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Ever wondered how history, often confined to textbooks, could become a dynamic narrative sparking curiosity and critical thinking?

In the realm of American history education, Patrick Riccards is not just a CEO; he’s a storyteller weaving untold tales through short films. His intriguing journey that dives deep into the history is the vision behind Driving Force Institute. For him, history isn’t a mere subject—it’s a compelling experience.

Patrick Riccards, a seasoned creator and entrepreneur, embarked on a mission to transform the teaching and learning of American history. His brainchild, the Driving Force Institute, has rapidly become a prominent player in the field, producing over 500 short films that challenge conventional narratives.

Career Outset: Pioneering Creativity

Embarking on a professional odyssey is akin to opening the first chapter of a compelling novel. For Patrick Riccards, CEO of Driving Force Institute, this narrative unfolds with a fundamental drive—to create and innovate. Casting thoughts back almost 15 years, to a moment where parenthood intersected with the genesis of Patrick’s entrepreneurial spirit.

As a new father, Patrick envisioned a trajectory that allowed both career elevation and flexibility to be present for his two children. This journey commenced with the establishment of Exemplar Strategic Communications, conceived in the wake of his daughter’s arrival. Swiftly ascending, it became a prominent player in education communications and public affairs.

Building on this success, the story continued to evolve through Eduflack Strategies, an entity that enriched its offerings with strategic development, messaging, and consulting services. However, the turning point arrived four years ago during Patrick’s tenure as the chief communications and strategy officer at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

In the crucible of this role, a new passion stirred—transforming the landscape of American history education. This passion crystallized into the Driving Force Institute, which today stands as the preeminent producer of American history education films in the United States.

Patrick’s journey, marked by a shift from communications magnate to history advocate, underscores the transformative potential of fervour and the courage to pivot toward a purpose-driven path.

Guiding Aims and Ideals: Fueling Mission-Driven Impact

At the core of Patrick Riccards’ professional philosophy lies an unwavering belief in the potency of mission-driven organizations. A seasoned creator and advocate, Patrick has dedicated over a decade to launching, revitalizing, and transforming entities fueled by a compelling mission.

Whether navigating the realms of healthcare, technology, education, or social services, Patrick instills a public engagement mindset. Recognizing the strength derived from informed stakeholders, momentum-building, and community mobilization, he charts a course where mission alignment is paramount.

For Patrick, “The essence of success resides in belief—belief in the mission, in the people, and the anticipated outcomes.” This conviction propels his leadership, shaping a narrative where teams not only comprehend what they do but, more crucially, why they do it.

In a landscape saturated with ideas, Patrick champions the ‘why’ as the differentiator between a good concept and a flourishing organization. His approach, steeped in purpose, positions him as an advocate of not just sound ideas but successful endeavours driven by a collective understanding of mission and impact.

Long-term Objectives: Empowering Learners

Patrick Riccards envisions a future where the impact of education extends beyond memorization and trivia, reaching the very core of critical thinking. At the helm of the Driving Force Institute (DFI), his goal transcends creating a generation well-versed in historical facts; it aspires to forge critical thinkers, resilient adults, and engaged citizens.

DFI, in less than four years, has evolved into a powerhouse, producing over 500 short films through its Untold History initiative, impacting 50 million users. The driving force behind this initiative is the belief that American history, when presented in compelling and relevant ways, can kindle interest, curiosity, and critical thinking in learners.

Beyond a mere academic pursuit, Patrick’s long-term objective for DFI is clear—it’s a reclamation project striving for a society empowered with knowledge and understanding. His commitment lies in producing educational content that not only imparts historical facts but cultivates a new generation capable of contributing meaningfully to the community and the nation.

Current Projects Overview

In the dynamic landscape of American history education, DFI’s ongoing projects showcase innovation, relevance, and a commitment to untold stories.

Having already created more than 500 short films, DFI continues to reach millions of learners, contributing to a significant shift in how history is taught. The publication of “Why History Matters: American History Educators Speak Out” in 2023, and the establishment of the Walter W. Buckley, Jr. Prize In American History, exemplify DFI’s dedication to recognizing and celebrating achievements in the teaching and learning of American history.

These projects, while exciting, also pose unique challenges, as DFI endeavors to redefine the narrative of American history education, making it not just informative but indispensable in shaping thoughtful citizens for the future.

Inspiration and Influences

In the tapestry of Patrick Riccard’s life, numerous threads weave a narrative of inspiration and influence. At the forefront are his parents, who instilled a sense of encouragement from the very beginning. His wife, Jennifer, emerges as a rock—a constant support and a beacon of positivity, reminding him of the need to stay optimistic and flexible in the face of challenges.

Professional mentors have played a pivotal role in Patrick’s journey, helping him evolve as a leader and entrepreneur. Arthur Levine and Walter Buckley, Jr., in particular, stand out as essential figures in the launch and development of DFI, contributing significantly to its trajectory.

However, the most profound source of inspiration remains Patrick’s children—Miggy and Anna. They are not just the reason behind his endeavours but a driving force compelling him to push boundaries and achieve new heights.

Career Obstacles: Embracing Failure

In Patrick Riccards’ leadership philosophy, failure isn’t a setback; it’s a pathway to growth. Early in his career, driven by an aversion to failure, he sought to prevent it at all costs. However, the dynamic nature of innovation and trailblazing endeavours taught him a vital lesson—failure is inevitable, but its value lies in the lessons it imparts.

DFI’s inception itself is a testament to this philosophy. Initially envisioning a viral spread of short films, Patrick learned a crucial lesson about understanding the audience. The subsequent pivot, focusing on licensing and distribution partnerships, proved pivotal, leading to DFI’s current reach of 50 million users.

The ethos of DFI is grounded in a “fail fast, fail forward” mindset, transforming setbacks into opportunities for learning and growth. This approach has not only shaped DFI into a successful organization but has been instrumental in Patrick Riccards’ development as an effective leader.

Defining Success

For Patrick Riccards, success transcends conventional definitions. It’s not merely the culmination of achievements; instead, it’s a mindset and an approach to every professional opportunity. Success, in his perspective, lies in approaching each endeavour not for its current state but as a canvas to create and build envisioned aspirations.

Drawing inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt’s call to “dare mighty things,” Patrick underscores the importance of daring to dream beyond the present and seeing each professional challenge as an opportunity for innovation. Success, according to him, involves studying and learning from diverse industries, deriving lessons from past failures, and using rejection as a source of inspiration.

Ultimately, success, for Patrick Riccards, is an ongoing journey—a commitment to continuous learning, improvement, and daring to envision and achieve the extraordinary.

Advice for Aspiring Leaders

To the next generation of aspiring leaders, Patrick Riccards imparts invaluable wisdom rooted in his journey as a creator, entrepreneur, and change-maker. His advice revolves around a fundamental question—The Why. Patrick emphasizes that understanding the why of your mission is not just crucial; it’s the cornerstone that can transform a potential idea into a thriving enterprise.

He encourages aspiring leaders to study and learn from other industries, gain insights from past failures, and view rejection as a motivational force. For Patrick, success lies in answering the fundamental question of why, turning it into a guiding North Star that directs both personal and professional endeavours.

As Patrick Riccards continues to pave the way for a new generation of critical thinkers through the Driving Force Institute, his story resonates as a beacon of inspiration. In the landscape of leadership, he exemplifies the profound impact that understanding the why can have, not just in building successful organizations but in empowering individuals to dare to do mighty things and shape a better future.

“Find it, focus on it, and you will always reach your destination,” says Patrick Riccards. His journey, marked by audacious yet calculated risks, belief in his team, and an unwavering commitment to a larger purpose, serves as a testament to the transformative power of understanding and embracing the why.





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