Peter Ruppert Talks Education, Failure & Entrepreneurship

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Peter Ruppert Headshot
Photo courtesy of Peter Ruppert

MP recently caught up with Peter Ruppert, founder and CEO of Fusion Education Group. We had the opportunity to discuss education, learning models, failure, entrepreneurship, and his new book, Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life.

MP: Hi. Peter. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

PR: Of course. I’m happy to share any insights that I can.

Let’s jump right into it. What is Fusion Academy and how is it unique?

Fusion Academy is one-to-one personalized education guided by a fundamental belief in the immense potential within every person and the mission is to help each student flourish- emotionally, socially, and academically through positive, mentoring relationships and a personalized education experience.

You’ve opened over 120 schools, each of which focuses on providing individualized education. Why is individualized education important now more than ever?

Unfortunately, our education system was built in and for the industrial age and, by and large, has not changed much over the past 100 years. We still group kids in classes based on age. With our setup based on age, we force teachers to teach to the middle. Too often, kids are behind and never get the help they need to catch up, or, they are advanced, but unchallenged and become bored and slowly revert towards the mean. In virtually every other industry, specialization, and individualization have become more prevalent. From restaurants to shoes to clothes, organizations focus on the specific needs of a niche group of customers. Education has lots to learn from building schools based on the needs of the students versus forcing students to fit into a dated, uniform model.

What are a few statistics you can share about the value of one-to-one education?

Data gathered through our parent and student survey show the life-changing results of our unique one-to-one education model. 

93% of students feel listened to and treated with respect by their teachers.

97% of parents report that their child has positive relationships with their teachers.

92% of parents report their child is academically engaged.

86% of students say they have friendships with other students.

Have you struggled with education? If so, how?

I was fortunate for the most part and did pretty well in school. In middle school, my dad became upset with much of the late 70’s “nuevo” education fads that our local public school was implementing and felt the education quality was declining. He convinced me to leave my local school and transfer to a private, all boys, catholic school across town from where we lived.  While hesitant at first, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It really drove home in me the value of education for all.

The traditional education model is outdated. Millennials, Gen Z-ers, and Generation Alpha tend to focus on what’s important to them and their unique life paths. Individualized education enables people to learn in a way that is both meaningful and unique to them. Do you think people from these three generations would enjoy education more if they participated in individualized education programs?

I do believe they, like anyone, will benefit from individualized education programs. I still believe there are core content and standards that all students should learn, but how we get there should be customized to the individual needs of each student. When we individualize education, we can meet students where they are and then adjust how we teach and the speed at which we teach to ensure their success. Success breeds confidence and confidence is everything in education and in life.

As society begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and settle into its new state of ‘normal’ and people are, in some ways, forced to pursue new career paths, how can people develop a learning style that is meaningful to them? 

I am a believer that we all have our own learning style and the key to success is finding the best method to let us leverage our best ways to learn. Some of us learn better visually, some audibly, and others by doing. The key is finding a learning medium that gives us the greatest chance for success. Schools and organizations need to become more responsive to the variety of ways in which people learn. 

You’ve started six companies, some of which have failed. You’ve been vocal about each experience providing you with tremendous learning opportunities. What are three things you’ve learned along the way that helped you continue down your unique path?

First, almost everyone who has been successful has failed along the way. I used to believe that almost all successful people had a straight line ‘to the top.’ We put successful people on a pedestal of sorts and just assume they always had the right tools, smarts, and charisma. It was during periods of my failure when I would study other successful people that I realized how often failure was a key part of their journey. That provided tremendous encouragement for me as I tried to rebound from disappointment.

Second, you have to ‘win the battle in your head.’ Too often, when we experience a setback or two, we convince ourselves we cannot be successful, so we give up and we settle for something much smaller than we really want. I had to learn that we all have a positive voice and a negative voice in our heads. In order to overcome obstacles, I had to train my brain to not let the negative voice bring me down, but to foster the positive voice in my head to be heard more frequently.  Training our mind is vital when we are pursuing challenging dreams or goals.

Third, you have to have a big vision that energizes you and gets you excited to pursue your future. I realized that when you firmly believe in something and fully commit to achieving it, you are much more capable of weathering setbacks and failures along the way. Our commitment is even more enhanced when we write our visions down and share them with close advisors/supporters.

What are three pieces of advice you can share with people who are considering starting a business of their own?

First, write down the vision for your business and create a simple business plan. How will it be unique? How will your product win in the marketplace? How will you finance the business?

Second, find an experienced mentor or two to advise you on your business and help you make your decisions. Nothing is more valuable than advisors who have traveled the entrepreneurial path prior. I like to call them “champions” because they support you, they educate you, but they also should hold you accountable.

Third, ensure you have enough capital to finance the business. Too many businesses start with a lack of capital and they are unable to withstand the inevitable surprises or storms that happen in the early years of a new business.

Your book, Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life, covers the differentiating factors surrounding some people’s ability to achieve limitless success while others just can’t seem to figure it out. Please tell us a bit more about your book.

Why do some people achieve seemingly limitless success while others drift from day to day? How do some, despite extremely challenging circumstances, rise up to make a big impact or achieve great things, and others, given the benefit of significant talent or opportunity, end up settling for so much less? What makes the difference?

This book was written for those, young and old, who simply don’t want to settle for the status quo or for “good enough” and have dreams they want to chase, not give up on.

All net proceeds from purchasing Peter’s book will be donated to the Fusion Scholarship Foundation

Cover photo courtesy of Peter Ruppert.

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