“Good thinking and creativity are about having a really clear sense of a decent version. Then, you can go and innovate.”

- Sarah Stein Lubrano -

Meet Sarah

Sarah Stein Lubrano makes a career out of successfully and simply communicating complex ideas.

You can really see that in her work as former Head of Content at The School of Life — a YouTube channel "exploring the great questions of emotional and physical life" (everything from coping with emotional neglect to an introduction to Voltaire) along with 6.53 million subscribers.

An expert on accessibility in learning and adjustable curriculums, we actually met her through her intensive nine-week virtual learning design course.

Not only does she teach — she teaches how to teach.

Collaborative strengths

(i.e. call Sarah if you need help with)

Learning Design

  • Learning Design

  • Educational Content Through Social Media, Especially Video and Interactive Content

  • Explication of Complex Intellectual and Political Ideas

  • Accessibility in Learning

  • Content Strategy – especially educational

  • Teaching pets — even the most recalcitrant of cats — how to communicate by pressing buttons, well this is more of a hobby…

“In order for you to learn, you have to change. You have to give up old ideas, need to change your sense of who you are. Which can be horrible, a painful thing — but necessary."

- Sarah Stein Lubrano -

Sarah’s Philosophy

We had a great interview with Sarah and here are a few things we came away with:

Don't ask if someone is brilliant — ask how

Sarah's passionate about figuring out how people learn — and then creating interactive content that challenges those engaging with it enough that they think about the world just a little differently.

Every single person, she believes, is brilliant in some way. But every single system, of course, is not designed to show that.

"Just like when airplanes were made to be ‘one-size fits all’ – many crashed because the pilots couldn’t adjust to their specific dimensions," she says.

Sarah's system for demystifying creative work

“Success is something that can be measured in different ways — so you can choose how you're evaluated, to a certain degree.”

According to Sarah, creative work shouldn't be some mystical unknowable thing. There are ways to evaluate whether something is creatively successful whether you feel like you are creative or not.

The secret?

Make every expectation explicit.

And then write them down for everyone to see and evaluate.

(No, really, write everything down — or somehow record it. Sarah once printed out an entire education film frame by frame to see what exact part of the imagery a client didn’t like. It’s this level of detail that helps people point to exactly what they do or don’t like about a creative work.)

This might sound like the antithesis of creativity – and yet any creative work is designed on some formula, whether it’s a two-minute instructional film or an oil painting on a canvas.

(Again, no, really. Think of all your favorite movies and books. Now, think about the formula they’re playing on or with.)

Sarah, coming from the instructional design world, encourages us all to do what she does on every project – make a rubric.

A good rubric is vital. If there are no standards or model for what you’re trying to create, it’s very hard to evaluate a job well done.

Lucky for us, Sarah has developed a system to actually measure how a project or endeavor is going.

Where you can find Sarah

Reach out to her via her contact page, or follow her Eventbrite to be notified when her next course comes out.

How to create a good rubric:

Step one

Each person involved in the project must share detailed answers to the following:

  • What are the parameters for success with this project?

  • What can you reasonably do to contribute to this project?

  • What does it take to get there?

  • What materials will be needed?

  • What does the audience/consumer want to get out of this?

  • What are examples of previous works that have been successful? What was successful about them?

Step 2

Create a checklist of expectations based on those answers. (Again, write it all down.)

Step 3

Test the rubric. According to Sarah: “The best test for a good rubric is to give it to somebody who wasn't part of the development process and see if they can do the thing.”

Step 4

And lastly, of course, use it to gauge your success, and iterate. As you work and learn and try new things, change the rubric from time to time.


Sarah mentions metacognition — or, thinking about your own thinking — a lot, for good reason.

It requires you to ask yourself how to succeed at something.

And studies have shown that once you employ metacognition in your learning process, you learn a lot better.

(Creating rubrics, btw, encourages metacognition.)

Dream collaborations

“I want to work with other people that are so like terrifyingly brilliant that I like wake up in the morning at 6:00 AM sweating”

Sarah would love to collaborate with anyone trying to explain things online.

TikTok PolTik

Creating a TikTok feed for a political theory expert

Lindsay Ellis

Working with YouTuber Lindsay Ellis

High School

Redesigning the high school curriculum

What Sarah is up to lately

Right now Sarah is working on a book about cognitive dissonance. She’s developing a framework of understanding around why it’s uncomfortable to change your mind, and how to better practice having conversations.

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