May 17

McDonald’s Ice Cream and Cone Snail Threats: The Genesis of Soteria120

Allan Macdonald, Daniel Kempling, Rob Crooks, Safety Training


McDonald’s Ice Cream and Cone Snail Threats: The Genesis of Soteria120

By Rob Crooks, MSC, CTDP

May 17, 2021

This is a story about how Soteria120 was founded. It speaks to our passion and purpose, but it also shows how making mistakes and being open to opportunities can lead to great adventures!

Everyone knows Siri, right? Apple’s AI assistant? Well it’s really her fault.

It was summer 2019. On my way to an appointment I had pulled into a McDonald’s drive thru and saw that they had chocolate waffle ice cream cones for only $2. That’s right: the CONE is chocolate! I was so excited about this I had to tell my wife.

So I pressed the button on my phone and told Siri to text my wife about the chocolate ice cream cones. Well Siri got a bit creative with her interpretation of my request. Instead of texting my wife, she dug up a contact from my address book that I hadn’t talked to in years. Has this ever happened to you?

Siri texted Al Macdonald, who I had worked with in a safety training company 4 years before—and she didn’t tell him about McDonald’s ice cream. I can’t remember the exact text, but it was more like a death threat, along the lines of “put a cone snail to your head.”

Now if you don’t know about cone snails, that is in fact quite a serious threat.

Being a safe driver, and having received my coffee, I proceeded to drive to my next appointment without checking my text. Just as I arrived, I got a call from Al.

“Hey. What’s this about cone snails after all these years, man?”

Luckily, Al has a sense of humor and figured that this was a Siri issue, not some Bond-Villain vendetta. We agreed to grab a coffee a few days later.

At that meeting we discussed the state of the safety training industry, which Al was still very busy working in. We also discussed this new learning platform that I was partnered with that had just come out of beta testing, Ottolearn. We both recognized that this platform was a perfect fit for safety training and desperately needed in the construction and industrial operations industries.

A few months and many more coffee chats later, we had brought in a few more like-minded partners. We founded Soteria120 in January 2020 with a clear purpose: to develop standardized training programs in the Ottolearn platform that would augment or replace the existing course-based recertification model.

Our goal remains to transform the industries we touch. 

We are passionate about this specific application because better training means saving lives. We know that the existing models don’t deliver retained learning, and that means they don’t deliver safety. What they actually do is transfer liability.

That’s not good enough. There is a better system, and we have it!

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Rob Crooks, MSC, CTDP

About the author

Rob is one of the founders of Soteria120.
He writes for the blog on topics involving the instructional design principles and strategy of the company as we work to disrupt and transform the learning industry. He brings his background in learning and development, management, and neuroscience to the blog while commenting on how Soteria120's platform works to deliver better results and turn training into a risk management asset.

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