1717 – A Candid Conversation: Lessons in Life, Love, and Leadership with Kate Walker

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with Leadership Consultant, HR Expert, Author & Speaker, Kate Walker.

Kate Walker is no stranger to the corporate world. With over two decades of experience in corporate HR, she has worked in diverse sectors such as global ad agencies, sports, and entertainment. 

Her passion for the leadership aspect of HR is evident, and she has always been fascinated by observing respected leaders and their unique strategies or, as she calls it, their “secret sauce.”

In April 2021, Kate decided to take a leap of faith and left her corporate HR role to start her own coaching and consulting business, Kate Walker Executive Coaching. Her mission is to work with leadership teams, helping them become better leaders and create a positive work environment.

Kate's primary focus is on leadership coaching and HR consulting. She helps companies fine-tune their processes and systems, especially those experiencing rapid growth. She also offers one-on-one executive coaching sessions and runs a program called the New Manager Academy, designed to equip new managers with the necessary skills.

Kate's areas of expertise are vast, encompassing team building, recruitment, training, and effective management. She shares insider information on these topics through her New Leader Academy, a mastermind circle for leaders.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Kate Walker's background in HR and leadership
  • Kate's work as an HR and leadership consultant
  • Types of organizations Kate works with
  • Kate's book, “A Candid Conversation: Lessons in Life, Love, and Leadership”
  • Kate's experience in corporate HR and her passion for leadership
  • Kate's coaching and consulting business, focusing on leadership coaching and HR consulting
  • Kate's areas of expertise: team building, recruitment, training, and effective management
  • Kate's New Leader Academy and mastermind circle
  • Kate's upcoming book, a memoir meets self-help, sharing her personal journey and providing tips and advice
  • Challenges of leaving a stable job to pursue entrepreneurship

About Kate Walker:

Kate Walker is a distinguished Executive Leadership and Human Resources expert, renowned for her extensive experience in corporate HR spanning over two decades. 

Holding certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She has served as the Human Resources Director at prominent global companies including Nintendo, United States Tennis Association, Publicis, and TBWA.

In 2021, Kate made a significant career shift, founding Kate Walker Executive Coaching, a comprehensive consulting and coaching firm. Through this venture, she empowers leaders to cultivate potent skills that foster positive company culture and enhance financial outcomes. 

Kate is celebrated for her expertise in team dynamics, leadership strategies, and business mindset, making impactful contributions to business owners, team leaders, and people managers. 

Her supportive and encouraging mentorship style has earned her recognition in esteemed publications such as Authority Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, Hive, and Ivy Exec.

Moreover, Kate is set to release her upcoming book, ‘A Candid Conversation: Lessons in Life, Love, and Leadership,' scheduled for October 24, 2023. This compelling work not only serves as a memoir but also as a guide to self-reflection and empowerment. 

Drawing from her own experiences navigating a corporate exit, single parenthood, and entrepreneurship, Kate offers invaluable advice and tools to help readers find success on their terms. 

Her mission is to inspire individuals embarking on a journey of self-awareness and life redesign, encouraging them to seize control of their destinies.

Tweetable Moments:

06:14 – “Different companies are wanting different things.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Kate Walker on LinkedIn at

Check out Kate Walker’s New Book, A Candid Conversation: Lessons in Life, Love, and Leadership at

Check out Kate Walker on Facebook at

Check out Kate Walker on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, it's Kate Walker. Kate, you are the principal and you are an HR and leadership consultant with Kate Walker. Executive coaching. That's you. Your website is Kate Walker. You are the author of the brand new book, A Candid Conversation Lessons in Life, Love and Leadership. Depending on when our friend is listening to this conversation, it's either out or it's about to be out looking at a publishing date somewhere late October.

Josh (00:01:26) - So Kate, thank you so much for joining us.

Kate (00:01:29) - Hi, Josh, thank you so much. I'm really, really excited to be here.

Josh (00:01:32) - I'm excited to have you. You have quite a long and storied background in HR leadership, but maybe we could just kind of start by just kind of setting the table here on the work and impact that you have today.

Kate (00:01:47) - Oh gosh. Absolutely. Yes. So just to give you a little bit of background, I graduated from college and went into a job in the music industry, and I write about this in my book, and that was really fun. But I knew that the music industry probably wasn't for me long term. I was in LA and then I went to the Bay area. The Bay area took me into by chance. Advertising agencies took me by chance into the profession of human resources. So I knew, okay, this is cool. I'm going to create an environment. I'm loving this. I'm loving the people that I work with, and I'm loving this.

Kate (00:02:17) - H.R. the thing, this is really cool. I'm working with people across the company. I'm working with new people coming in. I'm working with the top leaders. I was working with everybody, which I found amazing. So I continued on that journey for two decades in human resources and worked at a couple different global ad agencies. I worked in sports and entertainment, and I've always loved the leadership element of human resources, working with the leaders and the teams and observing how the leaders that were being most respected, what that secret sauce was. So I'm still a student of leadership, always learning and always fascinated. So that's really where I spent a lot of my time now. So I spent my two decades in corporate HR. I left corporate HR in about April of 2021 to come out and do this, to come out and coach people, help people. I do H.R consulting, I do leadership coaching. So I knew HR. It's a wonderful, functional part of any company. I can't speak highly enough and we cover a lot of territory.

Kate (00:03:15) - We cover so many different functional areas and I knew from me, covering so many functional areas was important, but I really loved the coaching parts of the job. So that's one of the reasons I stepped out to come out of my own and work with all kinds of different people, meet people like you and yeah, try to make an impact.

Josh (00:03:33) - So in your role today, are you working with the leadership or are you working specifically with the HR leadership within those organizations?

Kate (00:03:42) - More so the leadership team? Oh, wow. Yes, more so the leadership teams. In fact, interestingly, I don't know that I've worked with HR team since I came out of like.

Josh (00:03:52) - I wonder if when they see you coming, they go, oh.

Kate (00:03:56) - Here comes H.R. Well, you know, it's so fascinating because I think HR does still have a little bit of a stigma in that we are the HR police or we're coming to talk about policy. And certainly that's part of the rule. But the beauty of the role I find, is partnership with the leaders and helping them be better leaders with their team, helping them find out ways to pull people's levers to inspire them, motivate them, get them excited and understand that the why? Why am I coming to work? Sometimes leaders.

Kate (00:04:23) - We get very busy in our day to day. We can't. We don't always remember to talk about those important things, and people need to feel excited about the why, why they're coming to work. The vision. Why does my job, what is my work, matter? Sometimes those things get lost. So in my role as a leadership consultant, I can obviously do an assessment to see what's happening. Why is it happening? Where might the points of breakdown be and how can we fine tune them? It doesn't always need an overhaul. Some companies or teams do need an overhaul, but sometimes it's just a matter of some fine tuning.

Josh (00:04:53) - Well, talk about I thinking about the timeline of your work, and when you've gone into pendant and the impact that you can have today in, all you have to do is just look at nothing but the headlines over the past year or two to see just how much disruption has been taking place, you know, both in this kind of this readjustment phase from, okay, it was great that we were all working remotely.

Josh (00:05:19) - Now you got to come back to the office, all of those types of things. I think also, you've seen a lot of sentiment. You know, there's been so many headlines in around kind of supply and demand in the workforce. And I think that that's kind of played into the kind of culture that most folks want today. And I think that in the face of some leadership who would prefer maybe the way that it used to be. Yes. Right. There's so much going on. And I think I'm being intentionally vague so you can color in what I'm talking about.

Kate (00:05:51) - Well, I know exactly what you're talking about and what I can tell you, being on the front lines with different clients is it is a. Leaders want some different things. The employees want some different things. I was just working with a group yesterday who is fully remote. They have a workforce across the globe, fully remote, and what they were talking about was they like the fully remote work, but they are craving to get back together in person even once a year.

Kate (00:06:14) - They said, I wish we could have an offsite with our entire division even once a year. That would be helpful. So different companies are wanting different things. I work with another client. The rule right now is two days a week in office, and that's not being really adhered to. And they say we, you know, we got to get them back two days a week. But I think we as leadership team also need to figure out why. Why are they coming back. What are they going to be doing when they get to the office? Are they going to make the commute for an hour or two hours, come in and be on the zoom call all day? So I think we as leaders, also, when we're bringing people back, need to be creative about how the day will unfold and how you can collaborate cross-functional projects with other teams. What can we do to maximize a time in the office? Again, it's a mixed bag, so it just every client's different. Every scenario is different.

Kate (00:06:58) - Yeah. Some people want to come back, some people don't. Some leaders are going to be forcing it. You know we look at Amazon in the news where the company leaders saying hey come back or quit, which was a yeah a surprising request. Yeah.

Josh (00:07:11) - That's interesting. And you know, just you know what the trickle down effect or, you know, as other leaders and other organizations see that and like, okay, we'll let you be the guinea pig on that. Yes. You go that line of thought, we'll see how it goes and then we'll adjust accordingly. So Kate, what do you do for sure? I want to talk about your book in a moment, but tell me more about the types of organizations you're working with. What does that engagement look like? Because I would imagine that there's a lot of folks with a thoughtful entrepreneur. We see a lot of folks that are looking for very specific types of experts and information. They come across an episode now they're listening to you and I.

Josh (00:07:52) - So it might be really helpful to maybe kind of share a little bit about who you're a really great fit for, what types of gaps or problems that you're, you know, well known for, and then kind of what that work looks like.

Kate (00:08:05) - Absolutely. I would say right now I'm in maybe three different lanes. So lane number one is H.R consulting. And with H.R consulting I would be brought in by a company who is wanting to take a fresh look at their human resources, processes, procedures, all of those different things. And I find that I'm called by these companies when they've had some fast growth, and their systems and processes are no longer working for them. Some things are outdated processes, procedures, systems are outdated. So I come in and take a look around and say, all right, you're going, you're bigger. Now let's get these different systems and processes in place. That can be one engagement. I've had another engagement where the say, for example, a chief people officer resigned, went away, and they say, hey, we need an interim chief people officer, can you come in and be that person? Can you manage our team of ten people and help lead this function until we can replace that role? So I've gone in and help manage a team and you know, it's interesting to come in with fresh eyes and experience where you can say, all right, let's fix this, let's adjust this, let's make this better, let's elevate that.

Kate (00:09:06) - So I find those assignments really fun, where you can come in and take a bird's eye view and say, okay, let me help fine tune and fix what we can and elevate what we can. Second Lane is individual one on one executive coaching. I have one on one executive coaching clients. And that is usually, you know, and with me I don't need to meet 50 times. We can probably solve some pretty, pretty powerful things in one session, three sessions. So I don't make people sign up for a package that just goes on forever and ever. Because I'm also very results oriented. If you let's figure out a plan and approach, if you're going to go do it, let's let's try it, let's measure it, let's fine tune and let's get that done. So I enjoy one on one coaching as well. Third line is group work. And I don't advertise this on my website, but I do have a program called New Manager Academy. I'm very passionate about helping new managers learn the how to learn.

Kate (00:09:58) - The insider behind the scenes information for how to how to build your team out of how your team, how to recruit for the team, how to train your team, and how to be a manager that people really like and respect and admire. So those are different things I cover in New Leader Academy. That's kind of again, I don't have it on my website. If someone on the call here is interested or on the podcast is interested, DM me or find me and say, hey, how do I get into that circle? It is a circle of kind of a mastermind, if you will. So those are the three key areas I'm in right now, whether I do something else in the future to be seen. But those are the three areas that I really enjoy and have a passion about right now.

Josh (00:10:34) - Well, and Kate, congratulations on completing your book. You know, as of when we're recording this right now, you're in kind of book launch mode, so congratulations. The book is called A Candid Conversation Lessons in Life, Love and Leadership.

Josh (00:10:48) - Who is this book for and what would you hope the transformation that would take place in the reader as they kind of. Maybe glean from your insights.

Kate (00:10:59) - Yeah. Thank you for mentioning Josh. Appreciate it. So the book is. You just name the title. It's set to be, it's set to come out live on October 24th, 2023. And the book, I've been writing this book for a few years now. This has been an in-progress thing. It's been a goal. It's been something I've been working on. So now that we're here, it's like it's real, it's surreal. It's very surreal and it's slightly scary as well. But I wrote the book. It's a memoir. It's about me. I call it a memoir meets self-help. But I have a friend who said, oh, it's a stealth help. It's which I like. I like that, that wording, but it's about me and Josh. The book originated from journals that I kept when I was in a very serious relationship.

Kate (00:11:42) - And I see your eyes getting wide. Yeah, I was in a relationship. I did a lot of journaling just to track, and over the years, some frustrations that were building up. And ultimately that relationship did dissolve. And I felt like I was kind of called to write a book about my experience in the relationship and what I might have liked to have known if I'd found a book like this. Like, what are some tips or tricks or advice? Or can I relate to someone? I didn't find that when I was going through this experience, so I thought, well, maybe I can be the person to write that book to share my experience and show people you don't have to walk alone. You can come along on my journey. I'll share. So that was that was the impetus to the book. And as I got into the book and began working with the publisher, I knew I needed to round out the book. So one thing I do is I go back to my youth to ask myself what influenced me in my youth that led me to my decision making and my who I am today, and what helped build my personality.

Kate (00:12:36) - What led me to make the decisions I made in my 20s and 30s. You know, what was that all about? So I went back and looked a little bit at that. And I have some fun stories along the way. And then my career has been a big part of my journey as well. So I would be remiss if I didn't include my career starting from, you know, getting my job after college, getting into human resources, going on that, on that journey. Because that's been a really great journey working with, as I mentioned, different leaders who have influenced me, different people who have influenced me. So that is a large part of the book as well. Kind of my leadership chapter, if you will, and then talk about again in the last two years, making another big life decision to leave a really fabulous corporate job, to come out on my own and become an entrepreneur solopreneur so that I could do the things I'm talking about with you in a more in a more succinct and powerful way, kind of on my terms.

Kate (00:13:26) - And I talk about in the book doing a bit of a values audit, which I've done many times over the years. What are my values? So when I was thinking about leaving corporate, a couple values that really came to the surface were freedom, kind of time, freedom, location, freedom, and where and when I could do my job. So I had to do and I do continually values audits just to see like, is this a decision that's in line with my values? Is it not in line with my values? So those are things I mentioned as well in the book too. I do say that the book is for women of all ages. Go on my journey, come along. On my journey, I had a friend asked me, Kate, I have like a guy friend who is having some similar things you're talking about in the book. And a guy read a book. Of course it's a book for anybody. I do think that that women might in particular resonate with my stories of empowerment and hopefully inspiration.

Kate (00:14:16) - And again, that you don't you just don't need to go alone.

Josh (00:14:19) - Yeah. You know, you were talking about your growing up and you know how much that impacts how we show up in our relationships with our personal relationships and in work, right in our, you know, things that we're sensitive to, how we identify, you know, we discover what our values are and how important that is. You know, I wanted to ask you about this, though. You know, leaving a really great position is something that a lot of entrepreneurs have done. And I think a lot of people hear that and they go, oh my gosh, that sounds so scary. I would give up stability and stability is one of my values. Right. And then I, you know, kind of balance that against my desire for freedom and my, you know, I don't feel like I'm making the impact that I felt like I was always destined for. Like, how do you weigh all of that? And then ultimately you make a decision either to stay or go, yeah.

Josh (00:15:09) - And yeah. How did I don't know, like any, any thoughts or maybe someone that might be wrestling with this decision.

Kate (00:15:14) - Yes. I mean I have lived this and trust me, it is. Let's be honest, I was talking to a friend earlier today. Change can be scary. It just can be. It just it's part of being human. Change is scary. So it is sometimes sitting in that scary feeling or the feeling of the unknown. But I know for me, I really wanted to get a lot of guidance by way of books that could help inspire me and teach me before I left, podcast that could help inspire me and teach me. Before I left, I needed to make sure that I had a good runway financially. Of course, I can't just quit and not be able to pay my bills, so that was important to I left when I quit my corporate job. Josh, I had a son who was four months away from going to college. Yeah, I mean, talk about stressful.

Kate (00:15:58) - I would go on walks after I quit just being like, oh my gosh, like, what have I done? I knew, I knew I did the right thing because I took the time to think about it and consider it and think about how I could make an impact after I left professionally and also again, trying to align with my values. So I knew. And there's a saying I forget who said the same, but leap and the net will appear. I knew I needed to leap and would just hope that that net would appear. And the net did appear. It took a little while because I think when you leave anything, you have to get going and get that momentum going, but then that will appear. Yeah. It's scary. Josh and you probably know as well it's scary, but when you can get through it again, working with books and other tools to to release some of the anxiety from your body to get your mindset right, then it's those are helpful things that have absolutely helped me.

Josh (00:16:49) - Kate Walker, your new book, A Candid Conversation License Lessons in Life, Love and Leadership. It's available through your website, where it's going to be on Amazon and everywhere else. Yeah, but your website is Kate Walker. Of course, you're also an HR consultant and executive coach and leadership mentor. And again, Kate, it's been wonderful having you. Thank you so much for this conversation.

Kate (00:17:13) - Josh. Likewise. Thank you, I appreciate it.

Josh (00:17:21) - Thanks for listening to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world.

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