Keith Lillico, fast learning and gamification | Episode 061

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Keith is the founder of Lillico learning Solutions which works with clients to build training that is accessible to all learners including those who have disabilities. He draws from his formal education and experience in instructional design as well as business to create learning content that focuses on meeting the needs of the learner while aligning it with enterprise-wide business objectives.

He is a self-proclaimed brain learning junkie who believes anyone can learn anything they want as quickly as they want. He is currently working on developing a modern repeatable learning model that will allow learners to acquire and retain information at a rate that is much faster than traditional methods.

Keith does have regular days Monday through Friday on his corporate job. It starts at 6 am and reads the news on his phone. Then he gets up his son, or dresses him up on his sleep to take him to the babysitter. The most important stop of that journey is at the gas station to collect a Pepsi. The first hour is typically project planning and since he arrives an hour early he starts emailing to be at the top of the recipients’ inboxes. The next important stop is breakfast, which repeats itself because he is a creature of habit! He also takes the chance to have a nice view and get his morning inspiration from this mix of architecture. Then he gets himself locked into projects: emails, recording, building a storyline, shooting videos, etc. depending on the projects he is working on at the moment. During lunch, he goes to see his son and to the Abraham Lincoln presidential library multiple times a week, to have a Subway (without a queue usually) but also to walk around the museum and to see how people are learning from it, from his instructional design perspective. He then locks in again to project for the afternoon. Then he also decides to deliver pizza for four to five hours to do his continuing education in the car while he listens to around 20 podcasts that he follows! He feels it is his dream job because he can spend that time listening to interesting things while making a buck.

His favorite FAIL (First Attempt in Learning), which would be one of his first major ones, is even before his formal education on learning. In the US to be a restaurant manager, you need a license for safety and sanitation, which is typically a miserable class no one wants to go to. Keith decided he wanted to prepare himself to deliver such a class to teach the company he worked for, that would also save some time and money. It was a 16-hour class he had to deliver, he prepared the perfect PowerPoint, had a Jeopardy-type game at the end. Apparently, the learners were not as passionate as him… To make it worse, by the time the class was done the learners had spent more time proof-reading his slides than actually learning something. The game at the end was something no one wanted to take they were just ready to go home. Something he realized is that if the content is not good, no matter what you do people won’t really like it. Sometimes the content is just a given and you can’t change it but it doesn’t mean you have to deliver it the same way and that can make the difference. Don’t be afraid to break off from the crowd!

A project he’s currently working on is for a certification called Cicerone, for beer professionals. It is the sommelier equivalent for wine. He found that there is no actual training for it, there are only boot camps you have to go to and end up having prohibitive costs. Right now the pass-rate of the exam of the certification is barely 30%! For this, he has partnered with Jonathan Peters to create a gamified course based on what people need to know to pass the test. It is going to be very experiential in first-person so you can really get a sense of how it works and gets the content across. There are games inside the whole experience, to break the monotony and check knowledge thus far. He has realized it is not a quick process and they have restarted the process multiple times when you face it with playtesting, which is another key learning he has taken from this experience. It will debut in the International Brewers Festival in Denver, April 2019.

His process starts with the fact that he feels we have all been playing games in our minds since forever, thinking that if you have a task you see how you can do it faster than your sibling and other things. An a-ha moment for him was with his son when talking about school where he is being taught specific things but he feels the “learning how to learn” is lacking. This should be the basic skill we learn there so that future things can come easier. Because of this he has been questioning why there is such a big gap between child and adult education since he feels it is mostly the same principle. He is a super competitive person and when he went to get his degree the first question for the advisor was what is the fastest that anybody has earned the degree? He set a narrative and his goals, taking mechanics and playing them inside his own head. He has found that there are a lot of the gamification out there in the world and that all they need is the context to become a game.

Keith feels that as a designer the best thing you can do is build your network and rely on different people each time. Something great about the gamification world is that there are many experts willing to share. He likes to look for inspiration outside of the projects he is working on, not only in games and gamification experts but also in life itself like Marigo mentioned in her episode.

His favorite game would be Red Dead Redemption 2, especially in the gamification context because of all the elements and the narrative that is included. I had the chance of playing this game for a while during my stay in Amsterdam for Gamification Europe at The Arcade Hotel. He would love to listen to Chuck Sigmund of Amazon Alexa and also from Philipp Busch, both of whom I had the cool opportunity to meet at GamiCon in Chicago! Then he also mentioned Joshua Foer and Ben Pridmore, both Champions of Memory. He would recommend us to read or listen to the book Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. Keith’s superpower would be to help learners not only learn but also conquer things and become experts!

The random question is related to boredom and learning so hit play up top! Keith has a somewhat of a controversial answer you will enjoy!

His final advide is to not get intimidated by the great experts in gamification. This is mainly because for one they are quite approachable and also we tend to not be as far behind as we think! If you want to connect with Keith Lillico you can find him on Twitter @klillico72 and on LinkedIn.


There are many ways to get in touch with Professor Game, you can go to my Twitter @RobAlvarezB, my Instagram, our Facebook Page, subscribe to our email list and even ask a question to future guests!

Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,


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