Daniel Bauer is an unorthodox Ruckus Maker who has mentored thousands of school leaders through his Better Leaders Better Schools blog, books, podcasts, and powerful coaching experiences.
Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader is a book that reimagines what professional development for school administrators looks like in order to meet the needs of all school leaders who currently feel isolated and overwhelmed.
Daniel: Last week I had the opportunity to talk with my editor, Ariel Curry, about the behind the scenes of making a book. And that's super cool because I am so excited that Mastermind, Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader is here. The book is talking about how we are redefining, how school leaders experienced professional development, because everybody wins when a leader gets better. Everybody wins when you get better. This week, it's similar, not so much the behind the scenes of how a book is made. One of my newest friends, Meghan Gardner, who joined me on the podcast, I think it was in July for a bonus episode, talking about, how you could use story to transform your school. She's amazing. I'm so glad I'm connected to Meghan. She asked me, "Hey, your book's coming out. Let me interview you and just talk about the book creation process, who you are as a kid, to be curious."
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Learn why the ABCs of powerful professional development® work – Grow your skills by integrating more Authenticity, Belonging, and Challenge into your life and leadership.
Daniel: So that's what this episode is all about. I had a lot of fun. Meghan even hit me with a question where I was like, that's a really good question. I realized in that moment, people say that because they really need to think deeply about what they were just asked. And that was really fun to experience as someone being interviewed versus being the interviewer. Hey, it's Daniel and welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We'll be right back after a quick message from our show sponsors. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shape your school's success, and leader teams with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership. Get world-class Harvard faculty research, specifically adapted for pre-K through 12 schools. Self-paced online professional development that fits your schedule apply now for our October, 2021 and February, 2022. Cohorts at BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/harvard. During COVID every teacher is a new teacher. That's why innovative school leaders are turning to Teach FX whose virtual PD is equipping thousands of teachers with the skills they need to create engaging, equitable, and rigorous virtual or blended classes. To learn more about Teach FX and get a special offer. Visit teachfx.com/BLBS. That's teachfx.com/BLBS. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel: Hey, Ruckus Maker. Listen, this is a segment I tried before, and I'm not going to do this for every tip of the week, but some quick context. Back in the day, one of the first people helping behind the scenes was an awesome former superintendent. Her name was Kelly. She was doing a tip of the week and we had a vision of what BLBS could become and for a variety of reasons, very positive reasons she's pursuing a different path. The vision is now coming true. From the Chief Ruckus Maker's seat, I couldn't be more thrilled that it's happening with Corinne Beldumm. Here's the reason why it's not a vision anymore. We're doing it. When I say this is an expert coach, Corinne has a group of the Mastermind that's already running.
Daniel: You may have heard her podcast episode, where we talked about redefining what it means to be a woman in that leadership and what it means to be courageous, daring, and brave. She stewards that group with such a big heart they're in such great hands. Honestly, that's the biggest, best professional milestone to date that has happened because it's about impact. It's about scale serving more Ruckus Makers, and I couldn't do it without great help. I wouldn't want to do it with anybody else first. Besides Corinne, I'm not going to give this long, intro every time, but the context is really important and I'm sure you hear the passion in my heart and my voice. Expert coach leader of ANOVA, which is the cohort who knows by the time this airs, you might have a second cohort, but Corinne welcome to the show. You're here with a tip of the week. What do you have for the Ruckus Maker? Listening?
Corinne: It's my pleasure to be here with the BLBs community. I would love to talk about leadership rituals for thriving. As you can hear, maybe you can even hear the background noise in my home. I am really committed as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as an ed leader. I'm really committed to the notion of that double win, that professional integrity that we have that moral purpose in our work and how important it is and a life well lived. I have a tip of the week. It's very simple. Ask what are my rituals for thriving? What are my rituals thriving every year, the builder, I affectionately call my husband "the builder" because he's a home builder. Every year, the builder and I review our license plan and our goals in our annual visioning retreat. This is how we build our family nest. we always ask this question, "what are our family rituals? What are our rituals for thriving?" These are different from our practices or routines or weekly commitments. These are bigger picture. Since they might be our family mission statement of five journeys, faith, worthiness, selfhood, belonging, and change-making, they might be our values. They might be the big life plan and goals and objectives that we have. My tip of the week is to ask what are my rituals for thriving and bonus, do it with your partner.
Daniel: I love it. To reflect that back, that question, what are my rituals for thriving? What a generous question for the Ruckus Maker today. If we added a bit of a challenge, let's do that because it's a tip of the week. We have a bias for action and credit to you for coming up with that term. I love it so much, but within our community we do, attract innovative Ruckus Makers with a strong bias for action. What is the challenge? You'd offer the listener today?
Corinne: Here's the challenge. We all can find ourselves drowning in the stormy seas. Literally like our heads can be going under bobbing, just reaching up to get breath. If you are that person in that place, I challenge you to step away and ask this question. What are rituals thriving? Honestly, my mother's wisdom would have taught me, start with the basics, sleep, eat, exercise, really start small and ask, what are the rituals for thriving?
Meghan: Hi, Danny, how are you?
Daniel: Good, Meghan. It's it's interesting now that the mic is turned toward me, I guess.
Meghan: Yes it is. I'm here for your listeners. I'm Meghan Gardner, from Guardian Adventures, my company specializes in the intersection of, games, education and stories. I was on a special episode of a bonus episode back on July 5th. It's called transforming your school through story. During that interview, which was so much fun, you and I just went off on so many awesome tangents, including my work in hospice and all sorts of things. I realized you were a person I wanted to know more about. As I listened more and more to your wonderful episodes, I realized that there's a person behind Danny. There's a person behind BLBS and I think that a lot of your listeners would like to know more about you. I'm here to grill you and put you on the hot seat because, I think your listeners would really like that kind of insight to know more about you. What makes you tick? What brought you here and then where are you going? What are all the different tangents that this awesome podcast has taken you on?
Daniel: I think it sounds great. I am certainly honored that you came up with this idea. I will say too. I want to brag on you. A shout out to Travis, who I believe was the one who connected us. You've quickly become one of my favorite new people. Honestly, and I don't say that for everyone, I've just really enjoyed, meeting you and the person you are. For the Ruckus Maker, listening, if you haven't listened to that bonus episode, transform your school through story, you definitely want to go back to that. Meghan is a master of telling stories and, that's just, that's a powerful tool in any leader's tool belt. Hopefully I can do some stories justice today.
Meghan: Oh, I am sure you will. I'm going to start. Let's take the movie real and go way back to the beginning. At least a little bit fast forward over at the beginning, we want some little consciousness here. Tell me about ten-year-old Danny. What was ten-year-old Danny like in school, out of school? What kind of hobbies? Paint me a picture.
Daniel: Wow, that takes me back. I'm wearing a uniform because I attended a Catholic school growing up St. Thomas of Villanova. I am in my blue slacks and a white polo and that's fun because you don't have to pick out what you're wearing each day. So you just be put on that. I don't know if it happened that year as an eighth grader, but eventually I got a leadership role within the school, which was I got to deliver lunch. I didn't start the whole cooking process. There was some massive, it honestly was like out of a kid's storybook. It seemed like a monster. It was this massive oven type thing that made a lot of noises and smoke came out and all of this, but then you would get on your oven mitts, and you would pull out these cooked meals for the kids and you were out of class, which was awesome.
Daniel: You were basically a hero because you were going from I think it was kindergarten through eighth grade, each classroom, slide it in on these trays hot lunches. The nasty, very sorry, excuse for vegetables and salad but that was in there and milk. There was, regular milk or chocolate milk that was delivered each day at St. Thomas around that age too. It might've been the year afterwards, but I actually started working that young, if you could believe it or not. I was, a big fan of the local comic bookstore, Fat Dutchies comic book shop. It was owned by a guy named Chuck who has since passed. Chuck, he realized this dude never leaves. This kid is always here looking at the baseball cards, the basketball, football, looking at all the comics asking a million questions.
Daniel: Chuck finally said, "Danny, do you want a job right now?" Of course it's a child labor, I wasn't like a real employee, but he gave me 20 bucks a week to count the inventory of comic books. My favorite favorite comic is Spider-Man because he's quirky. He's geeky yet he's kind of a stud too.
Meghan: He really is right by the way. I get the whole comic book collection thing, but for me it was Daredevil.
Daniel: That's where my love for reading sparked. Seeing myself in the stories, seeing just like the underdogs and around that time my parents are splitting up and just trying to make sense of the world. There was a lot in a kid's mind that seemed wrong and I wanted to win at life or be a hero. Save the world type of stuff. I really, really connected with comics. Love of love of reading, 20 bucks a week, all the comics I could read or Chicago pizza or Italian beef is what he served me lunch. He bought me lunch each week. Chuck and Fat Dutchies, is where my love of music and where I was introduced to the blues, jazz and my appreciation of art in music was shaped there. Not ironically, but my mom looking back maybe seems a bit strange because it wasn't like Chuck was a family member, but he brought me to my first concert. My mom must've just like trusted him because I was there all the time anyway. They asked this guy who owned the store. Can you bring Danny to the first concert was it was Arrowsmith. So that was the first concert and I've seen everybody from the Beach Boys to like de La Soul and everything in between. I've really experienced it all.
Meghan: Does Aerosmith still have a special place in your Heart?
Daniel: Maybe in that sense. Honestly, I don't listen to them all that often, but when some of those older songs come on, it really brings me back to that time of my life.
Meghan: I just want to know who's the hot topic today and music for you
Daniel: These days? Since my wife is from Zimbabwe, she has absolutely opened up my mind to all sorts of, musicians and artists that I never even knew. One of the most famous Zimbabwe artists, his name is John Praiser. He's amazing. If you can understand this guy speaks in poetry. It's just beautiful, beautiful music. There's this guy, Oliver, he's since passed too, but he was like the quintessentials Zimbabwean musician. What's really interesting is he could sing about the most difficult topics actually portrayed in a beautiful way and deal with heavy topics in a light way of that, if that makes sense. There is one guy I have to look up, look up his name, and I probably will mispronounce it, but M boom, Gainey (inaudible) from South Africa. From what I understand and speaks and sings in Zulu, but he has a song that, I actually play every time I pick up my wife from the university because I drop her off for her classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's just a ritual and I have a playing and it's a very happy song and me and her and the puppy. There and it's a lot of fun.
Meghan: It's interesting me with getting into Spotify. I'm finding too that I'm just really interested in a much wider international taste in music. It's just phenomenal to have access now to the world's music along with the world store.
Daniel: To that point, I'll go look at a country. When I lived in Belgium or Netherlands Scotland and they'll have the top 50 songs. I'll just go to countries I'm interested in and I just play like what they're listening to. If there's one thing that America has done well, right. It is in terms of like popular culture and arts and especially music. I can never forget just sitting in these cafes in France and like there's US music. That's like the videos. I'm like, how about that? A Culture, which they're very proud to be French and they should be, but here's our music playing and they're celebrating it. It's a global society. Listen that's just the way it is these days.
Meghan: How did you do in school? What did you like? What topics and subjects did you like? Was there a specific subject that was your crypto?
Daniel: I wanted to like science, but I sucked at science. I wasn't very good at experiments or doing the science logs and stuff. Even in as a freshman, I explored on geology, I thought having a job, maybe even like a park ranger or working with the earth as the way. I kind of saw myself being in nature every day and that kind of thing spoke to my heart. I got very critical feedback that a science journal was poor. I'm like,"Okay, maybe this is not my thing." I could have pushed through. I'm sure I could've learned the skills, but science was a bit of the kryptonite. I excelled in math through high school and made it to calculus. By the time I went to university, I think math became a different language. Even though I love numbers, I did not do so high in my math classes.
Meghan: You had a head for math, but not for science. They're not that wildly different.
Daniel: I'm not going to point fingers at any teachers, but I wonder if it was siloed off and not integrated and more about the worksheet instead of the love of learning and stuff. I think I may have just missed the joke and it didn't connect in my brain for whatever reason. Funny story. As a freshmen in college I wanted to be a math teacher because I loved math so much. I saw the guys coming out of, Altgeld Hall, the math, building on the University of Illinois campus. Folks in plaid and their pocket protectors and big black rim glasses, which is very much more in Vogue these days but kind of nerdy back then, but not cool nerdy, but nerdy, nerdy. I hit a poetry class and I'll tell you what. I had a blind teacher. I wish I remembered the professor's name. He was blind and this guy could recite all the poems, every poem that we did in class, he had memorized, recited it with energy and passion like he held us all in his hand, the whole entire class. I did a reading of, the Raven and he loved it. That affirmation plus, I'm not going to lie. The girls in the poetry class were beautiful. I looked at the guys coming out of Altgeld hall without dates. I said to myself, and not only that, but like poetry, you can in literature you can interpret it a million different ways, as long as you back it up, right. You make a claim and show your evidence. I really enjoyed that process and the beautiful girls. I said I'm going to be an English major, that's it for me.
Meghan: That's so funny that your career path ended up following that's where the girls are.
Daniel: Yeah. Listen you're an 18 year old guy and you're away from home for the first time. You're like I need to prioritize myself here.
Meghan: I actually have a saying, I thought this was hysterical. I heard this a long time ago from a gal who was a scientist. And she said, "When you're a female scientists, the odds are good, but the goods are odd."
Daniel: Yeah. Maybe there was some wisdom in my body that I just knew that.
Meghan: Iit's funny I'm saying this as mother of a particle physicist. Never let that stop you. It's kind of sad though, that you had a passion for science and it was tamped down and you were given critical feedback that instead of inspiring, you pushed you away from it.
Daniel: Yeah. That's true.
Meghan: Powerful lesson of what not to do.
Daniel: I think as educators, you have such influence over your students, even with a professor that I wouldn't say I had an awesome relationship with. There's professors names I do remember, and he's not one of them, he wasn't a bad professor or anything like that. I'm just saying, sometimes you forget the impact that you have on your students. Even with math tongue in cheek and that did influence me. I'm not going to lie. The other thing too was, now I'm in a class of hundreds of kids and there's the professor going fast and it's cumulative and I'm just getting lost and digging a deeper hole. When I went to study hours, when I went to the discussion sections, it still seemed like a foreign language to me and the TA wasn't helping either.I just chose a different path it just wasn't clicking for me.
Meghan: That's okay. In this whole, journey, at what point did you say I want to be an educator?
Daniel: I'm not 10, but I might be 12 or 13. I am working at Fats comic book shop. I'm living on MacArthur in Palatine, Illinois, kitty corner to our houses, the Brogan family. This was my version in my mind of an ideal family. The parents were together. There was a a brother and sister and, they've had it all. I think I've actually shared this story before, but it's good. Mr. Brogan, worked at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He traded stocks and bonds and ETFs, all this kind of stuff. They had the second lake, the house in Galena, a second house, they had a car phone. They had a car phone back in the day and Johnny always had the latest Jordans.
Daniel: When we were growing up, the Bulls were a big deal. This was the dynasty, this was Jordan and Pippin and everybody else. I never had Jordans growing up. If we fast forward to when I was a teacher, that first paycheck I got, I bought myself a pair of Jordans. How did I get there? I asked Mr. Brogan because my dad isn't consistently in my life at this time. I just looked up to him. He was for sure, a father figure. A side note, Mrs. Brogan taught me the best way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I use her recipe to this day, but Mr. Brogan, I definitely looked up to and I said what do you think? What should I maybe study, as I'm thinking about high school and college? What would you do?
Daniel: What would you suggest? He said, Danny, "If I could do it all different, I would be a teacher." I was not expecting that answer. Here's a guy from my view of the world, Like had it all family, they had resources, beautiful home, multiple homes and he's like, my job is stressful. I'm not at home as much as I like. He said before P Diddy and, notorious BIG, he said basically more money, more problems. With all this great abundance comes a lot of responsibility and bills. He wanted, a simpler life. Not that being an educator means means you'll have a simpler life, but he also said "I wanted to have more impact. I want to do something that matters and making money just to make money isn't necessarily a great mission."
Daniel: That really was why I was going to be a teacher. Plus, I was decent in school pretty much A's and B's, and just had some really awesome teachers and classroom experiences. I'm like, I'll do that. I just made up my mind and I became a teacher.My first teaching job was in Marietta, Georgia where Cabbage Patch Kids are made, believe it or not. I was done with snow Meghan. I was done with snow growing up in the Midwest. My whole life going to college at U of I, cold. It's not even fun. Cold. There's no mountains. You can't ski. It's just garbage, cold.
Daniel: It's just cold. I applied to anywhere that's hot and doesn't have snow. Part of that application process was through the Southeast, also the west. The most bites on the applications I got was from the Southeast. After I graduated, did a little road trip. First interview was at East Cobb Middle school in Marietta, Georgia. They saw these credentials from the university of Illinois and I had the job by the time I was walking out of the interview. I took one second to think about it and I said, "I'll take it." That means no more interviews and the rest of the time I could party during my road trip and have fun and so that was that. I moved to Georgia. I talked my best friend, Casey into moving down there with me. By the time the road trip was over, two weeks later, I tell my mom, I'm moving to Georgia, for teaching and packed up a U hall with Casey. We drove down there and that was home for four years.
Meghan: Wow. I just thought to make a connection here, you decided to go into English because there were girls, and then you decided to accept your first job so that you could party for your road trip.
Daniel: And the no snow part. Right.
Meghan: That's really interesting. It makes sense at that age. It's like, "if I say yes to this, I can spend all this time partying."
Daniel: Yeah. And now I run BLBS because I want to have a major impact on education and work with really cool people. So life can be simple.
Meghan: At what point in this whole trajectory then did BLBS come in?
Daniel: At the time a partner, she recommended, I listen to a podcast called entrepreneur on fire, and it is done by a guy named John Lee Dumas. Have you ever listened? I'm not sure if you have but he still does. It was a daily thing about that commitment, a daily podcast with entrepreneurs, just talking about what works, what doesn't and lessons learned. My partner at the time, I think she suggested it to me because I've always been UnOrthodox in terms of my approach to the classroom experience and that's my approach now as a head coach or Chief Ruckus Maker, whatever you want to call me. I bring in ideas from business and we translate how does that help in terms of leadership and running an effective school. I'm listening to this show and I'm thinking one, is anybody doing something like this in education and number number two, I'm a school leader.
Daniel: And to be Frank, the leadership development opportunities are sorely lacking in my lived experience. Okay. At the time I'm in AP, so there is some stuff for principals in a massive system. I'm in Chicago Public schools, I don't blame them for that. That's a huge, third largest district in the country. My love for real lived experiences and there's no development. If we are brought into anything that's a leadership meeting it's not really leadership. It's more managerial. It's like, "Hey, raise the test scores, increase your attendance, decrease the discipline issues, or you're fired." That's the mission of making more money, a rich person getting richer. It's not compelling. Nobody becomes a teacher, an educator to say "I wanna have the kids rock the test scores." That's now that's a nice thing.
Daniel: It's a nice outcome. It's like a second secondary thing. We want to ignite passion and learning and open up doors. What's possible in the world and the path for kids and their futures.I go to a conference called, The global Leadership Summit From The Stage. The host says, "Everybody wins when the leader gets better." I've stolen that as my motto. Everybody wins when the leader gets better, everybody wins when you get better. I want to add that personal touch. Every Ruckus Maker listening understands when she levels up, just like JFK's quote, "A rising tide lifts, all ships or all boats." I forget the last part but you understand the point. By growing yourself, you grow your community and that felt just very heavy to me.
Daniel: I felt the weight and gravity of that quote. I said, "I'm at this conference now and then it goes away. I can make a plan for implementation. I'm capable of doing that. But if I look at my calendar, it's actually really lacking more development opportunities." And so I said, "That's it. I'll start a show. It's not that expensive to do a podcast. I'm going to learn. I'm going to do my learning in public." My assertion is that my skillset will grow and they'll probably be a pretty cool ripple effect who knows what might happen, although, who knows what might happen is turned into the bigger, Better Leaders, Better Schools machine. It's so much more than a free podcast that people are listening to right now.
Meghan: Wow. I love this idea though, that you said I'm going to put myself out there so people can see me learning and showing the example of challenging your own ignorance, embracing your own ignorance and being able to say, "teach me and bringing in people to teach you you've become the lifelong learner the exemplified lifelong learner" and that can be really, inspirational to people because you've relieved them of the burden of being the expert. It's really important for leaders because and I know that in a leadership position we're often looked at as if we really need to know what's going on, when in fact the best leaders are actually those who are saying, I don't know what's going on, but if we all put our heads together, we can probably figure it out together. Essentially that's what you're inspiring through that. Obviously, it started and I'm going to, after this, I'm going to ask for a quick break so we can have your sponsers come in. I'd love to know, how has it changed? What was the first episode like and then what was episode, let's say 50, like?
Daniel: The first episode was done where I was working afterschool hours. I interviewed the principal, my dear friend, D'Andre Weaver, who I thank for getting me into school leadership. We would regularly work out, lift weights. I almost killed the guy, not on purpose, we were doing some intense stuff and, he needed a break to catch his breath. In that moment, working out with him, he said, "Danny, I got my first principal position. I need to build a team with people I have a hundred percent trust and know." He said, "I want you to highly consider becoming an administrator." Never was never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever on my radar. I was an awesome classroom teacher. I've won awards everywhere. I've been, I loved it.
Daniel: I Love the relationship with the kids, parents, colleagues but he said he saw leadership skills in me and asked me to consider it. I did and all of a sudden I was kinda dissatisfied with just doing what I was doing and yearn for a bigger impact and that was how I got into school leadership. You asked about episode one, I'm Interviewing, D'Andre and again, dear friend so that episode means a lot to me. When I relisten, if the Ruckus Maker listening doesn't know, there's an archive feed of the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts. After you release more than 300 episodes, they disappear. They don't get deleted, but they just don't show up anymore in Apple. If you want to keep that content alive, which I do, you have to start a whole new podcast and then you call it an archive feed.
Daniel: Season one, episode one through 250 are on that feed. I share that because it's relevant. I went back and listened to episode one, Meghan, that episode sucks. Obviously, I'm not comfortable. You want to bring emotion, your quirkiness, like right now I'm in my element. Back then you're really nervous. For the first 50 episodes, sorry, the Ruckus Maker. Thank you for being with me. If you've been with me since 2015, but they know it was too formulaic. It was the same thing, questions every time and that was starting to get boring to me. Part of that evolution, probably not by episode 50, but I ended up hiring a podcast coach. Two main takeaways was that we did a pre-chat you and I right before we recorded to get to know the guests better, to cast vision. How can you add value to the audience, but how can I also support you in what you consider success for a show and so on, so forth. The other thing was to add more emotion and more stories and where can you do that. I learned episode one, if you want to hear the arc and you'll still get value from it, but man, it has changed. It's like cringe worthy, Going back to episode one from my point of view.
Meghan: All right. So right here, we're going to take a quick break for your sponsors.
Daniel: Learn how to successfully navigate, change, shape your school success and empower your teams with Harvard certificate in school management in leadership. Get online professional development that fits your schedule. Now enrolling for October, 2021 and February, 2022 cohorts. Courses include leading change, leading schools, strategy and innovation, leading people and leading learning. Apply today at BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/harvard. That's BetterLeadersbetterschools.com/harvard. Better Leaders, Better Schools is brought to you by school leaders like principal Katerra's using Teach FX. Special populations benefit the most from verbally engaging in class, but get far fewer opportunities to do so than their peers, especially in virtual classes. Teach FX, measures verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help schools and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID. Learn more and get a special offer from Better Leaders Better Schools listeners at teachfx.com/BLBS. That's teachfx.com/BLBS. 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.
Meghan: Now that's kind of the backdrop of BLBS, tell me where it is now and where it's going in the future?
Daniel: The leader is always the greatest opportunity and greatest challenge within his or her organization so that's true. I am not exempt from that idea and I say that because the books coming out. I know we'll talk about that. I am very proud of creating. It's coming out in print, I'm going to hold it. I could say, I did it like the first book. I'm happy and I know there's value in it, but this one is like 10 times, like it's so such a better product, so to speak.
Meghan: 1 versus episode 50, your second book, there's this big difference between the two because you've learned so much from that first book.
Daniel: Shout out to Ariel Curry, the senior editor who brought me into Corwin. I normally give her a lot of grief because I tell a story of how she gave me some critical feedback, the organization was terrible, but a credit to her that she really helped me think about how to create a better book. It was very hard work. I didn't even know that I had it in me to do what we visioned was possible, but we did it. I am super confident that we did it. I can't communicate enough how proud I am with the book, but then the opportunity versus challenge or bottleneck thing that I talked about, I don't know why I waited this long. Maybe it was like getting the right people on the team. I'm sure that's a part of it. Also just believing that it's possible, but in a 2021 we launched our first cohorts that are serving school leaders that they're growing, that they're doing things they didn't think possible that they're connecting with other amazing leaders in our field. In the Mastermind, it's not one massive group. At this point there's seven cohorts. I lead five. 2 launched, I'm not leading them and that's what I was trying to say in a garbled way. I've trained these coaches and continue to offer training to them, but they are the ones who serve the school leaders. There's a new one by the time this episode launches, there's a third cohort that I won't be leading, that's releasing on in October and it will be on Thursday. We never had a Mastermind on Thursday. When I think about where we've been. When I started the Mastermind, there was seven early adopters. Those people go down in BLBS lore forever. While I was a school leader grew to maybe like 20 or so.
Daniel: When I decided, "Hey, I'm going to do this full time, we grew it to where we're at now. Somewhere between 70 and 80 members, but the big, big vision, since you asked about where we're going. I've started to dream. It used to feel scary. It doesn't feel scary anymore. My next goal at the time 16 to 60 to 600 that's create impact. I was on a call with the founder of Teach Fx, one of our sponsors in Jamie in literally one second, leveled up my dream. He said, "Why not? 1200? 600 seems small, Danny, you could totally serve 1200." I'm like, seriously, that's scary. That's over a thousand people. I can't even count that high. Told you, I didn't do so good in math at the university level.
Daniel: The thing is 1200 is scary for me, Meghan. When you look at the amount of principals in the United States, it actually works out to just 2- 3%. That's not very many at all. That's barely a drop in the bucket. So I'm like, this is doable. This is totally doable. I got to get the right team and got to build the systems, but we can have that kind of impact in education and I'm going for it. The other goal, then the Jim Collins big, hairy, audacious goal, 5,000 and that's 5% of school leaders in the US and Canada. For listeners that are in Europe or Africa or Asia or whatever, we have leaders from every continent except the Antarctica. In terms of scale and thinking about how to make what I'm trying to say, how to make some, that scares you 5,000. When you say that's only 5%, it's gotta be doable. I just got to figure out how and really figure out who can help me get there.
Meghan: And that means you're having a much broader impact your leadership skills that you're accruing and that you're passing on are going to become the standard.
Daniel: I don't want to reveal who I was talking to. It's a very best-selling author and another colleague were talking about me because network and mutual connections that kind of thing. What she reflected back to me was so meaningful. Prior to this, the thing that was said about me that was amazing was a counselor at my last school in Houston. She said, "Danny, you have such a calming effect on our community." They were a very high achieving, a fluent bunch wound up a little too tight and took things really seriously. Having sort of a calming, don't take yourself so seriously impact is exactly what they needed.
Meghan: What can you identify? What is your calming effect? What do you do that causes that calm to set in?
Daniel: That's an awesome questions. I see why people say that to me now because you really have to think about it. I think part of it, I think part of it's my ability to build relationships and honestly like people know, I care. I did talk about like, don't take yourself so seriously, that's rule number six. You can learn more either at my website or pick up the art of possibility it's talked about there. It's really great book. I think that care versus not taking yourself too seriously, combination helps with calming, but I'm gonna mess up the exact quote, but Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations which was a private journal. He never meant to have published. Roman emperor, like pretty big deal, huge impact. He talked about being the rock that the waves crash over or when the water's calm and the rock is still just there. The whole point is like in times of higher highs in times of low lows that you could see stay steady. I've had that reflected back to me too. I'm a very loyal consistent and steady guy. I think that comes through. It's more about a presence thing. How you approached it all. I think that maybe that's how it happens.
Meghan: I would add one more thing from my perspective, if someone on your hot seat with you interviewing you have a very, you have an openness about you that invites not just relationship, but dialogue and storytelling. You truly seem to have a sense about you. You are truly interested in the person you're talking to and you are championing them throughout the discussion. You're interested. I heard a quote once I thought it was just phenomenal. People always want to say, when they grow older, I want it to be interesting. She said, I just want to be interested. I thought that was a perfect quote. Truly. I want to be interested in everything around me, whether or not I'm interesting is actually not an important goal of mine. I just want to be interested and you are interested. I think that's one of the key qualities that you bring to your interviews.
Daniel: Yeah. I'm writing that down on a yellow sticky here on my desk, because
Meghan: you heard something. It connected with you. You're writing it down. You exemplify interested.
Daniel: Well thank you for noting that. That'd be an awesome that message needs to be put out. I need to write a book on that, that's where my mind went. Thank you for sharing. What a great idea. I never would have never would have picked that up on my own. You reflected that back. I was telling this story of this best selling author and the calming thing from the counselor was cool. The thing that this author told me, she said, "Her and her colleague were discussing me and she said, 'Man, this guy has such a heart and warmth about him, but also like this busy business savviness. That is a real powerful combination'" and I don't even know how I got talking on this, this story, but like the other day she shared that with me and that really, really made my day for sure.
Meghan: I think it's also an important aspect of one other important aspect of it is that you have been there where so many leaders are. You were part of that team. You had to make that decision to go from being a teacher, to being an administrator. In your role as an administrator to help shape teams, to help basically lead them into success and challenge this idea that what you have to do is increase the grade scores or you're fired and challenge that. Essentially ties into your podcasts, but it also ties into your book. Tell me more about your book.
Daniel: The cool thing with that is like, thanks again and want to honor, Ariel. She humbly, honestly, every publisher in the education space reached out to do a book and this is like 2019. I'm just like, what is going on? This is crazy they're starting to look at podcasts, They're starting to look at people are creating value and making an impact and maybe non traditional. Now this is becoming quite normal, but anyways, so Ariel reaches out and she goes, so everybody wants a book, but they're like, what should the book be on? I'm thinking productivity and what can I write about? Ariel says, "let's do a book on how you serve leaders." I'm like, that's interesting.That would be really cool. How do I write it in a way that it doesn't feel like, "Hey, 200 pages come join my thing" because there's a business side. It's high quality so that it's not free. It is not a free experience. There's plenty of free stuff I put out there that's good and helps people learn, but the Mastermind that's not free. That was the first hurdle. How do I create something of value that people can take action on, be inspired by, but it doesn't feel slimy or salesy. Educators that go into business, all wrestle with the idea of making money like it's bad or makes you bad or evil or something like that. For so long, You're like, "Hey, I barely get paid and I'm here doing this good thing for society." So that's something that you have to wrestle with and maybe a skin to shed. I am confident in the book and for sure it isn't a 200 page sales letter at all.
Daniel: Ariel's critical feedback, I had to think about why does this community really, really work? The story, I haven't told to anybody. This Is a weakness of leaders and a problem. When the book first started, the first first draft, nobody will see this. I was almost writing to two audiences, one to school leaders and why this is a powerful opportunity to nurture yourself, to grow yourself, and to develop your skillset. There was this other audience of "Hey, if you want to build a Mastermind and actually get it going in your district, or maybe you're an edupenueur and want to offer it as a product or service, here's how you do that. Whenever you have two audiences or two different, folk, I guess you're distracted and you don't create something as good as it could be.
Daniel: So that was a big learning moment. Obviously, the school leader needs to be the main focus. I thought about, now that I'm very clear on that. If I write the book in such a way that talks about why it works, that means that a they can integrate those elements into what they do in schools and just make their school experience better. Even at the classroom level, teachers could read this because it follows this framework of the ABC's of powerful professional development. They can put that in a classroom and level it up. The PD offered to the entire staff and then school leaders could use it as a filter, something I'm looking to join or a conference or a webinar I want to go to. Where does it bring in authenticity, belonging and challenge.
Daniel: Now they have a tool to evaluate experiences that they're going to invest their time and resources from a high level, here's why it works. We could start these within schools or districts, or if you don't want the friction and all the work and blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it. If you just want to immediately plug into this thing that's working that has a global reach, that has the diversity of any way you can cut diversity but also like diversity of thought it's available and your invited, There's a very small call to action at the end, if you'd like to learn more, whenever you're ready, here's where to figure that out. But that's literally the only time I talk about come join in. One sentence and the rest of it is like research stories, case studies, practical tips of how to implement more authenticity, more belonging, more challenge, which leads to life and leadership transformation and that's why I feel super confident about it.
Meghan: What you're actually doing is you're solving problems. When you are solving problems, either with the book or a podcast or blog where you gather interested parties, if you're there to sell a product, if you're just there to say, I am the solution, as opposed to you are your solution and here's how you do it. You're providing an opportunity for them to take charge. If they find themselves stuck, you have this other opportunity available for them. It's your objective to get them underway and get them going to be able to do this and that's the difference. That's what a book is as opposed to a 200 page sales pitch.
Daniel: I love how you frame that. You are the solution. We're reading in the Mastermind right now, Isabel Wilkerson's Caste. It''s a very candid look at horrific thingsthe United States has done and it looks at caste in India. It looks at what the Nazis did, trying to eliminate, Jews from the world, Really hard topics. It's not like what people in the Mastermind say, "Where's the hope there's a the solution." Right. What I keep telling people, look in the mirror, you are the hope. When I look at the Mastermind, that's where the optimism comes from, where my hope comes from because education changes a lot. It gets very political and I'm not going to do that in the podcast, but the point is you open doors, you change lives by being objective, just presenting the evidence and creating an awesome education experience.
Meghan: You have your podcast, you have a book coming out, you have your Mastermind group. Am I missing anything?
Daniel: I'm creating some new stuff. We ran the principal's success path for the first time. It's a whole new flagship offer. It's like a two and a half months, three months experience. Essentially if you want to create a powerful school experience, like there's asynchronous content that gets dropped three times a week. There's a safe, private space to show your work to your colleagues and get feedback. There's live group coaching calls where it's a lot of teaching from me, but then a really quick Q and A. It's different than a Mastermind. We did it for the first time. I think 26 people joined. It was a huge success. It went really, really well. I'm looking forward to hearing from people what their experience was.
Daniel: I interviewed one of the members, Maria Rodriguez for an hour to sharing her story. I was almost brought to tears, hearing, what she's learned and the impact she's had in less than three months. I mean, less than 90 days. It's crazy. You think you've created this for people and you always hope that it does what you think it will do. The other thing too, and this is a leadership lesson. Wnless you reach out to the Marias in your school community it's very possible she will still keep going on with life and I would never hear of the impact. It's not fishing for compliments, but again, another meta leadership lesson, if you have a key study framework and you're interested in stats you can tell Maria's story, which feels great for Maria because she's a Ruckus Maker. People should emulate to be like her, but then the other Maria is, I don't know yet. We'll see themselves in her and maybe I'll have an opportunity to help them as well. You can do that in your school community with your teachers, with your students, parents, et cetera.
Meghan: It's also proof that it works. If you don't follow up for those case studies. How do whether or not what you're doing works? They're going to have some feedback for you on their challenges and things that they had to figure out. Perhaps that's on your next book or your next podcast, your next Mastermind, if you begin to see a theme throughout the feedback and people having a specific challenge over and over again.That's narrow you need to tackle.
Daniel: Yeah. There's some other sticky notes on my desk about that right there. A really great point, Meghan. That's awesome. The other thing that I've built is this what I call the remarkable vision formula. Three steps to creating a remarkable life, remarkable family and remarkable school because again, I'm unorthodoxed. It's not just about school outcomes. I care about all my people as human beings and even before the family I want them to be a great partner and a great parent and that kind of thing, even before that, I want them to be a great who they are. Make sure they're taking care of themselves and the high-level remarkable vision formula is just being super intentional about where you're going over the next three years and all those domains.
Daniel: There'll be free webinars. I'm doing a live event experience around that and I could see maybe a smaller offering for people who don't want to all the supportive alive event they could go through it like in an asynchronous sort of course type thing. Definitely more to come.. There's some really cool things that aren't yet developed, but in development. The Mastermind of the members currently, they're going to be thrilled when it comes through. I'm really hopeful for that.
Meghan: On top of that, you're kind of becoming an in demand speaker.
Daniel: Maybe we'll see.
Meghan: It sounds like that's another possible avenue to go in because if you want to talk about reaching large audiences, there's your podcasts, but there's also speaking at conferences and speaking at educational opportunities where you're now reaching out to sometimes hundreds or thousands of people with your message. Those types of workshops that you're able to the whole package that you offer for your speaking engagements which is rather comprehensive and allows these conferences, to bring in Danny Bauer and BLBS, right there on site. So that's another avenue of growth for this entire industry that you've put together.
Daniel: Thanks for highlighting that. There is a leadership lesson there, which is this I'm going to ask the Ruckus Maker to consider what does he, or she wants to be known for as a leader. I was invited most recently to this experience, I'm going to do the keynotes for 300 leaders. It's going to be amazing. Most people that come in for a keynote they're in and out, and I want to be so much more. I pitched the keynote plus I'll run a workshop during the event not in and out. Plus, I'll do a VIP dinner because it's about developing relationships and serving. I'm going to bring a book for everybody at the event. I'm going to do that. I want to be able to do that at each invitation, each place I get the opportunity to serve because I want my name and Better Leaders, Better Schools to be synonymous with over-delivering. You don't just get this thing. You're expecting to get all this other stuff. In addition to that and that's the experience that you're investing in.
Meghan: It's so important. We've all been to keynote speeches that were good and maybe we came out with a few ideas, but to have that person then available for workshops afterwards and to be approachable. If I'm really inspired, maybe participating in the executive dinner, but now, it empowers me to take these concepts that I was just listening to and I really don't have a whole lot of ability to interact with. Now, I am interacting now, I'm acting on them. I'm setting up essentially my plan for what I'm going to do when I get back to my school and that's a very big difference because what's just happened and this is my specialty is transfer. You have taken a person from hearing the idea, considering the idea, thinking about it, noodling on it, interacting with the idea or the person who inspired the idea really now starting to pick it apart, challenge it, internalize it.
Meghan: And the next step, which is transferring, what I've been working with inside of what we call the formal learning environment, transferring it out to the outside of the formal learning environment. Ironically, in this situation, you're going from one formal learning environment to another. The second formal learning environment is the environment you're working in. When you have succeeded in that, you have what I would call as a first level transfer. You have gotten the person from listening to it and thinking about it, to acting on it, first level transfer inside of that environment. When you have a school that teaches a specific topic, let's say they teach science, but they're touching on the topics in that science class science class. They're touching on those topics in the math class.
Meghan: We have a transfer across such access for solo transfer, second novel transfer. You're taking the concepts outside of that formal learning environment. That's what you're doing. You're getting these people inspired to now take it into their professional learning environment and then comes third level, which is now they take it home. You have actually succeeded them in the highest load transfer, which has shaped me as a person, not just inside the work environment, but I have learned how to become a better leader, a better communicator with my family.
Daniel: Yeah, Jean A. Park he's an expert BLBS coach leading his own group. He told me before he became a coach, with an organization he said, "I'm a better husband actually, and a better father now and that was such a cool experience.
Meghan: That's so true. That's the highest level of transfer right there. I think we're, we're cutting in and out a little bit, it is actually time for us to bleed to wrap this up. Is there anything else? I'm going to ask you to wrap up with your specific questions, and I don't know if everyone's ever put it back to you. What would you put up on a billboard?
Daniel: I love to just tell people that they're worth it. However you want to consider that sometimes leaders, if you think about me in the Mastermind, they have to say, am I worth it? They're so used to giving, giving, giving to others. Even if you're not thinking about like the Mastermind, whatever you're considering just know that you're worth it so invest in yourself. That's the message I love putting on there
Meghan: I like that. That's true. I would ask you to tell me about your ideal learning environment, but I would say you're creating it. You have all your coming from all these different angles between the Mastermind and the public speaking and the book and the podcast, you really are now taking this incredible multi-pronged approach to be able to reach people everywhere. Anything else that you've got? Thinking about in the future? TV show something along those lines?
Daniel: No, no, I don't. The vision is so big for what I'm doing right now. That's enough to focus on, It's like, who are the right people to get around me, to help realize that vision is really what I'm thinking about. I'm very, very honored and thankful that a lot of the coaches that are leading these cohorts are definitely the right people, amazing people and then I have Laura and Abby behind the scenes doing stuff and Dragan with the podcast, Christina, with the show notes, and we'll keep adding to that team. There's big impact to be made and school leaders are my kind of people. The other thing that was reflected back to me as a lot of these type of organizations curriculum, intervention, evaluation, SEL, but who does stuff that's just really focused on leadership and the leaders quality of life in their soul like that's, that's where I play. It's a fun place to be.
Meghan: I've been so honored to be able to do this interview with you, Danny. Thanks so much for allowing me to come back and put you on the hot seat.
Daniel: Hey, thanks for pitching the idea want with anybody else. So thank you so so much.
Meghan: It's my pleasure. To all of those Ruckus Makers out there, keep your eye on Danny he's going places.
Daniel: Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts 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 @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.
- Tips and a challenge for the Ruckus Makers.
- Unorthodox approach to building effective leadership.
- Challenge and embrace your own ignorance.
- Relieve yourself of the burden of being an expert.
- How to make something that scares you a reality?
- Be the rock in the water for your community.
- Be interested, not interesting.
- Know you only have one audience .
- A tool to evaluate experiences to invest time and resources in.
- Fundamental Follow Up
“I love this idea you said ‘I’m going to put myself out there so people can see me learning’ and showing the example of challenging your own ignorance, embracing your own ignorance and being able to say, ‘teach me and bring in people to teach you.’ You’ve become the lifelong learner, the exemplified lifelong learner and that can be really inspirational to people. You’ve relieved them of the burden of being the expert. It’s really important for leaders.”
– Daniel Bauer
Daniel Bauer’s Resources & Contact Info:
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