School BUSRide spoke with Kamin Samuel, PhD, an International Rapid Business Transformation Coach, about her thoughts on the state of the pupil transportation industry. Samuel will be the opening keynote speaker at NAPT ACTS, the 47th annual NAPT conference and trade show, this October.

Kamin Samuel, PhD, is an international Rapid Transformation Business Advisor and Coach, a sought-out expert by executives and other coaches. Her unique expertise helps clients clear hidden barriers to achieving greater success and fulfillment in their businesses, as well as all areas of their life. She is also a keynote speaker and conducts workshops on various leadership topics for corporate and military, and is a frequent podcast show guest.

Samuel has the distinction of being the U.S. Navy’s first female African American helicopter pilot. Having served as Global VP of Website Operations at a billion-dollar company, she has a background in information technology, web development, online merchandising, and PhD in positive neuropsychology. Samuel is an award-winning and bestselling author of several books, her most recent books are the “Conscious Luck Workbook” she co-authored with New York Times bestselling authors, Dr. Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline, and “Wealth Creation for Coaches,” co-written with Steve Chandler.

Samuel is now a filmmaker. Her documentary film, Courage to Thrive will be completed in 2024. She serves on the board of EduCare Foundation, a large after school program provider in Los Angeles, as well as on the President’s Advisory Board of the USS Iowa.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your experience as a business advisor and speaker?

I come from a long line of educators. Both my mother and grandmother were principals. My mother spent over 40 years in education, so it is an honor to be asked to speak at NAPT.  I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, using the bus system.  My professional career began as a Navy helicopter pilot for nine years. After the military, I became an entrepreneur and that didn’t work out so well. I later went into corporate in website development and operations and grew my career to be an executive there. I then became a business coach and advisor, author of several books and speaker. I have been doing that full time for almost 12 years. I love to speak and share what I have learned and the challenges I have overcome.

What does it mean to embrace your inner superhero?

Most people can easily tell me what their weaknesses are, more so than their strengths. When we can embrace our strengths and what we do best in the world, we see that we have superpowers that can contribute to a greater cause such as the transportation of students.  When we understand our strengths and know how to use them, we can be in flow, be creative under stress, we can self-regulate quickly. Those things are really important in any role, but especially with students. When we can embrace ourselves and own that we are enough, that we are strong and powerful within ourselves as individuals, then our days go better, we can course correct when we need to, and we can collaborate with others in a much stronger way. That to me is a superhero!

What do you think are the “key strengths” of pupil transportation professionals?

In general, the key strengths for transportation professionals include mastery of the role, which entails continuous improvement, knowledge, safety, proficiency, effective communication and collaboration within their organizations, whether they are bus drivers, technologists or dispatch. This is a key focus for NAPT. However, each person brings their own unique strengths which can be leveraged to help others and support their career. I have asked attendees to take a free assessment at viacharacter.org. I will be sharing in my opening keynote in October about how they can use their key strengths to optimize results.

Also, being able to effectively communicate and collaborate with others and being able to ask for what they need is extremely important because as a leader we can only really solve what we know about. Another key strength is integrity, living true to one’s values. Then last would be compassion and love. These may seem like a lot, but I do believe that everybody holds those and it is that level of mastery in all of these that really makes the pupil transportation professionals so instrumental to the students that they are working with.

NAPT wants to ensure our members understand their leadership role in the educational enterprise. What advice would you give our members on what it means to be a leader?

I really love this question, and I even had a conversation with my mother about it. When the students were going to away games or activities, she would get on the bus and remind them that they were the representatives of the school. For the pupil transportation professionals, it is an opportunity for them to realize their own leadership role, that everyone within the entire pupil transportation organization and structure is a leader. It is also important for them to see how vital they are to the success of the organization and to the future of students within the school system because they are the first and last touch point with those students each school day.

There is a Toni Morrison quote where she talks about do your eyes light up when your child or anyone else’s child walks into the room?v So I say, do your eyes light up when you see your students, when you see them coming on the bus, when you interact with them? That vision of success and vision of the future, the pupil transportation on all ends, whether it is dispatch, the technologists, the bus riders themselves, they are responsible for safety, and boundaries and literally transporting all of us into the future by how each person’s role contributes to the success of a student. Hopefully someone sees them and lets them know that they matter.

If you could sum up what you know about leadership in three words, what would they be?

In all the work that I have done, whether it was in the Navy, in corporate or as a business advisor, it is that we lead ourselves first. What that means is excellence is an inside-out approach: knowing our strengths, committing to mastery of our role, effective communication and collaboration, integrity, living from a place of and caring for our jobs, the system and students with compassion and love.

When we own our leadership, we fill our cup first. We take care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually so that we can be a role model for each other and our students. Then we have more to give. We are more alert, we are more creative, we can handle our life differently and be able to course correct when we need to. We want to own our own leadership so that we are healthy and can contribute to the lives of children in whatever role that we are in within NAPT.

For those of you attending the conference in October, please take the free viacharacter.org assessment and bring your free results with you because I will be sharing more about how to use your strengths in ways that will elevate your inner superhero. This will allow attendees to collaborate and communicate more effectively and to have fun being a superhero.


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