but the idea of living out what’s most important to your values and that kind of stuff. There’s a company called Gaping Void. Check them out if you work with them. I don’t get any money, but I love promoting their work because what they did is they took the things that I teach Ruckus Makers and they illustrated them for me. So if anybody’s ever seen me on video, they see stuff like Ruckus Makers are changing the world or creating results, not a resume. There’s two sides, every coin and so on and so forth, I won’t go through them all, but, I appreciate you talking about and really immersing yourself in that feedback and your goals.

One of the things, too, Danny, that I’ll say is that yours are awesome. They’re really overt. When I had them on the boards in my office, they had a little bit of mystery to them as well.

Tell me more. What do you mean?

For example, I had on the board, I had the number 212 and. And that’s it. And people would be like what’s that all about? What’s the significance of that? As you know, that’s when water boils. And so the reality of when you’re at 211 degrees, the water is just sticking hot. But one small, tiny addition of a degree, the water changes state. So don’t underestimate how the tiniest little thing is actually going to completely change the state of, in that case, water.And so it was a bit of a theme that I had going around the fact that every interaction that you have with somebody is an opportunity.

I love that message. Today I was actually listening to a podcast and they were talking about the importance of state, because as leaders, as Ruckus Makers and high achievers, we often go to the planning and the action when there’s something that needs to happen. And if we’re having a rough go at it or feel a bit stuck or sluggish or maybe even depressed and down and that kind of thing, it’s going to be really hard to take action, especially with results that matter. And if you investigate the state you’re in. Have I slept enough? Am I eating well, taking proper breaks, taking care of myself, whatever? Am I even, just even. Am I breathing full breaths? But if you can change your state dance, laughing, meditation, yoga jumping jacks, whatever, right. You could shake yourself out of that and then get to that action piece. That’s 212. That one degree from hot, stinking water to boiling. Good metaphor there. You talked about having a bestie, like a bestie outside of the network. And I would argue that it’s actually not true for everyone. And many leaders struggle having connections and networks and feel quite isolated. And so what kind of advice and wisdom would you have for the leader who’s sort of the lone wolf going alone, either because of their choice or just circumstance? It’s an interesting thing, my business is, it caters to that. My whole consulting practice for the most part, is helping to deal with that isolation. Depending on what kind of leader you are, like being ahead of school, being a CEO, principal, like it’s probably the most, it can be the most isolating world there is. And even if you had a bestie outside of your business, they don’t understand the culture. You ask them for some assistance and they give you their maid in their own school, made in their own organization, made in their own past response, maybe that’s 5% applicable to what it is that you’re dealing with.

So the reality of the consulting world sometimes is a great thing, and consulting comes in lots of different forms, like mine obviously is like operational consulting. The reality of being able to deal with somebody who is feeling isolated is usually around the notion of making decisions and all that kind of stuff. But there’s a lot to be said for even counseling. Some of the best and brightest leaders are formalizing these kinds of conversations with counseling staff who essentially just listen and just help you navigate through a path without having to do it on your own. Those are two sort of two formal things.I don’t think that people write down stuff enough. If you and I were just thinking about what was bugging us the most today, if you write it down in one sentence, it’s one sentence on a page. If you think about it in the shower and as you’re driving around town and doing all that kind of stuff, it can feel like the first five pages are horrible. And so there’s a lot to be said for getting things out. I have a dump journal, for example, so I don’t keep a journal, like a dear diary thing and all that sort of stuff. I have lined a book of paper that when I’m really having to deal with something that I feel that’s a bit of an isolation, I dump it into this journal and then I never look at it again. I’ve had. I’ve got like 27 years worth of these journals and I never looked back at a single page. They’re just in my garage. Somebody will find them one day and think, oh, my gosh, this guy was very angry.

But like you said, getting it out of your system and putting it on paper, it gives you a different perspective. It takes something that feels so big that you’re carrying around and it helps you interact with it in a more positive and authentic and real way.

And if you get disciplined at it the reality is that you can actually set it aside. You can actually use the page or a computer or whatever you want to do. The page, it is like a physical extension of your brain sort of thing so you can actually write it down, put it aside and get on with things in the moment.

That’s a great coping sort of strategy with hard stuff, and it’s going to be hard as a leader. I’m enjoying our conversation. We’re going to pause here just for a second to get some messages in from our sponsors and we’ll return. I’d love to ask you about how you make sure every moment is a learning opportunity. As a school leader, time is your greatest resource, and there is a real sense of urgency when it comes to getting students what they need right now. That’s why I love the IXL universal screener. In 20 minutes or less, you can identify students in need of intervention. And IXL’s adaptive platform makes differentiating instruction easy. As students learn, IXL adjusts to the right level of difficulty for each individual kid. Get started [email protected]/Leaders. In post pandemic classrooms, student talk is crucial.
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I come from this world where no matter what we’re doing, whatever the organization is, and in my case, obviously it’s schools, is that relationships matter. Relationships are the most important thing. And I would say that in argument to any business, the reality of our schools, for example, like our school has been our, the school that I used to work at was around for like 120 years sort of thing. Frankly, I had lots of conversations with folks where I said, well, I don’t really care about the school because it will be here for 100 years after we’re all dead. The reality is that we should only just care about the people while we’re all together in the same spot. And so with that in mind, I’m a firm believer that as a leader, every single interaction that you have with a student, with a colleague, with a visitor, even with somebody that you’re just running by the subway in the street, every one of those interactions is an opportunity for you to help understand where they’re coming from, to have them feel understood by you. And so if you get that into your mind, and especially if you’re in a leadership position, when you’re wandering around to school or wandering around your business every time that you have a conversation with a maintenance staff, with anybody, that moment counts to them. And if you think about that, it’s not. So it could kind of feel. I guess it could kind of feel onerous, like, oh, my gosh, I got to be on all the time. But not so, like, it just means that you have to be authentic, and authentic is sometimes work. I challenged the staff I made. I think I told you this, Danny, that I made a sticker years ago that I gave to all the teaching staff. And the sticker had it said, enduring success emerges when learners are in big letters, understood, engaged, achieving. And then we just said, how are you ensuring that every interaction is an opportunity? And I spun this out to them, and they all thought that I was a bit crazy anyways, so giving them a sticker wasn’t too far fetched. But when the teachers looked at it, they said, oh, yeah, I totally get that.

As a teacher, if I understand Danny, then he’ll be engaged for sure. And then we all know that when you’re engaged you’ll achieve after that. And so I stopped them and I said, okay, I get that, but what is your proof that Danny feels understood by you? And the whole room just went dead quiet because they, everybody was just like, oh, yeah I’m thinking about it from the fact that if I figure out how Danny ticks, then I can personalize his learning and all that kind of stuff. But along the way, if Danny doesn’t feel understood by you, it’s a dead end. You’re not going to get 100% of Danny ever. If he doesn’t feel like he’s not understood by you. The data collection of those moments where you’re, like, hopping by somebody asking how their weekend was, remembering that their younger brother was like little details, all that sort of stuff, whatever it is, those things matter. And then his reaction in this case, I’m using you. You know, Danny’s reaction to me is part of my data set now where he is increasingly feeling understood by me. And. And then once. Once that relationship is there. You’re engaged and we all know teachers, and we all know people in our lives that have done that well, and you will walk 15 miles in the snow to stand in their garbage. You’re so engaged, for sure.

I appreciate the framing of that, too, because we all like to believe, right, that these relationships are there. People feel understood. But when you say, okay, what’s the proof? What’s the data? Where is the evidence? I need it. I have some work to do. It probably is there, but am I collecting it? It gets you thinking at a much deeper level. I really appreciate that framing. Talk to me about the importance of productive failure.

I’m not sure if that’s an actual term that people use in the literature or not, but I have called it that, like, forever in my mind. I started my career in experiential education. And so the reality of camp days and as a science teacher and all that kind of stuff the reality of experiential learning. If I asked you right now, Danny, what do you remember about 9th grade math versus what you remember about a field trip or a sports team or playing music at an old folks home when you were in the 10th grade, you’d be way more inclined to remember those things than the material in grade nine math. And I’m not pooing the notion of learning those academic pieces. I’m just saying it’s the bigger picture. Those preparing kids for life is what we need to be doing as educators and not necessarily just the curriculum. And so that experiential piece is key. And so the notion of productive failure is, I guess, kind of around the notion. I’ll give you this example. Like if you’re a new parent I went to somebody’s house where they had a toddler and they were like these classic folks that had the stairs blocked off the pillars on either side of the gate. Were covered in foam all that sort of stuff. Like they were bulletproofing this child. And I kind of said, isn’t there some value in letting them fall down two stairs instead of the whole flight? You have to have a healthy fear of stairs because gravity makes all the important decisions.
But the reality of being paralyzed or insulated by the potential of failure is craziness. I adopted this notion of failure being a good thing. And if we could actually, across the school world, have failure become destigmatized, and the reality of it being an important part, which I think we’re moving toward experiential education, is increasing. You’re in podcast number 215, I mean, it’s way different than number seven.

And presumably number seven sucked. Ages ago, I had released an archive, because in iTunes, you could only save up to 200, 300 shows. And then once you get to number 301, episode one disappears forever. It was never made for the real super fans of the show, I thought, let me put out an archive feed for all the old stuff if you want to hear it. I took it down because it didn’t get the same kind of downloads that this show gets. Cost effectiveness and that kind of thing didn’t make a lot of sense. But I remember listening, right to the first show compared to this one where, man, I’ve put in the reps. I’ve put in nine years and that’s insane to say.
And who knows how many hundreds of episodes.

I would argue that even now, like that as much as the. The curve is so strong for you now, there’s still micro things where. Where those are things like, oh, yeah, you know what? I licked the stove on that one. I’m not going to do that again.

I’m constantly thinking about how to improve. And refining the introduction or the outro or just even the style of the show. And I’m thankful for every experience because it teaches me something, for sure.

And so if we can actually have productive failure as part of things. I just put out a blog post just over there, just as we’ve come back from the holiday around the notion of unconventional team development. One of the things that I put in there was that schools should have a failure fest. What would it look like for everybody to bring in the best failures, totally. That they’ve had. And to talk about them and say that I’m still good, these are the things that I learned from it and turn it into full on festival of failure.

It should have been done ages ago. It might be even, 2017 or something like that. it’s a long time ago. But I remember interviewing somebody, and we were discussing an idea called a failure resume because usually your resume is sort of like your greatest hits, why you should get the job and stuff. But the funny thing is everybody’s done something great. They talk about the moment that they just really screwed it up which got them to the place so they can do the thing that they’re known for now. And so there is. There is great value in failure because there’s a. There should be an aware individual, a learning lesson there that might turn into your unique advantage or whatever. I love it. Failure fast, failure resumes. Let’s get the stigma out of failure and stop talking about, hey, take a risk. And then discipline people for taking the risk. It just doesn’t make any sense. No, you wanted to say something, I think.

No, I just wanted to. I wanted to say that I’m just excited about talking to you about all this sort of stuff because it’s the. When you think about experiential education and everybody’s like two thumbs up about it it’s not experiential. It’s only an experience until you actually plug it in to your future actions. That’s the continuation of the loop. It’s not experiential learning unless you actually, like, implement it. And that’s where those failures become critically important but then you have that experience. You take what you’ve learned, and then you’ve plugged it in good, bad, and ugly for whatever it is that you’re doing next. And we put an experiential program into our school way back when. And so I sent out a note asking for an inventory of where experiential learning happens in the school. And it was socials teachers that wrote back and said, I’m not really doing it that much. And I’m not sure. Kind of like, sorry, sorry. And then the science teachers wrote back and said, we do it every day. And because we do labs and we do all this sort of stuff. And I’m in the lab, aren’t you giving them the prescription of what they should do? And if they do it in my steps the liquid should turn blue. That sounds like a prescription for an experience. And where like a social teacher runs a, I don’t know, like a mock trial and where everybody plays a different role and it’s all fluid and all that sort of stuff. And there couldn’t be more experiential learning than that, especially if you tied into actually going to the corny, the court, the local courthouse.

Well people might think I’m crazy having other folks that coach school leaders and that kind of thing on the show because they might see it as a conflict of interest or a competition or something. But for me I see it as a way to serve more school leaders. There’s 91,000 principals in the US and Canada alone. And of course, that’s just a tiny part of our world. The world’s a much bigger place. You do work with school leaders and offer some a la carte services, anything you want to share with the Ruckus Maker, listening in case they feel connected to you, like where to go or what you might offer to connect with you.

The venture gained CA is the website and there’s lots of the services and blog posts and all the rest of that sort of stuff that’s on there. My a la carte idea is that there’s lots of people out there that help schools and market makers with the big 30,000 foot picture like whether that’s governance or strategic planning and all that kind of stuff. And let there be a market for that. What helps you sleep well at night as a principal or as a leader, there’s not enough hours in a week for what principals are asked to do. And so the whole concept of our work is we help create space and time for leaders. And so the model is that if a principal needed like three telephone conversations to help them through a decision, because they’re isolated and what decision they’re making is going to impact their two IC person or whether they need a project that’s done in a week I built a risk register for a school because the principal had been tasked by the board to do that which would have taken them the entire school year of that senior person’s salary doing it. And instead they just handed it over to me. I did it in two weeks, and it went right to the board sort of ready to go, and that principal looks like a superstar. However, they didn’t have to spend all of that time doing that kind of work when they can actually building relationships.

Andy, if you could put a message, one message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would it be?

I think that the big one for me always is relationships matter. If that went up just kind of simply, like, I’m thinking like a bumper sticker because you can’t have too many more words than that. Then a bumper sticker, but. Or the notion that every interaction is an opportunity if I could have a little longer bumper sticker, everyday. So if there’s 91,000 principles in North America, how many millions of students are being impacted? One conversation at a time. And it’s just, it’s goosebumpy. What the potential is there if people are intentional about making relationships matter.

How about building your dream school? If you had that opportunity and you weren’t constrained by any resources, your only limitation was your ability to imagine what would be the three guiding principles built in your dream school.

It touched on a few of them. Like the, I mean, every interaction is an opportunity would be right up there. I think the notion of the combination of experiential learning, productive failure, and really the notion of unconditional acceptance. Those kinds of combinations would create that enduring part of the relationship and then have people that know how to manage trust to be able to get that extra gear out of your organization. And I think maybe this is the fourth one, but it’s all tied in. I would love to be able to hire staff who have no edges to their job descriptions. I’m not coming in to just be like a 9th grade socials teacher. Yes, that’s what I’m doing, but my job has no edges. The reality of how I interact with other people, like, it’s just all about helping everybody be the best at what they need to do in order for kids to thrive. And wouldn’t, I mean, how awesome would that be? What a culture that would be.

It’d be interesting to see what they would create. Andy, we covered a lot of ground today in our conversation about everything we discussed. What’s the one thing you want a ruckus maker to remember?

I think that disrupting for the right reasons is 100% the way to go for our future. We need to shake up what we think we know and do more about what we feel we should do. I think there’s too much notion of just doing what the world expects as opposed to us moving the yardsticks ahead to do what we know is right.

Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast Ruckus Maker, how would you like to lead with confidence, swap exhaustion for energy, turn your critics into cheerleaders and so much more? The Ruckus Maker Mastermind is a world class leadership program designed for growth minded school leaders just like you. Go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/Mastermind, learn more about our program and fill out the application. We’ll be in touch within 48 hours to talk about how we can help you be even more effective. And by the way, we have cohorts that are diverse and mixed up. We also have cohorts just for women in leadership and a BIPOC only cohort as well. When you’re ready to level up, go to betterleadersbetterschools.com/mastermind and fill out the application. Thanks again for listening to the show. Bye for now and go make a ruckus.



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