Episode 268

How to Use a WordPress LMS, Create Positive Impact, and Do Human Centered Design as a Digital Agency Serving Nonprofits with CauseLabs CEO Sheryle Gillihan

Learn about how to use a WordPress LMS, create positive impact, and do human centered design as a digital agency serving nonprofits with CauseLabs CEO Sheryle Gillihan in this episode of LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.

How to Use a WordPress LMS, Create Positive Impact, and Do Human Centered Design as A Digital Agency Serving Nonprofits with CauseLabs CEO Sheryle Gillihan

CauseLabs is a strategic web solutions company dedicated to helping nonprofits accelerate their mission. Typically course creators are driven by income, impact, or a combination of both. Chris and Sheryle discuss the similarities and differences between typical agency work and working mostly in the nonprofit space. There is a misconception when working with nonprofits that Sheryle addresses in this episode. Many people believe nonprofits are working on entirely donations and charity. But nonprofits are businesses as well, so they are making budgetary decisions and implementing solutions. Typically the process of approval and working with a board can be longer with a nonprofit, but selling services to nonprofit business works the same as with most for-profit operations.

CauseLabs has worked with many nonprofits to optimize their impact, such as the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Follett Education, IDEO.org, and LEGO Education. One big thing Sheryle and her team have learned is to focus on human centered design. Human centered design outlines the process of applying the scientific method of forming hypotheses and running experiments on every aspect of business problems, program development, and design problems.

Often clients will ask for something to be built, but it may not be what they actually need to solve their problem. At CauseLabs, Sheryle and her team work with nonprofits to figure out what technology implementation may be the best for their goals and what the process is to implement the setup.

Sheryle shares the work CauseLabs has been doing for a nonprofit helping people in Kenya build up the job skills they need to enter the workforce. The setup they’ve created uses LifterLMS to deliver course content in career training areas, such as plumbing, welding, painting, scaffolding, tiling, electrical, and flooring. They also serve a lot of women through that program, and having a site designed in a way that shows pictures of women who have gone through the training serve as an inspiration to the women who are interested in trying the program.

To learn more about Sheryle Gillihan and the work she and her team do, be sure to check out CauseLabs.com.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes hereSubscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

This episode was sponsored by WP Tonic Managed WordPress LMS hosting. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code wptonichosting50 to save 50% on any annual plan.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris  Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today I’m joined by a special guest, Sheryle Gillihan from CauseLabs. Her mission is to accelerate yours if you’re a nonprofit. Sheryle has also done some learning project creation inside of a nonprofit in Kenya, which helps with workforce development for youth, using LifterLMS, which is super cool. We’ll get into that later in the show, but first I want to welcome you, Sheryle, for coming. Thanks for coming on.

Sheryle: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Chris  Badgett: Yeah, well this is, I really want to get into serving the nonprofit sector because in course creation, people are usually driven by one, two, or three things. The first one is income, the second one is impact, and the third is both of those things. In the nonprofit sector, typically the impact, it takes the main motivation, like a nonprofit has a mission. What’s it like to work in the nonprofit space, and how is it different as an agency? Or just can you tell us, like, if somebody is thinking about getting into serving nonprofits, what’s that like?

Sheryle: Sure. So we’ve been serving nonprofits for over 16 years now and I have been a part of it since 2010. And so I don’t think it’s really too different other than the fact that you have to have a lot of empathy for the end user. So you’re not just working with the business, you’re working with the business and all of their program team and who they’re actually serving on the ground. And especially when we’re talking about technology, there’s sometimes some unintended consequences. And so we have to be aware that what we build really can change these people’s lives or can potentially ruin lives.

And so we’re just really careful about what we actually implement. But it’s a business just like any other business. And so I think that’s the thing that people get hung up on. Like, oh, they don’t have the budget or oh, they won’t want to pay for things. Oh they rely solely on donations and charity. But the reality is that a nonprofit is a business as well. They have a board, they make budgetary decisions, they have line item for their technology or for their consulting services. And so understanding that and those dynamics and knowing essentially when they’re going to be creating their budgets so that you can be having those conversations with them beforehand and anticipating that that business cycle is just a little bit longer, I think that’s the one thing that the people should be aware of.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. And can you name some of the nonprofits that maybe you’ve worked with that might be household names that people might’ve heard of before?

Sheryle: Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Let’s see. Household names, Follett Education, ideo.org potentially. And we’ve worked with Lego Education, so of course they’re a for profit company, but a household name. But they do have sort of an education branch that we’ve worked with on strategy and products.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. Well you mentioned strategy, before we were chatting about human centered design and that really peaked my curiosity. If you’re talking to a client and you’re going into the strategy of should we build this, should we not, how much is it going to cost? And you slow down the conversation and get into human centered design, what are we unpacking there?

Sheryle: So human centered design is a process that we actually learned when we started partnering with ideo.org and in that design thinking process, it’s very much like the scientific method. So everybody learned how to do this in fourth grade. They just don’t necessarily apply it to every single problem that they’re having, business problem, program development and design problem. But if you take that method and you apply it to any problem that you have and you apply critical thinking and testing your assumptions, you end up with something that looks a little bit like this. Somebody comes to us, they say this is what we want. How much would you bid on this? And sometimes it’s a, okay, this is what we would bid, but this is our process and this is what it would look like and we may not actually need to build what you’re asking to build.

When we’re talking about technology, especially if we’re talking about custom web apps or custom platforms and integrations, it can be very costly and so when you’re looking at a large sum of money, you don’t want to build something that’s not actually going to make a difference, especially if you’re talking about the nonprofit social impact, social enterprise space. You want to make sure that the beneficiaries that they’re trying to serve actually are served. One example is that back when we were building mobile apps, a client wanted to build both Android and iOS apps and said it needed to be also a Windows phone app. Well, nobody wants to build a Windows phone app anymore these days. But it turns out that the majority of the market that they were serving couldn’t even afford iPhone apps or iPhones. And so they really only needed to build an Android app to serve their market. And so, but just it helps us assess at the very beginning before we start building the project, what is really needed here and how is this really going to serve the audience.

Chris  Badgett: That is awesome. How do nonprofits leverage technology or how do they, what purpose, what problems, what jobs to be done does CauseLabs come in there and help with? I mean there’s the message, but what else?

Sheryle: That is a huge question because there are a lot of things, and this is why I feel like we maybe fail at marketing is because when you say you do all the things, you do nothing. And people need to hear very specifically what that thing is that will help them, which is why I’ve gotten good at storytelling is because it helps people to understand what we’ve done in the past and how we’ve helped organizations.

Chris  Badgett: Well tell us a story.

Sheryle: Sure, I’ll tell you a story. So one organization that came to us was actually, they had a phenomenal grant working with Bill and Melinda Gates’ foundation to essentially do output based aid in Vietnam. And they were trying to get 10,000 latrines into homes. And so the individuals in these rural provinces in Vietnam were working with the women’s union getting supplies and they were building their own latrines and once it’s inspected, then they’ll actually get repaid. And so now they have a free latrine in their home to help their family for generations. And so they were carrying around binders of paper on their motorbikes. Sometimes papers would get lost, sometimes it would rain and they would be illegible and not usable. Or human error comes into play when you’re looking at a sheet with hundreds of numbers on it and you write the inspection notes on the wrong line or you miss a box and you don’t check something off and so that person doesn’t get reimbursed for their work.

We built an Android app for them that actually allowed them to go into the field with just the tablet. They would search for the number of the home, it would show them the required fields so they wouldn’t miss any, they’d take a picture with the phone of the actual latrine installation and that record when they got back to the office and they had wifi would automatically sync to the database. So there’s no data entry at that point. So it’s helping them save time. It’s helping them with their data management as far as the quality of the data that they’re collecting. And it just allowed people to get reimbursed a lot faster because it optimized that process so much.

Chris  Badgett: Wow. I love that story and that’s probably not what the client came in asking for, I’m imagining. You helped them figure out, there’s some strategy in figuring out what are we doing here? Right?

Sheryle: So in this particular instance, I’m not sure what the actual problem statement was, but when we’re referred to a client, they usually don’t know what they need to build yet. When we’re referred to them, they have a slew of problems. And the question is, we’ve got this budget, we just got this grant. How can we utilize that grant to help this program deliver better and impact more people? And so fortunately we sort of start at that front end of helping them even design that concept. And that’s where a lot of our strategy comes in.

Chris  Badgett: That is awesome. As a CEO, how else do you use storytelling? And I think you’re muted. I’m not sure if, there you go.

Sheryle: I use storytelling to share our work, but then I use storytelling to share a lot of other people’s work as well. And I use it as sort of that cautionary measure like the one I just told you about not building an iPhone app because your users only have Androids. And that’s one of those stories that I can share. We’ve actually experienced that. But when I hear other people tell stories, I also like to share those and that helps me sort of gain perspective on the work that we’re doing and I think it helps other people sort of gain perspective on the problems that we’re facing in the world and the challenges that we’re having. One story that Amina Mohamed shared when I was at an international development conference, she shared that it’s great that we’re building wells and that we’re helping communities get clean water, but if we’re not involving the community in that decision and we’re not helping them to do essentially that change management of their culture and society, they’re not going to drink that water.

And one of the villages that they actually visited had this perfectly amazing well that had clean water and a year later they went and visited and nobody was drinking the water and they were all drinking out of the river, which is disgusting and red and it’s clearly not clean. And when they ask the question, “Why aren’t you drinking water out of the well?” They said, “Well the government helped put that well in there and it doesn’t look like the water that we drink. Why would we drink that?” And so creating that trust in the solution and that the solution is actually meant for them to serve them and to help them, I think it’s really important. So it’s not enough to just build the tool or to implement a well or to implement change. You actually have to engage the community in why this change is being implemented and they have to want it and they have to desire it and it has to really be solving a problem for them, not a perceived problem that we perceive, but a problem that they’re actually feeling.

Chris  Badgett: I love that. The way I described that is, sometimes in the learning space we serve our customer, but we also are serving our customer’s customer. So we have to think about the end user, the learner, whoever’s going to be, because there’s many stakeholders. It’s not always just the person buying the website or building the website or the owner of the company that’s involved or the nonprofit. What’s the public benefit corporation that you guys are a part of or participate in some way, what is that?

Sheryle: Yes, so when we acquired the company last year, a year ago today actually-

Chris  Badgett: Happy birthday.

Sheryle: Thank you. We formed as a public benefit corporation and it was really important to Michael and I to really live out our values in everything that we do with the company.

Chris  Badgett: So this is like a, you could be a LLC or a S Corp. This is like one of those types of things.

Sheryle: Yes.

Chris  Badgett: Okay. So what is it?

Sheryle: So it depends on your state on whether they actually allow the public benefit corporation entity. I believe that there are 33 or 34 states that are on board with that now. Before we were a public benefit corporation, we were actually a certified B Corp through B Labs. So we have a third party audit actually audit our company every two to three years to see that we’re upholding the measures that we’re saying about our environmental and social sustainability. But by becoming a public benefit corporation, we’re actually saying that when we make decisions as a company, we’re taking into account all of our stakeholders, not just shareholders, but also our community, our workers, the beneficiaries of the work that we produce. And so making sure that we’re making that positive impact, which is actually our mission is to create positive impact that we’re making that impact in every decision that we make.

So for example, we’re about to have an anniversary party tonight for the one year anniversary of the company. And even our decisions in what kind of paper plates do we purchase and what kind of cups and what kind of silverware, buying plant-based plastics that we can compost. And making sure that we make decisions about when do we print, when do we not print, our environmental sustainability. Are we using green power? And every sort of decision that we make. Even with, for example, transportation is a big part of our company because it’s a large part of our footprint because we are a distributed team and for the most part we have global clients and so we travel to them. And so one of the initiatives that we’ve taken on is that we’re going to buy carbon offsets to offset some of our travel and some of our footprints. We’re not at the point where we can be zero waste, zero carbon footprint, but we’re trying to make a bigger impact every single year.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. I had a question for you related to what you just said, which is let’s imagine whether you’re building sites for clients or like us, we’re a software company or you’re a course creator and things are going well and you want to give back and you believe in things like sustainability and certain causes. How does somebody or a company or more of a for profit company kind of get into that world? I’ve always been inspired by like Patagonia does the 1% for the planet or the Tom shoes buy one, give one kind of concept. But how do people kind of, if they’re new to it, get into making sure their dollars that are going to nonprofits and causes, where should they start? It’s a little bit overwhelming when you look across the landscape of all these nonprofits out there. What would you say?

Sheryle: Start little by little, essentially gain some awareness of the things that you can do. And I think that the initial thing that we did is we took an audit of how do we consume things? What are we consuming? And as a tech company, some of the things that we’re consuming are servers.

Chris  Badgett: Hosting.

Sheryle: The energy and hosting, the energy that’s actually being generated there. And so choosing a green host or at least a host that is moving in the direction of becoming greener, I think is really important. Another thing is how do you take care of your people and your team and what are the things that matter there because, and also how do you communicate with them the decisions and choices that the company is making? It’s really important to me that I’m sharing with the team that we’re using green products where that we are trying to buy carbon offsets or reduce our footprints and if they can make small shifts even within their own home, everything that we buy and the power that we have as consumers is tremendous.

Everything that we do as consumers really impacts our economy and impacts our environment. And so everything down to where are you banking and who are you getting your loans from and how are they spending your money? It’s just really important to think about, and I don’t think that we recognize how much value our dollar has, but if you start to think about the things that you’re purchasing and how that money is being used and what the supply chain is, even of the companies that we’re shopping with makes a difference.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. I’ve always liked the triple bottom line, people, planet, profit. So when you’re making a decision, I love that you mentioned the people because the planet, yes is very important, but also the human beings that work with you or are your customers or whatever, how people experience their life is really important. Can you talk to us about diversity in a team and in hiring as an example or just in having a diverse team, what that means, why that’s important, how do we approach that in these times?

Sheryle: Yeah, so I’ve had some really interesting conversations lately. There’s the idea that diversity means that you have to check off the box that I have one woman and I have one person of color and I have one veteran. And thankfully for my team, I’m a woman person of color and a veteran.

Chris  Badgett: Check, check, check.

Sheryle: So my whole team just checks off the box right there. Like Sheryle checks all our boxes. So we’re all good. Right? And that’s just not how it works. I mean, diversity comes into play in a lot of different ways. And sometimes that is the way that somebody grew up or our economic status or our age or just the experiences that we’ve had and making sure that when we’re hiring that we’re aware of these things enough that it’s not like, “Oh well you haven’t had these experiences so I’m not going to hire you.” It’s more of getting to know the whole person and understanding the experiences they’ve had so that when we have team discussions, we’re able to bring our whole selves and we can have really valuable discussions about how we function as a company, how we function as a team, how we do things better, how we innovate together and how we create things.

And so I think that, especially from a problem solving perspective, when we’re trying to figure out how do we serve this really challenging issue that our client’s clients are facing, we have to come at it from all perspectives and we have to recognize that if this challenge that could potentially be a global challenge hasn’t been solved yet, it’s not because all the smartest people haven’t been in the room together. All the smartest people in the world have been in the room together, but maybe all the smartest people were not the right people to tackle that challenge. Maybe we needed people who have different experiences and different backgrounds and different things to bring to the table. And so just recognizing that everybody brings value to a conversation and everybody brings value to the problem solving discussion is just really crucial for our team.

Chris  Badgett: Keep listening. This podcast is not over. This is just a special message about this episode sponsor WP-Tonic, Managed WordPress LMS Hosting. Think of it as everything you need to have a professional online course training platform right out of the box. Ready to go. Find out more about WP-Tonic’s Managed WordPress LMS Hosting by going to lifterlikes.com/tonic. Now back to the show.

One of your super powers is that you love people. And I believe that sometimes as an agency or if you’re a course creator, your customer and your clients, if you’re not like in love with them, just like you need to love your people, that passion, if that’s not there, if they’re just kind of a means to an end or you’re just kind of mailing it in, it’s so much harder. How does loving people, being someone who really enjoys the company of others and can appreciate the diversity and just have a really strong strength and empathy, what does that do for you? What does that unlock and how has it served you?

Sheryle: Well, I think you mentioned it right there. Empathy has been really important in the work that we do and it’s probably important for anybody’s work, but how has it really made a difference? I think that every project that every agency tackles, maybe not every project, but a lot of projects, they hit this point where you have a hurdle that you have to cross or you have to have a challenging conversation with a client or you have to have a challenging conversation with a team member potentially.

And being able to come into that with empathy for the other person as well as just caring for that person and loving that person I think is just really important and recognizing that they’re coming from a point of they want the best as well and they have good intentions. So if you’re talking about a client for example, and you have to have a really challenging conversation about, oh well we’ve gone over budget, or that is out of scope, or some of these other conversations that we’ve had as agencies, recognizing that they’re going to push for everything that they can because they’re serving the greater good.

If you’re talking about the nonprofit space, especially they’re serving the greater good and I also want to serve the greater good and I want to help them as much as I can, but we also are taking care of our people and trying to take care of the planet and are making certain decisions. And that third word that you mentioned with planet, people, and profit, that third word is profit. And we have to sustain as a business if we want to continue helping people, recognizing also that they have to sustain as a business if they want to keep helping people. And so just coming at it from that perspective of understanding and knowing that we both want the same thing really helps.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. Well I wanted to shift gears and talk about a project you did recently with LifterLMS for I believe a nonprofit in Kenya that helped with youth workforce development. Can you tell us about it?

Sheryle: Yes. So [inaudible 00:24:02] is a new partner of ours. They were previously [inaudible 00:24:05] Institute. We helped them with a website redesign. And when we first started talking with them, they had big dreams of everything that they wanted to be able to do and one of those dreams is we want to reach more youth and we think that we can do that if we take our courses online. And I said okay, we can absolutely do that. I have a great partner that we can actually work with and mentioned LifterLMS and we reached out to you and asked whether or not that would be a potential fit and turns out it’s actually serving them very well. They are working in Kenya specifically right now and what they have been doing is actually doing onsite workshops. And so every time they’re training these youth who these are typically high school dropouts that don’t have a degree and they’re underserved and in poverty and in order to get themselves out of poverty they have to gain a skill of some sort.

And so [inaudible 00:25:06] is actually helping them in the skills of like plumbing and welding, painting, scaffolding, tiling, electrician, and flooring and some of those other skills like masonry and things like that. One of the audiences that they serve that really surprised me because these are typically male roles, is they serve a lot of women and so they are giving these women the ability to do things that they didn’t think that they should be doing or could be doing, and they’re giving them a skill that actually helps them get out of poverty.

But the way that they were delivering their courses, the women might have to travel pretty far to get to a workshop, so opening this up online and actually giving them a tool where they can deliver it to anyone anywhere, allows them to expand their reach. They’re still doing the onsite workshops and they’re still doing training one on one with people, but it gives them the ability to put their entry level courses online to get people interested in this, to get them aware of what [inaudible 00:26:08] is doing and just get them involved in the community until they can actually get to the point where they have enough skills to to do an onsite workshop potentially with one of the manufacturers that is providing jobs for them.

Chris  Badgett: Wow. That’s really neat. So how do they make the course? Do they film the onsite training or they make something different at a different location? How do they get the content?

Sheryle: They’re actually still figuring that out. So they’ve been putting up PDF content, text content, they have some video. But a lot of their content right now is images and documents and security checklists and safety checklists and they’re just doing everything that they can to translate their content into what it needs to be. Ideally they would like all of it to be video-based. They believe that their audience is going to respond a lot better to that. But they started with what they had. And so this is kind of a lesson for anybody that wants to approach an MVP, especially in course creation. Start with what you have and just get it out there and allow your audience and your students and those who are benefiting from it to tell you what they would like, how it could be better. And they have just been iterating and improving. And because that they can actually create the courses themselves, they can go in there and change it at any point in time and modify it how it needs to be.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. Can you speak a little bit more to the impact on women in terms of let’s say traditionally you were saying that the trade skills like plumbing and masonry and whatnot, is this something where just having the in person workshops but also the online training to get them ready helps with bringing women into roles that they weren’t necessarily in before in this country?

Sheryle: So I think what helps, especially having their redesigned website and having the courses on there and they expose a lot of pictures of the women who have gone through their courses and it’s a woman owned organization as well. And I think that helps. But I think what helps is for other women to see the testimonials and they’ve got a few testimonials on their website to see other women in those positions actually thriving and succeeding and essentially changing the trajectory of their life as well as future generations that come after them. Right. And so seeing that and realizing I can do this too, and having the courses readily available for them for free, for the entry level courses and online, all they need is access. And so I think that’s a different hurdle and a different thing that they’re going to try to tackle. But right now it’s just giving them the ability to have those courses online.

Chris  Badgett: Do you know if in terms of at least let’s say in Kenya, in terms of access to the internet, what’s the status of well mobile, they’re skipping the personal computer and going to the mobile phone or we’re working in kind of like computer lab, community computer lab situations, do you know, happen to know for that use case, what people have in terms of options of accessing the internet or what else have you seen in some of your other projects?

Sheryle: Yeah, I think it varies based on location and it also varies based on who you are and why you’re trying to access the internet. Just another story to share. When I went to India they said, oh yes, every city has an internet cafe. And so we have internet here. And I think there was a little bit of pride that of course we have internet here, every city has internet. And so they wouldn’t tell us that they couldn’t use the internet cafe. They have an internet cafe but they wouldn’t use the internet cafe. And the reason is because nefarious things happen in the internet cafe. Apparently people watch a lot of porn. So I was like, oh. So depending on who you are and whether or not you want to be associated with that, you might not use and be able to access in the locations that are supposedly there for you to better yourselves.

And so just recognizing that there is some stigma sometimes even when technically access is there, it may not really be available or may not be something that they want to associate themselves with. And so understanding the community, understanding what their actual needs are and setting up an infrastructure in the regions where you want to work I think is really important because it varies. Like I said, sometimes they only have the SMS based functionalities. They don’t necessarily have a smartphone. And so understanding how that works.

Another project that we did, we realized that they were charged for every single phone call that they made if the other line picks up. And so we did something that’s called flashing. First time I’d ever heard of it. And it is you allow them to call, they hang up before it picks up on the other end and you call that number back. And so the charges are on the caller and so that saves your community the need to actually pay for that call.

Chris  Badgett: Wow.

Sheryle: So just really digging in and understanding what are the barriers to actual access? Is it cost, is it the cost of data, is it the cost of having a device? Is it location? Because it’s different in every single area.

Chris  Badgett: I love the quote that the future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed. And sometimes, especially if we work in technology or we have good internet where we live or whatever, we kind of take it for granted and it’s not always the case. Even in the United States, I think the statistic is like, I believe it might be 10% of the United States is not even online. There’s all these assumptions we have about equal access that aren’t actually true even in your own country and even in your own town. And you mentioned also with the Kenya site that they are doing a lot of text and PDFs and checklists and things like that. Sometimes in rural areas, the bandwidth or the ability for the website, not having video can actually be a good thing or at least supplementing your video with these other things because if the video can’t load or whatever, that other stuff can load over a slower internet connection, cellular internet and not be a problem at all. Whereas video and audio can kind of become a data hog or whatever.

Sheryle: Yes, that’s true. And so I think having the multiple avenues is really important. However, from a literacy perspective, text is not always the best medium for some of these regions that they’re trying to reach. And so if literacy is a consideration, then video and audio is really helpful. And so just making those compressed and small enough that they can be delivered in a way that they can load is important.

Chris  Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, I want to go back to your tagline because I really like it as a marketing person and as a mission driven entrepreneur myself. So on your homepage it says “Our mission is to accelerate yours.” And I guess using the workforce development example, so their mission was for workforce development for primarily men and women who have dropped out of high school-

Sheryle: Correct.

Chris  Badgett: Who before they become or just to give them job skills or what are you fighting against there and what’s the opportunity?

Sheryle: It’s to give them job skills so that they can get out of poverty.

Chris  Badgett: Yeah. I love that.

Sheryle: Yeah. And as far as accelerating their mission, it’s both reaching more people as well as reaching more people more quickly, as well as providing a tool that can reach people in different mediums and different ways. We were just talking about accessibility and literacy and it just opens a lot of doors for them and it as well as they are now partnered with Habitat for Humanity who is funding some of their work because they’ve got this portal essentially that can bring everybody together. And so it’s not just the training of the artisans, it’s also providing not just the job skills but opportunities for jobs. So people are actually coming to [inaudible 00:35:28] asking if their artisans are available for work.

Chris  Badgett: Wow, that’s a lot right there. Well just kind of, I don’t want to keep you from your birthday party so I have just kind of one more question before we kind of wrap up the interview, which is, and you can answer this with a story, ergo high level with the more of a philosophy or whatever. When you look at education or learning, what does it have the ability to do? It’s kind of a really meta human skill that is, it’s been a part of what makes us human for a long time. But if somebody wants to solve problems with education or work on an issue with education or learning or training or whatever you want to call it, what does it have the power to do? And maybe share a story or go high level of how you see learning in the process of improving the world.

Sheryle: Education is one of those things that can change somebody’s life. So I won’t go into a long story, but I was actually raised in poverty and when I came to the United States and became an American citizen and had public education available to me, so it wasn’t even private, specialized, high level education. It was just public education available to me. My whole life changed. So if you read a little bit about my bio and my background and where I came from, a lot of my poverty story, I didn’t learn until I was in my 30s. But I recognize now in the work that I do that I was always meant to do this work and that I came from a place that I could be like my mother when she was in her 30s about to have a daughter, selling bananas and trying to figure out how to get clean water and getting $3 a week from an agency that was sponsoring me so that I could get food.

And so education allowed me to be what I am today, allowed me to be where I am today. And part of that is hard work. But part of it’s also luck. I got lucky. I got the birth lottery in a sense and was able to come to a country that valued education and giving everyone education. I don’t think that everyone is getting quality education. I don’t think we’re even equally provided what we should be provided. However, I think that there are a lot of organizations that are trying to help in that respect and that’s why we have a lot of education nonprofits and it’s phenomenal and they’re tackling it in a lot of different ways because sometimes our learning abilities, sometimes it’s that some need just a little bit more help and sometimes it’s that they’re in a region where they don’t have quality curriculum or the right tools.

I like to look it from a perspective of how is technology helping in the education space. I think that there are a lot of researchers that are trying to figure out how do we deliver education better at all the various age groups. And the one thing that I think technology really helps with, especially as we sort of evolve and get into AI, we have all this data around education. We have all these metrics and we’re testing all our students all the time, so we’ve got all these numbers. How do we utilize that to do more personalized education and help them in the ways that they really need help for?

And I don’t think personalized necessarily is always just one-to-one. I think there are ways that we can say, okay, this group of students really excels in this area, but they really need help over here and just tailor. I think that technology allows us to tailor what we can offer as educators, but I also think that the world is our oyster at this point and there’s so much education available that for someone that’s older, like myself and not necessarily in primary school anymore, we can go out and learn anything that we want to. And a lot of it is accessible and free and just online. And I think that’s a huge benefit to anybody that is a lifelong learner.

Chris  Badgett: Sheryle Gillihan, she’s at CauseLabs. You can find her at causelabs.com. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate you sharing your experience, your insights, and your story. It’s been great. Thank you so much.

Sheryle: And we’re so grateful to LifterLMS and what they’ve allowed us to do with [inaudible 00:40:20] and future clients. Thank you.

Chris  Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

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