Get It and Keep It: Kimberly Wilson Daniel

Author, educator, and speaker Kimberly Wilson Daniel has had a tremendous impact on me during my short time of knowing her. Her poise and stern warmth is just a small piece of why I admire her. We met through the Sleepless Knights Coach program, and I was given the opportunity to interview her last week. During the interview, her presence illuminated the conversation, as well as the building in which she had entered. While this may sound far-fetched, it should be understood that not all superheroes wear capes. She recognizes that there is a plethora of information showing us what the end looks like, but not nearly enough that explains how to get there or is transparent enough to be relatable. Kimberly Wilson Daniel is a superhero. “Why,” one may ask? Well, simply put: she cares about the youth. Also, let it be clearly stated, she cares about people, but I admire that she cares about millennials. She cares consistently, and that is to be highly respected.

Humble Beginnings

When asked about the feat of entrepreneurship Kim responded, “I grew up around entrepreneurs…” She went on to list the family legacy of entrepreneurship from her father being an electrician, to her brother being a DJ, and her oldest brother working on boats. It is no surprise that she has found solace in doing what God has called her to do. Kim mentioned that being an example to her children was most important and that she wanted to prepare them as well as others to be ready for college and life–on all levels.

“Let me take my behind BACK to the high schools so I can get these kids prepared to come to college. Not only academically, but mentally {and} emotionally prepared to come here. ” – Kimberly Wilson Daniel

Kim’s passion for student success was evident, and she believes that if you are passionate about the things that you teach and preach, then there is no reason that you should be able to practice those things as well. She mentioned this after explaining that she transitioned from working at a college to working as a teacher educating young people on entrepreneurship.

Get It and Keep It

Ms. Daniel went back to the high school to prepare them for what college life was about. I could not help but chuckle when I asked about her biggest challenge working with Generation Y and Millenials–we are an interesting group. She explained to me that we have an “overabundance of information that shows you the end result.” and she could not be more correct.

“It shows you what it looks like, how it feels, what everything is going to be like. Everything that you’re going to experience in your life when you get to that level, but none of it shows you about the process-how to actually get it and keep it. There’s so much more that goes on in that process than the videos and snaps that you see. A lot of people went through a lot of sacrafice and a lot of pain to get to where they are.”

She went on to explain that she and other parents of millennials worked diligently to provide a better life for their children but didn’t teach them how to handle the better life and all that they’ve received. Kim was speaking a truth that I felt and still feel needs to be expressed more. The Millennials have the world at their fingertips and have done virtually nothing for it. This isn’t to say that EVERY one of us is expecting a handout, but many of us do and wallow in the most bottomless pit of self-pity when something doesn’t go our way. Ironically enough she began to explain that her students were doing a presentation on identity theft.

As Kim went into further detail of the requirements of the project, she expressed concern that because students (Millennials) have been taught the A through Z method, that they don’t even consider looking at ‘D’ first. This racked my brain. I had never considered why so many of use the same method and fail. Truthfully, we were all having an identity crisis using the same cookie cutter plan! Now it has been said, if it’s not broken don’t break it. However, she sees that something is broken and needs to be done.

“A video shows you how to do anything. Yet it doesn’t give you critical thinking skills. And these are supposed to be the people we’re sending out to be our doctors and lawyers.”

The Connection

It was clear to me that she and I were thinking on the same wavelength. So much information in our hands, but not enough in our heads. Even more disheartening was that often times the same students she is teaching those critical skills to, go back to a home where there is no conversation being had aside from the text messages sent. This too was something I recognized about youth with whom I’ve worked. Communication skills varied from inexistent to existent but weak. When I inquired about the solution to communication relationship she had this to say:

“What I try to teach and what I tell anybody that I mentor, I paint the end picture for them. I tell them, ‘I’m very verbal about the kids that I teach in class…the things that I encounter with the kids that I coach. Everything. And I tell them this is what’s going on now, then I back them up so they can see this is how they got there. “

It’s also providing them tools and strategies. It’s also about meeting them where they are. They’ve had so many people talking at them instead of sitting down and talking with them. 

At that moment she expressed that for this very reason she’d come out a bit more with her story and in her books; to show them that somebody did the same things they did and made it out!

“All they have is the made is out part; they don’t have the part where we connect so that I can understand that I can make it out. “

Her passion was focused on building a relationship with young people and being consistent with them. She made sure that she supported her students outside of the classroom; not just showing up in a nice car, telling a story then leaving to never be seen again. Kim’s transparency afforded her the opportunity to connect with parents as well to help them understand how to stop generation cycles.

When I asked about her most proud accomplishment she selflessly stated that it wasn’t about what she had done as much as it was about her kids.

“To me, it’s always been about my own kids. It’s nothing, really, that I’m doing. Just the fact…to be in a position to change what’s going on in my own kid’s lives so that they don’t repeat those same cycles. So when I see them with their kids, and when I see videos of them working with them on their name, working on them their spelling, working with them reading a book. Just to see that it’s changing for what’s coming behind me. Just to be an example for them to see. That’s what most important to me.”

As we wrapped up our interview she reiterated that she’s not focused on where her students and those she mentors are today, but where their future leads. This inspires me to keep pursuing better, not only for myself but for those who may look up to me silently and from a distance. I pray that as you’ve read this that you’ve gotten a glimpse of Kim’s greatness to see that success is more the journey than the achievement of a goal. Please make sure to follow her on Instagram (@kimberly_wilson_daniel) and purchase one or more of her books!

Thank you, Ms. Kim! I appreciate you for sharing your time and wisdom.

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