Maximize Your Company’s Success with Dr. David Braswell

Dr. David BraswellDr. David Braswell has over 36 years of experience in educational practice and research. He is the CEO and Co-founder of UpSlope Solutions, an Arizona-based company that works to improve student achievement using its training materials and employee code of conduct guides.

Dr. Braswell received his bachelor’s degree in Education and his master’s degree in Administration from Western Carolina University. In 2015, he earned his Doctor of Education degree from Argosy University. His doctoral dissertation validated the implementation solutions that UpSlope Solutions provides to school districts throughout the nation.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Dr. David Braswell recalls what led him to earn his doctoral degree after successfully running a company for a decade
  • The products and services that UpSlope Solutions provides
  • Why Dr. Braswell decided to hire a coach to guide him through his dissertation process
  • How earning your doctoral degree can impact the success of your company
  • The importance of creating a plan when collecting data for your dissertation
  • Dr. Braswell shares the advantages of working with Dissertation Done
  • How Dr. Braswell’s life has changed since earning his doctoral degree

In this episode…

Completing your dissertation can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Not only will it cost you financially, but it is also a lengthy undertaking that requires a substantial time commitment. So what can you do to cut your costs and earn your doctoral degree this year?

Dr. David Braswell, the CEO and Co-founder of UpSlope Solutions, knows firsthand the benefits of having a mentor during the dissertation process. By working with Dissertation Done, Dr. Braswell was able to finish his dissertation in just 10 months, saving himself a significant amount of time, money, and stress.

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Russell Strickland of Dissertation Done is joined by Dr. David Braswell of UpSlope Solutions. Dr. Braswell discusses why he decided to go back to school when he was already running a successful company, and how his dissertation impacted his business. You’ll also hear why he sought help from Dissertation Done, and his thoughts on the most rewarding part of earning a doctoral degree.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done!
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.

Intro  0:03

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percenters out there, who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist and teacher, author, dissertation coach and more. Dr. Russell Strickland.

Dr. Russell Strickland  0:28

This is Dr. Russell Strickland here host of An Unconventional Life Podcast, where I feature the stories of the unconventional 1% who not only earned their doctoral degrees, but went on to leverage them in these strange, exciting cool and unconventional ways throughout their lives and their careers. Now today I have with us Dr. David Braswell, and I’ve known Dr. Braswell for quite a while and even back before he was Dr. Braswell. Dr. Braswell is currently the CEO and co-founder of UpSlope Solutions. And he has more than 36 years of experience in educational practice and research. I’m going to want to talk with Dr. Braswell. about exactly how UpSlope works with his with with his doctoral degree here in just a minute. But for right now I want to welcome Dr. Braswell. Thank you for being with us. How are you doing today?

Dr. David Braswell  1:22

I’m doing well, coming from Phoenix it’s on, I’ll use the term unconventionally hot, okay.

Dr. Russell Strickland  1:31

If you’re from anywhere else, but Phoenix, right.

Dr. David Braswell  1:33

Yeah, yesterday, it was about three degrees cooler. So we’re supposed to get up to about 112 for today and tomorrow. Oh,

Dr. Russell Strickland  1:42

my goodness. And I remember I went out to Phoenix, actually, when I was in graduate school, to do a what they call a residency out there. And I accidentally bumped into a car in a parking lot and I swear I think I was going to stick to it. Carpet so hot. That was like Memorial Day weekend, I believe. We were traveling around the city and the bus driver said Oh, it’s not hot. Yeah. 100 something degrees at the time. Yeah. So

Dr. David Braswell  2:13

it’s hot. Okay.

Dr. Russell Strickland  2:15

That’s that. I wanted to just go over our sponsor message real quick. our episode today is brought to you by Dissertation Done. Dissertation Done helps doctoral students to get their dissertations done a year or two faster than they than they typically would on their own. Helping them cut through the stress, confusion and frustration and getting that dissertation done. Dr. Braswell, I know that you worked with Dissertation Done during your your dissertation experience is that correct? It is it is And do you think that you might have gotten done a little bit faster working working your way through it that with with Dissertation Done?

Dr. David Braswell  2:56

Not only did I get through it a little bit faster, I got through it with less stress.

Dr. Russell Strickland  3:04

Oh, and that’s important. Yeah. So I want to tag him that a little bit later because I know that you you had a very interesting question. When I asked you what the best part of graduating was, I’m pretty sure you remember what your answer was. But I want to talk about that a little bit later when we get to it and our story. To start off with Why don’t you just walk us back? At we were talking before we let the cameras roll here. And Dr. Braswell, his words, not mine, he called himself no spring chicken and said that I should ask him Well, why did you go go back to school after you’d already been, you know, successfully running a company for a decade? Why go back to school and go through this entire process of a doctoral degree program, dissertation, all of that. So I’ll put it to you. Dr. Dave, what, what possessed you to go get a doctoral degree at that at that stage in your life?

Dr. David Braswell  3:59

I think it was. Primarily the fact that I had just retired from the Arizona State Senate. I thought you know, I don’t have this political albatross around my neck now. So I think I’ll finish a bucket list item. Yes, I’m merrily. I wanted to validate the solutions that my company had, was producing and designing and selling quite successfully to school districts throughout the nation. And I have been doing a little bit longer than 10 years, it’s been more like 26 years. So we are an unconventionally older company. And I knew that the solutions were working because we were writing employee codes of conduct guy for school districts throughout the nation I’m

Dr. Russell Strickland  5:02

an educator. Let’s take a just a really quick break. Dr. Braswell tell everybody about UpSlope real quickly. You’re talking about solutions and what market do you serve? And how do you help those folks?

Dr. David Braswell  5:12

We serve the K 12. Market primarily. We have some customers with school districts, public school districts. Yes, we have some that are charter schools and private schools. But primarily, hundreds of our districts have honored us with the opportunity to help them design and write and cross correlate, in essence, customize a district’s own employee Code of Conduct guide that requires identification of a community’s ethics in dealing with education, and those minimum expected behaviors that are required as a result of those community ethics. And then How to operationalize and use the code on a day to day basis for the sole purpose of creating a safe and supportive environment conducive to learning in a fair, reasonable, thoughtful, and consistent manner. I’ve got my, I’ve got my stump speech down down to my heart.

Dr. Russell Strickland  6:24

And so what you’re doing is you’re helping school districts to, to enumerate and to elucidate the behaviors that they expect of their employees, specifically teachers, but other staff members as well. So that and beyond those expectations, also what the consequences are when you step out of line, so the teachers understand how they’re expected to perform their duties, how they’re expected to comport themselves and what the school district will do, to take steps to correct or, or curtail such actions as they deem inappropriate.

Dr. David Braswell  6:57

Yeah. Is that in essence is what we do. We also provide the platforms via a subscription service. We have written investigative software rubrics that interact with the code and the superintendent’s guidelines. But what we do that’s very unconventional in the arena of employee code of conduct, we really use our solutions that I was able to validate as part of my dissertation that you know, very well and in designing and shifting our value proposition so that we are modifying employee behavior without going the traditional route of punishing employees for him.

Dr. Russell Strickland  7:54

Right. Okay, so that tells everybody a little bit about UpSlope. Now, back to your story about Why would you decide to go back to get a doctoral degree when you’re already having such success in helping these school districts?

Dr. David Braswell  8:11

Well, I suspected that if I could change the value proposition when I was interacting with school district, superintendents throughout the nation, and I’ve been doing this, as I said, 26 years at the national and state level, I suspected that it would add validity to our value proposition and increase sales. And that is what has happened. Awesome.

Dr. Russell Strickland  8:37

Okay. Well, so tell me a little bit about as I mentioned, you you you contacted me years ago when you were when you’re approaching the dissertation process, and, and you were a bit different than our typical student. Oftentimes we have students that come in and they’re behind the eight ball, they have been working on their dissertation for quite a while and haven’t been able to really move the ball down the field so to speak. You came in a little bit earlier, tell me a little bit about that decision and what made you decide to reach out at that time in the dissertation process or before it even started really

Dr. David Braswell  9:17

was as a CEO and co founder of UpSlope I’m I was flying 160,000 average air miles a year. I have been doing that the last four months. But

Dr. Russell Strickland  9:33

I as as we’re recording this during the COVID pandemic so that if this lasts long into the future, hopefully we’ll have this behind us at some point.

Dr. David Braswell  9:43

Yeah. I remember telling you when I first was doing the research about this, the services and the solutions that you provide that the primary reason I wanted to use a dissertation coach was to get from point A to point B, in a straight line as I could, you know, being a researcher, I just don’t like the process and don’t agree with it at the university level in writing dissertations, the committees do not really guide you in a logical way. It’s more of a have you thought about this, go back and change this and come back and show us what you changed it to. And then we’ll tell you if that’s what we meant or not.

Dr. Russell Strickland  10:39

Yeah, it’s it’s very much I tell students all the time that your last doctoral class had significantly more to do with classes you took in third grade than it does with your dissertation. In terms of the structure. When you got to third grade, they started telling you I know my daughter is right now as I’m recording, this is getting ready to go into fifth grade, my younger And so it’s not that long ago that the school stopped started saying we’re no longer learning to read, we’re reading to learn for her, once you started reading to learn, then it’s read this chapter, write a paper while I’ll grade it, and it’s that way, all the way up through your last doctoral class until you get to the dissertation. And then all of a sudden, they just say, I’ve added, yeah, enjoy fun. Yeah, there’s the deep end. You’re in the middle of it.

Dr. David Braswell  11:26

Yeah. So I appreciated the fact though. See, I wanted to shift the paradigm from writing a dissertation to learn. I wanted to shift it so that as part of the dissertation, I wanted to get done. And one of the things I remember you telling me was, you know, you can make this as complicated as you want, but let’s focus in on the hypothesis, whether it be qualitative, quantitative, and let Get those chapters written the way the committee’s would accept them, and understand them and get done. And then if you want to come back and do a full blown, you know, save the world research paper

Dr. Russell Strickland  12:14

have had, right. And that’s important to realize that there, there’s the reason why you want to earn your degree. And usually that reason why has to do with you being out of school, very, very few people are going to come to a doctoral student looking for help, or expertise in anything they go to a find a doctor to get that help or expertise that they want. So the idea of getting done is really central what we do here, Dissertation Done, but But so, so your dissertation process, you went through that you graduated, actually pretty quickly. Do you remember how long it took once you were actually working on your dissertation? Until you were able to defend and graduate

Dr. David Braswell  12:56

10 months?

Dr. Russell Strickland  12:57

Sounds about right.

Dr. David Braswell  12:58

Yeah. Now, those those were tough 10 months, but I was on a, you know, as I was following a roadmap, and that’s, that’s, I’m a self starter as a CEO and a co founder of a successful company. And I like to go, Okay, here’s point A, here’s the stops along the way, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, chapter four, chapter five, you gave me the personalities of those when we would interact, and also appreciated the fact that, for the most part, I could pick up the phone, you would answer if you had a conflict with your time, you’d say, Dave, I’ll call you back at this time. And it was always within 24 to 48 hours at a max. Usually it was in two or three hours. And that was in that was my learning stuff. Yeah.

Dr. Russell Strickland  13:58

So what happened? After you finished your dissertation, what did what did it mean for you to be graduated in terms of your business and, and and your life? beyond that? Well, I

Dr. David Braswell  14:10

don’t want to say this in a disrespectful way. But one of the first things I realized after I decompressed and and, and and was able to go to a movie on a Saturday night after I graduated with my wife, and and no longer feel like there was something Why am I at the movie I need to be suddenly. But But after I graduated, I began to formulate a new value proposition based on the results of my dissertation. And I might add to your to your listeners, that I actually had to get special permission from the university to actually do my quantitative a dissertation on the subject that I had been making a living on for the last 20 something years.

Dr. Russell Strickland  15:10

So we say you need a special permission. Tell me a little bit more about that. What do you mean?

Dr. David Braswell  15:14

Well, I had to declare to the university that these are solutions that we’ve been using for years. And I’m, it’s my intent to write my dissertation for the purpose of validating those solutions. As as part of of the statistical analysis or the analysis of, of what I suspected was a gap in the existing research related to the positive impact of having principles confident in attempting to modify contract, employ K 12 contract employee misconduct or behavior, I like to use the term behavior.

Dr. Russell Strickland  16:07

And those of us who run businesses know that there’s a lot of things that we figure out kind of boots on the ground that isn’t necessarily researched very well in the academic literature. And so you were able to sort of bridge that gap between something that we thought we knew through years of practice and then validating that in a method in a methodical way.

Dr. David Braswell  16:29

And yes, and the unconventional piece of this that was the gift to me was that immediately I I was closing contracts with school districts much faster instead of it being a 90 day closure window. We were dropping it to four weeks average, four weeks, but it was anywhere from two weeks to six weeks average for wow close the deal because I was incorporating in my speeches at the state level for State Departments of education and state school superintendents of all of the states, the validated results of what we did as part of the dissertation.

Dr. Russell Strickland  17:20

And so that’s amazing. tripling your your close speed, basically your your, your, your sales cycle, cutting it by a factor of three, correct 90 days down to 30 days, essentially,

Dr. David Braswell  17:33

that’s something that I did not anticipate when I decided to finish this bucket list. Four years prior.

Dr. Russell Strickland  17:43

And and it’s a great benefit. Now one of the things that we were able to do with with with your dissertation and this is something that folks who do operate their own business should consider if they’re working on a on a doctoral degree, we were able to utilize contacts from within your company to, to shortcut that data collection process, we did not have to do a lot of wide ranging recruiting. Because through your company you already had access to the people that you were going to use to source that data. Is that correct?

Dr. David Braswell  18:20

Correct. And we went through the school superintendent associations of the bay to reach the superintendents, and the school superintendents Association recommended that their members in each state that we studied three states actually send those the link on to take the survey to their principals, and then those three you and I studied, we sent out over 9800 invitations, and we got a ton of them back.

Dr. Russell Strickland  18:53

And it was not much more work to send out 9800 than it would have been to send out Hundred invitations

Dr. David Braswell  19:01

or 50 invitations exactly, but the way we get it, and this was one of your suggestions was if there’s an executive director of each of the state school superintendents, that has a relationship with me, over the two and a half decades, I’ve been working with them, ask them to send the links out to their members. So we didn’t send individually the links they did. So we only had to send this to three executive directors of those three states and then they they just hit mail merge and send it out across the state. And then 10,000 people are

Dr. Russell Strickland  19:37

contacted and a whole bunch came back and responded.

Dr. David Braswell  19:42

Yes. So me that I I’ve called you all nervous and say, I hope you can help me. Yes.

Dr. Russell Strickland  19:51

Well, I have a story about a student that was actually trying to get her data collected. She didn’t have a really good plan for recruiting, which is imperative anybody’s working on your dissertation, make sure you know exactly where that data is coming from way early in the process of writing your dissertation. I mean way earlier before you write a work would be great. But she got to that point where she didn’t she didn’t really know how that how she’s going to get the data. She needed to work with mental health counselors. And so we started working together. And we found out that there were a couple of states that actually published contact information for all the mental health counselors, they were licensed by the state they published their contact information. So we grabbed the list cold with it, but we didn’t have relationships like we were able to develop and in your, in your project, because this came to us late in the game, and we just said, let’s try it. Let’s see what we get. And we sent out I don’t know a couple thousand or something like that maybe three or 4000 mental health counselors in these two states just cold email in the morning, set it set it up so that they would receive at about the time that they should be drinking their cup of coffee at their desk before they start seeing patients. And we were shocked. She needed, I don’t know, 150 or something. respondents, we had that by lunchtime. And she had been working so long and hard on this for months and months and months and months, and not getting anywhere. She just didn’t believe it. And she wanted to keep the data flowing in and flowing again. So we let it go for three days, we got 1000 respondents in a period of about three days, at which point she told me that the way that she got her data instruments, the surveys that they were gonna be filling out was that she had to agree to license it for $1 A responded. So she needed 100 or so 150 she got 1000 she supposed to be paying $1,000 now for these responses, and she said, Do you think I should stop now? I said yes. Three days ago I told her Yes. Yeah, um, so sometimes, you know, when you It looks like it’s too good to believe you want to you want to keep it coming in. So you can be really, really sure she said I I don’t know if that committee is going to tell me I have a problem with 150 but I’m sure they’re not Until the 1000. So

Dr. David Braswell  22:03

I liked the one of the recommendations that you had suggested and we discussed was that how we introduced the invitation to take the survey online needs to be of interest to the to the participant. I knew from my prior research that and being a former school superintendent and principal, we just as principals throughout the nation, we’ll get any training in how to modify employee behavior. They just, you know, we’re instructional methodology experts and things but when it comes to modify employee behavior, for years, it’s always you know, if they violate policy, stopping them, and that just wasn’t the way I wanted to go. So we actually enticed To take the online survey by letting them know that this was research that they had never really been introduced to during their graduate program to get their Superintendent or principals certificate

Dr. Russell Strickland  23:15

yet set it up as a benefit to them. That’s really interesting that you bring that up because this other case that I was just speaking of, I remember the subject line for that email because it was a cold email. It was amazing how well it worked. But she was talking about religion in therapeutic settings. And I believe the subject line for that email was does God belong in therapy, something something like that? It was a definitely in your face going to catch your attention kind of headline. And I credit that honestly more than anything else that I did with getting those responses in because if we said some boring Hey, I’m a poor graduate student, can you please help me get give me some data that would have set an open in the in the inbox Sure, but yeah, when you grab their attention, and you make them think that this is something I actually want to be a part of. It helps a lot.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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