Scott L. Steward is an international business owner (musicspool.com and Genius Lab, Inc.), a youth tech educator, podcast co-host (Money, Sex, Gen X), and author (A Book of Stewism’s: 31 Ways to Improve Your Life). Scott is squarely focused on preparing young people for jobs that don’t exist yet, especially in the Black and Latinx communities.

Scott has a strong and vast business school education and he wants to share all of his knowledge. He has more than 30 years of business experience from working with fortune 500 companies like Marriott International, MCI Wireless, and Hertz Car Rental. He’s been running his own businesses for more than 30 years.

Scott is a Master Certified, 18-time award winning teacher of Entrepreneurship and Technology. His focus is on preparing the next generation of business owners to generate generational wealth and create global impact. 

Daniel (00:03): Sure you've heard this before. Blockbuster could have been Netflix. They had everything, they were able to do it, but they didn't have the mindset. In some respects they weren't unemployable, which is a strange term. But today my guest and friend Scott Stewart, is going to explain what he means by that idea. We're going to start there. But I think the big point that I really want to leave you with here, it's really important that we're flexible in our mindsets. When we get comfortable, even when we experience a level of success. If we see this as the only way, the standard operating procedure, the system for what we do within a school or a district that actually can be a very scary place to find yourself because you lose the curiosity, you lose the innovation you miss out on the potential and opportunity that's there in front of you. You might start believing that you're, you know what doesn't stink. And that can be a tough spot to find yourself. We also get into issues of systemic racism and we talk about his really interesting work that you should check out at the genius lab. And that's geniuslabschicago.com, but everything's linked up for you in the show notes. Hey, it's Daniel, and this is the better leaders, better schools podcast. A show for Ruckus Makers, those innovative out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We'll be right back after these messages from our show sponsors.

Daniel (01:41): Transform Lead to become a resilient and empowered change agent with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership learning from Harvard business in education school faculty. While you collaborate with a global network of fellow school leaders applied today at hgse.me/leader. That's hgse.me/leader. Hey, Ruckus Maker. My friends over at SMART have developed a research backed tool that will show you not on your strengths and weaknesses, but where you should strategically focus your energy in order to drive better results for your students. This tool is called the ed tech assessment tool, and you can take it at smarttech.com/profile. Take the ed tech assessment tool at smarttech.com/profile.

Daniel (02:35): All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning. Whether that's in a distance hybrid or traditional educational setting, learn more at Organized Binder. I am excited to introduce you to Scott Steward. We go way back. We worked together years ago in Chicago and these days Scott L Steward is an international business owner. Check out his work musicpool.com and Genius Lab, Inc. Youth tech educator, a podcast co-host of money, sex, gen X, an author, a book of Stewisms, 31 ways to improve your life. Scott is squarely focused on preparing young people for jobs that don't exist yet, especially in the black and Latin X communities. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott (03:36): Thank you, Danny Bauer for having me on the show. It is such an honor.

Daniel (03:40): Yeah, well you could see, I mean, we're going to release some of this video too, but I got a big smile. I'm happy. So happy to connect with you. In our intro chat we talked about ownership mindset and this show is for Ruckus Makers, right? Those that challenge the status quo, they never give up. They make change happen in education. I think some of your perspectives on the ownership mindset is definitely you causing a ruckus. Let's start there.

Scott (04:05): Absolutely man, particularly when you think about how I even got into education. My background is business. I'm an MBA student with a focus on marketing and I landed in education as a result of a job layoff back in 2001, right before the twin towers disaster. In grad school, I created an afterschool program for young people that would teach them how to run their own business. Danny, I knew early on that I was pretty much unemployable. We can talk about that term. Particularly in corporate. I did not see myself at 24 years old working at a one company, looking for retirement, working at a company for 30, 40 years expecting to retire. I found it difficult to even move up the corporate ladder. In the nineties, I saw it to be super difficult and I knew something else had to happen.

Scott (05:17): I got into education with the help of a couple of great people through a business ownership mindset of helping young people think about, listen, if you want to be happy, right? We know you need money, but you should probably follow your passion. How do you take your passion and make a life out of that? And that caused a lot of ruckus if you will. That's kind of how we got here. Kind of the short game of how it got us up. I've always been a Ruckus Maker, man. It's been crazy.

Daniel (05:53): You have, you have, well, yeah, let's talk about that being an unemployable idea a little bit. When I was starting off better leaders, better schools, there were some, I heard a lot on podcasts that you want to be unemployable because you're so fired up by your vision, your passion, which you touched on that you can't be a part of another one, right? You got to make your own dreams into reality. So that's my take on it a little bit. How do you look at this idea of being unemployable?

Scott (06:22): I think it also goes back to thinking about how I didn't become a blockbuster video. Corporations of the old set in their standards, their standard operating procedures and they fall into this trap, if you will. Stick to the plan, like nothing changes, we have a plan and stick to it. To affect change, to be a change agent, you always have to be thinking about in my mind, how are you innovating? How are you thinking about what's coming next? A lot of times that's going to challenge what you have on paper. What you've documented as these are the standard operating procedures, but you need somebody on the team that's gonna be looking for ways to innovate and change that. If you have a closed mindset, which a lot of old corporate guys tend to have, you miss these opportunities to grasp changing times, changing needs of the consumer changing needs of the marketplace.

Scott (07:27): Being unemployable is the person or the people who even in a corporate job work environment. Being unemployable is people who are willing to push those envelopes all the time and say, " Lift up the rocks and pull the sheets back. Hey, what about this? What about that?" To folks who are built for corporate old-school corporate dates, that kinda get under their skin. It's like, we've got a plan. Let's stick to the plan, but you stick to the plan too much. Then you'll be out of business. Being unemployable for me was looking at, although you've done this business this way for 30 years, your reason for continuing to do it this way can not simply be, "Oh, well, we've always done it this way. And it works." You will become outdated if that's your way of kind of keeping with how things are done.

Scott (08:24): I saw that happening in education as well. I'm not going to jump the heads from business to education, but some of our big school districts around the country, even around the world kind of operate from that mindset. Being unemployable meant for me, being willing to push the envelope to such a degree, that leadership is the only path because you're blazing. Folks like you are charting new courses. We're blazing new trails in places that have never been thought of before in spaces that don't normally have people that are willing to push those envelopes. That's what being an unemployed person was to me. I'm the guy that's going to come into meetings and say, Hey, what about this let's? And for some leaders it's really disruptive. It causes a lot of ruckus, man.

Daniel (09:22): And that's a good thing because you grow that way. You mentioned Blockbuster. That's a great example, but we have Kodak. What happened to them? They were positioned to continue to dominate there, but they decided, what, this digital, thing's not going to take off. Did you have a Blackberry back in the day, by any chance?

Scott (09:42): I did not have a Blackberry, but Blackberry is still holding on. I didn't use Kodak specifically. Kodak didn't become a blockbuster. Like Blockbuster's gone is gone. Kodak is actually still in place, still in play. What they did was at the last minute, at the 11th hour, they got it. It was like, okay, wait. That's okay. Let's get on. We'll let disposable cameras go. Let's find our niche, which is the Blackberry. Professional Photographers

Scott (10:17): Professional. That's right. That's right. So we're not going to go away. Blockbuster just dropped the ball. Blockbuster could have been Netflix and they just totally dropped the ball because of their inability or willingness to embrace the unforeseen. People will be watching movies from their mobile devices. They didn't think that was going to be a thing. They didn't want to bet on it. If they had bet a portion of their revenue on it.

Daniel (10:54): Design thinking, testing, testing it out.

Scott (10:58): They'd still be in business today, but they refuse to do that. I don't know how much a pride or ego got in the way of leadership to prevent that. When we think about it even now, let's switch it to talking about education. We have a lot of that in place today, where there are a lot of, and I'm very, very critical of educational leaders, right? Again, causing some ruckus. I'm forcing folks to think about innovation and change in this space of education. There are a lot of people who are so controlling in leadership of education to the point where I see it with my own children who are doing virtual schooling, turn your cameras on. You have to ask to go to the bathroom, listen, ma'am I'm at home. We see some school districts that are requiring dress codes. Now I get you don't want people on their topless, but hold on, wait a minute.

Daniel (12:01): I saw on Facebook, people asked about how they're doing online detentions. I'm like, why are we even having this discussion?

Scott (12:07): Some of that is pride and ego. Some of that is the way of the old. They're so caught up in how things used to be the unwillingness to accept how things are. More importantly, how things will be moving forward. I do some online teaching and there may be 20% of the students that have their cameras on, I can see them. There may be 80% of the students that don't. Does that mean that they're not learning? Does that mean they are not engaged? Absolutely not. It just means that whatever I'm teaching better be so engaging that makes them want to chime in. Otherwise they're multitasking.

Daniel (12:50): That's it? That is the question to ask yourself as a leader and an educator. Now that the classroom and my physical presence is removed, where I could sort of impose my will, that you have to be in class and can't leave and do the things I'm asking you to do. No, the right question is how do I design stuff for these kids that I serve. In this community that I love and serve? How do I design in such a way that it's so engaging the kids want to be there, right? And talking about attendance, you tell them about tardies. You create some that's so good. Kids are running into your class because teachers do that. That's the question to ask now, what do we do with these kids? All the reasons and myths and just bogus stuff out there about why they're not coming to class. So yeah, we could do a whole show on that.

Scott (13:41): Even to that point. So you think about it. Unfortunately, there's a lot of chatter on Twitter. I follow a lot of teachers around the country specifically. For whatever reason, it seems like the teachers that show up on my Twitter timeline, they do a lot of complaining. Again, I am a pro teacher, but I'm very critical of our public education system right now, primary and secondary levels. My question is and this is super controversial in Chicago. What did they say? The numbers are like 7,000 students are lost, right? That has been about 7,000 students who have not logged on for school this year. They're trying to find them. For me, it's like, listen, don't worry about those kids. Right? This will circle back and make sense when we get further in this conversation, don't worry about those kids.

Scott (14:41): They were coming to school only because they had to in the first place, what we really wanted to focus on. And this is where the greatest work is. You got X amount of students that are showing up, to your point, how are you going to keep those young people engaged? Those are the students that are saying, I want to be here. I can easily find a reason to say that my technology isn't working and I can't be in school, but I'm coming every day. I want to be here. What are you going to give me now? I was trying to answer the question. What are you going to give me that's going to help me today. I think the real answer is. What are you giving me, Mr. Teacher, Ms. Teacher, that is going to help me today. And that's where the engagement, at least for me starts.

Daniel (15:32): Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a question of time and resources and where you put those things as well. When I'm writing about this in my book and talking about, when you think about a coach, right, for a principal, what kind of principal comes to mind? Most likely, I think the general assumption there is if a principal has a coach that they're probably on a professional improvement plan as well and that the district has provided some sort of mentor there because this is the last ditch effort before they ask that leader to exit. But it's almost like the 7,000 kids. It's not that you ignore them completely, but it's just taking your awareness and your focus from who is showing up and how can we push them further?

Daniel (16:23): And that's one part of the equation, then there's this other part, right? That we got to figure out, but what are we doing for them today? It's interesting in preparation, I just want to add this last thing. I'm getting ready for the book, which is about my leadership community and all this stuff. There was a study done in Texas of all principals from 95 to 2008. It's a lot of principals, big states there. Sometimes,who knows they could be their own nation or something like that. Anyways,they found in the study that 90% of principals that left, didn't leave the school for another school. They left the profession entirely and there's multiple reasons. The stress of the ridiculous expectations. At times the hours and there's so much there. We'll get into systemic racism. I'm sure during this conversation too. And the fact that, "Hey, if they're not the lowest performer, but the job is hard and they could use somebody to level up their skills or just pour into them, take care of them a bit too, that help doesn't exist or at least that's how those principals felt. So they leave and they don't come back.

Scott (17:37): It's even exposing that it doesn't even matter how much money you pay them. If they're not getting the support to improve and the professional development, how much money you pay them, it's not enough to keep them. It's gotta be more than that.

Daniel (17:57): Yeah. There's a quote I love from Victor Franklin who wrote Man's Search for Meaning, but he said that a man's pushed by his drives. So that principal may have gotten to that point because they're driven like you and me, right. Have a bigger vision, mission, all that kind of stuff. What gets them through the hard part Franklin says, he's pulled by his values. Right. It's the bigger why, right? It's the community, it's the relationships, it's the impact that you want to make. That's what gets you through the tough stuff. It's easy to lead when things are going good, but when it hits the fan and things get tough it's like, okay, what am I all about? What is my current reality? If I'm not fine. Not feeling what's happening right now. I'm out and that's what principals say.

Scott (18:42): And then even going back to the way of the old, which is very punitive, right? That top-down leadership of control. Where if you're not doing it my way or the way that's written in the books, then you're not worthy of being in this space. You're not deserving, you'll be fired. A lot of people I would imagine don't want to experience being fired. Let me jump ship before it even happens. I'm sure that plays a part in it. It's like I see this coming, I've seen how this has played out in the past. Let me get out now before I'm embarrassed by being fired from something that I truly, truly care about. And that causes a sense of trauma. Let me just get out. I would imagine I'd love to see that study too.

Daniel (19:30): I'll send it to you after the conversation.

Scott (19:32): Yeah, that's dope. Thanks.

Daniel (19:35): I'm enjoying this conversation. We're in a pause here for a moment for a message from our sponsors. But when we get back a couple of things I'd love to talk about would be systemic racism, profit versus nonprofit, and the work of Genius land. Transform how you lead to become a resilient and empowered change agent with Harvard's online certificate in school management and leadership to grow your professional network with a global cohort of fellow school leaders. As you collaborate in case studies bridging the fields of education in business apply today at hgse.me/leader. That's hgse.me/leader.

Daniel (20:20): SMART has an incredible research backed tool that allows you as a leader to self-assess your capabilities at the school level or broader to help you with planning and prioritizing discovering your strengths and best area of focus across five different modules, including leadership and remote learning. The tool inspires collaboration with your colleagues and provides massive value. Whether you complete one or all five of the modules, you'll get a personalized report that shows where you stack up against other Ruckus Makers and maps, some areas of focus that will have the greatest impact for you. Take 10 minutes and get started with this ed tech assessment tool. Today, I suggest beginning with the strategic leadership module, check it out at smarttech.com/profile. That's smart tech.com/profile. Today's show is brought to you by Organized Binder. Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, organized binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed, whether at home or in the classroom, learn more at organizedbinder.com.

Daniel (21:43): Alright, and we're back with Scott Steward, international business owner and founder of Genius Lab. Before we get to that. It's a very interesting project Ruckus Makers need to know about let's talk a bit about systemic racism. Murder after murder. George Floyd really caused a stir within society and people. It seemed that they woke up a bit. But waking up a bit and firing off some tweets, like you mentioned, that's one thing. Actually doing something about the problem is another. Any thoughts you want to share with the Ruckus Maker regarding systemic racism as it relates to education and leadership?

Scott (22:26): Yeah. So interestingly enough, if any of the Ruckus Makers know anything about the South side of Chicago. I'm born and raised in the Roseland community. Well, technically I'm born and raised in the Washington Heights community on the South side of Chicago, which is just West of Roseland, but West of Roseland by two blocks. A lot of my youth was spent in Roseland. I will admit that I was privileged enough to go to a private elementary school from first through eighth grade. I went to Roseland Christian school in the heart of the poverty of the Roseland community. My parents bought it in Washington Heights at the height of white flight. My parents direct recipients, direct beneficiaries of the civil rights movement. My dad was one of the first black Chicago Police Officers hired by the force. My mom was an educator at Malcolm X College for a number of years.

Scott (23:35): Both of my parents are graduates from Chicago's teacher's college, which later became Chicago State University. Diehard South siders, but me to this Christian school, which was taught by all white, basically Presbyterians who ruled literally with a paddle, a literal paddle. By the time we started getting the paddle in fourth and fifth grade, the paddle that you feared the most was the Black Mariah. You did not want and I didn't know. What did I know about systemic racism back in these days, right? I mean, you didn't see a lot of black folks on television. This was before the eighties, before the Cosby show, we had Fat Albert, the Cosby kids cartoon, but you didn't see what I later realized in life that a lot of my education clearly, clearly, clearly was whitewashed, super, super white.

Scott (24:41): There was no celebration of black history in grammar school. There were no talks about the contributions of black people. There was no realistic conversations about race and slavery. There was talk about the Holocaust, which is a tragic event in this world that nobody should ever endure. I do not condone that. My heart goes out to all the survivors, victims and survivors of the Holocaust. At the same time, there was no conversation about slavery or the plight of black folks. We were seen as the problem. The issue for me, Danny is for so many years up until may of 2020 in this country, my experience has been when I brought up the conversation about racism with white America, the response was generally downplay.

Scott (25:48): Like it didn't exist. Like I was making something up, like I was talking about Bigfoot or something. Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Emmett Till. Come on, let's go back to Emmett Till. All of these catastrophes, these murders were always downplayed to the point where I've gotten pretty numb. I had gotten pretty numb to murders of black folks in America. Sandra Bland, just really numb like, Oh, it happened again for me. It's talking about this systemic racism, the issue for me with George Floyd. And again, I'm numb to the murders, right? So it's not that another black man is being murdered. That's hard enough. I'm already callous to that. The issue of systemic racism was how cavalier the poles of this police officer is. You're starting to hear people talk about that conversation. Now. That's what brought me to tears.

Scott (26:54): When I first saw the footage this nonchalant of, I don't know if I can be colorful. But it was like F you, everybody. What are you gonna do about it and that's how I felt about systemic racism. It's like we run this, this position that I'm in with my knee on this guy's neck with my hands in my pocket. This Is me saying to you, showing you on camera. I know I'm being filmed. I don't care about your life. My partner doesn't care. And people who dress like me to go to work every day. We don't care. Other people that look like me don't. It was just so hard. I cried. I've never cried over much of anything in my life. I cried because the burden of proof of systemic racism was smacking me in the face in 2020.

Scott (27:59): I don't know how you get around it, but let me tell you, my coping mechanism for it over the years was to stop asking white America for anything right. Red lining, you're gonna get the worst rates on home loan. You're gonna get the worst rates for a car loan. You're going to, you just expect the worst of the worst. We got to stop asking. And stop asking, sometimes it looks like you still live in poverty. I literally still live in West Pullman, which is right near Roseland. It's not like I'm in some mansion and I've escaped the ills of the hood if you will, because I've chosen to stop asking white America for anything. I deal with what I have to deal with, which is what's available to me in my community and what I can muster up myself.

Scott (28:58): And that is a result of systemic racism until the playing field is completely level. When I get the same rate as a guy with my same education level and same professional level who is white. Until I get the exact same deal that this guy gets. I'll never feel that racism is or has been clearly eradicated, fully eradicated from the fabric of our nation. For me, systemic racism unfortunately is in the fabric of our nation. And so now I'm trying to figure out how we move forward now that most Americans, many Americans at least admit that racism is real. I grew up in a space where they weren't even admitting it.

Daniel (30:00): It's not convenient to talk about how you, your family may have profited off of racist and inhumane policies. Right. I'll never forget. My wife is from Zimbabwe, right? Back in the day it was her people that were Shauna people and there's a number of nations that were colonialists, imperialists. Britain found its way down to Zimbabwe and we unpack some of that now. Her love for tea and biscuits and these kinds of things, et cetera. It's interesting to navigate because it's so part of your DNA, but it was brought by the oppressors. What do you do with it? Can you still like tea? Can you like a cookie? Like what do you do? What I never would forget was we were at a cocktail party from my faculty.

Daniel (30:56): One of the faculty members, her partner at first was pretty excited to meet somebody else from Zimbabwe. He was actually a Brit, but had family and farms, right. Farms in Zimbabwe. They're talking about all the good times and all this kind of stuff, which is nice. There's a lot of great stuff about symbolic way, but the conversation got uncomfortable when we challenged the idea of how hard he had it and his family had it in Zimbabwe. Now it's not that he didn't have it hard. I don't wish pain and violence and human suffering on anybody. Period. But he was telling the sob story of losing his farms and how unfair it was. Buddy. Where'd you get the farm and how much did you pay? Oh, wait, you took it. Now you want me to empathize. And you should.

Daniel (31:47): I think you should empathize, but let's zoom out. Let's see the bigger picture. So that's just a personal story and I appreciate you taking us on a very emotional journey from growing up in Chicago and what you've seen and how your mind's been calloused in that. I'd like to encourage or challenge the Ruckus Maker listening at this point too. I'm hoping that they're acknowledging that they're seeing. They're noting the injustice. The inequity. What are some steps that they might take as a leader of a building where you said, the nation is baked into the fabric. Well, that school system came from that fabric. What do we do?

Scott (32:26): One of the first things. I don't have the answers. I really don't. Here's one antidote that I want to leave with the Ruckus Makers. I know some people get really emotional about seeing anything that says black lives matter. I actually don't even say it. I don't have to say it because I'm black. So I don't care if I was blue, green, or yellow, because who I am and my life matters, but I'm black. So, yeah Black Lives Matter. If you're white. Yeah. White lives matter. Okay. I get it. What I want the Ruckus Makers to take away if any of them get uncomfortable with hearing or seeing someone use that term Black Lives Matter. I just want you to think about when you hear people talk about saving whales. They're not saying no other fish matter.

Scott (33:24): It's just like, save the whales. Yes. Save the whales. You can say, save the seals. You can say, save the puffer fish. Just admit that whales need to be saved. Just admit that Yes, Black Lives Matter. Yes, they do. Start there and admit that yes, black lives do matter. You don't have to rebut with, Oh, well, Asian lives. Your whole statement is negated if you will not admit that black lives matter. They do. Until you are comfortable in your skin saying, you know what, black lives do matter, then we can move. If you're not comfortable, if you still are uncomfortable with it or you get in your feelings because you see somebody has a sign, "Oh, why they got to..." You're part of the problem. You're part of the problem. And that for me, Danny, that's where some people need to start. I read an article where a teacher in Texas was reprimanded because her virtual background said black lives matter. She lost her job. Come on, dude. Come on, man.

Daniel (34:41): Yeah. I taught down in Unifor Champaign-Urbana and I saw that the Unifor district is a very diverse district so they were playing to the affluent whites there, but there were some schools that said black lives matter signs facing outside of the windows, just saying, we care about our kids that are black and brown. And they said take the signs down or you'll be reprimanded maybe loose, but those are the negative stories. I've seen stories too, of districts where teachers have done things that are ill-advised and insensitive, that would hurt that message or take it away. Right. What about the puffer fish? And so they were putting that out there and those teachers actually got reprimanded. Think it happens both ways, but the acknowledgement to get your head out of the sand. I'm glad that we actually didn't say do X, Y, and Z, because it can get your head on the sand acknowledged, stay curious, ask questions, learn from others, find out how you can serve.

Scott (35:44): I'm glad you said stay curious and ask questions. That's super powerful. I just read something yesterday because I'm in this space of mental healing, dealing with mental illness and dealing with healing from traumas of childhood traumas, traumas of the past. One of the biggest issues is people not admitting that they were at least hurt. One way to cover up your pain is to try to deny that the pain even exists. To your point, to my point earlier, it's just like, admit that it's even an issue. Let's start there. If we can admit that it's an issue, then at least you're maybe open to figuring out how we can positively and gracefully move forward from here.

Daniel (36:33): Yeah, exactly. Before we get to the last two questions, I asked everybody, let's talk about Genius Lab and the work of the Genius Lab. Within there let's embed the idea of profit versus nonprofit. I think it actually continues the systemic racism discussion a little bit.

Scott (36:51): Well, yeah, people always assume that Genius Lab Inc. And I don't even like using the incorporated, but Genius lab is a nonprofit entity. Let me be very, very clear to all the Ruckus Makers and anybody else's listening. Genius Lab is a for-profit business. Very intentional. As a black man who has six children it is super, super important to me that I demonstrate ownership. Like my journey. My life is about breaking economic deficiency, not just in my community, but in my own family. Right? I'm leading that charge as the patriarch of my family. I recognize my position in my family. So ownership, you own a business, you own some real estate. I live by this philosophy right now that poor people can't help other poor people be prosperous. There's nothing in it for me to try to help poor people, not be poor if I'm poor with them.

Scott (38:01): It's super important that my company Genius Lab was established as a for-profit and I'm teaching my son and my daughters. First of all, that they're next in line. Should I no longer be available to run the organization, the company. Here's how you do it. I want to leave them a blueprint. So that's super, super important. Now, am I philanthropic by nature? Absolutely. I just donated 25 bucks to an organization yesterday and it's like twenty-five bucks. Well, listen. The point is I'm donating to nonprofits all the time. I'm a vice president for Chicago Youth Programs, which is a nonprofit. I Have served on the board for Streetwise, which is a nonprofit that serves to eradicate homelessness in Chicago. I'm still philanthropic in my endeavors in many of my endeavors, but as far as when it comes to my family and my community, family first and community business ownership is super important to me.

Scott (39:06): Profit learning, learning how to profit and sustain yourself generationally over profit is super, super important. Actually exactly what we're doing at Genius Lab, Danny. We're focused on helping young people, particularly black and Latin X because that's, what's in my community. Re-Imagine themselves. Thus the name genius. How often do you hear, how often do my students hear themselves referred to themselves in a positive light, right? You have genius in you. One of the first things, the first lessons at Genius Lab is to remind students that humans build computers. Computers are not smarter than humans. Humans are smarter than computers. We refer to them as our young geniuses and that right there just helps to instill a sense of confidence, educational confidence. We will help them remind them and to instill in these young people that they have the capacity to learn anything that they want to learn, even if it's math or science or technology or engineering. Right? And so that's the core of our work is helping young people, particularly black and brown, but helping all young people who don't normally hear themselves refer to themselves as geniuses or smart or intelligent. First of all, you have genius in you and let's have some fun identifying what it is that you're interested in. Let's help you understand the relationship between business profit and technology, the wave of the future and how you can create whatever lifestyle you desire for yourself with these focus areas. I hope that answers your question.

Daniel (40:51): It does. It gives me a shot. I wish I had kids of my own to put in your program one day, one day. Tell me and tell the Ruckus Maker listening, where can they find out more about your work in the Genius Lab, if they'd like to get connected.

Scott (41:05): Absolutely. Absolutely. Please feel free to go to geniuslabchicago.com. Just a genius lab. No, no funky spellings geniuslabschicago.com. Also please feel free to just Google my name's Scott L Steward. Google my name and I'm all over Google. I'm all over the internet. But if to learn more about specifically what we do at Genius Lab, go to geniuslabschicago.com.

Daniel (41:38): Great. We'll link that up for folks in the show notes and get some social handles in there as well so they can connect with you. All right. Well, Scott, I love asking all my guests, these last two questions. Can't wait to hear how you answer them. If you can put a message on all school marquees around the world, just for one day, what would you put on that marquee?

Scott (42:01): All right, here we go. I thought about this a little bit. It's kind of fun. School is not for everyone, but everyone needs to learn. Choose your teacher wisely.

Daniel (42:15): Good. That is good. You're building your school from a ground up. You're not limited by any resources but your only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school? What would be your top three priorities?

Scott (42:30): Yep. Actually I'm building my dream school right now. Danny, I'm looking to raise $50 million for 300,000 square feet of space. This dream school would be a maker-space. It would have multiple distance learning rooms, meeting rooms, three D printers, there'll be laser cutters, wood cutters. It'd be a place for innovators. It'd be a place where students can come and be introduced to technology and introduced to business classes. I would change the curriculum up a little bit and I'm looking to my left because I have a wall where this is written and so our focus would be health and wellness. We have five curriculum areas, health and wellness, all my economics, financial literacy business and technology. We would do some wraparound programs for other subject matter like geography or social studies, but we believe that social studies could be wrapped into the financial literacy and microeconomics, but it would be a place where people would come to be innovative, to think about technologies, business, and engineering ideas, bringing ideas to life. I don't have a name for it yet, but it might simply just be Genius Labs with an S as opposed to Genius Lab, which is the name of my company. It would be a place where young people can come and test out new technologies, learn business, learn technology, and build

Daniel (44:09): Scott. Thank you so much for being a part of the better leaders, better schools podcast of all the many things we talked about today, what's the one thing you want a Ruckus Maker to remember?

Scott (44:21): Very interesting. The one thing that I want, all the Ruckus Makers to remember is that you all play a role in how we guide this next generation of learners. Number one, you are preparing these young people for jobs that don't even exist yet. So keep that in mind, don't stay in the box. There is no box.

Daniel (44:47): So remember that. Thanks for listening to the better leaders, better schools podcast for Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel@betterleadersbetterschools.com or hit me up on Twitter @alienearbud. If the better leaders better schools podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at alien earbud and using the hashtag B L B S level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.

Show Highlights

  • Ownership, closed and flexible mindsets
  • Don’t be a  BlockBuster Video School
  • Be an “unemployable” leader
  • Actively cognizant of systemic racism 
  • Vital educational confidence = Genius Lab  
  • Change agents challenge what’s on paper with innovation
  • Breaking economic deficiency in communities
  • Relationship between business profit, technology and Non-profit
Scott Steward: Building a Genius Lab

“Remember you play a role in how we guide this next generation of learners. Number one, you are preparing these young people for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Keep that in mind. Don’t stay in the box.There is no box.”

Scott L Steward



Transform how you lead to become a resilient and empowered change agent with Harvard’s online Certificate in School Management and Leadership. Grow your professional network with a global cohort of fellow school leaders as you collaborate in case studies bridging the fields of education and business. Apply today at http://hgse.me/leader.



The SMART Learning Suite Online allows teachers to create, store, and deliver lessons from anywhere – no SMART Board required – and your students can access and engage with your content from any web browser on any device. And it connects with tools you already use like Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams.

The research-backed EdTeach Assessment Tool will help Ruckus Makers discover their strengths and best area of focus across 5 different modules, including leadership and remote learning. You’ll get a personalized report that shows where you stack up against other leaders, and maps some areas of focus that will have the greatest impact for you. 



Organized Binder is the missing piece in many classrooms. Many teachers are great with the main content of the lesson. Organized Binder helps with powerful introductions, savvy transitions, and memorable lesson closings. Your students will grow their executive functioning skills (and as a bonus), your teachers will become more organized too. Help your students and staff level up with Organized Binder.


Copyright © 2021 Twelve Practices LLC

(Visited 256 times, 1 visits today)