Charles’ story (Amplifire’s founder)

In 2001, I had sold Digital Stock, the world’s first royalty free image business, to Bill Gates. Pretty neat, but being a restless sort, I was seeking the next opportunity. I found it in a conversation with a friend who told me about an idea that we now call confidence-based learning. So that year I launched nForma, an application that would teach employees in areas of knowledge where they were confident yet wrong, a phenomenon that later would be called confidently held misinformation (CHM). That year, the horror of 9/11 shattered my dreams, as no one wanted to even think about doing anything new following that tragedy.  I wound down Nforma, putting it on the shelf for a better day.

[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] This idea of confidently held misinformation seemed important to me because I remembered with anxiety the misinformation that so many of my former employees operated with, and which I seemed powerless to fix. We held training sessions during the day, pizza parties after work, and off-site events on weekends, all in an effort to eradicate misinformation about our products and services. And all to no avail. I was finding out the hard way that misinformation sticks in the brain.

So when I heard about confidence-based learning, an idea from Professor Jim Bruno at UCLA, I realized that this was the exact concept that would have solved our companies’ misinformation problem, if only I had known about it. And that’s when I made the decision to form a company around the concept—nForma, that would later become Amplifire.

In the years since, we’ve continually added useful ideas to the platform, many of them based on research from the labs of our extraordinary Science Advisory Board, who I am proud to call friends. In addition to solving the problem of confidently held misinformation, we now help organizations with uncertainty, struggle to learn, and disengagement within the workforce. We offer analytics that help instructors and managers predict and intervene before knowledge risks in the brain unfold as poor performance and human error in the real world. Our dashboard shows executives that risks are diminishing as mastery takes hold across their organization.

I’ve become convinced that organizations who use the learning tools that are now being developed and deployed will build students and workforces that are more informed, more effective, more satisfied, and far more likely to reach their full potential. That’s why we call Amplifire “the results-based learning platform.“


Bob’s story (Amplifire’s CEO)

In elementary school I suffered from severe dyslexia and had been held back a few grades. As you can imagine, studying is hard when the words in a book don’t make sense. My future was looking pretty bleak when one of my teachers decided to take me under his wing for one-on-one tutoring. We began a year’s worth of flash card drills and compensatory brain training. Incredibly, not only did I catch up under his tutelage, I became an A student, graduating high school with a 4.0 GPA and attending college on a presidential scholarship . With that lucky break, I supported myself by establishing and running a series of tutoring centers in college for struggling students.

[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] I have from that early age been fascinated with how we acquire new knowledge with our minds. As a serial entrepreneur of 25 years and 5 companies, when I came across Amplifire, I immediately recognized that this was the opportunity of a lifetime to help people and organizations leverage the enormous breakthroughs in the brain science of human learning to radically improve performance.

Managers and instructors can’t see gaps and misinformation hidden in the neurons of their people even though the competency of their people is their key asset. So they use powerpoint, video, and classroom lecture to the tune of hundreds of billions annually in the hope that it will make a difference. That kind of passive learning would surely not have gotten me to college, or perhaps even to high school. Until now, managers and instructors have had no tool to understand how information is held in the mind, nor an effective tool to guide it. Amplifire is that tool, and it’s why I’m so excited about the future of learning.

In most organizations, the human component is the most integral and expensive part of the operation. Organizations can now attain something that was simply not possible just a few years ago. They can become true learning organizations that use sophisticated software to radically improve the knowledge of their workers and the confidence with which they wield it.

Today, you would never travel far without a GPS. Five years from now, I believe that every organization who hopes to compete and succeed will have no choice but to take advantage of learning platforms like Amplifire as a strategic imperative.