Kevin “KC” Carroll
Kevin Carroll, or KC, as he likes to call himself, is a 62-year-old “ball of energy” who’s looking to help everyone, young and old, find their voice and live out their dreams. Some people call him a coach, but that’s just the tip of the KC iceberg.
Speaking on Steve Sims’ The Art of Making Things Happen podcast, Carroll explains what he’s been doing since he became an “individual contributor” 16 years ago. “I’ve been writing, speaking, instigating inspiration and trying to lift up the next generation of leaders, makers, doers, and dreamers. I do keynote speaking [and] consulting for different organizations that are about sports and play, education, or bettering humanity. And then I’m also just a high- performance coach for different individuals when they need [help] to find their voice.”
Latching on to KC’s description of himself as a coach, Sims mused that “[coaching] seems to be an “instant guru” word” and asked for KC’s backstory how he became a coach. “I fell backwards into it . . .” Carroll explains. “[I needed] to find other individuals to help me because both my parents were not around. They both were addicts and abandoned me and my two brothers. I was raised by my grandparents and a community of individuals just outside Philadelphia. I got coached up all the time by an eclectic, crazy group of people: drug dealers, users, alcoholics, war veterans, the parents of my friends . . . everybody was pouring into me.”
One of Carroll’s most important mentors was Phyllis Lane, his best friend’s mother. “Mrs. Lane gave me permission to dream big with two words: why not? She said, why not, Kevin? Why not go after that? Why not try that? Why not?”
Carroll also took his grandfather’s advice to heart: “Don’t talk about it; be about it.” Combining his grandpa’s advice with Mrs. Lane’s “why not?”, Carroll became what he termed “a serial manifestor of ideas.”
After a 10-year stint in the Air Force as a language translator, Carroll worked his way up the ranks to become a professional athletic trainer. He ran the sports medicine program for the 76ers, and then Nike hired him away. Seven years later, KC struck out on his own, and he’s been working for himself for 16 years now.
When Nike hired Carroll, they told him he could come up with his own job title. Excited at the prospect, he thought about what he wanted to be. “And then I remembered back in science that a catalyst was an excitatory agent that sped up or changed the process,” KC recalls. “It was a spark. And I said, I want to be that. I want to be the spark, but I also want to be the spark that connects people.”
So Carroll called himself a Katalyst. (He changed the C to a K because of his first name started with a K.) To this day, that’s his handle on all his social media, and that’s how he thinks of himself. His writing, speaking, consulting and coaching are all about “sparking individuals around ideas but then building bridges all around the organization so people could connect and amplify each other’s ideas.” He adds, “I was always connecting people even from when I was young. . . I was always about sparking, inspiring, trying to find a way to extend the play, the fun that we were having at the park.”
KC starts connecting by sharing his story of surrounding himself with encouraging, challenging people. He says, “And then I ask people: what gets you out of bed in the morning? What are you chasing? What’s your red rubber ball?”
“And that’s when people start being real, when they’re willing to be vulnerable and transparent,” Carroll says. He adds, “We don’t have to give [young people] all the details, but you want them to see you’ve dealt with some stuff so that you’re not this perfect individual and that [you] have made mistakes.”
KC’s inspiring story continues to resonate with young, old, rich, and poor audiences. He challenges others to start with their own stories and live life to the full.
More about KC:
Twitter + IG — @kckatalyst
Listen to this podcast: The Art of Making Things Happen with Steve Sims