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AP 1090: How Might I Use My Recognition and Award to Grow My Audience?

AP 1090: How Might I Use My Recognition and Award to Grow My Audience?

By Pat Flynn on

Today’s episode of AskPat is great story both because it’s about a cause that’s near and dear to my heart—education—and because I think it’s something we haven’t quite been able to cover before. We talk to Kathy Walker, an assistant principal who recently won the 2019 North Carolina Assistant Principal of the Year award. She has a new podcast about her experience and the realities of the job, Year of APing Dangerously, and she’s wondering what’s the best way to leverage that award to make her show the best it can be.

The first thing we talk about is credibility, which is really important when it comes to who you can get to have a conversation with you. Winning an award, as Kathy has, is very similar to writing a book or making a speaking appearance. It shows people you know what you’re talking about and that they should take you seriously. Combine that with a platform you can offer to people to come talk about their unique perspective (AKA a podcast), and you have a powerful way to connect with people and get them to pay attention. So what I encourage Kathy to do is set her sights high when it comes to reaching out to people who would have really interesting and compelling points of view, like even someone in government or an educator at the national level.

We also get to break down some ideas in Superfans and talk about all the different options Kathy has in terms of how to structure her episodes and pick out topics. That really comes down to thinking more broadly about how your podcast can help your audience, and all the different people you encounter in your day-to-day who might have a unique perspective to share. There’s so much she can do to really help folks and get them talking, and I’m excited for what comes next.

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Pat Flynn: What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 1090 of AskPat 2.0. You’re about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. Today we’re speaking with Kathy Walker, who’s an amazing person. I got to know her in just this short half-hour. She’s an assistant principal who has won an award in her school district and wants to use this recognition for good. She has just started a podcast called Year of APing Dangerously, APing meaning assistant principal-ing dangerously. Again, her name is Kathy Walker. Look her up. She’s a doll. She’s amazing. She also has a background in comedy, which is really cool too. We don’t get super laughy today, but we get super serious about how to help other assistant principals and other people in the education field, which is really important to me as many of you know. Make sure you sit back, listen in because here she is, Kathy Walker from the Year of APing Dangerously podcast. Here we go. Hey, Kathy. Welcome to Ask Pat 2.0. Thanks so much for coming on the show today.

Kathy Walker: Thank you so much for having me. This is very exciting.

Pat: I’m excited too, and I’m excited to learn a little bit about yourself first. If you could tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do, we’ll go from there.

Kathy: Alright. My name is Kathy Walker. I am the 2019 North Carolina Assistant Principal of the Year.

Pat: Congratulations.

Kathy: Thank you. I am an assistant principal. It’s the ugly job of books, buses, and butts, but I’m hoping that it is so much more because we are legion, but unfortunately in our programs where we get degrees and learn all about school administration, there’s nothing really to tell us about the grit and grime of the assistant principal job—the ugly work.

Pat: Thank you for what you do and helping out your principal and the kids at the school. That’s awesome.

Kathy: My one desire was to create a podcast to kind of A, learn something because I don’t feel like just because I have this title I know everything because I know when I became an assistant principal it seems like I had a million things to do and not quite sure where to start. My initial question was for anyone who gets an award, what is the best way to kind of leverage that in your podcast? I know your site focuses on business and I’m really not a business, but I am hoping to become somewhat of a brand because I want to share what I know. When I go to conferences, and I listen to speakers I get so inspired and motivated, and I want to be that for other people.

Pat: Yeah, I love this question.

Kathy: Am I being too grand?

Pat: No, not at all. I think we need to celebrate our wins more as just humans and people. I think that using a title like that to leverage helping others is an absolutely worthwhile thing to do. I love this question and the fact that you don’t have a business, you’re focused on this work and you want to help others who want to do the same work, is very admirable. I think that we can all take lessons from this no matter what it is that we do. You had mentioned the word brand, and I think that’s really important to understand that whether you have a business or not, in this day and age, in your work, at home, online you are a brand. A brand is what people know about you and talk about others with about you. I think that in this idea of helping others, would you want to just help other assistant principals or is it other educators specifically or who is your target audience here, like who are you looking to connect with?

Kathy: I think for my podcast it was initially other assistant principals as well as aspiring assistant principals, but I think sometimes in telling our stories they can also help teachers and other people in education as well as principals and administrators. I was kind of blown away recently visiting an executive cabinet meeting and one of the people in my district actually knew the name of my podcast and pronounced it properly. It’s kind of exciting, but I like to think that hopefully, the message will go out for everybody, anyone who’s interested in education, and working with students and building those relationships.

Pat: I really love that. I have a number of ideas myself for how to leverage this title and how much recognition you are getting now for others to inspire them. I’d love to, just really quick, what is the name of your podcast so everybody can go and check it out?

Kathy: Yes. The Year of APing Dangerously. That’s also the name of the website, I’m a bit of a movie fan, not that that’s my favorite movie, but I just like the whole idea of wait, I got this award for the year, and what do I do with it? That’s why I called it that.

Pat: Cool. I love that you have a podcast because this will enable you to do a number of things, whether you have a title or not. It allows you to connect with others and interview other people. It allows you to have a platform to share this information with others, too. What are some things that you’ve already been doing on the show that have been really exciting for you?

Kathy: I had the idea of a podcast, and I’ve had that since February or March. I actually didn’t have a podcast until I did the Power-Up course.

Pat: Thank you.

Kathy: Shout out and thanks to you because that helped me just put everything kind of in order, and got about five episodes uploaded already. Again, I had a chance to talk to some other APs in my district. I have recently made a transition going from middle school, and I’m such a middle school person, I love them. Now I’m at a high school, so I’m making that transition. I talked to another AP who’s transitioning from middle school to elementary and another one from elementary to middle. So I am going to do a series of shows on making those kind of transitions.

Initially, I wanted to find out what people were reading as far as books they were reading and things that kind of inspired or informed their work, so one of my podcasts focuses on some of our favorite reads for administrators. I guess my initial podcast—and I didn’t realize I was doing this—I just told my story and how I kind of got into education coming from being in the corporate world, working in accounting and post-9/11 wanting to make a life change, a career change and do work that was a little more meaningful. I didn’t realize that was something that I needed to do for branding until I read Superfans, which I just finished this weekend, so I’m just the plug factory for you.

Pat: You are. I owe you a lot right now. I’ll send you your check later. Thank you for that, the plug for the book and the course. Amazing job on that, but I think I want to put it back to you. You took action, you’re connecting with people. Like you said, you didn’t even know this was what you were supposed to do, but in episode one, you told your story, and a podcast is a perfect platform to tell stories. You continuing to tell your story, not just your origin story, but new stories that are coming up in your life as an AP to help inspire others. People remember stories. They resonate with them, they can relate to them, so continue to do that. This is number one, but number two, when you have other people on your show and you invite these people, which by the way, having a podcast gives you some amazing access to people that you wouldn’t have already had access to.

Your podcast plus your recognition can go a long way with bringing other people, principals, assistant principals, other people high up in the education world on your show that you wouldn’t normally have access to. So don’t be afraid to ask and flex that muscle a little bit that you’ve earned of your show and your title to invite people on and just continue to do that. When you do that, pull stories out of them as well, asking questions like, “Tell me about a time when . . .” blank. That’s always a great—and you’ve heard me talk about this in the course. That’s a perfect question to ask to pull a story out of somebody who is on your show. Keep doing that. A person that I think would be very interesting for you to interview would be the person who is the decision-maker for AP of the Year in your district. Obviously, I think they would probably say yes to this, to come on the show to not like, hey come on the show and tell me how awesome I am. That’s not what you want to do, but, “Tell me, what can an AP do to further their career? How can they be recognized in their world too just like you all recognized me?” You know what I mean?

Kathy: That is so simple and awesome because in my mind I keep thinking, I don’t know what it is I do. I’m just doing my work. I’m just doing my thing because to me the ultimate would be to have another AP from my district be recognized because that would be kind of cool because then it’s not a fluke. Then we’re doing something right.

Pat: Yeah.

Kathy: And that means we need to be sharing it.

Pat: Absolutely. Man, your podcast is, maybe it becomes like a yearly thing where there’s a series of four episodes that highlight new APs that are recognized in your district and other districts around your county or whatever—just to recognize them, to give them a platform to obviously honor them, but also get into how they do what they do. What are your thoughts on these episodes that you can create and connecting with these decision-makers for you and your show? Is this helping you sort of wrap your head around how you can use what you’ve built to help others?

Kathy: It is, and it’s getting me thinking of different people that I can bring in. Surprisingly, after I launched there are people like even my principal who said, “Oh, you didn’t ask to interview me.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking and I know part of me feels like, I don’t want to impose. This was kind of my hobby thing do kind of . . . It was just something I wanted to kind of expand my knowledge base, try and podcast, learning more, sharing what I know. I’ve always felt a little guilty about intruding on people. I find that when I’ve gone to conferences and met some folks who have a name in the industry and as far as education goes and who speak at conferences, I think ultimately, that’s something I think I wouldn’t mind doing once I got that confidence under my belt. I’ve met some of those folks, and I would love to reach out to them. But again, I feel like, I’m still new. I haven’t hit a dozen episodes yet.

Pat: Yeah, that’s fantastic, and just keep going. That’s going to, number one, give you the confidence. I’ll tell you, when I first started podcasting, I was definitely not ever going to be up to being on stage before. I didn’t even want to do that, but I started to slowly, over time, become a better communicator, connect with people who said, “Whoa, you’re actually helpful.” I was like, “Maybe I can do this on the stage one day.” Then in 2011 I spoke and that was one of the scariest things ever, but then of course, just like with podcasting, the more you do it, the better you become. More opportunities are going to come your way as well.

I wanted to discuss—you didn’t even know that your principal had wanted to potentially become on the show as well. And I would imagine that as an AP there’s a lot of interesting dynamics between a principal and an AP and that relationship, and obviously an AP and those who are under you and the other teachers. There’s so many aspects of your AP world that can be put into this show. It would just be kind of like getting inside your life, Kathy, getting inside your head about these things. It might be interesting to one day at work, just write down all the little interactions that you’ve had with different people and those could potentially become guests or people like them to discuss that dynamic and how one might work together and stories behind those things. You’re creating an amazing platform here. This is awesome.

Kathy: You know, it’s interesting. For the actual, I was nominated by someone in my district, but then I had to fill out paperwork to apply for the National Assistant Principal of the Year. One thing they asked is for a recommendation from a teacher as well as a principal and a parent. You know what? That’s probably one group that I’m sure a lot of educational podcasts don’t take enough time to tap into. I know parents do their own blogs in regards to education and the education system in this country, but we make those connections all the time working with parents, and that’s a group just talking to you now, it just kind of dinged in my head. Wow, I should reach out to some of my parents who I know I’ve talked with and dealt with in the middle school and now in the high school because I’m sure even they would be able to provide some insight and also help me and other APs kind of understand where they’re coming from.

We have, I don’t know, a thousand, five hundred, nine hundred babies a day to deal with, but usually when you’re dealing with a parent, they just have their one baby. You have to take care of and be mindful of when you’re doing discipline and some of this stuff that APs have to do. That’s not the fun stuff. I know for me, I’ve come to education kind of by way of, I mentioned accounting. I also spent time as a DJ, which is why I have an unconventional podcast set up as well as stand up comedy. Some of that public speaking I have had the experience with it, but again, working it into my life in education is where I’m still trying to put pieces together. Hopefully, the podcast was one way I am hoping to find that voice.

Pat: I would agree with that a hundred percent, that it’s going to help you. Your personality built into the work that you’re doing to help others is what’s going to help you stand out, what’s going to help people connect with you. I would just recommend that as you continue to podcast to be fully yourself and that’s the biggest thing. A lot of times when people build these platforms, we try to be like others. We try to be like those who we learn from, and that’s great to get inspiration and motivation from others, but I think that when you fully embrace who you are and the things that are interesting to you, and combine that with the things that you are teaching, it makes it so much easier to teach. It makes it so much easier for you to find your people and your people to find you, so that’s really amazing. I want to just continue to support you with that.

A lot of my listeners know that I’m very big on education and where it’s going in the future. I think that this ties into a lot of other things. You’re going to have a bazillion different kinds of episodes that you could record. I think that you don’t even know what’s possible for you. There’s a lot of news and things that are happening in the real world today that could be of interest to your listeners as well, from an APs perspective, some things that are very serious like all the school shootings that have been happening.

Kathy: Social, emotional learning is a big topic. Even within our district ourselves, within the last two years, we’ve had six students take their own lives, so that is a big component of what we do. I know for a lot of teachers, a lot of administrators, it’s what we do every day. We don’t think how we’re building those relationships with kids and giving them that space. Sometimes it’s in the simplest things that we do, and those are the kinds of things that I’m hoping to share with others on the podcast because they don’t know. It’s something simple. It’s the pack of crackers that are in my drawer that kids know to come in even when I’m not here, that they can get and grab and go, and just building those relationships that where kids know that they’re cared for.

I had a list of about twenty-five different topics of everything that kind of we deal with. I know that whole thing of wellness is so important, not just for the kids we take care of, but for the teachers and even ourselves. You know Pat, within the last year a teacher friend of mine, we started doing meditation and yoga just to take care of our own wellness because we spent so much time taking care of the kids. You got to worry about yourself, so that’s also an episode I was hoping to focus on, just the whole wellness side of being an educator and an administrator.

Pat: So great. Keep up the good work. I’m so proud of you and I’m so supportive of the work that you’re doing. You’re doing all the right things. Just keep up with it, and hopefully this conversation today helped open up even more about what you can do to leverage what you’ve built and the recognition that you’ve had. Really, it’s not about coming on every episode and saying, “Hey, look at how great I am, and I won all these awards.” Talk about that, and that’s part of you and talking about the award—perhaps in detail—for one episode and what that means to you and why it happened, and invite the person on who’s the decision-maker for future APs on that. That’s great, but really, I think the big leverage comes from you using that title to connect with others who can then come on your show. It gives you a little bit of a difference when it comes to all the noise out there. Just again, most of all, be proud of it because you’ve earned it, obviously, and just use that for motivation as well.

Announcement: Excuse me, students. Please pardon the interruption.

Kathy: That’s too funny.

Pat: I’m hearing something in the background.

Kathy: As we wrap up the announcement is saying, “Please pardon this interruption because that is our end of the day announcements.” I’m so sorry about that.

Pat: No worries. This is real life right here.

Kathy: That’s real life, and that’s the real life of the assistant principal.

Pat: I love it.

Kathy: Just thank you so much because hearing you talk about these things and hearing it from you is just, it’s kind of fueled me now and kind of given me some motivation to move on. I just hope this conversation helps people not in education know that if they got awards or if they have accomplishments that they need to use them and leverage them to the advantage of their podcast, blog, whatever the format.

Pat: A thousand percent, a thousand percent. Kathy, thank you so much. What’s the name of your podcast one more time so people can find that right after this?

Kathy: Year of APing Dangerously.

Pat: APing Dangerously.

Kathy: That is also the name of the website,

Pat: Awesome. Thank you so much, Kathy, for what you do. I appreciate you.

Kathy: Thank you.

Pat: Alright. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Kathy Walker from, again, Year of APing Dangerously. You even heard right there at the end a little bit of school noise, the announcement at the end of school there. This is real life. She was at school doing this. I hope she had permission to do that, but hey, she’s the assistant principal. She can do whatever she wants unless the principal says no, but anyway, really good stories. Really, really encouraging to hear where she wants to take this. I’m excited now. I think the doors have opened up for her after our conversation, and she now knows where to go. I’m excited, and we’ll definitely check in back with her in, I don’t know, several months to see how she does. Again, Year of APing Dangerously.

Hey, for everybody listening right now, thank you so much. I appreciate you. Also, big shout out to everybody watching me live right now on Instagram as I record behind the scenes. If you all read Superfans, you know going behind the scenes is one of the best ways to grow your community, give people something special, and guess what? It’s stuff you’re doing already anyway, so you might as well. Big shout out to all the peeps on Instagram right now. If you’re not following me there, @patflynn is where you need to be. Then also, if you want to get coached here on AskPat just like Kathy did today, all you have to do is go to, find the application button there, submit that thing, and then hopefully, one day in the future I’ll come across it. I check them out. I check them all out, but we literally get dozens a week. It’s slim chances, but guess what? Zero chances unless you do it.

Again, this show would not be called AskPat if nobody asked Pat anything, so fill in that application. Thank you so much and big shout out to all the people who have just recently left reviews for Ask Pat. I appreciate you. Take care. I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Like I mentioned, a couple of episodes ago, some of our where are they now episodes are coming soon. Make sure you subscribe because those are great. We’re going to go back in time with some of the people who have been on the show earlier this year and see where they’re at now just like on Shark Tank, but better, totally better. Anyway, I appreciate you guys. Thanks so much, and Team Flynn for the win.

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