An education in innovative thinking can change a person’s life, opening the door to more fulfilling careers and better opportunities to make a real impact on the world. Unfortunately, it’s not something most people are likely to receive in a traditional academic setting—unless they’re a student of Don Wettrick.

Wettrick is a teacher at Noblesville High School just north of Indianapolis, IN and the co-founder of StartEdUp, an organization that’s changing education by empowering innovation and entrepreneurship in the classroom. Wettrick has 20 years of experience as a middle school and high school educator, and for the past five years, he’s been developing and teaching a curriculum that encourages students to follow their passions and work on projects that truly excite and inspire them.

I met with Don in Noblesville High School’s awesome Library/Innovation Center for this interview, and he shared his best innovation education secrets that learners of all ages can apply. In this episode, we discuss how to brainstorm and develop innovative ideas, how to connect with influential people through social media, and how to push through fear to do the work you’re meant to do. We even speak with two of Don’s students for a closer look at how his innovation course is having a positive impact on their lives.

When you’ve finished listening to this episode, I highly encourage you to check out the StartEdUp podcast, in which Don and his student co-host interview experts in education, innovation and entrepreneurship and discuss how anyone has the power to change the world and live life to the fullest. And for deeper insights into Don’s innovation course and what he’s learned from teaching it, read his book, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level.

In this episode with Don Wettrick, you’ll learn:

  • Why and how he’s teaching innovation and entrepreneurship to high school students (4:15)
  • Proven strategies for encouraging innovative thinking in a classroom setting (11:46)
  • Practical tips for connecting with anyone through social media (17:37)
  • About his special “ROTH IRA” process for innovation education (26:05)
  • How two of his students have been positively impacted by his curriculum (31:30)

Please enjoy this conversation with Don Wettrick!

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Don Wettrick Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Companies and Organizations:






Charity: Water



Schools and Universities:

Noblesville High School

Stanford University

Duke University

Books and Publications:

Pure Genius

Fast Company

The Indianapolis Star


StartEdUp Podcast

The Innovation Teacher

Daniel Pink’s TED Talk

Vsauce3 YouTube Channel


Don Wettrick (@DonWettrick)

Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

Jocko Willink (@jockowillink)

Daniel Pink (@DanielPink)

Naveen Jain (@Naveen_Jain_CEO)

Scott Harrison (@scottharrison)

Jake Roper (@jakerawr)

Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)

Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself)

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Don Wettrick on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have few seconds to spare, let Don Wettrick know via Twitter by clicking on the links below:

Click here to say hi and thank Don Wettrick on twitter!


What stood out most to you about what Don Wettrick share in this podcast?

For me, it’s the proven strategies for encouraging innovative thinking in a classroom setting.

You? Leave a comment below.


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Episode Transcript

This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by MVP launch partners, an amazing product development and consulting firm. I’ve worked with these guys myself, and I can tell you what sets them apart is that they really partner with you to provide product leadership and advice. They take ownership of building a great product, whether it’s a website or a mobile app, or a software product. And for a limited time, MVP launch partners offering up to six hours of free consulting for powderkeg podcast subscribers. It’s an incredible deal. So go to MVP launch To get started,

if you go to the middle of dance floor and you dance like an idiot, technically, it’s the right thing to do. But there’s a little risk less risk if five your boys go out in the middle dance floor and also dance like idiots. So we’re gonna we’re dancing like idiots.

That was Dawn Wetterich innovation educator and founder at start ed up innovation. And over the past couple of years, he’s brought guest teachers into his class that include the likes of entrepreneurs, like Best Selling Author, Tim Ferriss, and the investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. And even the Navy Seal and best selling author Jocko willing, and in this conversation, you’re gonna find out exactly why and how Don has been able to introduce his students to these exceptional leaders. For this interview, I traveled to the Innovation Center, and library of Noblesville High School, where Don is an innovation teacher, just north of Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And you’re listening to Episode 44 of powderkeg igniting startups, a show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators who are building remarkable tech companies in areas decidedly outside of Silicon Valley. So listen, you’ve heard the complaints from students, maybe even your own kids. You hear this all the time you hear things like when am I ever going to use this in the real world? Why are we learning this? When are we going to learn about something interesting? But what if students came to class excited? What if you came to the world excited about what you’re going to learn? What are you passionate about your projects? What if you grasp the connection between today’s work and tomorrow’s career, or even your calling download Chuck is an innovation specialist at Noblesville High School. He’s the author of pure genius, building a culture of innovation and taking 20% Time to the next level. What Eric is worked as a middle school and high school teacher, and as an education and innovation consultant and educational speaker. He’s lectured across the United States in Africa, South America and Europe, and talked all about collaboration, social media use, and work environments to help enable innovation. He also has an amazing podcast called start ed up, that’s start ed up, where he interviewed some of the top entrepreneurs, authors and thought leaders about education, and how we can help prepare students in a changing world. You can follow him at at dawn Wetterich, he’s very active on Twitter. In fact, that’s how he gets a lot of the guests on his podcast, and even guest lectures for his class. That’s at dawn westrich. That’s W E T T. R I C K. And this is a great interview because we talk about how to think creatively, how to connect with anyone, and how to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to add more meaning to your life and increase your positive impact on the world. Now let’s dive right into my conversation inside of the library and Innovation Center of Noblesville High School, where I talk with Don westrich. And even some of his students who we bring on later in this episode. This is going to be a great conversation. Let’s set this thing off. And we’re with my good friend Don wet your cue. I’m really excited for this conversation. We are coming at you live from Dawn where are we right now?

We’re in Noblesville High School. And I’m not that short. Coming down. I’ll

come down. I’ll come down. There go has that sir. Little better. Yes, nice. We’re Noblesville High School. We’re

on the north side of Indianapolis. And we’re in the innovation center slash library, which is almost deceiving that you’re seeing this many books behind us because we have a lot of co working spaces and whiteboards and things of that nature. But I digress. This place is pretty

cool. For those of you that are watching live right now, I’ll make sure to give a little tour at the end of the conversation. That way you can see this enormous space that we’re in right now. Maybe you hear the echo a little bit, which is kind of cool. But I’m here with Don Woodrick. Don, you have almost 20 years or more than 20 years. This is my 20th 20th year of education experience. You’ve been doing innovation education for five plus years. And I know you have a deep history rooted in education. What’s your earliest memory of of the education experience? My dad, your dad,

so my mom was a stay at home mom that kind of makes her an educator, my sister’s a teacher. And then yeah, just I used to go the mall. And then my dad would see former students and that was one of the things that I liked about being a teacher and that I kind of wanted to be is like people would stop me and like your dad. And then they’d say really nice things about

my dad and like awesome. What kinds of things would they say

It’s funny where we’ve gone now in America because a lot of them were people in the industrial tech area. And he ended up having to be a guidance counselor eventually, because they got to cut those programs so much. And so long, you know, he used to, from welders to architects to machine operators to lathe, people, I mean, this all sorts of things, but they’d say, you know, your dad really worked with me or your dad’s class got me to the career I’m in and all these other good things. So it was it was always uplifting to hear those things. That was my earliest memory of, of what education used to

be. Well, I imagine your dad was a teacher to you as well. Along the way, it still is. Do you remember? Yeah. Is he still a lifeline? You call? Yeah, yeah.

Even when I don’t want it. Like, I guarantee you, he’ll be watching this. And he’ll say, you know, Donnie shouldn’t have said that. But love you dad.

Is there a particular lesson you remember from when you were a kid that your dad taught you? Actually what the actual experience was

the thing that I shameless plug, I wrote this, my book is my favorite thing I ever wrote, I just, I didn’t want to be a teacher. And so I went to college that they my mom and dad paid every cent for and then two years into my career, and it was a good career. But I don’t know what it was that I was like, Why do I want to be a teacher? And so when I went to him, I’m like, Look, I’m not asking for money. But I think I’m gonna go back and get a second degree. And I didn’t know what he was gonna say I didn’t if I’d be mad, and he says, you know, son, I don’t care if you teach for the next 20 years just don’t teach one year 20 times. And what did he mean by that? He had been in education long enough, where he saw teachers doing the same thing. And they didn’t like their job. And the students didn’t like doing the same thing in and out and there. And I really think that was the heart of innovation, deliberately looking for new avenues, things that didn’t work, things that did work, changing things up deliberately, because you should pivoting I mean, all these little key things that we talked about now, it’s what he was, you know, talking about, try new things, the things that are working, enhance it, and things that aren’t working, throw it out. I remember when he said that it didn’t make any sense to me, or didn’t make an impact on me until my second year of teaching. And then I was like, Wait a second, I’m starting to teach year one and the second, you know, second year away. And so I was like, no deliberately bit different. So throughout my career, I’ve reinvented what I either will do, because I taught English for like 10 years. And then I kind of invented this TV program, when we start teaching documentary films, and all these other weird things that are multimedia. And that didn’t really exist. We just started off doing announcements. And then the Dan Pink thing, you know, I watched Dan’s TED Talk. And then I thought, and who’s

Dan Pink? For those that maybe you haven’t heard? If you don’t know, Dan Pink is,

first of all, continue watching this. But go back and listen to Dan Pink’s TED Talk. It’s amazing. And so yeah, he talked about what motivates people. And it’s not really money. It’s mastery, autonomy and purpose. And so the things that he was talking about that they did at Atlassian. And at Google, I was thinking that could be true at schools, too. You know, what motivates kids? It’s not really grades, except it is. And people that think that it really is money than they’re disillusioned. And I thought, what would what would happen if I had my own time, where I allowed the students to work on things that they were passionate about, that they wanted autonomy, and you know, that they had purpose and doing, I started my own class. And that was kind of dumb luck, because it didn’t get approved until I reached out to Dan. And then that didn’t get approved. Because it sounds stupid. It’s a class. It’s almost like the Seinfeld show, it seemed like

it was the pitch, can you give me the patch?

I said, Hey, I want this class, where the students work on things that they’ve always wanted to work on. And they’re like, what is that? What department is that under? I said, I don’t know. And they go, what will they work on? I said what they want to work on, and they want that makes no sense. And I was like, okay, talking

about what sixth graders seventh graders know, this

is high school. Okay. And so I said, well watch this Daniel Pink TED Talk. And then they said, I’ll tell you what, if you can find a Daniel Pink description of this state catalog, we’ll prove it. Well, I found this really vague course description. And that got me through. And what really got me through is is I reached out to Dan, I said, Hey, would you Skype some of our students, because at the time, we’re just squeezing this in the class. Yeah. And I’m like, hey, I want my own class next year. And Dan endorsed it, and he got to spend some time with us. And so that that made the administration contact, notice that all of a sudden, I was working with Stanford, and Duke University and Dan, and they were like, what he’s doing is correct. And so that made the school go, maybe this isn’t so stupid after all. And just little increments. I mean, really, truly the first two years were not good, but we were because it’s hard to break kids of Kingston’s like most students their default by after third grade. Their default is sit around and wait for instructions. They don’t take initiative. And I’m not saying that mean, well, most adults

that was about to say, right. If it’s hard to break kids out of that habit, it’s probably even harder to break

adults. This is why I’m frightened for people that They don’t know what they love. They don’t know Joseph Campbell’s journey, right? They just they watched somebody else’s journey we watch, we watch somebody play sports, and we feel that it’s us, but it’s not, right. And so I wanted an experience where our students would have an hour and a half every other day to experience things and fail to try things and go, that wasn’t so bad, to to grow things, to code things to put on events to do whatever. And then realize the world doesn’t end if it sucks. And if it is slightly Good. Try event number two, try version number two. And little by little, we started getting a little bit more success and a little bit more success, and then a lot of success. And then to the point of being like, the kids have a pretty interesting spotlight on and I’m proud of it. And it’s what’s given me a position to try to work now with other schools and get other schools like my stated goal is I want this class in every high school everywhere. And the beginnings of it are in grade school. Yeah, I mean, truly the beginnings of it are kindergarten is awesome. And truly Montessori is awesome. A Montessori kid that doesn’t surprise me. But like letting people think that it can be passed first grade? Yeah. So that’s kind of what I’m wanting to do. I love

that. And I want to dive into some of the strategies that have worked with your students, because I think we will work with adults as well. Yeah. And I’m excited to use some of those myself, but or even going to bring some of your students on here and a little bit. So stay with us, because Don has some amazing students who assume that

I’m lying, because they are a lot better than me.

They’re really, they really are. They’re very impressive. So I’m excited to dive into that. Talk to me about what you found, worked, when what started to really get traction when he started teaching innovation, at his high school

was taking extra time to build a culture and that culture really starts off with, okay, there’s a lot of love and trust, and I throw the L word around a lot. And like there’s a lot of love and trust, we’re going to take stupid risks. We’re going to do things that other people might make fun of, but not people in this room. We’re our own support network, like the world is against us. That’s cool. We’re gonna try things. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s cool.

Do you think that kind of saying like the world is against us? And kind of pointing it out? The obvious that like, this isn’t actually fully embraced, actually brought you closer together?

And the thing is, they like it usually comes to pass. Like, unfortunately, when you try things and makes other people uncomfortable. Like, you know, if you’re slightly overweight and you start getting in shape, you’re slightly overweight friends don’t like you anymore. Because when you’re trying to get better it intimidates people. So when our students are start taking risks, it’s easy to make fun of them. Because you’re afraid that what if you’re successful? So they started like really liking our culture as I did you know what, the world’s not ending? And this is kind of fun. And maybe I can do these things.

What are some of the ways that your students handled with outside outside criticism from people that weren’t

in the class, they just the hard the hard years were that was a hard adjustment. But now this class has been going this kids know what they’ve gotten themselves into, because of the kids that used to be in here. And so they know it’s its own culture, and then the success stories. Yeah, and even the failure story, because I have so many students that come back and go, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t take advantage of the time you better take advantage time. I have several former students who did just okay, they regretted it. And they come in, they’re like, Don’t waste this year. And then finally, and then lastly, I mean, like, we are so lucky you you’ve seen who we get to interview, like who are some of the names that you’ve turned right into the Tim Ferriss who spent two hours with our students via Skype last year. Naveen Jain?

The guy that’s been involved with the lunar Yes.

VIOME. He’s, yeah, he’s a billion dollar net worth he’s he’s a good but he also too, has this thing about education. So we got like, entrepreneurial crowd, and even local people that are cool. You know, Jeb, I mean, Jeb is a bro. And Jeb even came in and spent a day with him. And because those entrepreneurial people knew their mindset, it was like, that’s what it takes. And they’re and they’re like, they see themselves in my students. So they’re like, hey, what do you need? Matter of fact, we spent this week the entire like, this week was doing nothing but okay, let’s get our Twitter profiles down. Let’s get our LinkedIn profiles down. Who do you want to reach out to? How can I help you?

Why is it important to have social profiles?

Because I always like it when people complain, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, as if that’s something terrible, and like, how many educators know a lot of people we all do. Yeah, we know a lot of people and so we spend a week saying, What is your profile look like? What does it say about you? Why would anybody want to click on you? If your life was a book when anybody read it? And so then they’re like, Okay, it’d be crazy if we reached out to this guy, like I had a class pic. I’m like, Okay, who somebody you’d like to talk to that is maybe accessible. The first person we chose was the guy started Charity Water. Oh, Scott Harris, Scott Harris. So he got back with us. And then Vsauce three that’s scheduled and he got back was because they’re like, oh my gosh, that worked. And even yesterday, one of the girls like, I liked this girl’s YouTube channel, she doesn’t have like, it wasn’t like 100,000 subscribers, but decent amount. She got back in two minutes. Wow. So they’re like, You know what, okay. And all of a sudden, they start networking, and they started learning from. And all of a sudden, that’s why my class is called Innovation and open source learning. The first seven weeks, we learn innovation, we do techniques, we do reframing, we have exercises, but then really, the rest of the year is I’m helping them. And then the open source learning is, you know, one of my students is behind us, and they’re working on a VR game. How much do I know about VR gaming? Nothing. And I’m okay with that, then I prefer that. So

talk to me more about this exercise that you give them this challenge to reach out to someone because I feel like so many people, whether it’s people who are in their jobs and unhappy with their current situation, or it’s entrepreneurs that are doing what they love, but still perceived that there are people beyond their reach, that they’d love to connect with could be a game changer. Yes. But they don’t. Yeah. What is it that creates that blocker,

I think part of is, is that we do it as a group. Like if you go to the middle of dance floor, and you and you dance like an idiot, technically, it’s braid, which I always do, I’ve seen you. But technically, it’s the right thing to do. But there’s a little risk less risk if five your boys go out in the dance floor, and also dance like idiots. So we’re gonna, we’re dancing like idiots. Yeah. So if like one person reached out, and like, I can’t believe you wrote will i am, he’s never going to get back to you. But if everybody in the class is tweeting at people on LinkedIn connecting with people that are out of our reach, now, there’s a little less to make fun of. And when a couple of people start getting connected back to him, they’re like, jump in, the water’s fine. And that’s what kind of propels us over. And then finally, they also know that it’s my job to help they don’t work for me. Yeah, I work for them. So they’re like, I’ve got a decent sized Twitter following. And so like metrics, maybe you can help me get that person. So they’re like, you’ve got a blue checkmark, I’ll tweet this person, but include you in it. And then like, follow up with a tweet of yes, you should. And so I do just that. And so some of these people are, sometimes they’re YouTuber, sometimes they’re authors sometimes or whatever. Not everybody gets back, but it’s a 0% chance to fail. Never tweet, you’ve

been very successful at this getting people like Seth Godin getting people like Tim Ferriss, talk to you spend hours even a full day with your class. What are the things that set apart a good outreach strategy versus a bad outreach strategy?

I’m not gonna lie. Our advantages is that this is cool. Sure, and that I’m working with kids. It’s like when a girl scout knocks on your door, you’re gonna buy cookies, not just because they’re delicious. But because it’s, it’s a kid. I’m representing a lot of kids. And normally the the audience that we’re trying to reach, or the people that we’re trying to reach is like, that was them in high school. Yeah. Like at one of our groundbreaking things, like, we took a field trip out to Palo Alto, we had the awesome honour of guest lecturing at Stanford. And so we’re out there, it was like, well, then you got to go to this place, and you gotta go to that place. And so one of the places was was Google as a Google, they said this, and this guy came up to my students, and he’s like, do you understand the advantage you have in this class? What I wouldn’t have done if I was 17, in this class, and they were scolding my kids that they didn’t take advantage of time. And so when the guy says, Whatever you guys need, call me gave them their card. And they’re like, Wow, this is kind of an honor. And that kind of made them believe that maybe we should and that also, that guy was inspired by the fact that a teacher wanted to do this thing. So that that gives us an advantage. I’m not gonna lie. Sure. Being a teacher. So if let’s

say we don’t, so, my role I don’t work with kids, right? Not an educator per se, right?

bring value to somebody be a fan first. So if I really

so talk to me about the most recent guests you secured, and about being okay, Dan,

first, that’s probably over fanatical. But yes, I reached out several. I saw that Mark Hamill was active on Twitter, Luke Skywalker, Luke Skywalker. Oh my gosh, it first of all, if you don’t know who our Mark Hamill is, then then this interview is over. But no. Yeah. And I just I was kind of poking around that like hey, at Mark Hamill, I see the your activity would you like to be on our podcast? And of course he didn’t respond. And and so I have got a faithful group of teachers that follow and I’m like, hey, they might want to jump in on this. How cool would it be for get mark on the show? And so then people are starting to tweet him and this kind of flooding in and then I started doing little skits with my action figures and eventually he got on board. In one video, yeah, I had Greedo. That’s amazing. And he shot first. So yeah, we got Mark because I was relentless. And I was kind. But this is the other thing is like, Yeah, I mean, you’re creative to ask. But the nice thing is is like, what I tell the students as well, like, some people may not be impressed that I’m a teacher, they don’t care, bring value to them. That’s why I gave them so long. Like, even though we gave them this week, it should be all year. So if you’re like, I just discovered this guy on the news or in Fast Company or in wherever, email them tweet them and saying, I love what you do. How can I assist? What value can I bring? I believe in your mission, asked for nothing, asked for nothing? And then let them go. Thanks. Let that ride. Then tweet number two is might you have 10 minutes for a Skype call? Maybe it may no, go? No, it may not go anywhere, right. But then keep following up. Like just Don’t quit on him. Like if you truly believed in him, and you want to be mentored? You’re just gonna keep at it. Yep. And it may take you there was one person I pursued for a long time. Well, Tim Ferriss was that way, like we’d pursued him for a while, and then we just kept at it. And so if you bring value to others first, then they’re eventually going to want to reciprocate. If they see that you’re just, if they think this is a one tweet one shot thing, they can sniff that from my way,

well, and I love that you say bring value, and it’s like, Great, how do I bring Tim Ferriss or Mark Hamill value, but just even in stroking their ego a little bit, everyone likes to be complimented in a genuine way. Absolutely. And you were entertaining by having a little action figure show, which maybe we can get a video of, of recreation of that, or we can share that through the powder keg feed later. But I The other thing that you mentioned is you got your group of teachers, often you got a particular name for this group of teachers that you shared earlier.

Well, it’s my PLN. And that’s kind of an MDL. N Personal Learning Network. Okay, it’s kind of a Twitter teacher esque thing I’m sure other people’s may call it same thing. But your your personal learning network. Twitter has been a game changer for a lot of industries, but definitely for education because we share best practices. And I want same thing for my students. So if you do something awesome, if it’s for an audience of one, it’s a waste of time, if they turn in a project, to me, that’s just dumb. They shouldn’t turn in a project to the world. And so Twitter has been that. So teachers that go, Hey, we tried this in class, and it worked. That’s my PLN. And so yeah, my my learning network, I like hey, buys online today, keep bothering Mark Campbell, and see if it works. And it worked.

Do you think that other industries could benefit from having a PLN?

Every single industry could benefit? And I think this is the one thing that I will say about the entrepreneurial set is that they use terms like collaboration, but then they’re like, Well, I really won’t talk to you until you sign this NDA. Stop it. Stop. If your idea was that star spangled awesome. If you were afraid of it being copied, it’s probably pretty easy. Or at least be collaborative in your PLN if you have a tight group that PLN is not going to run with your idea and all of a sudden sabotage it. So yes, I think that every industry, every genre should have a Learning Network.

How did you go about putting your PLN together? This kind of

forms? Okay, you know, that’s the whole thing with hashtags. I mean, there’s some tribes that like, you know, have a hashtag, you know, education or hashtag, add chat or hashtag, genius, hour hashtag 20% of time, things of that nature. So sometimes, just the hashtags bring people together. I’m sure there’s a Game of Thrones Learning Network, oh, it happens to spring up organically.

What were some of the other experiments early on or exercises that went really well with a class that that maybe we could even implement on our own life? And then I want to bring some students out because I want to get their perspective. Yeah,

I mean, it’s going to come across like I’m bragging, but darn near all of them. Even the projects that didn’t work. The journey was always worth it. I mean, we’ve had some kids, we had one girl that helped write a law and then it got so watered down and committee, she was campaigning for her own law that she helped write. She was hoping to vote it down.

Wow. Yes. That’s a pretty big lesson learned though. It’s

a great lesson learned. On the surface. She didn’t win. Yep. But uncertain, but if you dig deeper if she won, and she was that process, we’ve got a couple of kids that right now are running their own companies. One isn’t doing that. Well. One is will hack a one of them started the past thing and you had met Zach. And so some of those were the big sexy stories, but the quieter stories of students putting together an event for a cancer group or running a mom and pop place and learning tea Reaching them what their social media marketing strategy is things that aren’t necessarily going to make the indie star or you know, NBC News, we’re still really great things. And if you put people if you put yourself out there and you are providing value first, you’re going to win at life. Even if the project the short term projects sucks, you’re going to win all the time.

Something that that you see all the time is just the fear of failure stops people from even getting started. Yes. How do you break through that with your class, you have the value of flunking someone if they don’t take action, but what are the other incentives that you use to

like the revolution? Yeah, the reverse peer pressure, like, it’s like the other kids think it’s like, we don’t want the reputation. This is a class about nothing, you really should do something. But that being said, I mean, there’s there’s still a couple of kids that go through the motions. They’re like, kind of working on a project or they’re not Hearthstone, that bugs me. But I mean, I think that that overcoming fear of failure is, is dancing with everybody else, the mela dance floor. If we’re all dancing like idiots, then it’s a little bit better.

I really love that you’ve brought this to a younger generation, and that these strategies work for both students as well as adults. What are some of the the ways what was some of the feedback that you’ve had of the adults that have experienced your class? Well, it’s

ironic because like, now, I’m starting to do things outside of the educational arena, because some of our methodologies, I mean, it’s sometimes it’s similar to D school thinking anyway, actually, I was with a really unique outfit out in Austin. And I walked him through what we do, and he’s like, Oh, my gosh, that’s kind of what we do. But I never really put a process behind it. And we have a little an acronym for it and, you know, kind of walk you through He’s like, That’s it. Like, yes, that’s how we work here. What What was that process that you shared this, the Roth IRA, Roth IRA, and even though that’s a great tax savings, financial investment, right, right, never don’t go traditional. Roth is the easy part that’s realization was so we’ll be brainstorming class and we’ll come to realization you’re jogging, you’re showering you come to this realization. You have to go to the O which is open discussion. If you don’t start brainstorming it out and talking to other people about it. It’s never gonna go anywhere you realize this idea realize it take it into open discussion every other Monday we have open discussion time sacred awesome. So that leaves the tea which is the tussle some kid, some person is gonna say, this is a dumb idea. Don’t take it personal argue it out. That’s the tussle. You should tussle. Yeah. And then oftentimes, that’s where the H is. That’s the homogeneous grouping, not ability grouping. But like, an oftentimes, the kid that has the art, I was like, that is the dumbest design ever. But the engineering kid is like, but it’s really good idea. YouTube should be a thing. And so a lot of times, that’s how groups are formed. And then now the hard part of the hard part is the IRA. And that is ideation which becomes iteration but ideation prototype, number one, give it two weeks, and then reflect and adjust it eight, reflect, adjust and that new so that’s why we every student this year has a weapon of choice either to have a blog or a podcast or a YouTube channel. So when they’re done after their two weeks are over, they reflect on what their project is. It brings more people to the table. And then when they go, Okay, this week suck because how are you going to adjust? And that adjustment is realization number two open discussion to tussling number two is the process we’re in now you iterate. And then sometimes you don’t iterate. You’re like this project fundamentally sucks. I’m done. Quit. Big fan of quitting. Yeah, you can lie to me for the rest of the semester and say, I’m going to keep at it. You’re not. So I’d rather use quit now and then work off it again, that whole fail early fail often. I used to think that was a really bad cliche. Oh, my gosh, that is the way we do things. How many other Silicon Valley buzz terms Can I now?

I think you’re getting them all over yet. Bingo. You’re like doing multiple bingos. On the bingo board. I’ll try in that reflecting time period, when you’re reflecting on the experiment, you’ve run on the ideation that you’ve you’ve created, what’s important about that reflecting period,

that they’re honest with themselves and honest with me, that they get out of student mode. And really, for the first couple years, they would like, write it like an essay. Is my grammar, okay, I don’t care. You know, over the course of the past two events, I have found that just tell me, tell me what was wrong. And that’s also kind of like that loaded question of an interview. What’s your worst things? I care too much? Bullshit. Give me what’s really wrong. And so when they got over that, you know what, I should have done this. I’m honest, and that I didn’t even come close to doing that. And then that’s how they grade themselves. And honestly, like, what I’m trying to do is the hardest thing in the world, the things that you tell yourself, you’re going to do. I’m there to see that you do it. So at first it seemed like an easy class. And then I was like, this is really difficult because I said I was going to do these things for the next two weeks. But guess what? I hate it. And then you gently nudge and then you pry and you’re like, are you going to do more? And it doesn’t work out for everybody. After a couple months of this, they’re like, it’s kind of like that Jocko wellness thing, they realized that, that it’s always their fault that they can find excuses. But it’s just excuses. It’s their fault. And I tell them beginning of the year, if you don’t do well, in this class, it’s my fault. Until it’s your fault.

Can you talk about a time when you you were a student implemented the Roth IRA? Model? And it resulted in a positive outcome? Yeah.

Positive? Well, first of all, it’s almost always positive. Once they understand that process, once they, you know, they come to that great realization, many an idea is enhanced in that first open discussion. So we’ll be talking about some idea. And they’re always be like, okay, kind of, but you should do this. And that’s where our pivot always usually lies. And so when we have that pivot, all of a sudden that that idea, and that rush of brainstorm starts to go off in different directions. When we start going off in different directions. Magic happens, like some businesses have been started from it. And even things like I said earlier, things that aren’t so glamorous, even like in school events, or updates to what we’re trying to make in school that that kind of happens. So

I just wanted to grab your students, and one of them was playing with VR, the VR vive. Yeah, I’m just like, that’s amazing. I mean, that’s like the latest and greatest technology. Yeah, hop on over here. Do you guys mind introducing yourself?

All right. I’m Brittany Anderson. I’m a student of Don Wetterich. And if you want to find me on Twitter, Brady, Anderson, 40. That is my Twitter handle.

Boy, should you cherish this thing. resigned, I’m sure anyway, so this is just making it worse.

Brady, thank you so much for being on show. My pleasure.

Hi, my name is Michael Rogers. And I as well, I’m a student I’ve done what’s your

turn up the bass?

Got that radio voice? Well, he

is into voice acting, actually. So yeah, that’s one of his passions. Very cool.

So what did you know what you’re getting into when you join dance

class, I had a pretty good idea since I was like, I always like to do like research on what I do and kind of look into it. So I first I questioned on, I would ask him what it’s like, and he would give me like explanation that, like kind of short because he’s really busy with everything that he’s doing. And then and then like, one day, I think he said, like Brady, go read my book, if you really want to know how Dr.

Phillips. That’s awesome.

So I got his book, which is in our library, ironically, called,

like, tax dollars at work. But yeah.

And then I read the book, and I was like, I got my answer. It was there was structure there was there was a reason for everything that was going on. It wasn’t just chaos. It was It was organized chaos, for lack of better word. And I was like, I love this because what it’s trying to do, and it’s and to me, like it set me up to understand like, this class is not like your other classes, this class is for you. And if you want to use this glass, then use it if you don’t, and you’re just wasting your time.

That’s great. You sound exactly like done. Well, how about you? How did you hear about dance class?

Well, I’ve heard about dance class, I want to say my sophomore year and learn from a couple of other upperclassmen, they’re always told me about how great it was, and how many good opportunities there was. For people like me, in this class. I was always very curious about it a little bit skeptical. But I wanted to see how it was. Because I wanted to put my faith and not only done but the opportunities he could present to me.

What were the things that you thought were most surprising about the class that you didn’t expect,

um, things that were most surprising would probably be just the amount of freedom that was that was brought in being in the class, I expected there to be some kind of just set order, you’re going to do this, this this by this date. Like I remember first day, he said, you can use this class, you can use me you can use my resources. But if you’re not going to do anything, then you’re just not only wasting my time, but you’re wasting your own. So

when you guys first came up against some resistance in the class, well, what what was that first sort of like barrier for you on your entrepreneurial path?

Honestly, the, the barrier that you need is yourself. Because it’s it’s kind of like this idea that I can’t do this. I’m just in high school and then you realize that’s an excuse. You have to get over yourself almost like you are your obstacle. Because everything that you you think is in your way, is because you put it there, in a sense and like if you want to know something, why don’t you know it already? Like what are you doing to learn it? It’s almost like it’s kind of like saying like, you want this thing go get it? It’s it’s it’s real. The like self imposed barriers, I guess,

just recognizing, yeah, that that paradigm shift being

aware of you being in your own way, which I think is something that’s needed to kind of set yourself up for success.

Yeah, absolutely. Did you have a similar experience?

I think I couldn’t agree more with that. You are your own barrier. And I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve always just kind of put things off until the last minute, and never really taking that first step into actually doing. And I’m going to be honest, I think that’s something this class has really helped me with, not only just with work and actually getting meeting deadlines, getting stuff done. But like, I think it’s really helped me to what I’m going to possibly achieve. When I not only graduate, but like go into life, find a career.

That’s awesome. Do you know what you want to do? You guys both know,

your brain. I mean, I have a plan. But I’m also aware that my plan is not important. Because there’s, there’s a path in my life that I believe God is set up for me in a sense. And there’s that path. And there’s also what is Yeah, I mean, like, what if what if something comes up that I find that is better than engineering? And like, I’m like, my plan is engineering. But if there’s something better than I’m willing to take that

open to adjusting the plan. That’s awesome. Yeah.

So with me minds kind of on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, I, after I graduate, I intend on going into the military enlisting into the Navy. But and I think that’ll really help me for what I might want to do when I grow up when I actually get a solid plan of yes, I want to do this I want to do this with for the rest of my life. And it’s going to help a lot with financially so I don’t have to go into life with debt, and worry about just paying people back. I’d rather do stuff on my own and be go into life without any restrictions, I guess. But on the other hand, I want to go to art school. So kind of on the other this spectrum. That is a dichotomy. Yeah, yeah. So I’m not 100% sure what I want to do yet, so that maybe ideas looking a lot better, because so I’ll not only have time to think about what I actually want to do,

or you’ll squeeze the life out of this year and start finding it anyway. Yeah.

What are the things that you’ve learned in dance class that you think are going to change the way you approach your path?

I think it’s more reinforcement than learning for like a mindset. And then it’s specific to what you want to do. Like, for me, what I’ve learned is I’ve learned so much about coding, just in these past few days. Why coding, because I see how computers work in the world. And I want to understand that, like, I want to understand how things work, and why and then be able to use that. Because I think when you can use something that you understand that can really set yourself up to be dangerous, especially when computers are like exploding already. And then how people are using them is just changing dressed

dangerous in a good way. Not like dangerous, exploding Samsung iPhones, no.

And also be dangerous to get away too.

I love that I just said Samsung iPhone, Samsung smartphone.

Samsung iPhone, I’m cool.

How about you? How have the tools and skills, exercises that you’ve done? Change the way you’ve approached your path.

It’s actually kind of funny because I had the first week of school. And after that, I came to dawn and I told him, Hey, I have an idea of what I might want to do. What would you think about it? Do you think this is possible? And he’s like, Oh, that’s pretty cool. I’m just bring it in.

What was the idea?

I had bought a HTC Vive and I had been experiential reality. Yeah, virtual system, just something you can interact with a virtual world, which is mind blowing to me, and it still is, and I use it almost every other day. And I thought to myself, I remember hearing Dawn saying that nobody’s really taken a huge step forward in education. And the last 100 years or something, I thought, Okay, well, what if I’m that first What if I’m that somebody that actually does something so innovative that I see it in every classroom in America or how even the world so how am I going to do this? Well, I thought okay, people with ADHD people that are very hyperactive in the classroom, have a tough time really just absorbing sorbing everything and are really the people who just sit down take notes, but oh,

he just described his teacher to by the way, but anyway

and myself If I mean I’m exactly like that I’m very, very interactive. Tactile. Yeah. So I thought, okay, so I have this vive. And I thought, what if I implement this somehow I get a group of people trying to get an app together, or a few apps. And we try to make one for each subject for people that can’t stand but get up and out of their seat and move and hold the things that are learning. For example, I’m looking at a game right now that explores the human body explores cells and all that braided actually just went through half of it. If you want to, I don’t know what you think of it.

I thought it was pretty great. Because I’ve always, like been interested in how the body works as well. I mean, me personally, I just want to know how things work. Yeah. And that was that was you see it, and it’s there. And you’re in that atmosphere? You’re in that cell. And you see you see how this all works. And I thought it was kind of amazing. And compared to biology my freshman year, it was a lot.

Just 10 minutes better than a whole year. I mean, just think about that. Yeah. I think that and especially recently with the Vive and the Oculus dropping to $600 a piece, I think it’s a lot more available compared to the 800. I think it’s very possible that we can make education a lot more relevant,

interactive. Yeah.

Well, we guys feel comfortable with me interviewing you while you’re interacting with the Vive and your guys want to set up, I’ll finish up here with let him get to his next meeting. And I’ll be in in just a second. Thank you guys so much for being here. Don, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us here today.

Thanks for bringing in my students.

That means a lot of course, man. It’s really a it’s amazing what they’re doing. And there’s some entrepreneurs in the powderkeg community I’d love to introduce, that are doing some amazing things with VR. You’ve

always got an open door here, man, always awesome, man.

Well, if people want to find out more about you the work that you’re doing, what can they find you?

Yeah, Twitter’s my main hub. And that’s at dawn Wetterich. The start and up website is start at UP We’re starting to work with several schools now all over the world, and we kind of collaborate. And if you ever want to be a mentor, to my students, or any students that I’m working with anywhere else, if you have a particular hobby passion that you think some other students would be interested in, please contact me because I believe that in education they can be they can get their learn on for more than just the school building. So please, please reach out.

Thanks so much. That’s it for our interview with Don Wetterich, but it does not have to be the end of the conversation. Don is super active on Twitter. And you can find him at dawn Wetterich hit him up, let him know what you learned. Let him know, if you have follow up questions. He’s never one to shy away from engaging conversation. Again, that’s at Don Wetterich. That’s done W E T T R I C K. You can also find him at the innovation Where I hope you’ll hit him up, learn a little bit more about his podcast, some of the other things he has going on. Please let me know if you enjoyed this episode, and what you liked most. And for more stories on entrepreneurs, leaders and professionals outside of Silicon Valley, make sure you give us a little subscribe on iTunes, you can find us at It’s a handy dandy link we created just for you. You want to subscribe there because we have some amazing guests coming up. So please don’t miss that. And while you’re at it, please please, please leave us a review on iTunes. This is how we reach new people. And the positive reviews we’ve already received have helped us dramatically grow our audience, we’ve got a helpful companion You can find show notes for this episode, as well as all of the past articles, and interviews and even events. So if you’re interested in events and meeting me in person, or maybe some of the rest of the powderkeg community come on out to one of our powderkeg pitch nights we have them all over the United States right now. But at those pitch nights, you can come and connect with other tech entrepreneurs, investors and professionals that are just like you we also live stream those events. So if you can’t make it out in person, or if we’re not in your city yet, you can check us out at Again, you can learn all about those events as well as new articles and episodes of powder keg igniting startups at powder I’ll see you there or we’ll talk to you in the next episode.