Chapter 2Two Guys from Gainesville

We're on a mission from God.

—Jake and Elwood, The Blues Brothers1

For some reason, I accepted the meeting.

On October 23, 2013, my colleague Michael Lagocki and I sat across the table from two guys who owned a school furniture dealership in Gainesville, Florida. Oh, God. Another meeting. Another agenda. Another pitch. But, as they talked, I began wondering Who are these guys? My curiosity came fully alive.

John Crawford, in full beard, was warm and relaxed. At a first impression, he might remind you of a favorite high school science teacher or maybe your minister. But, as I increasingly learned over the coming months, he was also an immovable rock. Bill Latham was intense, fierce, and maybe dangerous. His eyes glowed. As these two fellows talked, I began to realize that they were not John and Bill—they were really Jake and Elwood, “The Blues Brothers,” on a mission from God.

Their mission? To transform education in America.

Seriously? Two furniture dealer guys from Gainesville?

They had read my book about the dismal state of workplace engagement and what some of the best companies in the world are doing about it.2

So they thought I was the guy to lead the charge into the dark valley of an obsolete and contaminated education system.

“But, guys, I know nothing about the education system.”

“Yes, but you have a process for tackling monster challenges. We think it will work with education.”

“I don't have a network to recruit from.”

“We do.”

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