52: How Axonify CEO Carol Leaman Is Bringing Employee Training and e-Learning into the 21st Century

Jun 02, 2016
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I’m increasingly finding as I record the episodes for this podcast that the key to success at anything is walking away from that easy route in life and walking the line where many fear to tread. A few episodes ago I spoke to Austin McChord at Datto and he spoke about walking away from a $100 million dollar deal from Microsoft. Today’s guest is a serial entrepreneur who once turned down a job at Google to follow her own path and carry on doing her own thing. It was a gamble, but it was a gamble that has paid off.

I’m of course talking about Carol Leaman at Axonify. She set her sights on transforming corporate learning and e-learning entirely. Now giants such as Wal-Mart and Toyota have already signed up to this 21st century learning cocktail that contains a healthy amount of brain science, adaptive learning, gamification and microlearning to bring e-learning and corporate learning into the 21st century.

If you have ever wanted evidence of how technology is bringing people together here it is right now as we beam live to an airport in Texas to Carol who is making the most of her time waiting for a flight by talking to us on today’s show.

Can you tell the listeners a little about yourself and your role at Axonify?

Thanks for having me. My name is Carol Leaman and I’m the CEO of Axonify, which is a skill app tech company in the Waterloo region. It’s my fourth company, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I sold the previous three quite successfully then founded Axonify about four years ago. It’s now a very successful but still growing tech company.

Carol Leaman

Carol Leaman

You were named very high up on the 18th annual W100 list of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs list. That’s got to feel pretty good.

It was quite a surprise. I didn’t expect to be nominated. I was number 26 out of 100 which was quite shocking to me but I was thrilled to be recognized. It’s a great thing so hopefully, I’m doing something right.

Can you explain what it is you guys do at Axonify?

Axonify is a knowledge program and a software in the cloud platform. We make sure that employees have exactly the right knowledge at the right moment in order to be able to do the right things on the job to get a specific business outcome that the employers looking for. We’re that end to end experience for the employee that delivers highly personalized knowledge that changes behavior to get the employee completely competent in their role in doing the right things for the company they work for.

Can you explain how you are using a combination of brain science, adaptive learning, gamification and micro learning to bring e-learning to the 21st century?

It is exactly that. We’ve got this really unique combination of things that create memory in the human brain very rapidly. We’ve selected three very core brain science concepts that we know now work extremely well to create memory retention as fast as humanly possible. What we do is map the content and the way we deliver it specifically to how the brain works to retain information. And we get the employees to want to do that every day by wrapping the experience in about twenty different game mechanics that drive very high levels of voluntary engagement with the platform.

I once read that you turned down a job at Google to embark on your fourth start-up instead. Can you tell me about that decision and if you have any regrets?

It was a tough decision. Google is a fantastic company, who wouldn’t want to work for them? It was a case of being further along in my career and knowing myself very well and what I love to do and what I’m good at. I had been introduced to this idea of Axonify and I had the opportunity to pursue this or go to Google and it was just a matter of knowing what I’m good at and what I love to do every single day. I don’t have a single regret. It is risky but I’m a risk taker. If you apply the right judgment and get the right people around you and you have the ability to raise capital and you have a really good idea you can make anything happen, I just fundamentally believe that.

What is next on the horizon for Axonify and yourself?

We’ve got a long way to go. We have so much in our product line right now that is super cool and interesting both to us but more importantly to our customers and our respective customers. They will do things like start to predict human behavior in ways that matter to those organizations and also to the individuals learning. We’re going to continue to push the envelope in terms of how we make people smarter and therefore the organizations smarter. I’m hugely excited about some of the things we’re going to be releasing in the next 12-18 months.

If someone wants more information what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Go to the website at www.axonify.com. There are lots of case studies and you can read about the dramatic change we’re having with our customers. There is a lot of contact info on the website.

Check Out Neil’s Column at INC. called Tomorrow’s Tech

Please also see check out the related article from my column: How This Startup Is Revolutionizing Employee Learning

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