Last fall we spoke to Michael Horn (@MichaelBHorn) about his new book, Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life. His 2020 pandemic postlude is, “Take gap or discovery year. It’s not year off but a year on, learning how to contribute,  and opportunity to forge your character and leadership.”

Horn spent the last 5 years leading strategy for Entangled Group, a venture studio and consulting shop. They were an early investor in Guild Education,  a venture-backed Denver startup leading the ‘education as a benefit’ movement.

Guild was founded in 2015 by Rachel Romer Carlson. By building a bundle of online learning programs and marketed the benefit of continuing education to big employers, Carlson created a company worth more than $1 billion. Guild is one of about a dozen female-founded and led unicorns.

“Rachel and Guild built an engine with tens thousands of people starting classes every month,” said Horn.

Education is in Rachel’s DNA.  Her father, Chris Romer, is Head of University and Strategic Partnerships. Her grandfather is former Colorado Governor, LA USD Superintendent, and co-founder of WGU, Roy Romer.

Last month, in an interesting turn of events, Entangled was acquired by Guild Education and together they launched Next Chapter, a new kind of outplacement service to help laid-off workers access the training and job opportunities they need to align their careers with the economy of the future.

Program providers include Brandman University, Purdue Global, Pathstream, PennFoster, and SNHU.

Next Chapter provides coaching and career services — like resume writing and interview prep — to help them complete their transition. Hiring and pathways include customer success managers for Gainsight, truck drivers for Paschall Truck Lines and software quality assurance engineers for Unity.

“The pandemic could give rural America a second chance, a shot in the arm,” said Horn. Suddenly cities don’t look as desirable and many companies are supporting remote working.

“More remote work may be more efficient and productive,” added Horn.“ That will be especially true where states create partnerships for curating and connecting with online training programs.”

Horn sees an opportunity for a renewable learning fund, learning scholarship refreshed with income share agreements.

Hundreds of colleges will close this year. Horn sees a few national brands like SNHU achieve immense scale  and investing in attractive job clusters and markets and partnering with on ground cooperatives.

What do we tell high school and college students about entrepreneurship? Horn thinks high schools should have entrepreneurship and design thinking at the core.

“Entrepreneurship is an important set of skills even if you don’t start something, it’s about how you pull together a set of activities to create value,” said Horn.

“We should recognize the nobleness of entrepreneurship to deliver value to people, said Horn.  “It should be an important part of the curriculum and all young people should be getting entrepreneurial experiences.”

“Clay Christensen was deeply worried about the capitalist mindset of short term returns and not investing in market-creating innovations,” said Horn. “We also need to expand sources of capital to fund people that haven’t had access with expectations of return over longer time horizons.”

“Guild is positioned to work with employers with many employees to build the skills of entrepreneurs.”

On the innovation opportunity, Horn points to the potential understanding jobs and the DNA of good employees and how to assess capabilities and be more articulate about skills.

On reopening American schools, Horn launched a new podcast, Class Disrupted, with Summit Public Schools founder Diane Tavenner. Among the challenges, Horn quoted a new EdWeek poll that showed that two thirds of educators worry about the health implications of resume face-to-face education in the fall.

Key Takeaways:
[:57] Michael shares how he has explained what is currently happening in America to his children.
[2:41] The 2020 postlude to Michael’s book, Choosing College, that was released in August 2019. Michael also shares the advice that he gives to high school juniors and seniors as they think about their current education pathway considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
[7:02] About Michael’s last five years as the Chief Strategy Officer for Entangled Group and what the Entangled Group is all about.
[8:17] What Guild Education (a firm Michael was an early investor in that has recently acquired Entangled Group) is all about.
[11:00] About Rachel Romer Carlson (one of two founders of Guild Education), her family, and all of the incredible work that they do for education.
[14:15] With Guild Education’s acquisition of Entangled Group, they launched Next Chapter. Michael describes what Next Chapter is all about.
[16:51] Michael’s thoughts on Ryan Craig’s new venture, Achieve Partners, and how it is a different approach to similar problems that he is also working on.
[20:20] Post-pandemic there will be more remote work in tech America. How might rural states help more people skill up to participate in the technology economy and maybe even do it from their hometowns?
[23:55] Discussing the possibility of higher ed micro-schools or cooperative learning pathways.
[27:23] Michael’s advice for high school and college students regarding entrepreneurship. He also shares his thoughts on how entrepreneurship should be a part of the curriculum and why entrepreneurial skills are incredibly valuable.
[31:54] The invention challenges Michael believes we absolutely need to address within this decade.
[36:01] Credentialing of learning: the upsides and downsides.
[38:06] The importance of leaving high school with a network/set of connections that could provide both insight and opportunities. Michael also shares some policies and tools that could help build social capital for students in high school in more equitable ways.
[41:48] About Michael’s podcast, Class Disrupted.
[43:02] Where to find Michael online.
[43:25] Tom thanks Michael for joining the Getting Smart Podcast!

Mentioned in This Episode:
Michael Horn
Entangled Group
Guild Education
Next Chapter | Guild Education
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 228: “Michael Horn on Choosing College”
Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life, by Michael Horn
and Bob Moesta

Global Citizen Year
“Global Citizen Year Launches Accessible Gap Year Alternative”
Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 264: “Ryan Craig on Putting America Back to Work”
Achieve Partners
Teton Science Schools
ASU Local
Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Networks, by Julia Freeland Fisher
Class Disrupted Podcast by Michael Horn on The 74
Michael Horn’s Website
Michael Horn’s Twitter @MichaelBHorn

For more see:


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