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How Robert Galinsky Defeats Teen Boredom by Bringing Virtual Courses to Youth in Jails and Prisons 



  • Course Instructor: Robert Galinsky


  • Website:


  • Course Topic: Unscripted Leadership


  • Interesting Stats: This course has been taught to over 1000 inmates in the New York Corrections Department, the majority of which are in Rikers Island Jail.

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The World’s Economy Has Already Shifted Into The Virtual Space More And Faster Than Ever Before & It’s Time To Catch Up Right Now… Or Else You’ll Risk Getting Left Behind.

The Most “Future Proof” Way To Get Ahead And Run A Sustainable Online Business Is By Entering The Exploding Digital Knowledge Industry With The Guidance Of Tina and 30+ Experts Through Online Course Talks. 

how to create an online course

1. Who are you?

Robert Galinsky is an executive coach, TEDx producer, author, speaker, Off Broadway playwright and actor, and facilitator of literacy workshops to incarcerated youth. Robert is much sought after for his unique and acclaimed work as a highly engaging and animated facilitator, with his trademark ‘out of chair’ approach, and he has created and delivered groundbreaking programs for thousands of clients in the corporate and the academic worlds across the United States and internationally.

Galinsky is known for coaching hip hop artist 50 Cent for his role in the film “Righteous Kill” and for working with people experiencing homelessness from NYC to LA. He is an executive facilitator at the We Are Family Foundation and is a founding member of the WAFF initiative “Mattie’s Movie and Poetry Day”- bringing poetry to chronically and terminally ill children in hospitals.  He is a member of the Creating WE Institute, an international group of organization effectiveness practitioners who have come together to develop new forms of engagement and innovation in the workplace. 

His work has been featured on the Today Show, FOX Money Watch, The View, ABC Nightline News, BBC TV, The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, American Express Open Forum and many more media outlets. He has created and facilitated custom programs for clients: Virgin Mobile, Thomson Reuters, Mohegan Sun, Citibank, Mack Trucks, Yale University, the We Are Family Foundation, the Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian among others.

He is the former Director of Media and Technology at Arts International Inc., a non-profit arts re-granting organization dedicated to international culture and arts exchange. Robert was Co-founder and Executive Producer of Pseudo Programs Inc., the first-ever online TV network, where he managed a diverse staff of over 100 independent producers and content creators. Robert helmed the production, marketing, and sales divisions at Pseudo during its “startup” phase and created key partnerships with clients such as IBM, Snapple, HBO Films, Fox Television, and The New York State Council on the Arts.

2. What’s your course all about?

ZOOM Literacy is the course and it is based on Galinsky’s concept of “Unscripted Leadership.” Currently there are very few virtual courses being offered to youth in jails and prisons and Galinsky’s ZOOM Literacy is leading the way as one of the first pilot programs being brought into New York jails and prisons. 

The “script” of our lives is always changing and “Unscripted Leadership” is filled with fun and provocative exercises and techniques, where attendees learn how to master spontaneity and optimize life’s curveballs. Galinsky gets participants to rethink their own personal obstacles to success, so they can identify and take ownership of their unique and personal greatness. 

The ZOOM Literacy workshop culminates in publishing works and a private performance (optional) which showcases the strengths and talents of each student! These new leaders break through uncertainty and frustration and as a result are able to captivate and motivate the audience- as well as live a more positive and satisfying life!

Attendees Become ‘Unscripted Leaders’ who will have learned to be “in the moment”, energize peers, and connect with audiences in an authentic voice, like never before. Also students will work with the methods and behaviors that create camaraderie with classmates, teammates, and audiences; understand the qualities of greatness that they already possess; better accept inevitable failures, big and small, and turn them into learning and fuel for success; understand how to maintain high energy levels and be refreshing, exciting, and memorable; and activate audiences to take action and be motivated to move on their messages.

3. What makes you an expert in this field?

Robert Galinsky has spent decades in the field working with groups from C-Suite execs, to people experiencing homelessness, to people incarcerated in jails and prisons.

His work has taken him across the globe and these years of experience make him uniquely qualified and informed to the needs and challenges facing people of all strata. Combined with his work in the theatre (with such luminaries as: Chris Noth, Willem Dafoe, Roger Guenveur Smith, Barry “Shabaka” Henley and many more) and in the business world working with CEO’s and Board Members, Galinsky has mastered getting the best out of students through this wide range of clients.

4. What is the transformation your course offers to the students?

There are a number of transformations that students go through with Galinsky’s ZOOM Literacy programs and they include: How to feel safe with being in the unfamiliar by stepping into your fear, not away from it. Students are encouraged to be beginners, not experts, where they will not allow expertise, know-how, status, title, position, or education to limit their ability to share, hear or learn from those above, below and around them.

Students also practice what Galinsky calls: “Absorber vs. Observer” where they are trained to be absorbed in the moment, the meeting, the interaction, the task and will not stand outside of the experience, observing self, getting caught up in critiquing, judging and editing self. This transforms them into secure, fast thinking, daring, confident ‘unscripted leaders.’

5. Which market does your online course serve and how did you get into it?

ZOOM Literacy serves multiple markets that include people experiencing homelessness and people in jails and prisons. Every person is the same at the core and ZOOM Literacy addresses this by treating everyone with the same love and respect they deserve as a student.

Galinsky worked in the corporate arena as a coach and found that working with ‘underserved’ populations was even more fulfilling, after volunteering with homeless adults. All of our basic needs are the same, so the joy for me is to bring dignity to all. 

6. Why is it important to you to serve this market?

It is important to serve this market because incarcerated youth and people experiencing homelessness are willfully ignored and are the last to get educational services.

Also in jails and prisons, the digital footprint is almost zero, so to be able to work with students during the pandemic, virtually, is the only way to consistently create positive change. We are not allowed to visit live in person at this time.

7. Describe the moment when you decided to create your own course. Where were you, what happened and why did you decide to do it?

I was speaking to the director of education at a prison facility about the course I was about to bring into the facility and the pandemic hit and I was told that no in person visits were allowed. I assumed there were digital contingencies but learned immediately that there was nothing set up and no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.

So I reached out to over 25 facilities, doggedly battled a barrage of “no” answers, and finally convinced two facilities to try it. The dominoes are falling and I am now entertaining multiple offers to bring ZOOM Literacy to other institutions.

8. How did you overcome doubtful moments during your course creation journey?

I recalled the sadness when my students heard that we won’t be coming back to work with them. I see their faces and the letdown, a letdown they are sadly used to, and this breaks my heart and starts my fire to not let anything get in my way of being a positive force in their lives.

9. What are some of your tricks to deal with imposter syndrome?

Tricks to deal with imposter syndrome are: stop proclaiming that you are a ‘thought leader’, a ‘disrupter’, and an ‘expert’. Just be it if you are it, stop using the words of the day to validate yourself. Let your experiences speak for you! 

10. How long did it take you to create your course?

ZOOM Literacy took 3 hours of re-organizing 10 years of curriculum and lesson plans.

11. How did your first launch go?

The first launch went better than expected! We learned that there are some technical snafus to work around, but that’s just another lesson in perseverance. I adjusted some of the expectations of the class after understanding how the digital fourth wall can limit the intimacy of the groups.

We did discover that streaming in other materials: films, shorts, TED Talks and more content from the web is invaluable to our discussions and examinations.

12. How do you structure your launches in general now?

Launches start with a technology check without students present. We make sure that all of the tech is in order and easy to understand. Then our first class is launched with a rousing round of hellos and introductions, a few powerful short pieces streamed from the internet and we are off and running!

13. Where does your traffic come from?

All of the traffic comes from word of mouth referrals and any social media awareness campaigns that we develop. Also we have a strong online following through Facebook Groups and elists.

14. Which content do you like producing the most?

My favorite content to produce is the short videos of poems, stories, or scenes that we write. Seeing something move from a simple idea spoken, into a five minute piece of video, is astounding.

15. What online course platform are you using?

ZOOM and experimenting with WebEx.

16. What is amazing about this platform?

ZOOM is so intuitive and easy to learn. The most amazing thing is being able to ‘share screen’ which allows us to travel anywhere on the globe via the internet to make a point and to show examples.

17. Which features do you wish this platform would have?

There are no features that we don’t have access to that are meaningful for us.

18. Why did you choose this platform over other platforms?

It’s easy to use, it’s becoming a common tool, and it allows for easy archiving.

19. Which other tools do you use to keep your online business running?

We use all social media platforms to tell our students, our audiences and our funders about our progress and we do this up to the minute 24/7. 

20. How many students have you served so far?

Over 1000.

21. How much revenue have you created during your first launch, and ongoing?

Would rather not disclose that number. We keep our costs low and we work hard to make our programs affordable.

22. What are you running costs to keep the online course business going?

The costs range from shipping costs to send books, to the usual fees for internet service and broadband, to hiring guest speakers to make appearances on ZOOM.

23. What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way?

Trying to charge too much was our biggest mistake. Yes the service is worth a lot but facilities have zero or super low budgets and in order for us to do the work, we quickly reduced our fees so we could do the work with more students.

24. How has your business changed since implementing an online course into the business model?

We are able to touch more lives because we are not spending 2-3 hours per day traveling. That time is being used to be in the classroom (virtually) and not on the road trying to get into and out of the jails. 

25. How has your personal life changed?

I’ve gotten fatter because I walk less!

26. What’s the greatest transformational story you can tell about one (or more) of your students?

The greatest transformation story is about how one of my students went from being a life long gang banger to a self proclaimed life long learner. When I first met her she was only interested in hurting and being hurt. She trusted no one, and had the lowest of self esteem.

We began working together and the smallest successes would scare her. Compliments on her writing and speaking would shut her down as opposed to lifting her up. After consistently pushing her to accept that the joy she was feeling was real and the props we were giving her were deserved, she began to mentor other students and the lightbulb went off for her. She heard herself urging someone else to do better and found a new person in herself that she didn’t know existed.

She stopped fighting, stopped critiquing, stopped demeaning herself and others and became fired up by her newfound optimism and hope. After only 8 weeks she became my assistant in class and was not ridiculed for it by others, but was acknowledged by her peers and with that she buckled down and focused on getting her GED so she could take college courses. 

27. If you could use a time machine and send yourself back to the time before you started out, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?

Just because it doesn’t exist now, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist. My job is to fill in the spaces that are empty and need content and courses. So know what I know now, I would be less apt to try and fit into what is already in place and I would be more aggressive about creating new programs. 

28. What is your million dollar piece of advice to those who are just getting started in their online course journey OR for those who are looking to scale?

My advice is if you believe in your course, which you should, then “no” is not a closed door, it is the first door to getting a yes. Walk through it and find out more. Take that info and regroup and approach again. Not everyone gets the value of online courses yet, so be persistent and patient and power through the unknown. Be the new definition!

Would you like to learn exactly how to create, sell, market & scale your online course?

Join Our Free Event:

The Ultimate Online Course Conference

March 29th - April 4th

Registration Closes In








The World’s Economy Has Already Shifted Into The Virtual Space More And Faster Than Ever Before & It’s Time To Catch Up Right Now… Or Else You’ll Risk Getting Left Behind.

The Most “Future Proof” Way To Get Ahead And Run A Sustainable Online Business Is By Entering The Exploding Digital Knowledge Industry With The Guidance Of Tina and 30+ Experts Through Online Course Talks. 

how to create an online course