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Better Kids, Better World

Better Kids, Better World

By Blaze App
Justin Lyons, founder of Blaze, engages an eclectic group of parents, teachers, kids, entrepreneurs & education professionals to reflect on how we can better serve our kids in the modern world. Our kids are struggling to discover and sustain meaning, identity and purpose. Fundamental life skills are lacking. Schools are struggling to balance jam packed curriculums with social and emotional development. Parents are more mentally and emotionally distracted than ever. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?
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M&M's Charity Podcast
In this special episode, the debut of a brand new podcast is shared.  The M&M Charity Podcast, hosted by Miles & Marley, highlights 1 new charity each episode.   In this episode, M&M discuss Wine to Water, a global organization that empowers communities with sustainable clean water technology & education.   Towards the end of each episode, M&M try to convince 1 adult to donate $100 to the charity they are discussing.   In this episode, they try to persuade their Dad to donate $100. Enjoy!
October 16, 2020
COVID in the 80s, a Home Schooler's Perspective & Ping Ping Paddle Discipline in the 70's
Justin welcome his oldest brother, Jason Lyons, to the podcast.   Jason is a proud father of 3 girls, as well as a graduate of the University of Notre Dame & Northwestern's Kellogg MBA program. For the past several years, Jason and his wife have chosen to home school and/or alternative school their children.  Jason discusses why he chose this learning path and how it still has a long way to go to be within mainstream reach.  While reflecting on getting in trouble as kids,  Jason shares the memory of how how one method of childhood discipline ended when the ping pong paddle broke on his butt.
June 26, 2020
Identity Lost in American Education
How many kids get left behind?   How many beautifully talented & multidimensional kids are we apathetically shoving through uniformly designed square holes. With so many islands and chiefs in education, is surprise so many kids struggle with their Identity? The most valuable asset a child has is a healthy, strong & balanced sense of self. This identity is the story they form of themselves, each hour of each day. This podcast explores the struggle to secure identity in American education. Learn more about the Blaze mission here Feedback and comments here
June 16, 2020
Education in the 21st Century
Justin asks what skills our kids will need to adapt and thrive in a future of unprecedented change and transformation.
May 28, 2020
Blinded by Positivity
Blaze founder, Justin Lyons, discusses the need for critical thinking in the context of mainstream positivity and faith movements.
January 17, 2020
What is Love and Why Does It Unravel?
In the super short podcast, listen to a reflection on what love is and why it fades...
January 8, 2020
Turning the pain of divorce into a joy for mental health
Justin welcomes Brooke Murphy-Roothaan, an Evanston, IL mother of 2 children - one in middle school and another in high school. Brooke's life has been turned upside down and inside out this past several months due to an unexpected, and still pending, divorce.   Instead of letting sadness and anger define her, Brooke has chosen to discover what an authentic life means to her and how she can positively contribute to the world around her.   One passion Brooke cares deeply about is mental health.  Well versed and well traveled in her journey for knowledge, Brooke seeks to continue that journey and bring others along with her.
December 18, 2019
b positive
Justin chats with Jerry Marshall, a lifelong Evanston, IL resident.  Jerry is a coach, ordained deacon, community volunteer and devoted father of 4 children, including two middle school kids.  Diagnosed over 20 years ago with a rare disease that primarily impacts African Americans, Jerry lost sight in one eye in his 20's and is currently in need of a kidney transplant.    With a blood type of "b positive",  Jerry faces a waiting list of over 7 years.    Despite a lifetime of adversity, Jerry remains positive, committed to his faith, and devoted to selflessly giving his time and energy to lifting up the youth of Evanston.
December 15, 2019
Juice Wrld
Justin reflects on the recent death of Juice Wrld and the double edged sword of hit songs about addiction and pain.   A question posed:  what can Juice Wrld's life and death teach our young kids?
December 12, 2019
Yesterday's News
Justin reflects on recent news:   drunk priest in a fatal hit and run;  a young victim of a police shootout; a mom high at a kid's birthday party. The question posed:  how and when exactly does the shining light of a child become extinguished?
December 12, 2019
Master teacher at top high school breaks down why adapting education the whole child is more important than ever
In this episode, Justin welcome Brandon Stiller.  Brandon is a top teacher at a leading high school in the nation, the founder of a booming science and ACT prep tutoring business and a graduate of Cal Berkley's Masters of Education Science program.   He's also a proficient DJ, once opening for the Roots back in the "early days". Topics include:  how critical it is to build confidence in our youth, the power of connecting with students, the benefit of breaking big concepts into smaller chunks, and why he became an early believer and adopter of Blaze. We hope you enjoy....
November 23, 2019
Mixed race middle schoolers discuss "brutal" history lessons
In this episode, Miles and Gabe return to discuss one thing they have in common:  being mixed race in Evanston, IL.   With so much focus on race, racial history and racism in their educational experience, Miles and Gabe discuss learning about the extreme wrongs whites have done to African Americans and how it often leaves them torn with competing negative emotions:  shame and anger.  
November 20, 2019
Mean Kids, Middle School & Coffee Breath
In this episode, Justin welcomes Gabe and Miles - two 6th grade students new to middle school.    Topics include:  what makes a good (and bad) teacher, what the first day of middle school is like, why kids are mean and why some 6th graders behave so differently between 5th and 6th grade?
November 20, 2019
Imagine... Gen Z meets John Lennon
In this short episode - Justin and his 11 year old son, Miles, reflect on the impact of John Lennon during difficult times.   Miles discusses the what John Lennon means to him, shares a moment of deep concern for his Dad and offers advice to other Dads going through difficult times. We hope you enjoy...
November 16, 2019
Blaze is a waste of precious time
In this episode, Justin welcomes Alexis Gunartt.  Alexis is preparing to attend law school to bring voice and protection to children with a focus on domestic law.  When not preparing for law school, Alexis gets to spend way too many hours with Justin supporting his "purpose".    Justin and Alexis discuss the future of Blaze in schools, what's it's like to date someone fighting to build a business and, perhaps most entertaining of all - early survey results from an ongoing highschool pilot.   "Blaze is a waste of precious time" is one of the 12.5% of negative comments Justin shares on the podcast.  While devestated on the inside, Justin is comforted by the 70%+ of positive comments when students were asked "Do you like starting your day with Blaze?" Check out Blaze Schools on instagram:  @blazeschools Enjoy!
November 15, 2019
Justin returns to the mic
Justin delivers a short, solo podcast in his return to the mic.   Despite challenging times,  Justin always returns to his WHY to maintain his unwaverying commitment to Blaze.   It's about the kids.   In unusually raw form, Justin shares his perspective on WHY our kids need a solution like Blaze more than every.    Slow down * Reflect * Connect
November 13, 2019
Microsoft & Entrepreneurial Non-Profit Partner to Empower Chicago Youth with the Digital Skills of Tomorrow
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Adam Hecktman of Microsoft and Jessica Rosenberg of Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX).   Adam has been Microsoft's appointed leader of social impact and civic innovation in Chicago for several years.  A program Adam helped deliver is One Summer Chicago, which brings together government institutions, community-based organizations and companies to offer over 32,000 employment and internship opportunities to Chicago youth and young adults.  Jessica serves as the Director of Partnerships for CLX and leads their Digital Learning and Pathways program.  Together, Jessica and Adam have partnered to teach Chicago's disconnected youth aged 16-24 the technology skills required for today's digitally-driven workforce.  Jessica's progressive techniques such as digital badging, scaffolding and connected learning.
July 1, 2019
Does experiential learning peak in Kindergarten?
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes his daughter, Marley.  Listen to what this 7 year old has to say about solving sadness and fighting in the classroom, the experience of building and running a full service diner in Kindergarten, and what she would do to make the world a better place. Visit to learn more.
June 15, 2019
A leader from Barack Obama's presidential campaigns discusses how today's youth seek validation
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Eric Zoberman.  In addition to being a proud parent of two young children, Eric’s life experience includes working for President Barack Obama in 3 key roles between 2007 and 2012.   As an intern for then Senator Obama, Eric had the privilege of receiving direct one-on-one leadership from our future president.   In 2008, Eric transplanted to rural Iowa to become a Field Director for the Obama Presidential Campaign.  He built from scratch a team of passionate volunteers who helped deliver Obama’s key Iowa win over Senator McCain. In 2012, Eric was the National Youth Vote Director for  President Obama’s campaign against Mitt Romney.  In this role, he was responsible with implementing the campaign’s outreach message to young Americans aged 18-29. In the episode, Eric and Justin discuss these experiences in the context of how our youth and their needs have evolved since 2007; especially with the rise of social media. Eric is concerned with what young people consider validating. How they are measuring their success on a day to day basis.  He is concerned with validation metrics such as likes and followers are in direct competition with more meaningful validations such as grades and lasting relationships. 
May 30, 2019
Why showing vulnerability to your child can be empowering (for both of you)
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Ryan Block.    Ryan is a father, entrepreneur, mental health advocate and podcast host.   Ryan builds companies that align with his passion to make change.  This includes his independent record label, where he has two main rules when signing artists:  1) they can tell a story that matters; and 2) his two kids can listen to it.   Ryan's principled approach to life is rooted in how he raises his two elementary school children.  Discussing the world around them with depth and a commitment to inclusion, Ryan puts his children at the center of all he does. Find Ryan on Instagram @phillipryanblock
May 26, 2019
This is why our youth deserve deeper mentorships!
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Reno Perry. Reno is the Founder of nexplay (, a talent marketplace where college students can connect with seasoned professionals for mentorships. Reno’s inspiration for nexplay is rooted in his personal experience as the son of working class parents, including a mother who immigrated from the Philippines.  Reno was the first in his family to attend college and then found himself struggling to navigate the corporate world without the privilege of a network or mentors.  Despite these challenges, Reno found his path to success and has now made it his mission to ensure college kids from diverse background are afforded the opportunity to connect with mentors and develop their whole selves before they embark on their professional career. Joining Reno and Justin on this podcast, is Frankie Fabre, Founder of Fabre Media (  Fabre Media builds cutting-edge content helping businesses grow authentic, relevant brands.  Like Reno, Frankie comes from a mixed race, working class family.  It is this perspective that fuels his commitment to anthenticity.   In this episode, enjoy some entrepreneurial insights, reflections on why our youth deserve deeper mentorships, and how growth mindsets needs to be developed from kindergarten all the way through college.
May 18, 2019
The naivety and dreaming that new entrepreneurs fall victim to!
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Ryan Fischer. Ryan is the Founder & President of 20 Spokes, a software development agency in Chicago, IL. Ryan is also a father of a 3 year old girl with a baby boy on the way! 20 Spokes is the software development agency behind the development of the Blaze Family and Blaze School web application. In this podcast, Justin and Ryan will discuss the pitfalls many new tech entrepreneurs fall into such as over-engineering and over-spending on their software concept vs. building a more simplified and affordable version (otherwise known as an MVP). MVP’s allow users to provide authentic and relevant feedback that is critical to the the evolution of a product roadmap. Topics discussed include:  The naivety and dreaming that new entrepreneurs fall victim to; how caring about a client’s project/vision is a real differentiator in software development; the discipline around identifying the most essential assumption (feature) of a product and validating it in the fastest, most cost effective way possible; how product designs don’t raise investor dollars - it’s a working prototype with engaged users and a plan for revenue; when too much money to spend can actually kill a great product idea; how Blaze serves as a guide to help busy parents prioritize quality time with their kids.
May 10, 2019
The need to build work ethic and confidence in our creative young people.
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Allen Washington.  Allen has two beautiful boys ages 5 and almost 2.  Allen and his brother co founded The Future Kingz, a Chicago dance crew that competed for the Semifinals on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent.  Currently Allen is leading KNVS House, a startup that offers young people a multi-dimensional, creative learning environment while also providing life skills education. *Topics discussed include:* How Allen’s mother, a single Mom, instilled core life skills in Allen and his brother; the need to build work ethic and confidence in our creative young people; the incredible privilege it is to be a father, even if you’re first child arrives when you’re 15; raising black boys in modern America; the need for empathy and optimism in the face of bias; how hating those with different political views is the wrong approach; why empowering kids to self-manage their own personal growth is the key to their future success. 
May 8, 2019
Transforming your adversities into purpose-driven missions
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Larry Morrissey.  Larry and his wife have 4 wonderful children ranging in age from 6 to 20.  Larry was the mayor of Rockford, IL from 2005 to 2017. With nearly 150,000 residents, Rockford is the largest city in Illinois outside of the Chicago metro area. Prior to being mayor for 12 years, Larry ran and lost an election to be mayor in 2001.  He discusses his resilience to run in 2004 (and win!) as a combination of two critical factors: how he overcame family adversity both as a child and a parent; and his ability to establish a clear vision, passion and sense of purpose towards transforming the lives of all Rockford residents. Topics discussed include: Humanizing our most disadvantaged citizens; transforming your adversities into purpose-driven missions; the power of empathy in politics; key characteristics to being resilient; structural inequity in our cities;  what an alcoholism recovery program can teach us about redemption, spirituality and optimism;  how we can’t let excellence and achievement be defined by an educational system that fails to personalize learning to the individual child. 
April 30, 2019
Transitioning from a life “all about me” to parenthood.
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes author and father Robbie Rimsky to his show.  Robbie wrote a novel called A Mild Form of Madness based on his observations on the streets of Chicago.  Friends since their 20’s, Robbie and Justin reflect on transitioning from being self-focused artists to selfless driven parents.  Enjoy an authentic, laid back discussion between two old friends who continue to fight for what is real in life - especially as parents of young kids. Topics discussed include: Transitioning from a life “all about me” to parenthood; how today’s reality is not really reality at all; kids being our greatest reality in an increasingly edited social media society; how identities are being increasingly controlled by external opinion; raising kids within the most dangerous drug territory on Chicago’s west side; and much much more.
April 19, 2019
The power of empowering kids to drive their own experiential learning.
Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, welcomes Frankie Fabre of Fabre Media to his show.  Frankie is Justin’s podcast producer, content creator and social media manager.  More than that, Frankie is a mixed race millennial who grew up in a two parent household and is deeply passionate about giving kids what they need in the modern world. *Topics discussed include:* Why American adults spend $10 billion per year on self-improvement but rarely do we find any of those tools available to kids in K-12; recent deep personal pain Justin is managing through and how he’s maintaining focus and connection to his true purpose during this adversity; the risks of not connecting with your kids on a deeper level; and the power of empowering kids to drive their own experiential learning.
April 14, 2019
Building strong relationships with your Children
Building strong relationships with your Children. In this Episode of "Better Kids, Better World" - Justin Lyons, CEO of Blaze, discusses parenting in the modern world with Rima - the owner and founder of "Wild Child Healing".  Justin and Rima talk about feeling guilty at times as parents, learning to say sorry, how our kids become like us, and how our close relationship with them can make being a flawed parent not such a bad thing. 
April 9, 2019
Building the right habits and skills in your kids
Building the right habits and skills in your kids. In the episode, Blaze Founder & CEO, Justin Lyons, leads a discussion around building positive habits and skills in both children and parents. Ryan Bond, father of 2 and leader of digital consumer products at Encyclopedia Brittanica, joins Justin for a wide ranging discussion.  Topics include awkward conversations, preparing kids for the future unknown, and finding time to be more present in the digitally distracted world.
April 6, 2019
What you see & hear isn't always reality
What you see & hear isn't always reality In this podcast Justin Lyons CEO of Blaze Family App sits down with his 5th grade son to discuss his life and the things he has learned through his own experiences as a child. 
April 3, 2019
Raising My Daughter By Example With Justin Lyons & Cortney
Good Day Blaze Family! Today marks the release of our first Podcast. We are  so excited to share with you stories and experiences from parents and  children from all over. Today’s Podcast deals with leading by example  and dealing with common things as parents such as raising our children  in these technological times. On this podcast you will hear a discussion  between Justin Lyons CEO of blaze and the wonderful Cortney. Enjoy and feel free to comment your experiences.
March 20, 2019