ForCollegeForLife Podcast: K.D. Wilson


Casey J. Cornelius (00:03):

Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of the ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I’m the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife, and I get the pleasure of also serving as the host of this podcast. I get to interview our team members, those who make us who we are, the speakers, the facilitators, the consultants, the authors, the people who make us America’s leading college speaking agency. And some of the most fun episodes that I get to do are when we get to introduce the newest members of our team to you. And this one is going to be a little longer podcast, right? Like some people get, you know, excited about those Fast 15 episodes. This one is a little bit more because we spend some time with our speakers introducing them to you, and also their content expertise and also their origin stories.


So let me tell you a little bit about today’s guest before I bring him to the mic. K.D. Wilson is a nationally recognized leadership development and student success educator. He’s an author and advocate in the areas of leadership influence Greek life enhancement, DEI, educator, compassion fatigue. Great, great phrase by the way. Social justice and program workforce culture transformation. As one of the nation’s leading empowerment educators, KD provides developmental training, seminars, breakout sessions, workshops, keynote speeches to help programs reach their desired goals. He is a husband and father of three. He’s an eight time published author, eight time. He’s a former public school teacher. Two-Time u s a masters track and field national champion, former first responder of seven years, and active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. K.D. is an honors graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Duke University.


He not only shows students how to achieve fulfillment in school and life, but also why education is a critical component too. When he is an inspiring student, K.D. Can be found inspiring educators by helping them overcome burnout, build better student teacher relationships, and reigniting their passions. K.D. is the host of his very own leadership podcast titled I Lead The Way on all podcast platforms. Make sure you subscribe to that after this podcast. He believes that everyone is born on purpose, with purpose and for purpose. Boy, that man, there’s so much to cover here. Let me go ahead and bring to the mic none other than K.D. Wilson. K.D.. Did I do okay with that intro?

K.D. Wilson (02:44):

<Laugh>, it’s always so interesting hearing your bio and intro put out into the world, but you, you nailed it, man. I appreciate it.

Casey J. Cornelius (02:54):

Do you, <laugh> we did not practice this. I’m, I’m just do you ever like, cringe a little bit when you hear all that stuff? Like they’re talking about me <laugh>, like, does it feel strange still?

K.D. Wilson (03:06):

Definitely on stage, not when I have a chance to be on maybe a podcast or talk with somebody one-on-one. But if it’s ever at a conference or before I’m about to go on stage to speak to an audience, I’m hearing this long list of things. I’m, I’m almost like, man, let’s, let’s speed this thing up. Let’s cut half of it out. <Laugh>, we get started. I don’t wanna feel like some hot air balloon up here,

Casey J. Cornelius (03:30):

But there’s, there’s so, so listen, I, I’m, I’m going to just dissect some of your intro to, to know a little bit more about your origin stories and why. So I’m, I’m gonna take it back to undergrad days. So North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Tell me about that. Tell me about your undergraduate experience.

K.D. Wilson (03:50):

Aggie Pride, first of all there you go. The real Aggies, by the way, Texas or whoever it is, I love y’all, y’all are nice. Great. But there is the, the one and true Aggies come from Carolina a T State University anyway. Yeah, man, for me, undergrad was, you know, people say it’s, it’s a very cliche thing to say that something’s life changing. That really was for me, just because of kind of the dysfunction that I grew up in and trying to find my way and discover who I was. For me, you know, being a a, a black male, like coming into an H B C U, and for those that are unfamiliar, that’s a historically black college university. Man, it was such a pivotal point in my life because not only was I able to dig deeper into my own personal roots, which I didn’t really understand growing up, just by nature of growing up in the Marine Corps and moving around so much and being in such diverse locations, I didn’t really get a chance to, to learn a lot about kind of who I was, where I came from, you know, and and so on.


So for me, undergrad man was one of those times where I got a chance to learn more about myself for sure. But I also fell, fell in love with education, and that’s actually where my speaking I guess love and, and passion was birthed.

Casey J. Cornelius (05:17):

Hmm. You, you referenced, and, and you know, one of the things I always love about these podcasts is that, that I learned something about folks, you, even folks who’ve known for a long time, I, I learned something about, so you grew up in a service family?

K.D. Wilson (05:30):

Yeah, yeah. My dad was a United States Marine. So I was born in San Diego, California on a Marine Corps base, and I went to six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. So a lot of jumping around to say the least.

Casey J. Cornelius (05:45):

One of the things that I find consistent about those who grow up in, in service families or families that, that, that move in formative years is that there’s a certain learned adaptability that you have to take on. Like when, when you’re jumping into a new elementary school or middle school or high school, like, you have to learn how to, I don’t wanna say fit in, but like, find, find your place pretty quickly, right.

K.D. Wilson (06:13):

Very fast. And, you know, the, the hardship with that and, you know, for some of the listeners that might be able to understand this concept, be it because of you grew up in a, in a, in a service family, or honestly for some that might have grown up in like foster homes and, but you’re understanding what either displacement and having to move so much that adaptability. I mean, you, you couldn’t have said it any better. Not only do you have to learn how to adapt, but you also have to learn emotional intelligence at a very young age, because I realized probably after first grade that was most likely gonna lose my best friend in two or three years because we were being stationed or moved somewhere else. Mm-Hmm. You know, people don’t really take that stuff into consideration. They think that, oh, you know, you had a military family and you guys got a chance to travel and see the country.


And for some people see the world, and while it has its pluses, it also has its minuses for sure. And that was one of those pieces that I unfortunately held onto a lot longer than I wanted to because you then become to condition yourself into realizing I’m a bit of I’m a bit of a loner here because whenever I go somewhere new, I don’t want to really build any more relationships because the chances are they’re gonna be stripped from me, and I have to go back to this grieving process and losing process. And as an elementary age kid and growing up in middle school like that, that’s pretty tough.

Casey J. Cornelius (07:34):

You know, I, I never thought about it from that perspective until you said it, it, it’s almost like it’s easier in a way than I, I would imagine to be standoffish. I, I, I guess because knowing that, you know, if, if you let your guard down and, and make these friends and make these connections knowing that you’re going to have to to leave it, it does reintroduce a grieving process.

K.D. Wilson (07:56):

Yeah, it does. And, and for me I mean, on top of the fact that you’re growing up in a service family, you know, the Marine Corps is tough, man. It’s it is what it is. You know, we have one of our great team members you know, Chris Molina, he understands, you know, that the Marine Corps, and I’m not, you know, I’m not being, I guess silly about it towards other branches, but there’s something very different man about the United States Marine Corps and how they are, are trained and, and really kind of groomed to, to move towards the most difficult of circumstances. And that takes a toll on the, on the person, their personality too. I don’t care who you are, no one is, you know, able to just block out all of the, the, the challenges that you, you experience and face. So those things come home with you, you know, as well. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> not, not only was I having to kind of navigate that space with school, which is where a lot of people gain their confidence, their identity, you know, all those things. Because the average person probably might experience one or two elementary schools, but not, not six, you know? Right. You, I went to more elementary schools and you have grades,

Casey J. Cornelius (09:12):

You know, I, I, I’m also, and, and I know we’re gonna move on from, from Element <laugh> Elementary, and I feel like we started with college and we’re working backwards, but it’s also one of those things where, you know, if you’ve ever, if, if you’re one of those people for whatever reason, who’s ever changed schools, and I, I, I know I did growing up, it’s really hard when you’re trying to find your place with folks who have been in school together since they were in kindergarten. Like, you know, you go to a high school, it’s like, we’ve been friends since we were in kindergarten. And it’s like, well, I just got here three minutes ago. So it’s, it that’s, that’s hard to, to sort of wrap your mind around too a little bit. Right?

K.D. Wilson (09:49):

It is, it is. And I think one of the interesting parts is that once we actually did leave the Marine Corps, we ended up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. That was the last state that we lived in before my parents went there separate ways. And there were only two two non-white kids in the entire school, me and another kid named Courtney Black, ironically. But that was it. Everybody else around us was, you know Caucasian. So that was a, a culture shock. And then coming to North Carolina where I live now, and have lived for some time, tracking back into college, you know, moving up through middle school, through high school, and then ending up in an H B C U, I think that’s why I say it was such a necessary and pivotal point for me to really get a chance to to be amongst I guess culture and community in a different way that I hadn’t been before. And then seeing people really operate in excellence when it came to academics. And just that, that personal growth.

Casey J. Cornelius (10:52):

That’s awesome. No, that’s a, that’s a really interesting way of connecting the dots. So let’s, let’s jump ahead a couple years then. So, so now we’re at, we’re at Duke University. So tell me about grad school

K.D. Wilson (11:02):

<Laugh> now, again, moving back to move forward. You know, a and t is one of the nation’s best HBCUs. That’s not just me talking, like, they have one of the best engineering programs in the entire country, H B C U or not. So coming from a school where you know, culture and history is celebrated, and particularly for people of color, where you are challenged to be not only the best version of yourself as you should be, you know, but you have people that understand kind of where you come from. And then transitioning into graduate level degree programs at Duke University, which is clearly not an H B C U that was a different experience. And my master’s is actually in Christian studies and theology with a concentration of restorative justice, because I was a police officer while I was going through grad school, which is a story in and of itself.


Mm-Hmm. but, you know, coming into a space where I looked around and didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me, and then even within, you know, the professors belonging is important for anybody. I don’t care who you are, where you come from, or what your background is. When you walk into a place, you want to not only feel, but truly sense that there is a space for you there. And there are times when you have to create space for yourself. And there are other times when net space is waiting on you. And I think at Duke, for me, it was a place where I had to create space for myself. But in doing so, I was able to learn more about me and some of my peers and even professors that did help me through that time. Because Duke, duke is tough, man. It is not an easy school to go to academically.

Casey J. Cornelius (12:52):

Yeah. I I, I can only imagine that. I, I wish I wish we had q on on the podcast right now, and you could all talk about the, the Duke, North Carolina rivalry, a little <laugh> a little bit more deeply to see see how deeply those those colors go. So there’s, there’s so much in, in your, in your bio, and, and I, I just kind of wanna talk about a couple that sort of jump out, right? So Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, I love the fact that you identify as an active member. And, and this is something maybe for some listeners who don’t understand the distinction, they’re like, wait, I thought he graduated. I thought, you know, he’s, he’s, you know, in, in his post undergraduate adult life. Now. Can you talk a little bit about that membership and also the I identity of being an active member?

K.D. Wilson (13:38):

Absolutely. shout out to my brothers of Omega Psi Phi. If you aren’t familiar with who we are we are what’s considered Divine nine H B C U oriented, honestly fraternities, but it’s open to anyone, of course. It’s just more the, the founding of it was largely based within the black and African American culture. But within that, you know, for me, we are the ones you might see in purple and gold gold boots, probably possibly even barking. That sounds silly. But once you kind of experience our fraternity and kind of get in that space, you get a feel for the true bond and and brotherhood there. For me, you know, it was something that when I saw it, I knew, I don’t know what this is, but I’m gonna find out because that’s home.


You know, there’s sometimes in, in life when some people say, and it sounds cheesy, but they say, oh, your love at first sight. You know, there’s some things when you see it, you just know that the intrigue is there, that magnetic draws there, there’s something that is pressing that curiosity button and you want to find out more. So that’s what I did. And I happened to have some friends that were already a part of the fraternity. And you know, after learning more about what the Cardinal principles are, and for us, it’s manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. Those were all things that I was already living out. And I want to be able to amplify not only that voice, but meet like-minded people that were in positions to really help grow and progress, not just, of course, our culture and community as people of color, but all those that we come in contact with, no matter who we are, where we are.

Casey J. Cornelius (15:34):

And, and K.D. A a little bit on the, the active still identifying as an active member today.

K.D. Wilson (15:42):

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I, I think that’s it’s easy. It’s very, very easy to start something and leave something. And the reason I say that is the, the distinction between either stagnation someone that’s active, or someone that is gone or non-active, if you will, can be seen in just about any profession, any relationship, any status you might have. There are people that have been, you know, in a marriage, for instance, right, for 15, 20 years, but they haven’t been active, you know, that I do, that you start out with that, that frb or that drive that you started out with has dwindled and died out. You know, it’s the same thing when it comes to your fraternal membership, in my opinion. There are people that not only are contributing financially, you know, to their chapter, and it’s not a money grab, but contributing financially because you’re looking at, particularly for us and even, you know, my, my chapter in, in High Point, North Carolina man, you know, we’re putting out scholarships to high schoolers, you know, we’re doing blood drives.


We’re out with the voting boosts when it’s time for, for that. We’re, you know, moving to really progress the areas that we are a part of, because it really is about service and building. So to be an active member is someone that’s still engaged. You know, I, I think about if you’ve ever watched the, the original top Gun, you know, at the, at the end, that last battle after Goose was already gone, you know, Maverick kind of loses it, and he kind of go draws off to the right while the fight’s still going on. Then all of a sudden he comes back to himself and he reengages and he gets back into the fight. That’s one of the first things that kind of pops into my head, is that it’s easy to start out and doing something with excitement and joy and what have you, but there, it’s, it’s also easy for people to disengage, you know? So for me, being an active member means that what I said I would do in the beginning, I’m still doing right now, and have no desire to pull back from it outside of circumstances that are, you know, beyond my control.

Casey J. Cornelius (17:57):

Man, what a fantastic analogy. Like, I, I’ve, I’ve never, it’s one of my favorite movies, but I’ve never thought about the analogy in, in that win. With your permission I know we’re recording here, but but I might steal that analogy ’cause that is a fantastic way of, of framing the the whole active versus inactive, by the way. A a a friend, a member of your fraternity I always, I always chuckle, he’s Thaddeus Bullard, WWE, Titus O’Neill he would, he would throw up the sign on TV and bark, and people thought that that was his thing. And it’s like, I always, I always laugh ’cause I’m like, no, no, no. That’s a, that’s a cue right there. So, <laugh> shout, absolutely shout out. Shout out to tha. Yeah. K.D., I want to ask you, it’s something else again, that, that jumps out. I don’t know how many, how many times you have a a chance to talk about this. You’re a two time u s a masters track and field national champion.

K.D. Wilson (18:54):

That’s true. That’s true. And not many people actually ask about that story, which is interesting to be able to share, because, you know, for those that don’t understand, the difference between just being a national champion is usually college to after. And for me, it ties into really how I address perseverance and passion. You know, passion, the, the root word of passion is actually sacrifice. A lot of people think that passion is just something that is enticing and even romantic to a degree. But the, the true definition and core of passion man is something that you’re willing to give something up for. And for me, track and field started back in high school, and when I got to college, I wanted to run track for for a and t, and I won’t shout any names, but I’ll say that the coach didn’t believe that I had the potential to be a, a, a helpful member of the team, even though, in all honesty, my times and some of my scores were better than some of the people that were already on the team.


Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. The reason I share that is because I believed what he said, and I went and sat in the bleachers and watched people practice knowing that I could compete right alongside them. And after a while, I already transitioned into different clubs and groups, you know, within my, my degree space. I was a psychology major, and, you know, family and life starts happening, and you’re trying to figure out these next steps because graduation’s coming, and next thing you know, my entire you know, college athletic career was gone because you have to have, you know, competed within a certain window of time. So afterwards you know, there’s sometimes in life where you have regrets and you, the, the hard thing I tell people about regret is that you’ll never know what could have been. And for me, it’s rare that you get a second chance at something you wanted to do.


And I knew that I wouldn’t get the chance to go back and run into college space again because of just the formalities of, of being able to be an athletic you know, be an athlete in the college undergrad realm. But I knew that u s a track and field had a master’s league, which was that next tier up, where people were still competing at a high level and people that still had a draw and a drive to be a part of the sport that they probably loved or even was curious about. So I’m a two-time national champion in the indoor space, and that’s in the long jump and triple jump, which interestingly enough, when I told myself, because that’s where everything starts, what you tell yourself first I told myself I’m gonna do this, and sure enough indoor national championships happened to be in my state, and I started training for the long jump, and I realized that I had a pretty good, a pretty good hitch kick.


And I was like, okay, I might be able to get this triple jump thing down. The issue was I hadn’t competed and really done that particular event before, so I was having to learn it new and Wow. Yeah. And there wasn’t a coach to train me on top of it. So I went to local colleges here that had track and athletic programs and said, Hey, listen, I’m a a master’s athlete. I’m, I’m pretty skilled in the long jump, but I wanna learn the triple jump. Will you teach me? Can you coach me? Can you give me some drills? And everybody in the area said, no. And I was looking like, okay, well, Nashville’s is coming up in like five, six months. I gotta figure this out fast, you know, and nobody would really help me, man. So instead of sitting down and complaining about it, I helped myself.


And I went on YouTube University, and I just watched every single video I could find. I went on online and looked up every drill I could find. I got my cell phone. I laid it up against a brick right next to the, the long jump space and, or the, the pit rather. And I counted my steps and I watched myself. I would run practice, jump record, review, and do it again. And I did it over and over and over again until I figured it out. And then by the time nationals came around, man it showed up and I won.

Casey J. Cornelius (23:37):

That is wild. That it is wild to think that from ideation to achievement is six months, right? Because my guess is that you were also competing against people who had been doing that event for years and years and years, and you’re like, yeah, yeah. I started thinking about this, and I started studying on YouTube six months ago. That’s awesome. That’s, listen, I, I wanna pause for just a second. If you haven’t yet, please check out to learn more aboutK.D. Signature programs ev everything that makes him who he is. There was something about your story, though that really stuck out to me, and, and maybe we can process it a little bit. So there was an opportunity for a coach to have either encouraged you or discouraged you, and again, without, without naming names and all that other kinda stuff, thi this person discouraged you from potentially a achieving your potential. Was that experience influential for you as, as you set out professionally in terms of encouraging other people related to their potential?

K.D. Wilson (24:51):

Absolutely. in high school, my senior year my senior counselor told me that I wasn’t college material when I went into his

Casey J. Cornelius (25:02):

Office. Same, same. I had the same talk. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

K.D. Wilson (25:06):

Might’ve been the same person. <Laugh>,

Casey J. Cornelius (25:08):

<Laugh>, maybe.

K.D. Wilson (25:09):

But the, the, the reason I bring that up is because when you’re told no so many times, if you begin to identify yourself with people discounting and downgrading you, then you will align your belief system, your actions, and your level of pursuit in life with that title. And for me, I think the only reason I actually listened to that coach was because in my head I said, oh, well, he’s the expert here. And what I tell people now is, man, never let someone’s opinion of your yesterday dictate and determine your tomorrow. You know, people can look at where you come from and they can see what your grades might be, or what kind of issues or challenges or hardships you might’ve experienced in a manila envelope from years ago or even yesterday, that has absolutely nothing to do with today or tomorrow. Because if you wake up and your heart’s beating and you’re breathing, you have a chance to become and do something that you’ve never done before.


So I absolutely tell people be it students, be it in the, the corporate world with leadership development or even of course, in the, the college space, that you have to have a conversation with yourself first and know what you stand for and why you stand for. One of the three questions that I ask myself pretty regularly is why here? Why me, why now? And I have to be able to answer those questions for myself, because I’m the one that dictates and determines my level of opportunity based on my, my aggressive pursuit towards a thing. So it absolutely ties in with how I both communicate to people and why I communicate with the space of authority. There’s a lot of people that read some really cool books, and you can kind of tell regurgitated information when you hear it, but there are some people, man, that when you get in the same room and same space with them and you hit that button, they, they shift gears and switch gears real fast.


And that place for me is a place I’ve, of course, I’ve of course, healed from, but I’m passionate and I get semi aggressive with it, a good aggression. But I, I, I get very passionate about that because I want them to know whoever that person might be. I can be in a grocery store for all I care. Regret is not something I want anybody to live with, because again, you can’t get that chance back. You might get something that’s close to it. You might get something that’s new and still revolves in that same space, but you only get one shot at something, you get one time. So to answer your question, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, it absolutely influences how I move forward and encourage people to find that drive and have that that never quit, never give up attitude.

Casey J. Cornelius (28:09):

Sometimes I think the people who are the best speakers are the people who deliver a message that they wish they had access to when they were in different spaces. So you, your message, I’m sure if we peel back all the, all the onion layers, is the message that you wish, you know, teenage, young twenties, early career K.D. Wilson had as well. And I think that that’s what makes you so successful. But, but I’m, you’ve had a very career, but I, I guess I want to get to the heart of the issue and, and ask you this question. Why were you drawn to speaking? Like, what is it about this work that resonates and resonated so much with you?

K.D. Wilson (29:04):

Man, you, you probably, you wouldn’t have known, you just did it, but you couldn’t have said it probably any better. Right before you asked me that question, I told myself I was going to be for others what I didn’t have. And in some cases, I was going to be for others what I did have, because what I did have in my undergrad times were a couple of professors and one counselor that saw some potential in me that I couldn’t see when I needed it. Most. What I had in high school was one teacher and one track coach that pulled me to the side and said, Hey, what are you doing? We’re, we’re, you’re not going to live some average life. You’re made for more than this. Get out and go. Like, that’s what I had. And I told myself, okay, if I know how much of an impact those people had on me, though they will probably never truly understand the magnitude of appreciation that I have for them, I mean, it, I’m almost tearing up thinking about some of them.


And I, I have all their names logged in my head. Those people truly, truly shifted something in my very soul, because again, I came from like a broken home man. Like my dad was, you know, absent, my mom worked three jobs phenomenal woman, you know, just making the best of what she had and doing it with a smile on her face, you know? And when you’re watching somebody go through a struggle, but you know, you don’t even really have the, the ability to help the best thing you can do is smile. You know, give ’em a hug, cheer ’em on. And I say all that to say that there were gaps that were filled for me in my life by some of those professors, by that counselor, by my coaches, that they will, they, they couldn’t have known. They were filling.


And the speaking not just profession, but the ability to speak for me, became more of a responsibility and a calling than it did a job or a profession. You have a chance to say something that will outlive your physical body at some point in time. I know that, you know, my time on this earth will come to an end, but what I say can be recorded. What I say can become a seed in someone else’s heart that will hopefully outlive me. And hopefully that will shift and transcend even their understanding and move into maybe an action or, or a thought or a hug at the right time for their kid one day that could break some of bad generational habits that might’ve come up through their family. Like you, you never know what you say. And how it can absolutely transform not only an entire family, but if you look at the world we live in, the world in and of itself, because the people that did the most didn’t always say the most audibly, but they said a lot what their actions. But public speaking more times than not, was also a part of that. So when I think about what influence and what impact I want to have in this world, I want people to know that I was here, and not for the sake of, but to know that I was able, like I said, to be something for someone that I needed when I was in their space.

Casey J. Cornelius (32:47):

Y you know, I’m, I’m not surprised, but my, my guess is that folks who are listening to this episode right now are, are are impacted and touched by, by what you just said because, you know, we, we’ve referenced the term passion a along the way in this conversation, and your passion clearly comes through, and it comes through when you reflect and reference what you want to be true in the future. K.D., you know, a topic that a lot of people don’t talk about it a lot, but, but I know it’s important to you, and I know you referenced it in terms of your graduate study as well. Can you talk a little bit about faith and how that influences your work as well?

K.D. Wilson (33:30):

Yeah, for sure, man. You know, without being you’re a cookie cutter person, if you will. The faith man, for me is everything. And it’s not a matter of trying to force something down somebody’s throat or get someone to assimilate to what you believe, because we’re all our own individual people. We all make our own choice. We all have our own belief systems, but for me, man, I, I know how I function when you leave me to my own devices, and it ain’t pretty <laugh>. You know, the, the things I’ve been able to do and the impact that I’ve been able to have, you know, for me absolutely ties into my, my personal belief in God, man, and the compassion and love that I feel has been poured out on me. And for me, that shifts into why I care so much for those that I come in contact with, because I can keep it at a base level and just look at somebody and know, listen, you’re somebody’s kid.


I don’t care who you are, how you identify where you might come from, what you’ve been through. You have value. You’re somebody’s kid from somewhere like you. You’re not just a nobody, you know. And for me, man, my faith allows me to keep that, that fire stoked and rekindled whenever I look at humanity and start to feel down or frustrated or depressed or bothered by what I see it’s a reminder that there’s still work to do in that space of appreciating and loving on people, man. And creating space for belonging, wherever that might be. And for a lot of people, I understand, man, that unfortunately there’s been so much damage and hurt and trauma that’s come in that space of faith for many. But for me, that’s never my, my goal my goal, man, is that when you’re around me, when you leave, hopefully you feel that you were in the presence of someone that cared about you from head to toe to the, to the best degree that I can, because I’m a flawed human being.


If you knew <laugh>, how jacked up, you know, I am, man you probably look at me sideways. But that’s the beauty of forgiveness, the beauty of growth, and for me, the beauty of love and faith knowing that I’m loved beyond my actions because we can discount and, you know, really cut someone out in this, this day and age, the cancel culture. We, we can cancel somebody based on an, an error or a mistake or a poor choice, be it intentional or not. So for me, man, coming up through the college, you know, time and definitely being a father, a husband a leader in my community, my faith is huge. It keeps me grounded. It reminds me that there is a mirror that says, Hey, look here. The scars are there, you know, but that doesn’t mean that you’re ugly. You know the scars a reminder of what you’ve been through. They’re not always a, a signifying piece of, of what you still are. So love reigns supreme for me. And again, for some people that might sound like, oh, cue the violin, you know, but for me,

Casey J. Cornelius (37:01):

<Laugh> No, no, no,

K.D. Wilson (37:03):

It’s it’s a lot deeper than that. So, yeah, faith is a, is a core piece. I

Casey J. Cornelius (37:12):

I have said before, you know, e every once in a while, student or professional will challenge me on something, and they’ll be like so you’re saying that, that that you always get this right? And I always, my default explanation is, I am an imperfect messenger, and many of the things we talk about are the things that, that we constantly are working on as well. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know anyone who, who I want to be around for more than five minutes, who’s like, I’ve got it all figured out. <Laugh>, <laugh>, right? And, and you know, that, that idea that, that the scars remind us, and they’re, they’re always, they’re always there, even if nobody else sees them. We still know the origin story and, and where we came from and what we’re trying to avoid moving forward.


And man, I, you know, I, I just have to say on a human level for, for those who are listening, thank you. First of all, thank you for listening. As always your story resonates in, in a lot of ways with me, and I’m sure with them as well. I, you know, in, in our conversation today, we, we’ve kind of done the, the how and the what and the why. Katie, can, can we have some fun here and, and do the, the standard rapid fire questions that we ask all of our folks, you wanna have a little fun as we as we wrap this one today,

K.D. Wilson (38:33):

Bring it.

Casey J. Cornelius (38:35):

Alright. So I know with your busy schedule, this is, this is pure fantasy, but, but I’m gonna ask it anyway. Let, let’s imagine for a second that you have an entire day to binge watch anything. What do you choose?

K.D. Wilson (38:50):

Ooh, that is a good question. Give me about mm, gimme about 25 seconds, <laugh>. Okay. what am I binge watching?

Casey J. Cornelius (39:04):

Re recognizing the fact that, that, as we identified, K.D. Not only speaks and writes, and, but he’s a father of three, like, this schedule is, is tight, right? So the idea of having a whole day is, is again, fantasy land. But just for a second, imagining, right? <Laugh>.

K.D. Wilson (39:22):

If I had to binge watch something, you know what, I might, I’d probably go back and I’d roll through Dragon Ball Z

Casey J. Cornelius (39:33):

Oh, oh, I’d see, I didn’t expect that. Okay.

K.D. Wilson (39:37):

I sure would. And I, I would roll through Dragon Ball Z because I think and for those that don’t know, dragon Ball Z is, I’m not even gonna tell you to go look it up. You’re welcome in advance. But one of the main characters, Goku on there, and it’s all like the, the anime you know, Mar I, I grew up doing martial arts. I’ve always been like a martial artist. So to think that someone can generate power and energy from their body, you know, and fired out like a freaking cannonball is just crazy to me. But also that particular character’s level of determination towards justice towards loving his family and protecting not just his own, but all I think, resonates with me. So, yeah, I’d probably sit back and see how much I can, I, I can identify with the, with the lead character.

Casey J. Cornelius (40:31):

I love it. I, you know, I have to be honest with you, if you had asked me to answer this question for you, I’m not sure Anime would’ve been on my, my assumption list,

K.D. Wilson (40:41):

<Laugh>. That’s awesome.

Casey J. Cornelius (40:42):

That’s awesome. All right. See, see, we’re, we’re constantly being surprised. Katie, what is the most used app on your phone?

K.D. Wilson (40:50):

Ooh, most used app on my phone right now is probably Instagram. So go check me out. I am Katie Wilson. I a am k d w i l s o n, <laugh>, <laugh> shame people up. And that’s because one, you know, it gives me a chance to connect with people that I’ve, I’ve come in contact with. I like just the concept of Instagram, because you get a chance to kind of look at videos, and it’s not for me, as much of a, of a rabbit hole as Facebook, or Meta, or whatever you’d like to call it now, is where you end up reading so many stories and you click a button, it takes you videos, and you click a button, you go here, Instagram, it’s a rabbit hole too. But for me, it’s a more controlled rabbit hole. And it also gives me a chance, like I said, to connect with some of the students and professionals and even friends and family, and see what else other people are doing. And sometimes, man, honestly, when I’ve had this, like a long day, I just need like mindless entertainment, if you will. Mm-Hmm. I don’t have to do anything, be anything for anybody. I can click in the search button, you know, comedy skit or funny people falling or whatever it might be. And just, and just sit for a minute and just be me. You

Casey J. Cornelius (42:08):

Know, I, I sidebar question or, or comment. I recognize the fact that I’m, I’m showing my, my age and time on social media here a little bit. Do, do you miss the days though, where people used to, I don’t know, just, just post photos of what they hit for lunch? Like, I, I sort of enjoyed that. Like, it felt, it felt less stressful than <laugh> than sometimes sometimes opening those house, like people used to show you what they had for lunch.

K.D. Wilson (42:35):

Yeah, I know what you mean, man. I mean, social media. Well, listen, I’m, I’m 39, I’ll be 40 next. I’ll be 40 in August. And you know, for me, man, just that, that timeframe of kind of knowing where the internet started and seeing how social media’s grown yeah, I, I can understand what you mean. Sometimes less is more. But there’s also a beauty to some of the tech world, I think, which we have to be careful about. That’s a whole different ball game. Sure, sure. But I think that in seeing the cre, that’s the part, seeing the creativity that people have taken, just that still shot of their lunch and they formed into something that I never even thought could be, I think is crazy how you can put a sandwich in Dubai when you live in, you know Chicago, I don’t know. But people just with their technological abilities and stuff, you know, it’s phenomenal. So I miss some of the old, but I appreciate the new,

Casey J. Cornelius (43:34):

I tell you, the one that, again, we’re side baring. This is, by the way, folks, this is what speakers do. They, they talk about these things that go down rabbit holes. I apologize. The one app that I find particularly interesting, and my daughter would tease me if, if she heard me right now, because I have not yet gotten good enough to do it. Every day there’s an app called BeReal, and random time in the day, it tells you, now’s the time to post, and you post a forward facing photo and a backward facing photo. And that’s it. And it, it eliminates the, the, the nature of curated photos and, you know, touch ’em up and all that other kind of stuff. It is, it is literally intended to just be real. So folks, if you haven’t checked that one out, make make sure you do, maybe take a photo of your lunch. Let’s speaking of food next question. Katie, who would you most like to have dinner with?

K.D. Wilson (44:23):

Ooh, I would most like to have dinner with man, you know, I’m usually the one that poses these kind of questions. That’s a good one. Give me just a second to kind of think about that

Casey J. Cornelius (44:37):

Other side of the mic. See, this is the thing with, with podcast folks, when they get on the other side of the mic, sometimes it’s hard. It’s like, darn.

K.D. Wilson (44:45):

And this is past, present, future, anybody at all,

Casey J. Cornelius (44:47):

However you wanna take it.

K.D. Wilson (44:49):

Okay. I’d like to have dinner with myself, actually. And the reason I say that is because I think it would be interesting to see how, how I present knowing who I am. So sitting down and asking myself those introspective questions and seeing my own facial expressions, seeing my mannerisms, how I move. And then if I could say it from the place of, you know, me 20 years from now sitting with me right now, I, I’d love to have some, some conversations about some of the pluses and minuses of decision making that we’ve had.

Casey J. Cornelius (45:34):

That is deep. The, the whole like, future, you, you know, what, what did we do, right? What advice would, because there’s always this, like, what advice would you give to 18 year old version of yourself? So as, as you’re nearing 40, 60 year old version of yourself, what advice would you give to be at 40? Like, that’s, that’s profound.

K.D. Wilson (45:53):

Yeah. Yeah. Give a chance, chance, sit and just see, like I said, you know and sometimes man, I, I think that we need to actually appreciate ourselves a little bit more. When we get stuck in that, that cycle of just work, family, home, school, whatever it might be for you, whatever that, that predictable cycle is we have to do our best man to try to break that. Because I think for anyone listening right now, what I would challenge you to do is take that time while you have it right now, sit down with yourself for real. Get a sheet of paper out and write down some of the things you’re feeling, some of the things you’re experiencing, but also write down some of the things you’re proud of, you know, proud of yourself about. And for, because we tend to overlook our own resume. And I think that’s, it’s valuable.

Casey J. Cornelius (46:44):

There’s so many places in this podcast that are going to be potential sound bites. That one might have been a potential soundbite. Who, who knew that we were gonna hit that on the, who would you most like to have dinner with? Okay, F fourth question. Okay, so Katie, what do you do to wind down? Do you have any rituals or signals that tells yourself at the end of the day, like day is over time to start decompressing? What do you do to wind down?

K.D. Wilson (47:07):

I’m going to the gym. I don’t even have a second thought about it. I’m going to the gym. I’m a night owl. So when I get my kids in the bed, y’all come help me. ’cause They’re all under, under nine <laugh>. Which takes like an hour and a half. So by the time I get them in bed, I’m probably a different person. I need to go to the gym, <laugh>. But, but that, that’s just my place, man. It, it honestly is shout to Planet Fitness, by the way, in Greensboro. Yep.

Casey J. Cornelius (47:36):


K.D. Wilson (47:37):

Westridge in particular, I don’t know about the other ones, but Westridge, that, that’s my place. You ever, you ever in Greensboro come hit me up. I’m in there after nine, but that’s my place, man. Where Hon, and here’s the thing you’ll probably appreciate. I practice my speaking in the gym. Some of my best ideas have come in the middle of a workout underneath the weight, underneath the bar, you know, or moving through a circuit training that I’m putting myself through, because for me in the gym, I don’t have to be anything for anybody except for me. I don’t have to be a husband, a dad a professional. I don’t have to be anything except for whatever it is I want to be. And in that moment, and it’s just my psyche. So just work with me here. But in my mind, I’m, I’m shifting and transitioning like my body and my mind into just a, a, a warrior mentality. And that’s just kind of how I work. And for people that might be kind of giggling, like, oh, planet Fitness, come do a workout with me. You’ll see. But you know,

Casey J. Cornelius (48:36):

You, you and I have had this conversation because I’m a Planet Fitness guy as well. Like, I recognize the stigma. And, and for a long time, I, I guess I had it because you absorb what other people say about this, this stuff. They’re like, oh, you can’t really get a good workout at Planet Fitness. And I’ve chuckled like, come work out with me, come work out with me, come work out with Katie and I, it does not matter, by the way, whether it’s Planet Fitness or whatever gym you go to, or, or you know, whether or not you’re lifting bricks in your yard. Like, it does not matter if your intention is right. You, you can get a, you can get a workout anywhere.

K.D. Wilson (49:10):

Oh, your, your body will, you don’t even have to have weights. You can do body weight exercises. And the biggest thing you all, for anyone listening is movement. You know, like what, what happens? You know what, what happens to a car that you leave in a yard, you know, for, so you can have a perfectly functioning Ferrari and you leave that bad boy in the front yard, don’t drive it for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and see what happens to it. It rusts, it decays, the engine breaks down. Nothing really works. If that happens to a car that man and a people created, what do you think your body’s doing? You know? So that’s not to shame or judge anyone. It’s just to say, Hey, whatever movement like might look like for you, just stay moving because we need you around. You know? So, yeah. Well for me, that, that decompressing ability to just kind of be and breathe and speak and encourage people. And that’s why I said I practice my speaking while I’m there because I’ll come up and I’ll fist bump somebody, I don’t know, just to encourage ’em, let ’em know, dude, I saw that workout. You were struggling and you pushed through, you know? And if there’s ever advice I can give people, if they’re willing to listen and I’ll share it, but if not, that’s my space.

Casey J. Cornelius (50:28):

So listen, shout out to Planet Fitness. If, if if you wanna sponsor anybody, you give us a call. ’cause I, I gotta tell you the other thing, pulling back the curtain here a little bit, one of the things that is so nice in, in the work that we do is that we can be almost anywhere in this country and find a place to work out. And that is a beautiful thing.

K.D. Wilson (50:49):

Yes, it is. The eating part’s a little bit harder ’cause we’re on the road. We gotta find

Casey J. Cornelius (50:53):

That. That’s right.

K.D. Wilson (50:55):

But you can find a gym though.

Casey J. Cornelius (50:57):

Well, spe speaking of the work that we do, again, folks, if you haven’t yet, please visit for college for, learn more about his signature programs. If you’re interested in hosting him on your campus, in your organization, please let us know. Last question, Katie, I’m gonna get you outta here on this one. How can listeners best connect with you? I know you dropped Instagram before. How can listeners best connect with you?

K.D. Wilson (51:18):

Man, I am an easy to find person. You can go to my website, it’s Shoot me an email I check my email regularly. So even if it’s somebody that says, Hey, Katie, I heard, you know, something you said or mentioned on the podcast, it doesn’t have to be, you know, speaking oriented. Maybe it’s something that’s, you know, more, more life functioning. Shoot me an email. I, I’d love to connect with you. I’m one of those people that whenever I go to a place, I tell them I’m not some one and done educator and speaker. I just happen to be an educator that speaks like, it’s not my whole life. I’m a human being and a person that really believes in advocating for and being a resource and a support system for people wherever I go. So I still have to say that, man, if I tell you I’m gonna hit you up or shoot me a message, shoot me one. Because I’ll, I’ll get back to you and respond. I got three kids, but I will respond. So yeah, K.D., at Hit my website. Instagram’s, I’m KD Wilson, even on LinkedIn. It’s K.D. Wilson, so I’m easy to find.

Casey J. Cornelius (52:26):

You can find K.D. Wilson folks. I guess, I guess the message is if you’re looking for him, you could find him. Man, this was, this was a lot of fun, K.D., I appreciate you, appreciate the time. And I also appreciate everyone who has listened all the way to the end. The only thing that we ask is you please do the thing that you’re supposed to do with podcasts and like, and share and subscribe, share this episode. But also please let us know the content that you would like to hear in the future. So if you want to hear something that K.D. Mentioned today, you want us to go deeper on that topic, please let us know. Reach out to us and we’re happy to put out the stuff that you enjoy listening to. Again, super appreciative of you for doing all of those things. And until next time, be well and we’ll talk soon.

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