Weerada Sucharitkul of FilmDoo: “Success doesn’t happen overnight”

Take time in choosing the right people to start your company with — preferably someone you have worked with before, not just a family member or someone whom you know in a social context, as when you start working together, you need to ensure that your values, working styles, priorities and commitment levels are shared and compatible. […]

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Take time in choosing the right people to start your company with — preferably someone you have worked with before, not just a family member or someone whom you know in a social context, as when you start working together, you need to ensure that your values, working styles, priorities and commitment levels are shared and compatible. You also need to have very open discussions in the beginning about having the same level of commitment and dedication to the business if you are not working equally on the business. In forming your team, you need to find people with complementary skillsets but shared values and vision. If you can, hold off officially registering your company until you have full visibility of the skills and team members required to build the company.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Weerada Sucharitkul, an international and multicultural entrepreneur, having lived and studied in 11 countries across 5 countries, including France, South Africa, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.

Prior to launching FilmDoo, Weerada was a Management Consultant working on global IT transformation projects, digital strategy and business development across the finance and retail industries, counting companies such as Argos, UBS and Standard Bank in her portfolio. Weerada went on to launch the award-winning film and video-based edutainment platform FilmDoo — which reflects and brings together her three greatest passions: films, language learning and technology.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

FilmDoo is an extension of who I am. As an entrepreneur, I think it’s important that your company reflects who you are and is an authentic representation of your voice. As a child of a Thai diplomat, I had the chance to grow up and live in many different places. Back then, it was very difficult to access films from a different country if they were not playing on national TV. Every time my father went on a business trip abroad, he would return back with boxes full of VHS tapes of films from the country he was visiting — so even when we were living in Australia at that time, I could regularly watch Chinese, Japanese, Thai and French language films. So from a very young age, I knew there was a world of amazing films outside of the mainstream films we normally hear about. I also came to appreciate the power of films in helping to create empathy and understanding for people who are different to us, and consequently, to help bridge language and cultural divides. It became my mission in life to help connect the world through film and to help underrepresented voices from around the world to get seen and heard.

I first came to the UK as a Thai Cambridge Foundation Scholarship at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. From there, I had the opportunity to work in the field of management and technology consultancy, which opened my eyes to the potential of technology to connect people around the world and to innovate an industry. I soon realized that I could use technology to build a more efficient film discovery and distribution platform that will help people discover and watch great films from around the world. Every year, 50,000 films are made around the world, many of which are festival award-winning films, and yet so few of them ever get distribution outside their home country. So this was a major industry-wide problem that the original movie-streaming platform FilmDoo.com was launched to help solve.

That was, however, just the start of the journey. We have since significantly expanded and today, FilmDoo is a game-based edutainment platform that leverages the power of film and video-based learning. Our new edtech platform can be visited at FilmDoo Academy (www.filmdoo.academy). With a strong existing international film catalogue, our edtech tool also makes it fun and easy to teach and learn languages through films, and we are now working with some of the world’s largest language learning institutions.

But despite the evolution of my company journey, FilmDoo is still true to who I am and the mission that I first set out with — helping underrepresented stories to get seen and heard. That is my ‘why’ I started this company, my ‘why’ I need to keep going when things get tough and my ‘why’ as a society, it’s important to continue to embrace diversity while bridging language and cultural divides.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

That would be the interesting discovery that led FilmDoo to expand into online education. In 2019, we started to notice that over 80% of our traffic was actually coming from language-related searches and keywords. By then, FilmDoo had one of the world’s largest international film catalogues online and had top ranking SEO for language search terms — so many people found us, for example, by searching, “I’m learning Japanese, where can I watch Japanese films?”

We subsequently ran a survey, in which 70% of our users said that the number one reason they are watching a film on FilmDoo is because they are learning a foreign language. The more we looked into this finding, the more we recognized a significant opportunity to expand into online learning by leveraging the power of film and video. We went on to develop a layer of innovative edtech that can now turn any film or video into an interactive lesson.

Looking into our own users’ behaviors and trends has led us to expand towards a much bigger and more exciting opportunity, with a goal that’s now more relevant than ever. As schools, universities and language schools have made the necessary shift online, the need to find solutions to help with raising and maintaining student engagement online has never been higher. In particular, for the average Gen Z student who now watches four hours a day of mobile videos, traditional teaching methods are struggling to keep them engaged. At the same time, the modern students now respond to film and video-based learning — which is at the heart of what we do at FilmDoo.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A funny story I want to share taught me to always be prepared for who you may meet on that day and to expect the unexpected. Growing up, my mother has always taught me that it’s important to look your professional best when you step out of the door — especially as the founder of your company, you are the face and reputation of your brand. My mother, who runs her own wedding cake business, always looks elegant and professional, even when she is just going out to the flower market! However, I have always been more casual and easygoing in my personal style, normally rushing out the door as quickly as I can to my meetings.

On that particular day, I rushed out of the door as usual, throwing on something in a few minutes. I was just meeting an old friend for lunch, who could I possibly meet?

Well, it turned out, I did meet someone. Standing there, in front of me at the line to the bar was Geena Davis! Geena had been there earlier in the day to give a talk at the BFI (British Film Institute) on the findings of the new research from her institution, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Her research was a powerful study which looked at the number of female roles and representation on screen and how they affect real-world women representation in the industry and workforce. I did have the opportunity to chat briefly with Geena — and all I kept thinking was, I could have come better prepared with my best professional image put forward, as that reflected on my company and the brand that I was building as a founder and CEO of FilmDoo.

That little experience taught me that as a founder, it is difficult to separate your personal and professional life — and you have a responsibility to your company, your team and shareholders to always be prepared to represent the company in the best light.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My greatest role model and mentor is Christoph Schmidt, managing director of Twowayys Consulting in Hamburg, Germany. Christoph was my former boss when I worked as a management consultant. Christoph was the first person I immediately thought of inviting to join our FilmDoo advisory board.

From the beginning, Christoph has always shown what a true leader should do. He is a person who is reliable and true to his words. He also doesn’t just tell you what to do; he will show you how to do it and take the time to explain why it should be done this way. There is nothing too low or beneath him that he will not do with his team. The great thing about Christoph is that he always has the wisdom to do the right thing, to put things into perspective, and to treat people with fairness.

Christoph has always been there for some of my most difficult life and business decisions. I would never have had the courage to launch or take FilmDoo to where it is today without Christoph.

I will always remember this particular story that I shared with Christoph. At that time, we were both working for the same consultancy and had to fly to Jersey, Channel Islands for a work trip to see the client. After a few hours of delay due to some engineering works, the plane eventually took off from London City Airport. A few hours later, we finally approached the island, but the plane was left circling above the ground for a long time as there was a heavy fog which prevented us from landing. Eventually the plane was running out of fuel and we had to turn back to London City Airport!

By the time we arrived back, it was very late and all the public transport had stopped running. I was panicking with where we could stay, as there were no hotels nearby, but Christoph suggested that we take a very long cab ride to London Gatwick Airport, which was some distance away, whereby we could stay at the hotel airport there before booking a different airline to take us back out the next morning. During the whole 24 hours of travel together, I was tired, hungry, sleepy, anxious and frustrated. I saw many other travelers around me angrily shouting at airport and airline staff. But during the whole ordeal, Christoph remained very calm and patient and never once appeared to be angry or upset with the people around me.

That day taught me a lot about his character and the kind of leader that I want to one day become. That day taught me that there will always be things beyond your control, but how you react, how you treat other people and the energy you present to others to help keep everyone calm and orderly is so much more important.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

From my own experience and what I see around me, there are three main areas which are still holding women back from founding companies.

The first is the social, cultural and emotional support to start their own company. In mainstream society and many cultures, where men are still seen as the “breadwinners” to the family, a man who goes on to start his own company can be seen as courageous and ambitious and is viewed with much admiration from friends and family for his leadership. However, a woman may often still face additional societal and cultural pressure that a male founder may not necessarily face. Female founders may have “well-intentioned” friends, family and spouses who tell them that they should be prioritizing other things, such as their families, maternal duties or starting a family. In some cases, there are even spouses or family members saying that they are selfish if they want to start their own business when their main duty is to look after the family and children.

I strongly believe that if you want to have your own company, it’s important to have a supportive and empathetic life partner — or don’t have one at all. If women are able to receive wider understanding and support from their families, partners and friends to start a business instead of being reprimanded, I believe that would take away much of the guilt and the sense of moral dilemma that many have felt when they feel the need to choose between their families and starting their own business. It is often the people closest to you that influence the way you think and have the most impact on the decisions you make, so first and foremost, having that social, cultural and emotional support will help more women take the risk to start their own business.

The second area is the lack of role models as female founders and entrepreneurs — both successful founders and founders who have tried and failed — it’s just as important to show that failures are the norm, that many people get over this and back up again on their feet, that it’s ok to fail as long as you’ve tried your best. The great thing is that we are now living in the best time to be a female founder. We have more female founder role models than ever before. There are now so many amazing, talented and inspirational female founders across all industries around the world. This new generation of female role models who challenge these traditional stereotypes will help decrease the societal and cultural pressure on the next generation of aspiring female founders.

Finally, the third area is providing more dedicated training to females from a young age to help them become more familiar with entrepreneurship, show them that entrepreneurship is a career option and to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset. Men often have more opportunities to be exposed to startups and technology than females through investment clubs, finance clubs, online coding communities and even through their parents who are signing them on to coding schools and boot camps. For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s father even hired a software developer to provide him private programming tutorial classes. Females are less likely to join these types of clubs or associations if their other friends are not already members and especially if they are not encouraged to do so by their families. So it’s important that the startup community actively brings this kind of training and exposure to female students across schools and universities from a young age. I particularly admire the work that Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO of Spanx, is doing in her collaboration with 3DE National to teach the entrepreneurial mindset and lifelong learning to thousands of school students through their Mindset Series training program. As a society, we should collectively be building more training and education programs for female students across all ages to help get them started on their founder journey!

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Last year, we finally saw “Parasite”, the South Korean film winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards. We have also seen how K-Pop music and K-Drama have now taken mainstream culture by storm. Reportedly, tickets to see the boy band BTS in June 2019 at the 90,000-seater Wembley Stadium in London sold out in just 90 minutes!

But the rise in Korean soft power happened as a result of decades of conscientious significant investment, partnerships and support by the South Korean government and key players. The South Korean government heavily supported and subsidized the creative and media sectors. This allowed the initial companies to grow into large players who can subsequently go on to further reinvest in new talent in the industry.

If we want to see change, change must come from the highest level. The private sector cannot do this alone. It must come from the government and be coordinated with all the large organizations and key players to ensure that the initiative is followed through.

Governments around the world will need to make it a priority and stay committed to the mission of supporting female entrepreneurship. More funding and initiatives for female founders need to be set up to allow the latter to access funding to launch and scale their businesses, especially when females still disproportionately receive less VC funding compared to their male counterparts. There should also be more state education programs, projects and competitions to expose more young women to entrepreneurship and to equip them with the knowledge, resources and mindset to launch their own business. Entrepreneurship should even become a compulsory module in high schools so that all students will have received initial training on the subject and have been introduced to the basics of starting their own company as a career option.

Governments should also work alongside the media to produce more content that showcases female founders. As Geena Davis has shown us, female representation on screen plays a key role in inspiring young women to take on that career path. In addition, the media has historically tended to downplay female entrepreneurs as a “lifestyle business” and have often glamorized the alpha-male tech founder who’s gone on to raise billions in VC funding. But as we have now seen, many businesses founded by women, including those which are not technology-based, have gone on to have much stronger profitability and sustainability in the long run, while some of the largest most well-funded companies founded by male founders have eventually floundered. These types of female founders should be celebrated for their work across all industries and it is the responsibility of the media to help show that. Then the world can see that entrepreneurship is just as diverse and beautiful as the founders who can go on to make that happen!

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should be founders because it means more women will be able to create their own destinies. In the film industry, we can see that middle-aged and older women start to receive less leading roles while many male actors continue to play the lead romantic interest into their older years — just think of Sean Connery who played the lead actor at almost 70 with a romantic interest played by Catherine Zeta-Jones with almost 40 years apart! What many inspiring female actors like Reese Witherspoon have done is they have gone on to launch their own production companies, which allowed them to produce strong female character-driven films and often cast themselves in the roles too! Launching your own company means that nobody can tell you what you can or cannot do — as you will just go and do it anyway!

Another reason for founding your own company is that you can continue to work as long as you like and still want to contribute value to your company and the world! I have seen firsthand how overnight, still abled and capable-bodied persons have been forced into retirement when they work for the government sectors or for private organizations. In many cases, many of these people do not yet want to retire, which is a shame considering the large amounts of knowledge and experience they possess and the immense value they can still contribute. We also see that in many cases, a person’s sense of worth becomes associated with their role or the work they have been doing, so some retirees who may find it difficult to change industry or upskill will quickly enter into depression and see their health deteriorate. However, if you are a founder of your own financially sustainable company, you can continue to work on your vision and mission as long as your health permits — and that’s a wonderful thing and purpose to strive for!

Finally, another reason for launching your own company is to work on your own terms, as you can have the flexibility to set your own working schedule and to work where you want to work. I have also seen many women start their own businesses after deciding they wanted to spend more time with their children, as it allows them to save time on the commute and to work to their own schedule. Especially if you come from an international multicultural family where you have family members in different parts of the world, launching your own company provides you with the opportunity to spend more time with your family, which is a great reason to do so.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?

The number one myth that I would like to dispel is that it’s “glamorous”, “sexy” and “easy” to be a founder. The media often inundates us with films, shows and news about beautiful, successful founders who seem to have got it all together. More importantly, another related myth is that all it takes to be a successful founder is to believe in yourself and to have the confidence — yes, you do need to believe in yourself, but you also need so much more! You also need capital or access to capital, the right team who are just as committed as you on the whole journey and in delivering your vision, the right network and contacts to support you, and most of all, the right timing and luck. It is why, for two founders working on the same or similar idea, only one may go on to succeed.

At the moment, there is a Korean drama called “Start-Up” on Netflix which is trending. It’s the story of a poor university drop-out girl who has had no business or technology experience but goes on to becomes a successful CEO of a leading AI technology company which produces self-driving cars — effectively, a competitor to Google! She is, of course, aided by her developer boyfriend who works with her and all their hard work comes to fruition and everything they work on eventually becomes a success! Whilst this is all very entertaining and a great story too, in reality, this is far from the life of a real tech founder. Investors don’t come rushing to you if you don’t bring the right experience and background and have not yet already demonstrated previous traction and progress. Not everything you work on will be a success and you will have to adapt and evolve (rapidly!) along the way. Importantly, not everyone you started the company with will still share your vision for the company and may no longer be part of the journey. It’s shows like these that can really do injustice to the hard work and sacrifices that it takes to be a founder — and in many ways, it may ill-prepare some people for the challenges that lay ahead as they start their entrepreneurial journeys.

Although I mentioned earlier that a reason for starting your own company is the flexibility in your work schedule and an improved work-life balance, I have to add a caveat. There can eventually be more flexibility and a good work-life balance, but you are unlikely to experience that in the early years or until your company is in a stable place. When your company is in a financially stronger position, you will be able to hire a bigger team to help you delegate and to also bring in specialized skills — but if you have not yet reached that point, you are likely to have to take on all the different roles and responsibilities from technology to product to fundraising to operations to finance to sales and marketing, working long hours until you can take your company to a more sustainable place. That is why it’s just as important to instill potential entrepreneurs with the right expectations from the outset, that success doesn’t happen overnight, that the journey might take them much longer than they expect, and help them understand the sacrifices they need to be prepared to make in order to make their dreams a reality.

A long time ago now, when I was about nine years old living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my father took us on a party on the yacht of his good friend, a very successful Chinese business tycoon. As the yacht set sail with the sunset behind us, I asked, “Uncle, how can I become as successful as you one day?” I will always remember what he told me, “Never be jealous of other people. You don’t know the sacrifices they have had to make to get where they are today.” I didn’t fully understand it then, but today, I finally do.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I now believe that there is only one trait that determines whether you will be a successful founder — commitment. I do believe that everyone has it in them to be a founder, but it’s a question of how much and for how long they can stay committed to driving that vision.

I am reminded of two quotes I came across. The first is, “You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got.”

The second is a quote by Joshua Phua, the founder of Paktor, a major Asian dating app that went on to raise 52 million dollars and was eventually acquired. He said, “Companies shut down not because of crises but only when the founders give up.” He went on to describe that even for a company that is struggling, you can always pivot if you don’t have product-market fit, or even if the company goes bankrupt, you can always restructure the company to pay off your debts so you don’t need to shut it down. Starting a company is not a 9–6 job nor is it a 100% job — it will take 300% and every waking hour you have is dedicated and committed to your company so that you don’t have time to do anything else until you reach sustainability.

To be a successful founder, you need to have grit. You need to be able to demonstrate resilience, flexibility and adaptability when you face challenges from within and outside the company, and most of all, within yourself. You have to be dedicated and have a singular focus to achieving your vision and commitment — your company comes first and above everything else, even above your own role, reputation and ego. If you simply view your startup as a way to build your profile, to exit, make “easy money” and retire, you will never succeed. Your every breath exists to bring that vision to life and to do whatever is best to ensure that the legacy lives on long after you are gone.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Starting a company is hard, very hard — especially a technology company. Be prepared for the years of hard work, the financial instability, the perseverance it will take, emotional struggles, the disappointment to the people you love and the sacrifices you will have to make.
  2. Take time in choosing the right people to start your company with — preferably someone you have worked with before, not just a family member or someone whom you know in a social context, as when you start working together, you need to ensure that your values, working styles, priorities and commitment levels are shared and compatible. You also need to have very open discussions in the beginning about having the same level of commitment and dedication to the business if you are not working equally on the business. In forming your team, you need to find people with complementary skillsets but shared values and vision. If you can, hold off officially registering your company until you have full visibility of the skills and team members required to build the company.
  3. If you are not a tech founder yourself and you want to build a technology company, you need to: 1) bring on board a tech cofounder who can help with the in-house development in the early days, as this will help you to move a lot faster internally and also save costs as your find you way towards commercialization; or 2) you need to make sure you have sufficient capital ahead of launch or will be revenue-generating within a short amount of time from the business to ensure you can afford an external tech partner or development team; or 3) you already have a solid revenue-generating business (e.g. consultancy or web development agency) that allows you to reinvest the earnings into technical development through an outsourced team.
  4. Make sure to always get independent legal advice before setting up a company, setting up a joint venture or signing any major legal agreements. You must be careful and have in place all the right legal agreements and provisions to ensure that the business minimizes future risks, including when you bring onboard new team members, shareholders or partners.
  5. There are a lot of “time wasters” out there — be very selective with your time, especially the people you get involved with or bring on board. There are a lot of people who want to be seen to give advice and always has an opinion or comment on how you can run your company better (based on some latest innovation thinking, theory or strategy), but are not prepared to put in the hard work to help you deliver and execute. There certainly are a lot of people with “great ideas”, but how many will help you fund the idea or work alongside you in the playing field to turn that into a reality? Many people want to be associated with a startup or the startup ecosystem, as it’s the “cool, sexy” thing. Be selective. Time is a precious commodity and you need every energy and resource to be dedicated to scaling your business.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I am very proud that FilmDoo.com has been able to help so many filmmakers from around the world to get their voices seen and heard. In doing so, we have also helped to find new monetization channels for their films, including distributing at no additional cost to other major global platforms we work with, such as Amazon, Sony-owned Littlstar and Huawei, widening their films’ commercialization potential.

Every year, tens of thousands of films are made around the world by independent filmmakers. To get their stories seen on screen, many filmmakers have sacrificed years (sometimes decades!) of their lives and life savings to make a film that few people will ever get to see. Not only is this a grossly inefficient distribution system, it is also a tragedy that these films cannot reach an audience somewhere in the world that would love to see that film. It is important that independent films from around the world representing different cultures and languages continue to be made in order to celebrate diversity and to give a forum to important issues (social, cultural, political, environmental and human rights-related).

Ironically, as we see the launch of more global streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max, the problem of distribution is increasing for independent filmmakers, as these platforms prefer to commission their own content based on their data and requirements. Although it’s still an admirable feat for the industry that these major platforms are creating jobs for creative talents around the world, especially when they expand internationally, the increased lack of independent content being picked up now means that overall, we are losing out on the diversity and independent voices that deserve to get seen and celebrated.

If you’re a filmmaker or know of a filmmaker who would love to show their film on FilmDoo, get in touch with us today at SUBMIT YOUR FILM: https://www.filmdoo.com/welcome-upload

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The next revolution is the Edutainment Revolution. Viewers now expect to learn something, while learners expect to be entertained.

Did you know, for example, that during the height of the lockdown, the average person spent at least six hours a day staring in front of their screen? Now imagine if all that time watching content online, you could also be learning a new language at the same time.

I believe wholeheartedly that access to education is the only thing that can improve the livelihoods of the highest number of people in the same amount of time. The famous saying from Lao Tzu goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The movement that I am working towards is one in which children, students and adult learners around the world will be able to access free and affordable effective and engaging film and video-based learning content anytime and anywhere. Teachers and schools can harness the power of any online film or video to create interactive lessons which their students can enjoy while improving their learning outcomes. As more teachers create lessons, a library of courses for K-12 subjects and language learning can be made available for free for students from around the world to access — in particular, students from emerging countries.

As a result of the rise in remote working following the pandemic, young people around the world now have the ability to also apply for international job opportunities and this levels up the playing field. Having strong language skills, especially English language skills can help open doors to improved career opportunities around the world. Now imagine we had a wealth of free and affordable language learning film and video-based lessons in a library that anyone in the world can access to improve their livelihoods.

At the moment, there is already educational video content made available online. However, what we currently don’t have in wide distribution is the ability for teachers, parents and even the students themselves to easily turn film and video content into new learning material, which can be tailored for different students based on their needs and abilities. Two-sided democratization is achieved when anyone can also help create learning content that can easily be shared and made available to people around the world.

This is the revolution that I am excited to be part of and to be actively driving. Where we’re going next is the creation of an edutainment marketplace where filmmakers and content creators can make their underutilized films available to the community to be used as teaching and learning content — at the same time, helping the filmmakers to enjoy a new income stream. Educators, subject experts and people who can speak different languages will also be able to help create film- and video-based courses, which can then be sold to third parties or made available for free. In particular, for people who may have recently lost their employment, a new opportunity to earn income from their homes is a great thing!

I am also aware that the pandemic has hit women harder than men. Just in the US, there was a net loss of 140,000 jobs in December 2020 — all of which were held by women. Creating lessons and learning content from film and video is an enjoyable and great way for many of these women to earn some income while also helping people around the world to learn a rich and diverse variety of subjects.

That is the revolution that I would like to one day help happen — a future where accessing great education is just as engaging, enjoyable and easy as watching a film.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I have long admired Ashton Kutcher for his positivity and breadth of activities across film, technology and advocacy. I would very much love for the opportunity to ask him in person if he would be interested in helping to shape the future of learning by democratizing education for people around the world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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