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Could toys be the new textbooks?

As our world becomes increasingly digitized and robots take away job positions, complex problem-solvers will thrive. Robots cannot be empathetic or build strong relationships.

That’s why this week’s guest believes in the importance of play in schools and businesses as a way to flex one's creative muscles. In her eyes, the future of work is human and she is showcasing this through the use of toys.

Meet Ilana Ben-Ari, toy designer turned entrepreneur and creator of Twenty One Toys.

Twenty One Toys is a training and development toy company that uses toys to teach the skills that textbooks can't, like empathy and failure.

Whether you are six or a CEO, Illana’s empathy and failure toys act as metaphors for life, bringing play back into our daily routines.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

How are you embracing the idea of play and flexing your creative genius muscles in YOUR classroom?

Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast


This week’s guest is well on his way to becoming a future prime minister.

While the rest of us were catching up on Netflix originals, keeping up with the latest TikTok dances, and learning to bake sourdough bread, he spent his quarantine developing an app.

Meet Marco Soares, 15-year-old developer and creator of MathCrack, an all-in-one smart calculator that can solve math problems a usual calculator can't solve.

MathCrack is customizable, interactive, and a hit amongst his friends at school.

As we move into an increasingly digital era, Marco believes that every student should have the opportunity to learn the basics of programming to connect their passions to our digital world.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

MathCrack is available for download via IOS and Android today! Give it a download and provide Marco with your thoughts and feedback on his newest project.


Public speaking is something we all have to do in some capacity. It’s a skill that requires practice, but the more you do it, the better you get.

Whether you’re presenting to your class, a hiring team, or an investor, the ability to drive emotion and create interest, allowing audience members to connect and be intrigued by what you are saying, will push your pitch to the next level

This week's guest suggests that you start with a story.

Meet Peter Hopwood, a man who does not like pineapple on pizza and spends his time working as a public speaking coach. He helps people tell better stories, create impact, drive emotion, and become more confident in their ability to tell a story.

As humans, we are interested in other humans. By starting with a story, those listening are more likely to relate to you or your problem and ultimately listen to your solution or whatever it is that you have to share.

Public speaking can be anxiety-inducing. It’s important to remember:

  1. A lot of what goes on in our head is not true
  2. This perceived judgment does not have to affect you

Public speaking is a skill. The more you do it, the more you’ll begin to understand your own behavior, build self-awareness, and get better at dealing with that anxiety.

Above all, bring it back to the why.

Why you're sharing this story and the message you want to send. Why you’re connected to your story and why others should care. From there, the passion will shine through.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

What is one way you took time to learn OUTSIDE of the classroom, and what you were able to realize about yourself or the world around you?

Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast


This week’s guest teaches us to lead our lives by being curious.

Meet Zoe Share - a former kindergarten teacher turned CEO of Schmooz Media, a Toronto marketing agency.

Schmooz Media believes in the importance of social impact. They work with a variety of companies to add value to their communities and drive growth in numbers all while demonstrating purpose.

Zoe Shares (pun intended) with us that, through letting herself explore her own curiosity and not put herself in a box (something that many of us feel the need to do), she was able to lead with her curiosity. It’s so important to believe in what you’re good at but it's equally important to show up in places that you may struggle in, to explore new thoughts, and ultimately grow.

Whether you're more of a creative or an analytical type, marketing offers a variety of paths you can take.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

How are you embracing curiosity in YOUR classroom?

Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast


Black people account for 3.5% of the Canadian population and only 2.5% of the tech workforce.

This week’s guest works to inspire black youth to pursue a technology-related field and overcome this systematic imbalance.

Meet Bernie Uche, cloud computing expert and co-creator of BlackMINT, a non-profit organization providing a pipeline for black youth who show an interest in the technology sector.

BlackMINT aims to build lifelong relationships through 1-1 mentorship. They provide incredible tools and resources to educate black youth about areas of the technology industry. The organization hopes to inspire black youth to seek employment in the tech space whether that be through working for large companies or building their own startups.

Bernie inspires us to expand our scope, meet a diverse group, and try new things. After all, you don’t learn by staying in your own bubble, you learn through new experiences.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

Tell us about a recent education or work-related experience you had that expanded YOUR scope.

Continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast


If you’re nearing the end of your high school days and are finding yourself feeling anxious or stressed about life after high school, you’re not alone.

But the truth is, you don't need to have an answer.

90% of 17-year-olds change ideas or pathways by the time they're 25.

The world is changing and so are the jobs and industries that surround us. There is no need to feel pressure to rush into a particular field of work. It’s okay to not know what you want.

This week’s guest urges us to ease the pressure.

Meet Jay Gosselin, Founder of Mentor U and Discover Year.

Mentor U is a career and leadership development company with a focus on building transferable skills in students and professionals. They have an open-access, free digital learning platform, which offers tools catered towards self-awareness, communication, and job search.

Through working for a university and liaising at college fairs, Jay was baffled by how stressed students were about post-high school life. This led him to create Discover Year, a purposeful gap year program focused on key competencies, life planning, decision-making, cultural awareness, and so much more.

In this episode, we chat about topics including:

This week, we challenge you to try something new, then reflect on and share your experience.

Share your learning with us on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast

A billboard with a photo of Jay and the quote "take action."


Ever wondered what it would be like to get a taste of your dream job before you enter the field?

In Ontario, Canada, all high school students must complete 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to reach out to a field you are passionate about and test the waters. It's all about discovery, exploration, and building confidence.

If you’re struggling to find these opportunities, this week’s guest has put together the perfect solution.

Meet Janelle Hinds, entrepreneur, renowned public speaker, and equity, diversity, and inclusion consultant. Janelle is also the founder of Helping Hands, a youth-led organization that focuses on helping young people navigate the system and figure out where to volunteer to develop new skills and discover new fields.

If you’re unsure what field may be right for you, Helping Hands seeks to help people realize their passions through conversation. These experiences will open doors for you and put you in positions that push you to grow, expand your bubble, and figure out what it is you need to improve on.

In this episode, we chat about topics like:

How are you practicing active listening in YOUR classroom?

Let us know by continuing the conversation on Twitter and using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast.

A billboard with a photo of Janelle and the quote "You're enough."


What gets you excited in the morning?

Think about the one thing you love to learn about or do, in or out of the classroom. If nothing in particular comes to mind, that's okay! It will become clear with time and experience.

This weeks guest teaches us that no matter what path you find yourself on, there is always a way take what you're doing and what you care about, and turn it into an opportunity to drive your purpose further.

Deciding what path to follow after high school can often feel like this massive cliff you have to jump off of. You may be thinking that once you pick, there's no going back. But the reality is, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Meet AJ Tibando - if you asked 16 year old AJ where she would be years down the line, she would have had no idea she would be running her own organization.

Now, she is the voice behind Pallete inc - helping people who want to switch career paths get the skills they need to land that new job.  She’s caring, compassionate and best of all she is incredibly passionate about taking care of people and the world around us.

Whatever you're passionate about, whether it be communication, technology or politics,  there are hundreds of jobs in any space that will likely be a good fit for you depending on what you're interested in and want to be doing.

The world is always changing, and today’s high schooler students are more prepared than any generation prior to navigating these changes and talk themselves through times of uncertainty. This willingness to figure it out and focus on what you can control is sure to get you anywhere you want to be in life.

In this episode we chat about topics including:

Remember that just because your first job is not your dream job, does not mean it can't become a dream job, or has to be the be all and end all.

It’s important to look at the position you're in and play the long game, realizing that it is merely a stepping stone driving you  towards making an impact through your passions and interests.

What is one change that you’ve experienced recently IN or OUT of the classroom  and how did you find a way to focus on what you can control to navigate this change? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast


Writing is a skill that will benefit you in any job scenario.

However, how we are taught to write an essay throughout high school and post-secondary education vastly differs from the writing you may find yourself doing out in the real world.

If you enjoy writing but aren't quite sure how to make a career out of it, that's okay!

This week’s guest is bound to open your eyes to the world of content marketing.

Meet Jimmy Daly - a former English major who, like many listeners, wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do after finishing his post-secondary education. After beginning his career as a substitute teacher, he soon realized that the teaching world wasn't for him (or so he thought), so he took a job at a consumer startup and eventually began taking new opportunities like writing newsletters and working on copy for the website.

Flash forward 12 years later - he has spent 10 years working in content marketing with nearly 100 companies and is now the founder and educator behind Superpath- a career resource catered towards content marketers.

Companies across all industries rely on content work like blogs, videos, and podcasts to reach potential clients and customers. It requires the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and capture their attention in a short amount of time.

If you have an interest in marketing or are a natural-born storyteller, content marketing might just be the path for you.

Jimmy is funny, personable, and is sure to give you a great sense of the world of content marketing and how you can get started in the field.

What styles of writing do you prefer most and how are you practicing these skills within YOUR classroom? Let us know on Twitter and continue the conversation using the hashtag #CompetenciesPodcast.



Failure is really the key to success.

In this episode of Competencies without a Classroom podcast, we interview Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture and Director of Partner Development in advertising at Microsoft. Listen and learn:

Missed the last episode? Listen to the interview with filmmaker Rob Comeau and have students reflect.

Reflection Prompts for Your Students

Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Austin's advice can be applied to them.

    1. Consider what Austin says about writing out the worst-case scenario of something that scares him. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?
    2. Think about something related to your future that you're scared to do/try. Write down the worst-case outcome of doing this thing. What is it? Is it worth not doing/trying that thing?
    3. Consider what Austin says about selling versus summarizing on one's resume. Why do you think this is an important way to present oneself when applying for a job? How could you change your resume to sell versus summarize?
    4. Austin shares that perseverance is an important skill when working towards a job (or anything) you want. Share a time that you perservered. What did you learn from this experience?

Bite-Sized Video Clips

If you're running short on time, or just want to play a snippet for your class or colleagues, the bite-sized videos below are perfect for sharing.

Learn More About Austin

I’m Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture, and I help people land jobs without applying online.

I am the luckiest person on the planet.

But that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, I was making close to nothing at a job I hated in a small Southern town. I was putting 1,500 miles on my car a week, could barely afford to eat Ramen for breakfast, and was swimming in over $10,000 of credit card debt.

I knew I was worth more than that, and every night I dreamed of the life I wanted. A job I loved that paid me what I was worth, an apartment in New York City, exotic trips overseas. Then, one day, I decided to make those dreams my reality.

Over the next year, I spent my waking hours improving my skill set and applying to any and every job I could find. Soon, I was interviewing with companies like Google, Uber, and Twitter.

The past two years, and over 50 interviews, allowed me to perfect the process of finding a job – not just any job – but THE job.

Now I want to show you how to do the same.

Other Resources Shared in This Episode

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