Teach 2 Dumb Dudes

Luke Hohmann: Improving Collaboration

May 09, 2022 Joe Bento Season 2 Episode 4
Teach 2 Dumb Dudes
Luke Hohmann: Improving Collaboration
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we're speaking with Luke Hohmann.  Luke is an executive and a software engineer that has dedicated the majority of his career to participatory budgeting. As founder of the First Root organization, Luke and his team created software for schools to let it's students decide what to spend resources on by engaging them in budgets, purchasing, and management. These are great lessons for children to prepare them for the real world. Have a listen to see what the students ended up buying. The answer will astonish you in some cases. Luke also implements his participatory budgeting style into small Government, letting it's cities and towns resident's control a portion of the budget. It's the ultimate democratic tool!
Check out Luke's company at http://www.firstroot.co

Bento:

what's up everybody. Welcome to another episode of teach to dumb dudes today, we're talking to Luke Hohmann, he's the CEO of first Ru, which is a participatory budgeting app. It's a global movement endorsed by the UN community is actually decide how to invest real money. So we're going to talk to Luke about his journey through that as a company sold before this. And he's also on the board of another charitable organization. So we're going to talk to Luke and find out what that's all about

Bobby:

he's the co-founder of the, every voice foundation, a nonprofit that helps citizens, governments, and nonprofit organizations collaboratively solve problems through the use of participatory budgeting. It's a mouthful, participant Tory budgeting, participatory

Bento:

budgeting. I'm going to fuck that

Bobby:

up a lot tonight. I need to, we should call it PB. That's what they call it. Everybody calls a PV. Cause you know, cause it's a fucking mouthful, right?

Luke:

Hey Luke, how's it going? Good. Let me get out of the grabbed my bed. I call it football soccer. So I'm already down for, down for

Bento:

that's. All right. I don't, I don't I don't deduct points. People that call it soccer. It's okay.

Bobby:

No, I don't understand why people mind like the English invented that term as well.

Bento:

Right? I know.

Bobby:

But thanks for coming on Luke. So nice to meet you. We appreciate your time. We've you know, we've, we've done some, some research here into, into, you know, some of your past and particularly your work with Barcelona participatory budgeting. The first time we met, I was just saying, thank God. We can just call a PB because participatory budgeting is a mouthful. But again, thank you so much for coming on and hopefully educating us about this process and, you know, kind of your work with it throughout time here. So we always ask all of our guests and don't worry, none of this is on video or anything. We always ask. We always ask all of our guests on here, just to start off with an introduction about who you are, how you kinda got into this field and kind of those, those beginning experiences.

Luke:

That sounds great. A little bit of the story always helps the origin story. Yeah. Well, I'm honored that you did a little research and thank you for having me as a guest. I appreciate it. We're here to make the world a little better. I actually am one of the good guys. And so every podcast, every opportunity to share a little bit, you just don't know how those seeds grow once they're planted.

Bento:

Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. Bobby and I have have a little soft spot for charities on our podcast. We absolutely love having them on and listen about what gets donated to, and it's just such a good cause.

Luke:

Yeah. And I should let you know that this will be kind of fun to talk about. Joel is that we're actually not a charity. And if that comes across, it's an important thing that often happens that people miss classify us as a charity, we're a benefit corporation. So we kind of blend the idea of being a for-profit entity like Patagonia, but also being an entity that's trying to do good. Like Patagonia is the better known example. So there are benefit corporation. So which has its strengths and weaknesses, or has its advantages and disadvantages. And then part of where we got to here as part of that origin story. Hm.

Bento:

So where did, where does that story begin? When, when did you get involved with.

Luke:

That's a good question. I and of course, what people are really saying when they say that's a good question is they're stalling for time to figure out how to answer it.

Bobby:

So

Luke:

where to begin. Yeah, I think it's simple. I, my training was as a software developer, but software development, despite its characterizations is a very collaborative activity. And over the course of my career, I moved from being an individual contributor to a manager to a higher level leader. And in that process, I was always wanting to try and improve teamwork and how, how collaboration occurs. So I invested a bunch of time, both at university and in the, in my corporate work or when I had a job, helping people collaborate better, that manifested itself as a few books that I wrote. But one of the techniques that I was known for was from a book I wrote called innovation games. Creating breakthrough products through collaborative play. And one of the games in that book was a game called Baya feature, where you would bring customers together and you'd give them virtual money that represented your development budget, and they would collaboratively decide how to buy what features they wanted as a form of Margaret research. That's great. Right. But what's cool about when you put something out there is how people adapt it to further needs. Well, people started using it for portfolio management where they would say here it is in like a marketing team. You know, we have $80 million of initiatives or $80 million of ideas, but we only have $60 million in our budget. So how do you make that decision? So we might have six people at a table giving them $10 million each of virtual money, and they'd be analyzing how to collaborate to spend that money. And then you replicate those tables. Through a software platform that I built. So now we've got virtual tables with virtual money. And if you kind of think like a spreadsheet, a little bit of a spreadsheet model, but with a lot more controls and a lot more interaction, it's like a collaborative spreadsheet. So Joe says, Hey, this initiative costs $15 million, but I really believe in it. I'll put $8 million and I'm going to convince Rob and Luke to join me. So you take this thing that's normally competitive and you make it collaborative right now that company grew nicely and it's scaled. And that company was called and we evolve that technique into a. Important part of a software development method called safe, which is the scaled agile framework, which is the world's leading software development method for large scale systems. Scrum is the Legion development method for it. Yeah. Yeah. So safe is agile. Scrum is agile too. Of course. And scrum is the leading method for small scale teams, right? Two or three teams. Ah, you're probably doing scrum stand-ups and things like that. But if you're doing really big systems development, you're probably doing safe. And when, I mean really big systems development, I mean, like. The, the anti-fraud system at PayPal or the you know, a missile control system for a Raytheon or the control system of a Boeing plane like Boeing now. And so my last company was acquired by scaled agile and we integrated participatory budgeting as a technique into the scale of agile framework with a software platform. Here's the backstory. As I was building I started doing participatory budgeting for cities and schools, and that process happened by accident. I was sitting on a plane ride and the woman next to me a decade ago was Kim. Walesh the head of economic development of the city of San Jose. She's telling me about how the city is having these problems, prioritizing its budget and how they're having problems, engaging citizens and out of the blue, like kind of stupidly, but nonetheless, pat out of the blue, I just said, look, I do that for corporations. I'll do that for city and I'll do it for. And she was like, whoa. Yeah. Wow. Right. Really? And I'm like, yeah, some businesses is what we do. But part of it also wasn't, I mean, there's filling there's philanthropy, but there's also, how do we represent who we are in the world? And it was, you know, not to be denied. It was also marketing, right? To be able to say that we helped, you know, make decisions on hundreds of millions of dollars of budget. Cause a lot of my clients were very publicity shy. And so this gave me a chance to showcase this incredible technique. So you roll the clock forward, we're doing it in the city. And then out of the blue one night at dinner, I said to my family, Hey, the kid, you know, kids are in middle school. Let's, let's try it in middle school. Everyone was like, what? And I'm like, let's give you the kids. Some money, support them through a process of deciding how to spend it called participatory, budgeting and see what they do. And it was a massive success. Loved it, they in the first year that we did it they had a $500, very modest budget. They ended up buying an LK water bottle refilling station. So they created hundreds of raw ideas. They, they refined them, they mowed it on it.

Bento:

Wow. It's a cool little social experiment experiment too, to see how these kids will, will react to this and then spend them on what they choose or they choose wisely or will they get a donkey

Bobby:

in school? We would have wanted a cigarette machine.

Luke:

Let's see. Well, depending on what school you and I, we've got the football club in the back. I'm going to yellow card. You man, carding Joe on the podcast, everyone. So Joe, there's a couple of things that you want to learn about money, right? That's really important. And we teach in our curriculum, right? A root cause of unhappiness and humans is comparative financial behavior, right? Because someone's always richer than you can get wrapped up into that. You get into the keeping up with the Joneses. But the other thing is it's really hard. It's really easy to judge other people's spending. And it's really hard to, to accept that whatever context they're in is probably okay. Right. So what would you say are the kids going to make a good choice? We're already putting a judgment on them, right. Without meaning to, but we do interesting. And, and so, you know, people sometimes say to me, well, what if the kids buy a party? And I'm like, well, you could use one apparently with your attitude.

Bobby:

Yeah. Maybe that's what they need.

Bento:

And that will be okay too, though, if they pick the party and there's nothing about that either. That's what

Luke:

they need. Right. It's what they need and when they're trusted, but the kids aren't stupid. Right. So. Going back to that very first program we did, they had, when I said several hundred, they had like 490 ideas. Some of them were what I would have come up with. Cause I'm, you know, that kind of kid, like, you know, some kids are like, let's put a duck pond in or let's go. Yeah. But what happens is the kids themselves start to weed out the bad ideas, come on, that's stupid. We can't afford a baseball field. Right. But as they start to develop these ideas, they start to realize a couple of things. The money is real and that's a skepticism. Even among the kids. You're like, are you really going to give us money? Like yeah. As the money really under our control. Yeah. After they start to believe that they do start to think about those really important, useful, good things. Which is really amazing. And then they vote and then to the extent that they can, they're integrated in the implementation. We want them to be involved in the implementation. So now rolling the clock forward. I am doing this philanthropically in cities and doing this philanthropically in schools. I've got my company, it's funding, my philanthropic habit, and things are great. I even started a nonprofit and that nonprofit is called every voice engaged foundation and we want to get people involved donations. Right? Absolutely. But the problem is people who donate to nonprofits tend to have. Relatively small donations and they're relatively crisis focused. Right. And that's okay. Right. But we have a lot of natural disasters, a lot of crisises that shed people away. So if you want to do social change or something really big non-profits are not really a good vehicle because you cannot, you, you eventually devolve into figuring out how to create a sustained economic model. And capitalism is the only mechanism we have for sustaining economic growth and development. So you have to, you have a nonprofit that takes on capitalistic properties, right? So you're kind of a nonprofit, but not really a by the way, that's no ding on Goodwill. Right? Right. Donate money to Goodwill. They recycle it. They put it back in the community. It reduces waste. It gives jobs, it generates income, but it still has capitalistic structure behind it. So when I started firstfruits, I sold, I sold continue. It was a good outcome. Participatory budgeting is now integrated into safe. I complete my integration tasks and now my question is, what do I do next? Right? And I was really drawn into PB and schools because I found that it did more than create this great outcome for kids. It was having these breakthroughs and helping them understand financial literacy, design thinking civic engagement or kids no longer trust government. It's way worse than people realize. The latest research has one in four millennials. Think democracy is a bad way to run a.

Bobby:

I mean, you asked my 13 year old about the government, or even just our local government, just from what he hears from all the various sources and me and other friends, parents, and things like that. And he has no trust in any level of government, because all he does is hear people complain about it all day.

Bento:

Well, as I say, I mean, they're getting it from the parents because you know, like my generation gen X and then, you know, the boomers before me, those are the ones that are really. Anti-government at this point and you know, it was kids and grandkids here at all times. So yeah, of course, you're going to mimic what your family is saying, you know, I guess through the government

Luke:

and that's, so that's an important insight, Joe, because the difference between reading and writing and financial literacy in government, right? Like if I put two to two things against each other's algebra doesn't care, what your family opinions of algebra, chemistry, dumb here, grammar don't care right now, financial literacy. Well, that's based on a lot of family practices. Are you a little more conservative? Are you a little bit more risk tolerant for civics? Are you the kind of family that gets involved in politics? Are you a little bit more con again, conservative, a little bit more liberal, different meaning of conservative between your financial conservative and socially conservative, but all of those things get fed into you, right? As, as a kid growing up, of course, The research shows that the first financial knowledge starts to develop around age two with what's called a purchase request. You take your kid to the store and they ask, can I have this? And, and then by the, around the age of four, we're doing, what's called a assisted transaction, right? You're you know, as a parent, you're overwhelmed and you want to get your kid involved in, you know, to stop bugging you. So you hand them some money and you say, take the bag of apples to the vendor and give them the five. And, and that's actually an assisted transaction. You've actually taught them. The first steps of how commerce works. It's a transaction. And so, but, but transactions are different and, and civics are different than algebra because it's got three components. It's got a S a knowledge, like what is the structure of our government? It's got skill, the ability to compare to bills or, or to laws. And it's got disposition. How do I believe people should be traded fairly? What is my sense of fairness? What is my sense of equity? What is my sense of involvement or my sense of engagement? And therefore you cannot I, I have a phrase. Everyone can steal it. You can't read a bike, you can ride a bike and then, you know what it feels like you can't read it. If you want to know what a bike feels like, you've got to get on a bike and ride it.

Bento:

Yeah. Right. And you could even read about someone that wrote about riding a bike. You would still never had the actual sensation of riding a bike.

Luke:

Yeah. You wouldn't have balance in your body. Right. You can read about someone with the wind vine through your hair, but you wouldn't have that. And so what we're trying to do Robin, and, and was it your son? 13? Yep. Yeah. So that's a perfect age for our program. We, we, we work in all grade levels, but we really kick in and I think our program works best at about third grade up. But man in middle school, they're really starting to form those opinions and those things are, or early high school. So he's eighth or ninth grade at 13, probably

Bobby:

no seventh, seventh grade. And yeah, I mean, it definitely is developing at this age. You know, we give him chore money and he chooses to save it versus spend it. And the way he makes those decisions is, is very calculated.

Luke:

Yeah. And, but now imagine that he had that opportunity to, to take the next step. So if you think about your own development as a human, right, you get your own house in order, you figure out how I want to spend money, then you start to doing it. Then you start doing it in, in, in in a collective. And that's one of my deep philosophies is when you read the term personal finance, it's already wrong because every material, financial decision is never made personally, it's always made in collaboration with another human. You wouldn't

Bobby:

don't you don't you believe though. So, so, you know, in today's world, for instance, our society is very focused on itself. And so when I think about like personal finance and I think about, you know, guys who have, you know, an immense amount of money in the stock market and things like that, a lot of those decisions I have to believe are influenced heavily by. Money and their personal influence gain or loss.

Luke:

I would say that that's true, but I don't base my life on how ultra rich people live. Cause I'm not ultra rich.

Bobby:

I agree. And this is where I, like, I wish that people viewed it in the way you just described. Unfortunately though, I don't think it's the way it is in the world today. That's the,

Luke:

that's the issue, right? The issue is you think about my own life. You don't have that commercial of, you know, the dude comes home or the wife comes home and there's that Lexus in the driveway. Go on it, man. I can tell you for sure. I'd be on the couch for a week. If I drove home with a brand new Lexus and I didn't even ask my wife about it.

Bobby:

Hey honey,

Bento:

car payments for the next six years. Yeah.

Luke:

And she'd be like, check out what you're sleeping for the next call it the couch. Right. But I mean, there's in, in reality for most people in all walks of your life, personal and professional, every material financial decision is made in collaboration with another human. You if your marketing team works as a team to decide how to spend the marketing budget, you talk with your financial advisor when you're thinking about, well, I've got my 401k, I just took a new job. Should I? I never had a 401k. What is a 401k? Should I do that? You are talking with someone about that. And so that's what we're also trying to teach in this program is this notion of the most natural thing in human existence is to determine the opinion of others because we're tribal creatures in the opinion of others matter. I mean, Joe, if you and I went out to dinner, the first thing I'd say is, Hey, Joe, what do you want to eat tonight? Because I'm interested. I mean, I'm a grown man I'll eat anything. And then Joe says, I'll do that. I don't care. I'm a goat Nellie, then Rob and say, Rob, what do you care? And if all three of us say, we don't know, well, then one of us will eventually say, well, how about, you know, these are Indian or Mexican or whatever, or Joe could say, man, I'm so glad you asked. There's this Italian restaurant that I've never been to. I love to go it, think it'd be fun. I'd be like, Hey, sign me up. But the opinion of Joel matter to me, and it's the most natural thing

Bobby:

that happened. And that, that urge for collaboration is real. Yeah.

Bento:

Right. So how many, how many schools are using.

Luke:

Well, we're a young startup. So out of there's roughly a hundred thousand schools in America and we've got a whopping about 30 So we've got about 30 schools, we've got about 5,000 kids and the platform and various stages. We've put almost a hundred thousand dollars in the hands of kids through platform contributions through the schools themselves will sometimes have a little extra money and they'll put it in the hands of. Sponsors who make contributions. So it's really exciting.

Bento:

Yeah. What are some of the kids, what are some of the things that kids have bought besides the waterfall? I'm curious.

Luke:

Well, it ranges from and of course these are my opinions and I, and I'm not judging, but I'm giving my opinion, right? There's a difference in opinion and a judgment, but they range from fun to profound. And I'll give you that on the fun side. He go elementary school, the kids bought a tree, some soccer nets, some fidget toys Purdue Polytechnic a high school, a charter high school and Purdue in Indianapolis. They got a place for reading books at the library. Fremont high school got more outdoor seating and a glass case for posting flyers. Hillsdale high school in San Mateo, California. Their classroom bought a coffee cart and coffee supplies as to bootstrap their own coffee business to selling coffee,

Bento:

they go invest it in

Luke:

future money, invest it in future money. And then here's the profound the academy of American studies in Queens, New York a low-income school or a school in a low-income part of America. They bought more feminine care hygiene products for the girls bathroom.

Bento:

And that was one of the things I was thinking about while you were telling this story is that, you know, the diversity of schools that you probably have some in, you know, wealthier neighborhoods and some in poor neighborhoods. And it was always curious to think what the kids would buy in that situation. You know, cause like, think about growing up. If you grow up with a wealthy family, You know, you're, you're out, your outlook on money is very different than someone that grew up in a family was always struggling every week.

Luke:

Yeah. And, and, and I can even see it in my own kids. And you can start to see these really profound differences about how wealth is, how, how, like, what are the fundamental precursors to wealth creation? Because one of the, one of the mistakes that people make is they assume that poor people are a quote unquote, bad with money. And in many ways they're better with money than rich people. Meaning they're better at cash flow management, wealth

Bobby:

creation. They can make that they can make that money stretch for a long time when they need to

Luke:

that's. Right. And and, and I remember when I was younger and I was living on my own, I had this notebook about every penny and you'd get your paycheck. And after you net it out, you'd get like, oh, I got, you know, $68 and you'd be like, you would never, like, I remember. I remember never in my early twenties, I never had a full tank of gas. How much gas do I need until my next paycheck? And you would never fill up a tank.

Bento:

Well, you pull up to the pump, you get out, you're there for 30 seconds and you're done, you know, three buyers getting

Bobby:

back in 5,000 at a time. Yeah. Click it, click

Bento:

in it.

Luke:

My budget is 4 50, 4

Bobby:

60.

Luke:

You remember those days? Right? It's so hilarious, but you do. And that discipline is built and, and, but kids like me, and maybe you guys who grew up that way, like we had jobs, but our jobs were consumed by our life expenses. I'm thankful that I work in tech. You know, you, you get a decent salary and tech. And so my kids have jobs. Right. I all my kids, you know, they've always had jobs as teenagers and stuff, but the differences is they just bank their money because their expenses are handled by my wife and I. And so when you start to realize, you're like, oh, wait a minute. Right off the bat. My kids have an advantage that other kids may not because they're both working. One is banking. Right when they turn 15 and 16 in that first job, that's a huge headstart,

Bobby:

right? Absolutely. Especially, yeah. Especially when the end versus having, you know, being that age and contributing to your household. Yeah, that's

Luke:

right. And we're going to try and fix that. We've got some plans. So our core platform right now does participatory budgeting in schools. We're extending that platform to include a component in which students will be able to sell digital art NFTs through our platform. And we're going to use that as a fundraising mechanism to benefit the school. But we're also going to write the. Royalties in the contract. So the kid themselves gets paid. So imagine your kid who may not be able to sell cookies door to door, because you're not in the right neighborhood, you in this current day and age, even with your school, you're going to have access to a network. You're going to have access to a computer. You can use our platform to create and sell art through NFTs, open that up to a huge audience and put money in your pocket while you're also helping the school. So we've got a really powerful extension to our business model, under development, where by changing and disrupting the school fundraising market, we open up the opportunity base and we create more money for kids in schools.

Bobby:

That's terrific. I mean, that's just what a cool idea too, to give them an opportunity like bento was saying earlier, you know, it's the, the income for future money, you know, the, the ability to create something additional for themselves and for the community is terrific. I did want to jump over though, because I did want to talk about the government side of it. And just briefly, you know, kind of what your experiences and, and how it has changed civic engagement. I think it's, it's always one of the interesting thing. Every time we hear the presidential elections come around or any of the big centers is how low voter turnout is as well. I'm interested to see what kind of feedback you've gotten from communities with a program like.

Luke:

Yeah, that's a really powerful concept because it speaks to the heart of efficacy, meaning, Hey dude, I mean, you're, you're asking me in a very nice way. Do, does this matter, is this, is this gonna make a difference? Is this going to work? Is this, what is what's the data say? Well, the data, the preliminary data suggests that kids who are involved in a participatory budgeting program do register to vote and do get involved with their communities and do vote. That research is from Arizona state university. And it, it boils down, I think, into a couple of really simple concepts. One is it's real money, right? And you're seeing participatory budgeting done in other parts of the world, not just in, in schools. You're seeing it done in cities like New York city Boston, Chicago the Phoenix school district here in California. In Vallejo, California, San Jose, California. I've done PB programs in Missoula, Montana. So it's a real money thing. Now, I also want to point out that I have this pitchforks in politics kind of, you know, you know, pitchforks and pauses. I'm not that guy, right? I'm not here to say like, Ooh, our government's horrible overthrow it. That's not true. And of course not, what I can say is I've been doing participatory budgeting in cities for more than a decade. And, and this is what I have come to believe based on, you know, years of doing this and thousands of conversations with, with ordinary people like us, we actually want our politicians to represent our interests in matters where we do not have the ability to make a good decision, because we're not the people who are trained to make that decision. And what I mean by that is, I don't know when the payment needs to be repaid. I don't know what, I don't know how to make water

Bobby:

clean. We can't be, we can't be in charge of making bad decisions for ourselves. That's

Luke:

right, right. That's a really, I've never said it that way. I've never heard it that way, but yeah, that's true. Like, I don't want to be the person making the decision on the, the water purification.

Bobby:

That's not me.

Luke:

Right. And I want to, I want to, in a sense higher. Cause when you think about what you're doing, when you're voting, you're hiring someone to do a job for you. Right? So I want them to do the job for us, but on the, on the, on the flip side, when we're talking about where lights are needed on the street, where. We're new bike lanes are needed, what what's safe and not safe in our neighborhood. Well, I know that way better than any politician I lived there. So I think of it as a balance. And you're starting to see this more enlightened world where a portion of budgets are being put into the direct Kansas citizens. And I think that that's a very positive form of democratic engagement. It's not perfect, but it's a positive form of, of, of

Bobby:

engagement. I certainly attracted to the idea of. You know, getting a say in a sense of where my town's budget goes, you know? So like I live in Scituate, Rhode Island and every quarter or every six months, they send us in the mail, like the, the actual budget that they're going to use for the city. And I think it's really great because they explain it, but it's always after the fact, right. That budget is now passed and in place. So even if you disagreed with something, well, now it's too late. And same thing with Rhode Island as a whole, we kind of have as a joke, you know, the citizens of Rhode Island that once it goes into the general. The general fund

Bento:

taxes and everything, even the medical marijuana talk of legalizing it like a certain percentage of that goes into the general fund. And they just like this, just this pool of money that the governor is supposed to be able to use when he or she sees fit. And it's really just, just sits there and just collects it

Bobby:

goes on allocated. Yeah, exactly. And so, and so something like that, like I would love for Islanders to get their hands on that silly jail in general fund to be able to put a portion of

Bento:

it. Yeah,

Luke:

absolutely. And that's, that's us, you're seeing a lot of that and, and America likes to think we're ahead in everything, but of course we're not concepts right. Of participatory budgeting. It started in in the government sector. PV started in parts of Allegro Brazil around 19 90, 19 89. And it's expanded. And in like Scotland is one of the leading countries, they formerly allocate 1% of the national budget to participatory

Bobby:

budgeting down to local levels. Or how does that work? Yeah, that's terrific.

Bento:

Matter 1% of our budget, it would be

Luke:

right. It's actually enough to really do interesting things and important things. And, and, and the research on participatory budgeting in cities. So, and it's also just as taking a step back, it's endorsed by the United nations as, as a actual beneficial innovation in democracy, precisely because if you look at the results of PB, it tends to be the stuff that makes life in a city, more livable. Right. If you start to think about the layers of a city, where you go, the deep layers, your pipes and power in your infrastructure, all the way up to the surface level, which is kind of like the public art or the paintings and the things like that. Like what needs maintenance cities that implement some form of participatory budgeting are way more liberal, a livable and more enjoyable because we know where the garbage is. Right. We know where the bad actors are. W w and by putting that scale in place, we create really positive outcomes.

Bobby:

And so, yeah. And, and to go back to the point to, like, those are the things that we are capable of being in control of as

Luke:

citizens. Yeah. Yeah. But guess what we are.

Bobby:

Yeah, good luck. Good luck in somebody to relieve relinquish that power around here, huh?

Luke:

Yeah. Right. Is that, is that there's real fear. There's real power struggles and stuff like that. And now I don't know how this grand experiment is going to turn out. I, I I do think that we're way too early in to, to make any pronouncements. But my, my personal experience at my, you know, my last company that did this with large corporations, I mean, my customers were like Cisco and BMW and Salesforce. E-bay like these big companies who have these huge hundred multimillion dollar. And in some cases, multi-billion dollar projects. I can tell you for a fact that every single time we would go on a company, the result of the decision was better precisely because people had a structured. Debate around how to spend the money.

Bobby:

Right. Right. It's a structured collaboration. Yeah, it is very funny. It is very funny to think about it that way in a corporate sense as well. I know bento and I we've been in many small companies and in a lot of cases, those smaller companies, right. Decisions are made by a singular individual. And the rest of the people around the room are like, oh my God, what are we doing?

Bento:

And even on the corporate lower, right? Like I've worked for big companies like CVS and Verizon and, you know, yes, more people are making the decisions, but it's a bunch of people at the top that always making them there. It's a bunch of people that don't do the day-to-day work that the average person does. So they don't truly know what's going on. And that's, what's cool about this. PB is that everybody kind of gets a say, so even the people that work on the ground and you know, the guys that are putting in the pipes, you know, they're like, Hey, this is what's really going on. And we should focus our, our, our money in our, on our investment here, you know? So it gives, and even if it doesn't come to fruition, at least they get a voice in the process.

Luke:

Yeah. And I, I, in my corporate world, I'll dip over there for a second. We would see things, you know, Joe, as you said we S we saw, we did this one project where we, and I often structure it this way. I have the leaders, the higher ups do the collaboration amongst themselves, because if you mix the leaders with, with the lower level people, there's power dynamics, where is my boss going to pick? So we separate them. We do them over here, and then we do a bunch of the

Bobby:

less, the less we put the

Luke:

slaves over here. Yeah. The piano. But I remember one program we did, there was, there was a couple of options and all of the leaders wanted a and all of the subordinates wanted B for an innovation program. And in this case, The we looked at the data, we looked at the chat logs. We looked at the transcripts, we looked at what was going on. And the leader said, oh, we didn't see all the stuff that they saw. We're going to do what they said. Right? There's documented evidence because the leaders had more data. It's sometimes leaders make decisions. Not because they're trying to be a jerk, but because no one's given them better data. And I always would frame this to the leaders at the large companies that I work with is, look, I'm not disempowering you, I'm empowering. You. I'm giving you better data right now on the flip side, we did a project and I can name this company at Verisign the security company and the leaders really wanted one project. And we had dozens of, of these forums and it was never supported. So I brought the data back to the leaders and I said, so, you know, no one supports the thing that you think is important, right? And they were really upset. They were like, this is really important. I never said that leaders don't lead. I said, I was going to give you better data. What you know is that no one supports the program. Maybe you haven't educated them. Maybe you haven't told them why it's important. So I said, let's do this. Let's put together an education program. Let's explain why you believe this is important. And then let's just ask people what they think. We put that together and we shared it and sure enough, everyone. Well, had you told us all of that. Well, of course

we

Bobby:

would have support it. Wasn't transparent enough.

Luke:

You weren't transparent enough. You weren't educational. They're like, oh, why doesn't everyone know it? Well, I don't know they're doing the real work and they're not, they don't have the same data that you have. They don't

Bobby:

have the same level. They don't get that level.

Luke:

Right. So what we find is this program and that's where it gets into that surprising you know, the kids do things that are surprising. Like they buy a a water bottle refilling station instead of a waterfall. Well, what adult is going to drink water at the school fountain, except maybe once a year. Right? But these kids are like, Hey, we want to be green. We want to the

Bobby:

refillable

Luke:

bottles, we want to have refillable bottles. You can't do it. Like give me the LK thing. And so, so we see that. All the time. One school bought more Spanish books for their library. Cause they knew that the no, the Spanish speaking kids just didn't have the same access to books. Well,

Bento:

that's incredible.

Bobby:

That's the thing too. I feel like the younger generations too. I don't know what it is, but whenever I hear things like, like from my son comes home from school and tells me a story about whatever happened to, like, I always feel like there's so much more I don't know, caring or aware like all those kind of biases, biases and stereotypes just don't seem to exist as much with them. And so it is interesting to hear, like they're choosing to buy more Spanish books because they know that that population is possibly underrepresented in the library. Like, I just feel like the younger generations, if we leave more of those decisions in their hand, that they're going to make better decisions than we might. I

Bento:

always, I always joke around my wife cause we didn't have kids. And I always say, boy, I hope one of these millennials or gen Z kids become president and they're nice. And they take care of us when we get old, you know, not these, not these cutthroat policies that we're so used to.

Luke:

Yeah, it is. It is pretty interesting. A lot of people approach money management from a scarcity mindset. I don't have enough of everything I want. And I always think of it as an abundance mindset, right. Cubans have an abundance of great ideas. We have an abundance of an imagination. And so we're always creating this amazing abundance. And it's the hard part is we make it hard to pick because there's literally so many good things like going to the supermarket, all that's a heart, but you know what, you know, what cheese you want. I don't know. Walk up to the cheese thing. And you're like,

Bento:

yeah, 47

Bobby:

different kinds of chatter. It's like trying to pick a Netflix show. It's impossible. You're overwhelmed with the choices.

Luke:

Right, right. So you will, you do what everyone does. You're like, Hey Joe, what should I watch on Netflix?

Bobby:

Somebody telling me somebody makes a decision for me.

Luke:

Right. Did we get, we do get that overwhelming, this decision fatigue.

Bento:

And I like, like, like you mentioned, like how people care about each other's opinions, you know, like nothing is more truer than movies and TV shows. Like you're always asking your friends and family opinion about like, Hey, what movie you watch?

Bobby:

Is it good? Yeah, that's right. And we've learned, and we've learned not to trust bentos opinion at this point.

Bento:

We just like different things, you know,

Bobby:

terrific. Terrific. So Luke, at the at the end of every episode, you know, as we're coming to the end here, we always want to give you the opportunity for your shameless plugs. So you know, anything that you want to drop, whether it's your books or your organizations, or where people can get in touch with you. We always like to put that out there so our audience can get involved in anything that we're talking.

Luke:

Thank you very much. Well, I am, I've actually quite easy to find. I make myself quite easy to find. So if you type in lieu Coleman in the browser, you'll, you'll find me, but I'm on LinkedIn. My email is Luke dot Homan at first, route.co. The website is first route.co and we're, we're, we're trying to make ourselves pretty well known. And we're, we're okay with building at a steady, slow rate. In my last book, we started with one thing and then we just kept building and growing and building and growing. And we're at 30 schools. Now we'll be at more schools at the end of the year and the next full year. And, and we're starting to see the viral kicking in. I had my first sales call today with someone who said a friend of mine told me about you. No

Bobby:

beautiful,

Bento:

nicely.

Luke:

Right. They said they, all I heard was they just said it was really fun. So let's get that right. And, you know, fun means different things. We don't mean fun, like joke. We mean fun, like doing things that we find engaging, doing things that we find meaningful. That's how we

Bobby:

do. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That there's a level of satisfaction and accomplishment there and

Bento:

it's fun for the kids. So if it's fun for the kids and they're having fun, obviously it's gonna go to the teachers as well, and they're going to have fun with it. And yeah, my

Luke:

favorite store, I'll close with this one maybe, but my favorite story is while there's a couple, right, and the really younger grade levels, it's a little tricky to get them to log in and use our software like the first and second graders. So what we often do on the really young grade levels is the teacher will share the items that the kids can pick our vote on. And then the kids pick, well, then we couple that with worksheets because now the teacher will say, okay, You tell me how many kids have to vote for an item for it to be the winner. And you have to tell me as a fraction. So now the first and second graders who might be learning fractions for the first time can actually really make the fraction meaningful because winning

Bobby:

thing,

Luke:

right? We see that with budget. Okay. You're you have $80. How many basketballs can you get? Well, that's not some stupid word problem. It's something that's interesting to the kids cause they want to get the basketballs. But my favorite one was these kids really wanted to test the school. So they decided that they wanted a jelly bean pool, a pool filled with jelly beans. And the teacher just was just exactly like you Rob. They just. Okay, because you're like, what? Hey, it's your money? figure it out. You have to figure out what it costs. I am not going to say. And then, and then, and then the other girl or whatever, and it's usually like, oh, I guess you don't really want to do it. You don't want to jelly bean. Cool. Then got like a little bit mad. And then, so they go buy a jelly bean packet for one ounce and they figure out how much it is and they figure out how many ounces they need for the pool. And the teacher's just sitting there smiling, cause they're doing

Bobby:

the lesson plan.

Luke:

But think about what you had to do. You had to convert weight into volume. You had to figure out the complex three-dimensional space of how many ounces fit in this and how many of these and then how much that costs. And then the teacher was like, oh, I guess you calculated everything retail. Well, don't you think that if you're buying that many jelly beans, you can cut a deal directly. And maybe you could afford it. And the kids are on the phone. if I buy, you

Bento:

know, how much best price

Luke:

and the teachers just pulling in those kids now, like a cheap hand of ACEs, but it was awesome.

Bobby:

That is awesome. And especially when you

Bento:

think this smarter than the, than the

Bobby:

teachers, that's about God. Yeah. But that's awesome that they're able to incorporate these things right into the lesson plan, you know, and that's one of the things too that you know, I know when I went to high school, financial literacy was certainly not a not something that was taught. And so I, I do like that more and more of these programs are beginning to populate and, you know, get there for, for the kids who need it. So especially, especially those in the lower you know, service communities where you know, maybe they don't have the best examples at home.

Luke:

That's right. Exactly.

Bobby:

Yeah. Terrific. Terrific.

Luke:

I think you're bad. Yes. I don't know when we're just going to stop recording, but I just think your podcast name is hilarious and I love, I love it. It's just, you know, it's just, it's super fun outside of Buffalo man. So I get it.

Bobby:

Trust me. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, that's awesome. Thank you for saying that. Yeah. I mean, it's definitely something that you know, it's funny, we had it fell on a few weeks ago and he was like, well, you know, you know, you guys obviously seem like you're college educated and we're like, no, no. Like we were actually really just too dumb dudes, like, but it is funny because you know, for us, you know, we just want to hear about the different experiences and different things that are out there because there's just so much happening these days and you can't get it all in, in a lifetime. So we're, we're happy to be able to share all these different things with an audience.

Luke:

Yeah. So I, I just think it's, I think it's fun. I, I think that people. Where I live. I do live in the middle of the Silicon valley right long, like Buffalo that's for darn sure. You, you see so much weirdness and so much. And my wife's from outside Chicago Midwest, and you just try and be normal. And you know, my kids are like, dad, you make us drive a Corola from 2003. my daughter. She's like, dad, you know, she's now my 16 year old. She's now got her license and driving dad, the car is so ugly. I'm like, yeah, I know it. You know, the paint's

Bento:

peeling off the, every kid's first car should be a beater. Absolutely.

Luke:

Oh. She's like, dad, I want to repaint it. Like that's cool. You got you. Go ahead. And she goes, what does that mean? I'm like, well, you can,

Bento:

get a gallon of paint.

Luke:

She get a couple of gallons from, you know, the home again. It's not how it works with the company. She's like, okay, I'll research a dad. She comes back two days later. I'm like, how how's it going? He's like, I'm not going to paint the car. And you knew it.

Bento:

My

Luke:

dad, it's going to cost $5,000 to paint the car more than it's worth. Great. Tell

us

Bento:

you just

Bobby:

get a Corolla, get a Corolla and the color she wants. Yeah. Right.

Bento:

I

Luke:

want to get yourself a car. No, dad. This is the car has no radio. Oh, really

Bobby:

beautiful. They,

Bento:

they, they, they

Luke:

all bought little speakers and they clip

Bento:

it on a speaker

Luke:

with their iPhone ads, a radio.

Bobby:

That's

Bento:

my favorite car had no radio. I drive it off a cliff.

Luke:

No, no, no. You had to have, you'd get your kids ringtone, plugin.

Bento:

I mean, just like you ever seen MacGruber he walks around the radio. Anything with Alpine

Luke:

or Kensington? Oh

Bobby:

yeah. Yeah. That's all. Yeah. Kendall Subaru.

Luke:

That's nice. So, anyway guys, thanks for, thanks for that. And this is, this is part of what I do. This is I'm trying to reach every possible audience every possible way

Bento:

I can, which I do the same

thing.

Bobby:

Absolutely. Absolutely happy to help. Well, thanks again, Luke. We appreciate you so much for making the time for us. We know you're a busy, busy man but thank you for coming on and teaching two dumb dudes about this. I want to try and say it one more time. Participatory budget. Thanks. Take care.

Bento:

The story budgeting, participatory, budgeting, participatory, budgeting, participatory,

Bobby:

Dory budgeting mirror.