We’re thrilled to present the latest addition to Afluencer’s content lineup – our podcast series featuring insightful conversations with influential brand owners. In this inaugural article, we have the privilege of introducing Paul Bennett, the visionary founder of Cicero Learning, as our esteemed guest.
Table of Contents
Meet Paul Bennett: The Mind Behind Cicero Learning
Paul Bennett, the innovative mind driving Cicero Learning, takes center stage in the Afluencer podcast series. With a wealth of experience in the world of influencer marketing, Paul shares captivating insights, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped his brand’s journey.
Podcast Premiere: Delving into the Cicero Learning Universe
Join us in exploring the enchanting world of Cicero Learning through the eyes of Paul Bennett himself. We’ve embedded the riveting YouTube podcast video below, offering an exclusive glimpse into the transformative power of influencer marketing.
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00:00 🎶 Introduction to Podcast
– The podcast discusses homeschooling and features Paul Bennett, the founder of Cicero Learning, a company that helps families hire private teachers for one-on-one education.
00:29 👨🏫 Paul Bennett’s Background
– Paul Bennett shares his entrepreneurial journey, including founding three different companies, his family’s 11-year sailing trip around the world, and how Cicero Learning was born out of their homeschooling experiences.
02:06 📚 One-on-One Learning Benefits
– Research on one-to-one instruction shows that students who learn one-on-one perform significantly better academically compared to traditional classroom settings.
– Studies have shown that one-on-one teaching can lead to students being two years ahead academically.
05:07 📝 Cicero Learning’s Personalized Curriculum
– Cicero Learning provides personalized and bespoke curricula for each student based on their individual needs and goals.
– The curriculum is designed to scaffold and level up the student’s education, whether they are homeschooling or looking for supplementary support in a traditional school setting.
07:56 🌍 Homeschooling Trends and Triggers
– Families are turning to homeschooling due to various triggers, including disruptions caused by the pandemic, neurodiverse children, bullying, and dissatisfaction with traditional schools.
– Some families choose homeschooling to align with a flexible and personalized lifestyle, enabling them to travel and learn simultaneously.
10:29 👩👦 Influencers and Audience
– Cicero Learning collaborates with influencers who have audiences interested in Worldschooling, homeschooling, or seeking educational alternatives.
– They work with influencers who are passionate about children’s development and education.
15:08 📣 How to Connect with Cicero Learning
– Interested influencers and parents can connect with Cicero Learning through their website at cicerolearning.com or via Afluencer
Transcription Insight: A Peek into the Conversation
Gain an insider’s perspective as we burrow into the transcription of our engaging conversation with Paul Bennett. Discover the strategies, anecdotes, and wisdom that have fueled Cicero Learning’ success, all captured in this in-depth transcription.
In Conversation with Paul Bennett, Founder of Cicero Learning:
Welcome to our Influencers podcast. We’ve got an episode for our mom influencers, parent influencers. It’s fellow parents like myself looking for ways to better educate our children. We’ve got Paul Bennett here with us. He’s the founder of Cicero, a learning company that helps families hire private teachers so that their children, students, our children can get more that one on one type education that we’re all looking for.
So we’ll talk about some influencer opportunities in a moment. First, we want to bring Paul on and welcome Paul. And I was wondering if you could start us off telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey before you started Cicero Learning Store.
Thanks, Brett. I’m happy to be here again. Sorry about the light. I am a serial entrepreneur of three different companies with my life and business partner Lanie, to travel businesses and then this education business which really came out of our life, living on the road or on the water. So I live on a sailboat and about 11 years ago my wife and I set off on a round the world journey with our three daughters who were between the ages of five and ten at the time, and we raised them on a sailboat.
We sailed all the way around the planet, and in those 11 years, we raised them through middle school, through high school. My two oldest daughters are also at college now, and we tried everything as homeschoolers or old schoolers. And then we tried hiring private teachers to design courses and then lead those courses 1 to 1 with our daughters.
And it was a complete life changing experience. And so Cicero was founded out of that.
Yeah. So firsthand knowledge then, and experience. Do you have either from your experience or I guess studies or information that you have in terms of how much faster do children learn when they’re coached? One on one versus being divided into groups or the classical classroom?
Yeah, there are two studies. One, a classical study that was done in the eighties by an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago named Benjamin Bloom, kind of famous. He study kids in a traditional classroom and then he took those kids out for 1 to 1 instruction. And he demonstrated that kids who get who learn 1 to 1 learn their educational results are two standard deviations above the norm.
So if that kid was getting a C in that classroom, they’re getting an A when they taught them to want some more recent work is at the Stanford University. This is very recent. Just this past year they were studying tutoring. So Turing’s a little bit different than what we do. You know, that’s where a kid is in normal school.
And then they meet with a tutor who’s normally like a college aged kid who’s earning a little extra on the side to get some support in the subjects they’re studying in school. And the results there were not quite as dramatic as what Blume observed when he was studying 1 to 1 teaching, where basically the classroom gets dissolved down to just one student, but still pretty significant.
Like the the instruction was about 2.1 times greater. So kids were like one year ahead when they’re getting tutoring support, whereas in our model, when they’re getting taught 1 to 1, they end up two years ahead, actually.
Oh, gotcha. Yeah. Okay. So it’s kind of a progression then in terms of how far you are ahead, where you’re doing the classroom plus tutoring, that’s some one on one, but you’re still in the class during the day versus. Yeah, all one on one. And I assume I don’t know if that’s addressed in the study, but maybe some of it is that and I kind of can relate to this from our own COVID days of trying to pile the school through Zoom for that period of time.
Right? Is that you only get a certain amount of time in which you can teach the student effectively. And then I ask, it’s almost like working out, I guess, where you’ve got that that sweet spot. And then there’s diminishing returns after a certain period of time. So you find that that if you can use sort of that fresh mind, the fresh brain and teach it and then use that one on one time, that that’s really the way to go versus, you know, having them sit in the classroom and kind of teacher maybe drones on and then they’re using up their brainpower their attention span that way.
Yeah. I mean, it really comes down to the like focus and attention that a teacher can can put into a student. So when that’s 1 to 1, there’s no place to hide. And it’s just a rapport between student and teacher. And, you know, in a couple of sessions that, that builds over months, it really builds over a year.
It’s like it’s incredible. So and the Stanford study really, really showed that even not with teachers, but with these tutors, you know, college kids, basically, if they kept the same college tutor coming in and working with the kids week in, week out, they built a rapport. And those tutoring sessions were more successful then than the others. So you can imagine now.
So take the college kid, get rid of them, bring in a teacher with 20 years of experience, take away the classroom and just have them teach 1 to 1 for a year. The results are staggering. I mean, we just have nothing like it in in our society today. So it’s it’s pretty game changing.
Yeah. Interesting. And then with your own experience in your own company now with Cicero, are we talking one on one instruction, same teacher all day going through the subjects or are you bringing in a new teacher, a new subject matter expert, I guess, if you will, for a different subject. The math is maybe going to one teacher where sciences might be another.
Yeah, I mean, once you get to sort of sixth grade and beyond. So middle school, high school teachers specialize. So, you know, a good a great math teacher is not necessarily a great English language arts teacher. And that’s certainly true once you get to be sort of nine, ten to 11th grade. So our model is an ala carte model.
You come in and we design a course for you. So if you want to do all school with us, you’re doing five courses and we’re designing each individual course or getting a specific teacher for that course. And then it’s personally built for the student interaction.
So I see you do the curriculum design as well. I’m curious about that because my wife actually just manned the farmer’s market booth for our our school this week in a small school and they had a lots of homeschool parents came out and asked about that question curriculum. Right. Do you provide curriculum? So that’s something that Cicero provides to these parents that are, you know, sort of thumbing the farmer’s market for these curriculums?
We do. But it’s a little bit surprising because when you say curriculum, a lot of times people mean that there’s something that’s highly structured and homeschool is usually think, oh, I buy this curriculum off the shelf and then I teach this curriculum. That’s not what we do. Every single course is bespoke and personalized to the students. So for example, a student will come in, let’s say they’re an eighth grader and they want to study mass.
And the first question we have of the parents is, okay, well, are you a home schooler who is heading to college and you want to level up and be prepared for algebra and then algebra two and or do you live in a community or a school district where you plan to go back to school? And we have to make sure that whatever we do so we figure out the landscape and then we meet the student to figure out what is your relationship to mass?
How is what’s your experience been? What does she know so far? And then we build that curriculum to her. So then scaffold and level her up. So it’s a it’s a very personalized curriculum. Every student’s curriculum is slightly different now. We do have standards internally that we adhere to, and we’re becoming an accredited educational institution. So you have to have those standards.
But our standards are really a framework for ensuring that each kid gets that specialized, personalized education geared to them.
Interesting. So you’re actually kind of custom building these plans for each student that comes on board with you. Yep.
Every student has their own curriculum.
Yeah. Wow. Very cool. Very cool. So how does that work from a mechanics standpoint then? If I’m a parent and I decide this, we’ve got the winter break coming up, maybe that’s the breaking point. Or next year, right? I decide, hey, or my wife and I decide, of course, hey, this is we’re going to we’re going to try this.
How does that work in terms of working with Cicero to build out the plan and execute it as well?
Yeah, I mean, the first thing is a conversation, figuring out where you are. I wish it was as neat bread as you just laid it out, but it never is, right? We have a lot of families coming in, you know, four weeks into school and they’re like, Oh, this isn’t working. And so we figure out where the student is and then where they want to get to.
At the end of the year, we have an idea of what good looks like, and we usually are ahead, right? So if you you know, if it was sort of May-June, you were thinking, hey, in September we want to go with Cicero for, you know, math and English language arts. We would meet your son or daughter, we’d meet you would figure out, you know, what your goals are as a family, where the student is.
And then we would build a course for the following year that would probably take them through well, through ninth grade and probably up to 10th grade level. Most of our our students, when they graduate in 12th grade, are like two or three years ahead. They’re doing college level work at that point.
That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s funny. I guess that makes sense from a marketing standpoint. We’ll get into the influencer side here from a campaign, then maybe those September, like you said, three weeks in four weeks in and you get a lot of the parents looking for something else, right? That’s the moment where it’s it’s good to be in front of them on social media.
Is that fair? Yeah. Who are can you give us a little more information on who you’re working with today from an influencer standpoint in terms of where do they follow, what you know, what do they do in their lives, What, you know, as we were talking, mom influenced theirs. Are they are they homeschool parents? And then how are you working with them currently?
Yeah. Sort of fit into into three categories. So we have a couple of influencers we work with who are world schoolers. So they are traveling all the time. They’re like digital nomads, but they have kids and so they’re traveling for education and the kids are moving all the time. And our model is beautiful. I am a world scholar we live on.
I was going to say, you okay on the boat? It would be and speak that language, right? Gotcha.
Exactly. So so we have a couple of influencers that we work with who are world schoolers, and they have audiences of people who are either our world schoolers or aspire to be world schoolers. Then we have a couple of influencers we work with who are home schoolers, so they’re in one location back home, but they know everything there is to know about the landscape of home schooling from, you know, legal restrictions to curriculum to ways of learning and supporting moms and dads.
In that journey. We work with a lot of homeschooling families and we talk to that audience a lot. And then sort of the third group that we talk to are in terms of customers, are people who are in traditional school, but it’s not working for them. And so some influencers that we work with who speak to that audience are mommy bloggers, right?
So they’re they’re interested in parenting issues. Education is a huge issue right now. Homeschooling is growing 51%, public enrollments dropping almost 5%. That a big Washington Post study on this. So great parenting bloggers are sort of focused on that issue and talking about it. And we play really well in that area.
Yeah, interesting. And are these longer term relationships that are there, there’s the potential for that with these.
Influencers if you find they’ve got the audience that is lined up with the potential Cicero clientele.
Yep. Yeah, we have an influencer right now who is working really well. She has a daughter and that daughter is doing some courses with us and we’re doing a little short movie about that experience.
That’s great. So one of the, I guess the core issues, well, I don’t want to keep you on all day here, but from the school, obviously, the public, even the private school, they kind of you know, they’re they’ve got constraints, shall we say. Right. So they can’t necessarily do the one on one. So what kind of what do you see now that is driving this?
Let me phrase it that way. This trend into the homeschool, is it the parent who says, gee, I would like to see a little more. I’d like to see my child challenged a bit more, or is it may maybe reactive? We’re falling behind, but we shouldn’t be. So now we’re going to look at this, right? I guess what do you see in terms of the trends and then also the triggers when people come in and consider, call you up and say, hey, Paul, tell me about Cicero.
It sort of falls into two camps. So there’s the people who are leaving traditional school and there are a lot of triggers for that. We have kids who were disrupted by the pandemic and just never got their mojo back. We have kids who are neurodiverse and they just a classroom doesn’t work for them because in a classroom the teacher is teaching to the mean and they’re not the mean, they’re not an average kid.
All seeing, you know, failing schools, all politics, right? There’s a whole lot of sort of triggers that are driving people away from school. And we are an amazing option for them. And sorry, another trigger is lifestyle, right? So we live in an age of remote everything and personalization of everything. So there’s a lot of parents who are like, wait, I want I don’t I don’t want to live in Minnesota or Florida where I’ve been living.
I want to travel, I want to live in Bali, Vietnam. I want to go and we enable that. The other group are people who are in traditional school, but it’s not working for them and they don’t want to make a radical change. So they want supplement to that school. I mean, usually it’s because the schools are just not capable of addressing their needs or kids want to kind of rocket ahead and they want to support them.
And up until now, there are options where tutoring will hire a tutor, get a college kid support, do some homework support. We offer something different. We offer an actual course with a teacher designed to that. So it’s a sort of a leveling up of that kind of support that parents are looking for.
Yeah, very cool. And then are these lessons I assume they’re delivered their meeting via Zoom is that. Yeah. Platform. Yeah. Okay.
Yep yep. Our students are all over the world. All time zones and so are our teachers. So it’s a global customer base, global supply base. And we do the matching.
Yeah. Excellent. Sounds good. Cool. We’ve got another brand product, Koala Go. They’re kind of a Zoom competitor for teaching. I do. I’ll send you the link so you can take a look at that one.
As well. That might be an interesting one for the tutors. Cool. So I’ll let you go on this one, Paul. We’ll get your work with you and we’ll get the collab posted to that. You know, as you said, this is I mean, it’s very focused what we’re looking for in terms of influencers here. It makes perfect sense in terms of home schooling and parenting, but can you just kind of talk to that again in terms of the types of influencers that you would like to reach out to you?
And then also, just as importantly, how can they reach out to you and learn more about this or learning?
Well, I think the best fit for us is somebody who’s passionate about learning and their kids. They’re really invested in kids development. They think about it. They’re this is like what their brand is about. And we solve a very specific problem and we do it in a very unique way. So I think the best influencers for us are ones who are like, Oh my God, this is amazing.
You know, they have that kind of reaction and then we can work with them in myriad different ways. How to Reach me. I mean, Cicero learned income via affluence or like I am, I’m gregarious and always looking to connect people.
Excellent. I appreciate that. We’ll get your links below the podcast here when we get it out so that everyone can just click and connect with Paul and and give you a call. Paul, thanks for the rundown. It’s very interesting. This from the studies on the one on one learning to the Cicero solution. Really interesting and very cool how you’re able to turn your lifestyle.
What I admire you to keep it going. A lot of us travel before kids and then we kind of shut it down, have to go on all time. So that is awesome. And then being able to turn a company into that is really great. So thanks again, Paul, Really appreciate you joining us and talking about Cicero.
Thanks a lot, Brett. Thanks for having me.
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Reflecting on a Journey of Innovation and Influence
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