The Blend Podcast EP015 – Blend’s Birthday 1 Year Review

The Blend Podcast – 1 Year of Blend

Tue, 6/6 12:32PM • 43:13

SPEAKERS

Brendan Cox and Tom Payani

Intro  00:08

Welcome to the Blend podcast with Tom and Brendan. discussing all things eLearning, digital marketing, design and entrepreneurship. The podcast is brought to you by blend interactive content. Find us on LinkedIn or www.blend.training.

Tom Payani  00:24

Hello, Brendan, how are you? Happy birthday.

Brendan Cox  00:32

That’s next week.

Tom Payani  00:34

No. Happy Birthday to Blend.

Brendan Cox  00:36

Ah, yeah. Because that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. Yeah, I did think talking about my birthday would be a weird subject.

Tom Payani  00:49

Yeah, a bit weird. So we’ve done one year, a year in review, we survived. And I thought, why not? Let’s talk about what we’ve done so far, where we plan to go, things we’ve learned, challenges we’ve faced, considerations we’ve had – all of that sort of stuff.

Let’s look back at what we’ve done and then we can talk about what we’re looking at going forward as well. I thought to start with about how Blend started and how we got going in the first place. I guess the easiest way to do that is just tell the backstory really. So once upon a time haha…as probably most people know, I worked in education, you worked in design – motion design and animation.

And as people probably already know, we’ve worked together on various projects in the past, we often go to each other for creative projects; passion projects and the like, we’ve often worked well together in that sort of thing. So there was always this going on in the background. But I remember I wasn’t totally happy in my last job, there was a lot of issues going on there. And I think it was a meeting of various things that finally turned into the catalyst to start blend. And what I mean is that had a job where I was getting frustrated in the industry, I was getting frustrated with COVID. And all these things came together and going over each one, one by one, when you’re frustrated in a job, you’re always looking for something new.

Not only was the institution that I was in not really doing things in the right way, the education industry as a whole frustrated me. We’ve spoken about this on individual podcasts in the past, there are a lot of issues. We’ve mentioned that those issues are not teaching kids to prepare for the world that we live in today, the industry itself hasn’t been updated, the narrow definition of intelligence within the education system, the focus on academic intelligence rather than other aspects of intelligence, like soft skills, or entrepreneurship, all these things – coupled with the institution I was working in was quite toxic – really got me thinking about what I wanted to do.

I knew that I wanted to stay in education, I knew there was something there in the industry that I cared about, I knew that deep down, that was the world I still wanted to work in. But the frustration came from: if I don’t want to be a teacher, how do I work in education?

Anyway, I think you’ve always cared about learning, and education in your own way. Separate from the conversations you had with me, you’re somebody who is self-taught in many things, and often looking at different ways to learn things. You’re just interested in the concept of learning itself. So you were an obvious person to speak to about stuff like this, then COVID kicked in, and you could see how the world was changing. You could see how everything was accelerating, in terms of becoming remote, whether that’s digital learning, whether that’s working from home, whether that’s zoom meetings, or something as simple as that.

You could see that the way we were going to work and the way people were going to do things was going to change forever, regardless of COVID. Then we always have had an entrepreneurial streak as well, I mean, you were a freelancer before regardless, and I’ve always had that streak in me. So we’ve often spoke and bounced ideas off each other and being a sounding board for each other about things we want to do. And really the seed of Blend started when one day I explained to you these frustrations I had and you came back to me and said there’s aspects of motion design and animation and the world you worked in you weren’t happy with as well.

But I don’t want to speak for you for that, I’ll let you explain that yourself in a second. We spoke about emotional intelligence and soft skills and how we like to learn, and the way we learn things. And we spoke about this idea that eventually came to be known as Relearn, basically a Duolingo for soft skills or emotional intelligence, and how that would be just a wicked idea, how that’d be great for us, but not only for us, for young people, and how that would fill a big gap that exists in the education industry.

So we came to this idea of project Relearn, and we thought, okay, this will be a cool sort of online course, we just started prototyping it out. The more that we dived into that idea, the more research I did, at least from my end, about elearning, online learning, digital learning – this then led me to instruction design and eLearning development.

I realised, hang on a minute, this is this new world that I am cut out for and my background is relevant, my skillset is relevant. This is where I see the education industry going. This is where I see massive growth in this industry. It helps me get away from these frustrations I had in the education industry by allowing me to be more creative and having freedom with what I build. I then spoke to you about that, and you felt the same. That then led to our first job with our first startup. That was sort of phase one of blend, wasn’t it?

Brendan Cox  06:43

Yeah, because I think we were looking for change. And all change has a sense of push from where you are, and a sense of pull to where you feel like you need to be. For me personally, it was in the motion design industry, like all of the other previous types of design that I’d done. There was always a burning desire to be involved on some level, strategically, and the reality is – Chris Do said it, rather controversially, but also quite accurately – that all forms of design, because they’re personal are actually quite precious to the person, but are actually just technical roles.

I was continuing to just explore technical roles, with this underlying frustration. And I would like to be involved at the strategic level, I enjoy the strategic thinking. I was looking for somewhere to apply that. So when you brought up the aspect of eLearning and instructional design, I saw a really good opportunity not just to satisfy that need to be strategic and come in earlier on projects, and plan how something is created and why something is created, but more importantly a great place for me to actually apply what I’ve already learned because of all of the technical skills i’d nurtured in previous experience. So yeah, the planets aligned on that one.

Tom Payani  08:14

I think by that point we realised that instructional design and eLearning development was a world that suited our individual skillsets. But even more so when we combine them together. I think we found out on our first job where we laid the groundwork, we did needs analysis, and we did the curriculum design for this for the startup, we enjoyed it. For us, I think we were really, really buzzing about how we both could contribute to the project in different ways. We really helped each other.

Brendan Cox  08:49

It was a good symbiosis of teaching and curriculum theory that you have; and the design thinking and the theory behind building a framework to solve problems that I have. I think that was where the spark was, and we realized, actually, we were two sides of the framework, and we were approaching it with different perspectives, but with the fundamental shared idea that we were working towards a goal, and that’s when we realised it would work. It works well when you when you combine your theory side with the visual aspect of what I do.

Tom Payani  09:27

We realized, OK, this project Relearn is a fantastic idea and we want that to be part of what we do. That’s a long term goal in terms of building that as a as an online course or as an app. But then the priority changed.

The more market research we did, the more we realized, OK, we’re in elearning studio now, and we combine your animation and your graphic design experience with my educational background, we put those two things together. All of a sudden, we’re an elearning studio that can offer more than an individual freelancer, and can be much leaner and much more efficient in a production sense that an agency,

Brendan Cox  10:14

We’ve got an agility to us, because there’s two of us and we’re working in parallel from the get-go, we can literally hit the ground running on any kind of project. There’s a level of satisfaction for us to do something that feels naturally in alignment with our skill set, but also our values.

Tom Payani  10:34

We worked hard on making sure that our positioning was really tight and our USP was you’ve got two guys here, we’re greater than the sum of our parts, we can compete with an agency that also we can offer more than an individual instructional designer because of our backgrounds and our experience.

You’re not going to find an individual who’s worked in education for 15 years, and who’s been an animator or worked in design for 15 years. I mean if there’s one around I’d love to hear from them. So, we knew that that was our competitive advantage. We knew that’s how we needed to position ourselves. And whilst we did that, we were doing more market research, we were refining our own processes at Blend.

The more we got into instructional design, the more we realised that we needed to have our own process that we thought was really efficient, that when we did get projects with clients, or when we worked with other agencies, everything was really smooth and slick.

We had a process in place from start to finish from the instruction design starting point, to the evaluation at the end of the elearning development. That was the start of Blend and what we were working on a lot at the start as we built our portfolio.

We also learned the more technical skills, which we had to do. Like you said, I think our advantage or I think something we enjoy a lot is the strategic approach, the curriculum design part, the instructional design part. At the end of the day, we knew we had to be really up there with our technical skills as well. Again, this is the advantage of having two of us where you can really blow all of our competitors away from a visual perspective.

To make sure we had that technical expertise with eLearning authoring tools, or understanding the process of how to translate curriculum design experience into an eLearning project. 

Brendan Cox  12:29

I think that’s the thing, because what we were careful to consider we that we knew, unlike being a freelancer or an employee, we ourselves are the business, but we also work for the business. So we’ve got to wear a lot of hats and some of those hats we’ve not worn before. We went into it with, OK, what is our critical path to being the most valuable that we can be to our potential clients?

We realised that we sat nicely between bigger agencies, and freelancers. But actually, our clients turned out to be agencies themselves, because our history and our experience of project management and communication and working to other people’s briefs meant that we could come in and liaise and collaborate with elearning agencies. To offer them an in-house boutique that could work quickly, be quite agile and come up with creative solutions quickly and cost effectively.

Tom Payani  13:33

There was a clear transfer of skills from the education industry to instructional design and elearning, particularly with curriculum development and learning theory. I just had to find the right way to transfer them. So they weren’t in that eLearning world, which was completely doable. But one thing that I just want to come back to that I mentioned before, and didn’t ask you a follow up question about was, what was the equivalent of that for you? Because I said that I’d let you speak for this. I said that you had certain frustrations with the old industry you were working in, and you found sort of a new lease of life or new energy.

I’m not sure how you want to define it  when you realised you could transfer that skillset into instructional design and elearning. When I talk about transferring curriculum design and learning theory, what was your equivalent of that from your end?

Brendan Cox  14:26

The transferring bit, and the appeal to it, especially was the ability to ask why? Because instructional design starts with the needs analysis, which is literally at its core, asking why are we doing something? What are we trying to achieve? And then working out what’s the best way to do to do it? And the thing is up till then I’d always been in a technical role where I was the designer or the motion designer or helping someone out with graphics.

I was always handed a brief and I was just told to do what was asked. As opposed to being at a higher level where you get to ask, okay, what is it you’d like to achieve? Let’s ask why. Ask the right questions, do the research, and then build a solution together that gets you to that goal. And that’s what I was excited to transfer across.

I had to add almost two separate sides to what I was doing. I was doing design-thinking workshops –  live before COVID. Then online I was basically walking people through frameworks for strategic thinking, problem solving and working towards goals.

It’s basically just like a Lego set, or a toolkit of exercises that you can build to put together like a recipe to get to the solution that you’re looking for. And when we started doing the design, doing the graphics, doing storyboarding, even just creative discussions; right from the start, I realised very quickly that this was where that design thinking aspect I’d been nurturing on the side of my business actually fitted.

There was a sense of satisfaction. I felt like I had found my purpose somewhat, that all of these things that I had such a strong desire to do (that I’d literally gone off and done on my own time), now had a place and that I really enjoyed transferring the skill set across. I got to look at everything from outside the box, and then apply it. Rather than sit back and have to learn everything from scratch, I could adapt these principles that I’d learned before. Because I wasn’t just a technical person, I was a strategic thinker, and problem solver.

Tom Payani  16:52

One really positive thing for us in the whole process was we knew we had these different skillsets and we knew we could combine those skillsets from a technical point of view to work in instructional design and elearning. One thing that I think we knew at the start, but definitely came to the fore the further along the process we went was that we both really enjoyed and really helped each other when we had to be strategic.

When we had to sit down with subject matter experts, clients or agencies, and just come up with these conceptual ideas – not just from a technical point of view – but the concept of an eLearning course or project – we had to be really creative.

How can we design broadly looking down it from a strategic level? Both of us were able to do that coming in at different angles. That was really where the skillsets or our past experiences came together to help us create engaging eLearning courses.

Brendan Cox  17:53

We’ve both been self-educators and self-learners for most of our adult lives, and that internal desire to ask why and to try and see the bigger picture, to improve your own understanding of concepts and the reasons for things and how to improve that was an internal drive that was always there.

When we were able to apply that to a client, not only were we nurturing that, and igniting that fire again, we were also helping someone. It just felt great and that’s what I really enjoyed.

Tom Payani  18:25

I think the first we saw of that in this journey we’ve had was project Relearn itself. Because we were like, hang on a minute, we want to learn and we want other people to have the opportunity to learn in a slightly different way or in a way that suits their skillset or their intelligence more. Why can’t we have some sort of soft skills or emotional intelligence training that really helps people in that respect?

I think we’ve always had this idea of whatever project we’re in, how can it meet the needs of different types of learners. I’ve got experience of that in education. But I think you also naturally have that way of thinking anyway, even if you haven’t necessarily worked in the education industry, you look at things from that point of view anyway. 

I think that’s because from first-hand experience yourself, being self-taught in a lot of things and trying to find the most effective way for you to learn, as well trying to learn things in different ways.

Brendan Cox  19:23

Yeah, I think it’s a thing of wanting to solve a problem. But at the same time, how am I building empathy, because that’s a big thing with design thinking. I think emotional intelligence in general is that when you can build empathy, when you can nurture it, you start to enjoy understanding the end user or the learner, you can apply everything and problem solve at a much higher degree with much more impact because at the end of the day you can solve a problem.

But if it’s not actually for the end user, there isn’t any point. If you build empathy into what you’re doing it really does it give the bang for the buck at the end.

Tom Payani  20:03

Let’s move on a little bit then. In the last year, what things can you think of that we were really sort of careful to consider? The types of things that we really knew we had to keep an eye on as we were going through this process as we were starting this business. What stands out for you?

Brendan Cox  20:21

I think one of the big things for us was making sure that we never make assumptions. From the offset we would make sure that we had enough research, we would get constructive feedback, we’d look for opportunities to speak to experts, we basically took the principles of instructional design and design thinking and applied them to building the business and the decisions we make as we built our strategy.

So at every step we spoke to as many people in the various sectors that we were exploring, to get insight from not just the end users, but the people that hire the people that provide expert knowledge to the learners on all sides of the equation and at the same time getting feedback on what we were doing from those people.

I think that really helped because we realised, as soon as you take your ego out of the equation, you can really embrace the testing and iterating stage when you when you step back from yourself and say this isn’t about me, this isn’t about the me being precious about what I’ve done.

Anyone I speak to that gives me feedback will want me to move forward, someone who wants to help. So understanding that embracing feedback and research and removing your ego out of it is key to actually moving forward quickly. I think it really made a big difference because we were able to be very agile, and we pivoted to the different types of scenario-based learning we were doing into different sectors to explore them. Then we tested them out. We basically tested our way to our niche to us opposition.

Tom Payani  22:03

For me, ego is huge, this point is important. At the end of the day, we’re confident in our ability, if we have a client, if we work with an agency, we back ourselves to do a good job, we feel we’re good at what we do. Our work is of a high quality. I’m not saying you have to be like self-deprecating or always knocking yourself down.

But as soon as you understand that you can take something positive out of all feedback, there’s a lot of people out there who know a lot more than you. Rejection is just a part of the process. Failure is a part of the process. As soon as you understand it’s all connected to our ego. I think that’s absolutely huge, because you don’t enjoy the wins too much. But you also don’t let the losses hit you too hard. And I think that’s really important.

You’re not better than anyone, but you’re not worse than anyone. As long as you are really trying to stay humble and do as good a possible job, you can always learn. I’ve always got so much more to learn and there’s plenty of people who can help me learn.

If I take my ego out of it and have a bit of humility, I’m actually going to progress much quicker anyway. I think it’s getting rid of that pride and getting rid of that ego and being an open book, to feed back into evaluation of projects, and even to rejection and the failures you’ve had

Brendan Cox  23:25

That ability to be agile, to take yourself out of the equation, and to absorb anything that will make you better, and deflect anything that will make you worse. Because at the end of the day, all we’re doing is competing against ourselves. As long as we get better every day, and the people we speak to help us get better every day and the work we do improves our skills, then we’re on the right path. And that’s the main thing.

Tom Payani  23:49

Exactly. I felt we had to really keep an eye on something as we were going through this process in the last year and that something that came up pretty early was the terminology in the industry. Sometimes there could be miscommunication with the terminology of the industry, right? Especially from your perspective coming from more of design world and me coming from an educational background. There were a few times when we were often talking about the same thing, but in completely different ways.

Brendan Cox  24:23

We needed to be very careful with terminology because the key to a good business relationship, a good client relationship, or any relationship is communication. And often anything where there’s a problem, it’s normally a case of misalignment. It’s normally a misalignment because someone or someone gets upset because they’ve had a certain expectation based on what you’ve said or done and then that expectation has been broken by what you’ve just done or said.

If you can align yourselves on even something as simple as both saying the same word for the same part of the eLearning development process, it can make a really big difference. We started sticking to the word test, rather than prototyping. Depending on what industry you’re in, prototype can be seen as a physical object that works and maybe isn’t in mass production yet. Whereas I see it as prototype is just basically like a test.

That’s a thing with radical candor. As long as we were open about the fact that I’m never actively trying to annoy you, most of the time – so anything we say, or suggestions we make, or feedback we give, is always in the best interests of the other person and the business. Making sure that we’re clear on communication is paramount.

The same goes with clients. When we tell them what we’re going to do we’re very clear. We always lay everything out. One of the reasons that we like visualising and visually mapping out all of the projects is because there’s nothing worse than going off track on a project. They feel like they’re along the journey with us and there’s no nasty surprises. That’s how we work in general.

Tom Payani  26:29

For example, if you look at learning design models, a common one is something like the ADDIE model. A lot of eLearning developers and instructional designers understand that model. In terms of how to map our eLearning projects, we realised pretty quickly that when you were talking about design thinking and how you use design thinking in your own projects, there was so much overlap and so much crossover between certain learning theories that I knew from education institutions.

Combined with the ADDIE model (what a lot of instructional designers use) plus the design thinking workshops where you use a lot of these concepts, a lot of the thinking behind these models were very similar anyway. That’s how we got to the point where we sort of amalgamated all these influences, and created our own version, which is a mixture of all these things for how we workshop and manage a project through Blend.

Brendan Cox  27:29

Yep, and we try and remove all the jargon. We just try and make it as clear as possible, because everyone is very tribal, and gets very precious about their models and their terminology and things like that. Just in general for communication, removing jargon and barriers of understanding (just because you what the ADDIE model means doesn’t mean everybody else does) and explaining it in a way that’s as clean and as simple and as concise as possible is only a good thing.

We saw an opportunity rather than arguing about whose model was right, we actually knew from the get go, as soon as we started working, there was huge opportunity for overlap and parts of the models that you were using, I had faster versions of, and parts of my model that didn’t necessarily even need to be in there, because it was for a different sector, you could remove and so bit by bit, we were able to whittle it down.

Combining the two things actually gives them more impact than the sum of their parts. Good design is reductive.

Tom Payani  28:49

Yeah. It comes back to this point that we really rely on a lot for ourselves as well – that were greater than the sum of our parts. We realised through looking at these models, this was another validation of combining our experience and skillset that allowed us to find a better version of the individual models and processes we’ve used to separate in our previous industries.

Brendan Cox  29:14

Yeah, I mean we’ve worked really, really hard to learn these models and to learn these frameworks and approaches, until at a certain point, like with the pyramid of learning, you can be creative with that understanding. Your knowledge can be applied in a new way.

We’ve amalgamated them together. I’m sure we’ll come up with our own terminology for everything and be really, really precious about it, but tell everyone else they are wrong. My hope is that we will never actually do that. We’ll always keep it clean and concise.

Even now there’s models like the SAM model, which is a fast version of the instructional design model ADDIE. The idea is that you ask questions and do your research, then jump straight into testing. Then you iterate, test and iterate again. It’s just cutting out the fat, and looking for opportunities to make everything work smoother.

Tom Payani  30:14

What moments are you proud of so far in this journey?

Brendan Cox  31:31

So far, I think getting validation that people out there do want to develop soft skills, and that there is a eLearning market there. We were able to find clients quite quickly that aligned and have the exact same values as us.

We’ve really enjoyed pretty much everyone we’ve worked with and it has been really satisfying. I think we realised that we were not alone in this idea of wanting to develop emotional intelligence, soft skills.

Understanding the importance of that, whether it’s in a formal educational system or not, we realised pretty quickly there’s a lot of people who are thinking along the same lines as that. That was really validating that we’re on the same page as a lot of clients, a lot of agencies, and a lot of other instructional designers.

There was learn appeal, and they were cool, because you’ve got titans of the eLearning industry, all working together to improve the access to learning for people that don’t have access to it, for whatever reason. Now we’re working with them to help them with their goals. That’s exciting because it’s in perfect alignment with us and it makes it makes me optimistic that we will be able to make Relearn at some point.

Tom Payani  32:06

I was proud about the decision we made to start Blend. Any business, when you begin you think, alright, the important thing is to get work, get paid work, build the business, take whatever work we can get. And even from the start, the interest we would get in the work that was being offered to us really aligned with our values anyway.

We were never put in a situation where we had to make that sort of moral decision of, I’m not sure if I want to do work for this company, or I’m not sure if we want to work in this industry. From the start, we are working with companies like Learn Appeal. We are working with companies like Key2Enable (who have created this device for kids with physical disabilities, to help them use computers to help them use different types of technology). 

From the start there was those companies out there who were interested in working with us and I didn’t know I didn’t think that was going to happen so quickly.

Brendan Cox  33:03

We found them that quickly and we aligned. That means there’s loads more interesting projects out there. I’m really looking forward to the next year.

Tom Payani  33:15

Yeah, all right. What did we learn? Or what have we learned so far?

Brendan Cox  33:22

Loads of things. I suppose more than anything was that when we both aligned on what it is we’re doing it for and why we’re doing it, we can pretty much learn anything. You’ve learned coding, I’ve learned how to do website stuff. I mean, I always thought that there were people who have certain leanings towards types of skill sets; but given the right incentive, you really can learn anything.

It’s like a skeleton key. I know now that as long as it’s in alignment with our goal of working towards helping people build learning with impact; working towards building learn appeal and soft skills and giving people access to those soft skills, then actually, I’m quite comfortable learning any skill, and will push myself to learn any skill if it’s for that goal.

Whenever I come up in a dip and I’m like, oh, god, this is awful, I know that deep down somewhere, I’ll be able to do it. So, it’s cool.

Tom Payani  34:22

This is learning theory, isn’t it? If you give someone an intrinsic motivation, which is you need to learn this skill for you to achieve these greater goals, the importance of achieving those goals are greater than the effort it will take to learn that skill, so you’re going to do it.

And you know, if someone just turned around to me before Blend and said Tom learn coding, I’m going to have to find that motivation from somewhere to do that. It’s going to be difficult for me to just want to do that automatically. I never had a natural inclination to want to learn it. But if someone says Tom, if you learn coding, that’s going to push this business forward. That’s going to give the opportunity to get involved in really interesting projects work with really interesting people – all of a sudden, you have that motivation to learn.

This is the beauty of being your own boss and being an entrepreneur. You wear these different hats, but you’re more motivated to do things that you might not have done before. You see the mission, you see what you’re aiming for much more clearly, and with more clarity.

Brendan Cox  35:25

We all tend to stay in our comfort zone. If someone says, oh, can you go and do that, and you think, why, you’re not going to be very motivated. But if you just see it as is just a challenge in the way towards what you want, you’ll find ways to get through. You realise it’s just a dip on the way to the finish line.

Tom Payani  35:51

It sounds like such an obvious thing to say look at the problem with the education system but when do kids get told why they’re learning something?

Let’s move on. What surprises have you had in this last year with Blend? Is there anything that has really surprised you?

Brendan Cox  36:21

I was very surprised by how rigid and inflexible some of the frameworks are. Some people adhere very strongly to their methodologies, but also the technology. It’s a bit it’s funny, because we know that you should always let the message choose the medium. So, me and you like interviewing people and we like having discussions, so we started a podcast. But so many things that we’ve come across in the learning industry let the software that they’re using completely dictate how the learning is built, rather than starting with the goal.

Then the means to which you deliver the goal is then chosen based on technology. That really surprised me because I thought they’re not listening to their own advice. But the advantages is that there’s a massive opportunity there. I mean, we’ve spoken to a number of people who are developing new bits of software, people that are approaching it in different ways, because there is a huge opportunity to really flip it on his head change the status quo.

With catalysts like COVID, it’s perfect for levelling the playing field and reinventing the way that we do stuff. It’s really interesting, but I was surprised initially, how much some of the tech or the software really does define now the learning is delivered.

Tom Payani  37:46

I completely agree and a lot of the technology can constrain the learning, if you’re not creative enough, or if you are not inclined to look for workarounds or alternative ways to produce that elearning. So a massive challenge for the industry as a whole is to make sure that the eLearning is not constrained by the software or the technology you’re using. There are constraints in a lot of the eLearning authoring tools out there.

It’s just a fact and I think for a more general point of view for the eLearning industry itself, this is where we’re going to see the biggest change coming up. There’s room for other software or other ways of developing eLearning to come in – other technologies to be introduced. Maybe that’s a bit of a different podcast.

Brendan Cox  38:38

Coming from the motion design industry, everyone’s really supportive in eLearning. There’s a really big online presence and global community for motion designers so there’s a lot of communities based around the schools and the academies that teach online because it’s all remote. So, coming from that I wasn’t sure how the eLearning community was going to be.

I was really surprised just how nice and how helpful everybody was, and how generous they were with their time and their advice. It was really refreshing and nice to be able to build up a network really quickly, of genuinely helpful, experienced, intelligent people that were just there to help.

I want to give a shout out to Ant Pugh who helped us. He set up the Propella community that’s really cool. Everyone on there is really nice. John Hinchliffe as well, from the GDLC community – because they both given me great advice and both been really welcoming.

Tom Payani  39:42

With Ant you communicate with him more now. But he was the first person in this world that I reached out to and he was really helpful right at the start. What I really liked about him was there wasn’t mentality of oh, potential competition. It was, I want to help these guys. We’re all in it together. I thought that was cool.

Brendan Cox  40:06

Yeah, it’s a whole different mindset to 20 years ago in the design industry. Everyone was very worried of the scarcity thing of, I can’t give away any of my secrets, Otherwise, they’ll steal my work. And the reality is there’s always enough work for everybody. It only benefits the industry when everybody shares their knowledge. That was what was really cool coming into the learning community.

Tom Payani  40:36

All right, last thing. What’s the next year going to look like for us, Brendan?

Brendan Cox  40:42

I’d like to be able to go outside and meet more than three people. Clients-wise, I think we’re finding our niche. So, we’re going to be working with more agencies and providing them with nicely designed eLearning with impact, coming in and just being like a little boutique plugin for them. That’s going to be cool, as well as finding interesting startups and companies and organisations that align in terms of values giving access to quality and engaging eLearning.

At  the root of it is Relearn. We want to work with people that really care about helping other people learn and maybe helping the people that don’t get the access they should. We’re going to be focusing on that.

In terms of the podcast itself, I suppose up to this point, we’ve really been exploring and just enjoying doing a podcast. So, I think we’re going to align that as well. It’d be really cool to actually start discussions with people in the eLearning industry: eLearning developers, eLearning directors – finding out what the challenges they have and some of the solutions they come up with.

What works for them? The cool surprises. Start sharing knowledge on that level as well. I think that’s something we’re going to explore. I also think you and me doing our design thinking workshops that we do. The way that we do our needs analysis is so visual and interactive in terms of when we get our subject matter experts in. Doing some live workshops, getting some people in almost doing like a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. If anyone’s in the from the UK you will know. It is where you turn up and come with a theme or come with us problem or challenge that you want to do. We can live solve it all together, which would be quite cool.

Tom Payani  42:38

Yeah. All sounds good to me. I think we’ll leave it there. Great talking to you. As always, let’s catch up soon.

Brendan Cox  42:46

Here’s to another year of Blend. Cheers.

Intro/Outro  42:49

Thanks for listening to the Blend podcast. It’s available on Spotify, Google and Apple. You can find blend interactive content on LinkedIn or www.blend.training. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. See you next time.

 

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