Episode 107: Secure Your Personal Data with Erik Rind

This week Jon sits down with Lousia Schibli, co-founder of the Northern New England Women’s Investor network, and co-founder and CEO of Milk Money Vermont. Milk Money is a platform for Vermonters to discover local investment opportunities, get tips on how to evaluate those opportunities, and then make an investment. 

Louisa has also recently joined RuralWorks Partners as Chief Engagement Officer. RuralWorks Partners is an impact investment firm that supports growth stage and transitioning rural businesses and the communities in which they operate. RuralWorks is currently raising a $100 Million impact fund for these businesses and communities across the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

Listen in for Louisa’s lessons about raising capital in rural Vermont and being a female entrepreneur in the Green mountain state.

Check out:

Vermont Women’s Investor Network www.nnewin.org
Milk Money Investing www.milkmoneyinvesting.com
RuralWorks Partners www.ruralworkspartners.com

Learn more at https://milkmoneyvt.com/

Erik Rind

Big Tech Companies are making money off of your personal data, why shouldn’t you? Erik Rind is the founder and CEO of ImagineBC, where they’re committed to helping individuals secure their personal data online and control when to share that information as well as their creative content and get paid for it. Think of Youtube but with the security of blockchain and more opportunities to profit from your personal data or creative content.

Erik is a seasoned entrepreneur and HR technology executive with a very unique vision for how to control personal information online and help creatives get paid for their content in a new kind of marketplace. In this episode, Erik and Jon discuss how blockchain works, how they’ve put creators first, and how COVID will change the workforce forever. Hint: there are lots of robots.


Check out ImagineBC here: https://imaginebc.net/

This episode is sponsored by eLearning Brothers. 

Check out this episode!

Alissa Galligani (00:00):

Hey everyone. It’s Alissa. Galligani here, Senior Producer of Learning Life with Jon Tota. Thank you for tuning in to the show each week. We love our Learning Life community and are so grateful for your support. We would appreciate it if you would take a minute to rate and review Learning Life on Apple Podcasts or wherever you’re listening. It helps new people find the show so we can keep growing our community and bringing you great interviews about the business topics you care about. Thank you so much. That’s all for me. Now onto the episode,

Erik Rind (00:25):

You have the key to your house. Hopefully, nobody can get into it. Well, that’s how blockchain works. You have the key to where your data is, as long as you don’t give it to anybody, nobody’s getting that data.

Intro (00:36):

Welcome to Learning Life, where top experts share their business knowledge and personal journeys each week. “And the thing that I realized from the CEO to the NFL football player, to the janitor – we’re our toughest critics, and we’re hardest on ourselves.” – James Lawrence And wanted to bring education to the market. I wake up in the morning and I am constantly learning.” “The only way to grab somebody’s attention is with a story” – Cal Fussman. Happy learning. And now your host, Jon Tota,

Jon Tota (01:05):

Welcome back to Learning Life with Jon Tota. My guest today is Erik Rind. Eric is the founder and CEO of Imagine BC, where they’re committed to helping individuals secure their personal data online and control the opportunities to share that information as well as their creative content and get paid for it. They’re utilizing blockchain technology to establish a trusted connection where the individual decides who can access their content and data, and determine how to get noticed and paid for it- not the other way around. Erik is a seasoned entrepreneur and HR technology executive with a very unique vision for how to control personal information online and help creatives get paid for their content in a new kind of marketplace. So I’m excited to have him with us today. Erik Rind, welcome to Learning Life.

Erik Rind (01:47):

Thanks, Jon. Hey, thanks for having me on your program.

Jon Tota (01:50):

We’d love to know why you got into this space, what your background was and what the impetus was for you to actually start ImagineBC, and kind of get into this world of helping people control their personal information and creative content online. So where, where did your journey begin?

Erik Rind (02:04):

Sure. The journey to ImagineBC began about two years ago. The HR company, HCM company that I own. Um, I’m a technologist at heart. I actually wrote the original version of the software. So I like to get dirty. I like to roll up my sleeves. I’m always interested in technology and where it’s going. So I got introduced to blockchain technology and this was at the height of the crypto craze. And it took me a little time to discern the difference between cryptocurrency and blockchain technology; blockchain technology, being the technology that is used to put out things like Bitcoin and Ethereum. And once I learned what blockchain was, how it worked and what it can do and what you can do with it, I got really excited about the game-changing qualities of what, what can be offered. So being a, ‘like to roll up my shirt sleeves’ kind of guy, I said, how am I going to use this technology?

Erik Rind (02:53):

How can I play with it inside my existing HCM product? And if you think about an HCM system, right? Think how much personal data that we sit on about a person- social security number, bank, account information, HIPAA compliant benefits information, address, everything, everything about you pretty much right. We have inside of our database. So I started to think, well, you know, that’s a single point of failure for us. And thankfully, you know, we’ve never had anybody break through our firewall and steal our data, but it’s still a concern. We spend a lot of money trying to make sure that that never happens. Blockchain technology says it. Why if I took all that personal data and sent it back to the individual, such that they had it in their own data wallet, they were in control of it. And then only when we needed it, which is actually fairly rarely in an HCM system, we would ask for permission to do so, which they I’m sure I would say yes to, because they’d like to receive their W2 or 1099, or, you know, have their ACH processed.

Erik Rind (03:50):

So, you know, I convinced my board of directors that this was something interesting to proceed with and we started a little prototype project. And about six months into building that prototype, we got so excited about this concept, but said to ourselves, you know, people don’t understand that they really need to take control of their personal data. And this was before this became, you know, a popular topic in Congress, on the Hill. So we were out ahead of it. So he said, look, you know, putting this out, this concept of controlling one’s data through an HCM probably won’t work, but what would work is if instead of money going to Google and Facebook for using your data, what if, through your data, the money came back to you? That sounds pretty exciting. So that’s what, how ImagineBC came along, we were always about giving control back of data, where I made the decisions over my personal data. But instead of for HR reasons, it’s for personal monetization reasons.

Jon Tota (04:42):

That distinction between cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology- Dive into that a little bit, because I, I think like you said, so many people confuse the two and think it’s the same when blockchain is really just the technology that manages and secures cryptocurrencies and the real, the real game changer here is not necessarily cryptocurrencies, but the way blockchain technology works and how that puts the power back to the individual, just from a personal data perspective, explain for our audience a little bit why that blockchain piece is so important to this.

Erik Rind (05:12):

Sure. Yeah, well, in fact, I say to people the BC and ImagineBC stands for imagined blockchain. That’s how, and it’s so important because truthfully Imagine BC couldn’t deliver on its promise to its members, our users, without blockchain technology, because what blockchain technology does, it’s a dish, it’s essentially a set of software that uses cryptographic algorithms. This is, you know, cipher stuff, unable to hack, unable to break codes, to distribute data such that unless the proper key is entered, you can’t get access to the data. So without blockchain technology, well, we’d just be back in the whole same problem I had with my HR system, all the data sitting in one place that makes me a sitting duck like Capital One, Equifax and all the other guys I could list who have recently been hacked and your personal data has been exposed. That’s not what Imagine BC’s about, so not only don’t we want to make money from your data unless you do. But we also want to make sure that only you are in control of your data. You can only do that. The only technology out there today, where we can promise that that’s the case is through blockchain because your data ends up in a secure location that only you have the key to it. Think, you know, you have the key to your house. Hopefully nobody can get into it. Well, that’s how blockchain works. You have the key to where your data is, as long as you don’t give it to anybody, nobody’s getting that data.

Jon Tota (06:34):

And then you guys made this pivot then to say, Hey, wait, this thing could be bigger than just a tool to secure it in the HR world. But now we can take this out and build a larger marketplace where you could monetize your personal data and your creative content. Tell us how that transition worked and where it’s positioned you now. Because I think now you’ve kind of built it up as a, essentially as a marketplace for people to be able to monetize their, their data and their content.

Erik Rind (07:01):

Right? Well, the, the pivot was fairly easy. I mean, we’re, we we’re, we’re all pretty, fairly seasoned professionals. So you’re always reexamining your ‘go to market’ strategy in general. So as I said, we never left the idea that we love blockchain. We love the idea of control of personal data, but in the timeframe that we were again, so far back two years ago, people were not even becoming aware of what Google and Facebook were doing and how much money they were making at their expense. So we just knew from a marketing point of view that we knew we were never going to get people to buy into this concept of the additional effort of having this key just, just to get my check or my W2. So you have to go to your audience and if you’re going to have to educate and get people to change behavior, you better be doing something that really is important to them.

Erik Rind (07:52):

And that importance that’s the next challenge for us, because I don’t think people realize just how important it’s going to be. But this con- this little thing, you know, problem we’ve got going on right now of COVID-19 that should be waking people up 22 million people unemployed. Well in a, not too distant future, those same people- They’re not going to be temporarily unemployed because of COVID-19. They’re going to be permanently unemployed because of the incredible investment in AI ML, robotics, and the general acceptance of AI ML robotics is going to be higher because if I am now so concerned that I can’t let anybody within six feet of me, then I’m going to be a lot more comfortable with a robot delivering my mail or a robot delivering my Amazon package or a robot making up my room in a hotel, delivering my food. than I used to be having a person do that.

Erik Rind (08:42):

So now we’ve got a big issue where we’re going to have people unemployed and no way to get money to them, but we do don’t, we, they all have value in their data. And now it’s time that they receive fair value for that. So we like think that we’re cutting edge, but we’re cutting edge on something that has to happen. People have to be fairly compensated for the use of their information.

Jon Tota (09:02):

In a lot of ways would happen with, with the COVID-19 crisis is that things that might’ve taken us, or at least technology innovations that might’ve taken three to five years to, for the general public to adopt to them. You see an adoption rates in, you know, three to five months where people, you know, and it’s a great thing in a way that you can say, Hey, listen, maybe the world was ready for some of these new cutting edge technologies. And now we’ve been forced into this position where we’ll take it more seriously.

Erik Rind (09:33):

It’s great, John, if you happen to be somebody whose job isn’t, you know, driving a truck or delivering a package. But if you’re one of those people, it’s not so great, right? So, so let’s remember, right? But those people have data just like us, those people being bothered by ads, just like everybody else. And that, that data could, you know, we’ve spoken with a number of different groups in the value of data is very debatable, but the, the general consensus outside of the tech giants, who wants you to believe your data is worth a lot less, but the general consensus is your data is worth anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 a year.

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Jon Tota (10:55):

So, so this is really fascinating to me. We all have the potential to make money with our data and our content if there was a secure way to do it. How do you see, we’ll talk first about the data aspect and then maybe pivot and talk about the content side of this, but how do you see that working if I am one of those 25% of the population that may not, may not have a job right now, and it may never come back to me? How do you see a marketplace like yours working, where people could start to trade their own personal data for real money, like you’re talking about, right?

Erik Rind (11:30):

So, uh, so we act as kind of the broker agent, right? Nobody could do this individually, just like a baseball player. Doesn’t bother to negotiate their contracts any longer, because there’s so much at stake. They hire Boris Agency to do it for them. Think of an individual. Now they have ImagineBC looking out for them. Why? Because Imagine BC doesn’t make money unless our client, you, the individual make money. So we’re always acting on your behalf, not on the third parties behalf. So as long as you’re providing some data about you, we’re looking to match that up with advertisers directly to merchants, um, people wanting to do social scientific studies, right? People want to do focus groups. Those will also be members of our community who have budgets today that they spend to gather data. In this situation, they’ll be using our tool to contact you to say, if you’d like to participate. That could be, participation could be watching a 15-second commercial from Coca-Cola. It could be filling in a one-minute survey from, from Verizon. It could be that you’re willing to participate in a 35-minute focus group from Ipsos, a marketing company.

Erik Rind (12:39):

Each one will have a different value. And, and the individual will have to decide if what they be giving up is their time to participate. But if the prices are right and you do gross-ups of 25 cents for 15 seconds, that’s tremendous value. That’s like a $60,000 a year job. And that’s the HR guy at me. So that’s tremendous value. So we are here to make that market. You’re providing your data. And then we’re looking to find the people who are out there who want to contact you, look, they’re there. They’re already buying your data from Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Now, instead of buying that data and you not getting any of it, they’re going to get that data from us, but they’re going to send 90% of it to you. We keep our 10% as your agent.

Jon Tota (13:20):

So from an individual perspective, how are you handling the, the encryption is a hardware key software, key, something done through, through your website. How’s that handled?

Erik Rind (13:29):

Eh, we- when you register, and when you, when you registered for our app, when you download our app and you registered for the community, one of the actions you take is to create your blockchain wallet and your, your, the, the execution of that sends you your encrypted key. We ha we don’t have it. You better not lose it. If you lose it, you lost your wallet. Now the good news is you’re not losing your money, your money sitting in the United States bank account, because we’re not a crypto yet. We’re not crypto we’re dollars, but you’ll have to recreate your profile because you would’ve lost your data. If you lose that key, it’s like losing the key to your house, right? You got a big problem, but you get that kid as part of the registration process, when you’re ready to create your wallet. So when you put your bank account into our system, you’re not putting your bank account to our system. You’re putting into your wallet. Anytime you want to spend money, we have to ask you for access to your wallet to get that information, because we don’t have it.

Jon Tota (14:19):

Got it. Got it. And I think that’s, you also mentioned, it’s an important distinction for people to understand is this isn’t a crypto play. You’re not getting paid in Bitcoin, or some type of, of unique cryptocurrency, you’re linking up your bank account to your, to your app. And then it’s just doing, it’s encrypting everything in blockchain so it’s completely secure, but then you’re getting paid in real money, which is great. That’s what people want. For our audience, who may not be very familiar with it. How secure is it when we’re talking about personal data? And I’m saying, okay, I’ll participate in these things, hook my bank account, share data back and forth. How, like on a level of one to 10, how, how safe is this for them to be participating in?

Erik Rind (15:00)

It’s way, it’s way more safe than anything you’ve got today. For those of you, for your listeners- If you have a checkbook, your banking information is not secure because your, your account number, your routing number, and your name is on that check, right? Anybody who breaks into your house, your fiscal house and rifles through your papers can get all your data. It, you can’t break into our house and you just can’t do it. It can’t happen right. Now, one day, you know, people say, Oh, quantum computing will be able to break the keys of blockchain. Well, yeah, that that’s the naysayers, but quantum computing will be able to increase the cryptographic nature of blockchain too. Right? There’s always that give and take, but right now, today, you cannot lose your data. Your banking information is more secure in our platform than any place else in the world.

Jon Tota (15:42):

Yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s amazing. And today, especially with everything that’s in the news all the time with how data is being shared without your approval and without your knowledge in most cases that like to have that level of security is amazing on the personal data side. Now, talk to us a little bit about the content side, because this to me is just as interesting. Tell us a little bit about how that angle of it works.

Erik Rind (16:05):

That started with about probably a, about two years ago. At about the same time we were getting into this, I read a paper that was published in the title of it was ‘Parents, Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up to be Youtubers,’ which got my interest. And as I read through the paper, it was a comprehensive study. And they found that the majority of YouTubers, and this was scary because they said 85% of 15 to 21 year olds identified themselves as wanting to be a YouTuber. That’s what they thought their career was going to be. So they went on and it did the study of existing YouTubers. And they found that the average workweek for YouTuber was about 55 hours a week, that’s a pretty hefty workweek. Secondly, they found out that Youtubers, who averaged about a million views a month- that’s rarefied air.

Erik Rind (16:53):

There are very, very few, but even those only averaged about $17,000 a year in income, hence parents don’t let your kids to grow up to be YouTuber. So here’s, what’s interesting at the same time, my son’s brother-in-law is a content provider like that, and he’s a YouTuber and he puts out stuff about, uh, some video game. So he, he actually, one week got a million hits. And I asked him how much he got paid for those million hits in one week related to that game. And he was ecstatic cause he said, YouTube sent him a check for $3,000. And I was like, huh, a billion hits and you made $3,000. So now imagine that if he’s a, you know, he’s an ImagineBC and he has his followers in here and he puts out something of that kind of value. And he only charges 25 cents to get access to it.

Erik Rind (17:39):

Right? Million hits 25 cents, $250,000. 90% of it says that’s a hell of a lot better than $3,000.

Jon Tota (17:49):

Right, right.

Erik Rind (17:49):

Now, here’s the good part. The 25 cents. Well, the per, you know, when we’re up and working perfectly and in perfect equilibrium, I’ll go over and watch an ad and make 25 cents. I want your content. Oh, I need 25 cents. I’ll go watch a quick ad. Oh, that person wants to pay me 25 cents to watch their ad. I’ll watch their ad, and I’ll buy your content. A barter. We just did a barter and electronic barter. No middlemen. Didn’t need Facebook and Google.

Jon Tota (18:11):

I got you. I got you. So, so in your world and this where it all comes together is that you’re creating both sides of the marketplace. You’ve got the people who are the consumers who are willing to trade their personal data to as, as a form of payment, in a way. And in order to access content and the content providers are getting paid.

Erik Rind (18:31):

And at the end of the day, you, you know, if we, you know, as we grow up and we come to a big, big boy company and we have, you know, thousands and thousands of channels available, you probably can get a very high percentage of your content from our app. And even though you’re paying for it, you’re, it’s really your data that’s paying for it. And when you net out at the end of the day, your data is still so valuable. You would have gotten to 85% of your content paid for by your data and still have money left over to go buy groceries, pay the electric bill, start putting a college fund for your kids.

Jon Tota (19:00):

Right, right. So when I look at my three sons who spend probably especially now, while they are isolated at home, probably spending like five hours a day on YouTube watching some video game reviews and other kids playing video games, they could be, they could be making a salary for me while they’re there watching all those videos.

Erik Rind (19:19):

Right. It’s exactly right.

Jon Tota (19:20):

So I think that’s, that’s really amazing. So tell us a little bit about how is that scaling? Cause I know that is probably one of the big challenges, right? To get both sides of these going at the same time, you’ve got your viewing population, but you’ve also got to get that critical mass of content for them to look at and bring the advertisers to the table. So you’re kind of working between those three audiences right now, right?

Erik Rind (19:43):

It’s the chick and the egg. The good news is the advertisers, all that money, it’s waiting there to come in. We did a lot of work there and although there’s nothing for them to spend it on yet, they, I can tell you, they absolutely want to spend it. You give them any alternative to Google and Facebook right now and they’re going to grab it. If they could still get access to the same data, still send the same targeted ad to the same person. But now the message is that when I’ve done that and spent a dollar that 90 cents went back to that person, Oh, Holy cow, you’ve just changed how marketing works. Right. You’re now the very eyeballs you’re trying to reach are being compensated. We, we, we studied, we hired a behavioral science for a to actually study this for us and it’s game-changing. So they’re there so that the, the challenge is to get the community built up, the consumers.

Erik Rind (20:27):

Well, the way we’re hoping to do that is we’ve got 12 channels launched. We’ve got, you know, a few dozen more coming on over the next couple of months. These channels all have their own followings of anywhere from 5,000 to about 150,000 people. So we’re hoping that each channels, even if they can only get 10% of their following to come in and start paying a subscription price to their exclusive content, you start adding 10% of those kinds of numbers. And you don’t, you get to your, the base, you need to start bringing the advertisers in pretty quick. So our focus is on our content providers and where we were different from a YouTube is you’re, you know, you’re on, it’s the wild West. You throw your stuff up there. You have no idea how YouTube pays you. They don’t do anything to promote you. We- that’s, that’s not the case with us.

Erik Rind (21:12):

You set your price and we do everything we can to promote you. We use AI ML to promote you just like a Facebook does, but more importantly, we are going to help you. We have a marketing team who’s going to help you grow your following outside of us, because we know if you can grow your following on Twitter and Instagram, that’s going to lead to a bigger following inside of ImagineBC. So we’re your partner in this, remember an agent we’ve taken our commission. We don’t get paid a commission if you’re not making money. So we’re spending money to make sure you make money. So we in turn will make money. That’s a big differentiator.

Jon Tota (21:46):

And it makes perfect sense. The content creators are kind of the, like put the chicken and the egg. You start with your content creators because they should bring a following with them, which opens up and then they’ll start looking at other things. So, so this is kind of an interesting time to have this new avenue to say, Hey, we’ve got an opportunity where you can keep 90% of the revenue, control it more. And, and now have another avenue, another revenue stream. So I think you’ree, you know, music to a lot of people’s ears, a couple of questions. If I put my con content in, ImagineBC is exclusive so that you don’t want it out in a YouTube or somewhere else at the same time,

Erik Rind (22:22):

It’s your choice, right? You’re marketing yourself. You, you wouldn’t want it out on YouTube because if you’re trying to get paid for it inside of us, but what you may want to do is put a little preview of the content on YouTube and say, see the full piece inside ImagineBC.

Jon Tota (22:35):

Right? Right, exactly. Drive them back to ImagineBC where some people I know in the past have put the free preview version out in YouTube to get the mass eyeballs and then drive them to their own sales funnel to try and get them to upgrade. Now, instead of doing that, drive them to ImagineBC, where you can now use the value of the marketplace that you’ve built to be totally secure, bring your audience in there. It’s a better environment, more secure environment for your audience. And they can pay with their data essentially. And it’s really the advertisers who are paying for their access in the end.

Erik Rind (23:10):

Right? The advertisers are paying no matter what, it’s just matter of where the money goes. So what we’re saying is instead of the money going to Google and Facebook and their shareholders, how about the money going back to you?

Jon Tota (23:20):

Right, right. Exactly. And so now my, my other question is how does someone get started with you? Because I can, I can imagine that a lot of people are listening right now and say, this is awesome. This is something I could use. I could generate a new revenue stream, have total control over it. I know a lot of people are frustrated because even if you can get a what seems like a big following in YouTube, you never see any, any real dollars out of it. How do they get started with you guys? What’s what’s the first step? What would you want them to do? Or where do you want them to go to find out more?

Erik Rind (23:48):

Yeah, go to our website, www.ImagineBC.net and on the website, there’s a special section for content providers. Take a look at that. And really what it does essentially allows you to set up a meeting with us where we can take you through what it means to have a channel on us, what you can look for, what you can expect. And more importantly, what you can expect from us, how we’re going to help you grow your audience and also get yourself monetized within our platform.

Jon Tota (24:12):

Got you, got you. And we’ll put that link in the show notes so everybody can check it out. And, and if I am not a content creator, but I’m a consumer of content and I want to check out, ImagineBC to see some of these new channels you have and the new offerings that are coming. And I might be interested in being able to get paid for my data and my participation in your network. How do I, how do I get involved in that level?

Erik Rind (24:34):

Yeah, same thing. Great. Great. Thanks. Uh, again, go to www.imaginebc.net, but now you’ll see the little links to the Apple store and the Google store, depending on what type of device you have click on the appropriate link, download our app, go ahead and register. You’ll be in and feel free to browse around and, and be more importantly, send us feedback because this is, it’s a, it’s an experience. We need everybody involved. You know, there’s not a lot of dated money to be made from the data there right now, but it’s, it’s total involvement. Remember -we’re doing this together. So just having you as a member now, and then take a look at our content. We have a lot of social causes on there. If you want to donate. It’s another thing we don’t, we take, we don’t charge anything for passing a donation through 100% of your donation goes to that cause.

Jon Tota (25:16):

And so, and, and so for anybody, anybody who’s listening and wants to get involved, you just go to imaginebc.net. You can sign up. And it’s an app where you saying, it’s an app that you downloaded, all this security, everything is done through the app on your mobile device.

Erik Rind (25:28):

Guide you. Yeah. We guide you through it. There’s a little dose. Eventually you’ll be saved. It’s time to create your blockchain wallet. And we guide you through doing that.

Jon Tota (25:35):

Oh man. It’s so cool. Congratulations. Cause I know I’ve got some friends who were involved in the blockchain space and I know how complicated the technology is. And on the surface you try to make it look really simple. So an end user doesn’t have to worry about all this, but it takes years and a lot of investment to get it right. So congratulations on that.

Erik Rind (25:53):

Thanks a lot. Yeah, it did. It took, it takes a lot of time to take a complex thing and make it as easy as possible.

Jon Tota (26:00):

So, well, thank you so much for taking the time to come here. I love sharing new cutting edge ideas like this with our audience and what you’re doing has so much value to individuals right now. So thank you for coming in and, and showing our audience all about it and, and just telling them where they can go and figure out how they can get a piece of the pie instead of all the big tech companies taking all the money. Thanks

Erik Rind (26:19):

Thanks Jon, I really appreciate you giving us the time.

Jon Tota (26:22):

And to all of our listeners. Thank you for listening in to yet another episode, as you know, we put out a new episode every week, so wherever you’re listening, be sure to subscribe, leave us comments. We’d love to hear from you. And until our next episode, happy learning.

Outro (26:34):

Outro theme plays.