A journey like no other!

Kara Hill is the Founder and CEO of My Recruiting Solutions, an educational resource for student athletes who want to play volleyball at the collegiate level. Over the last decade, Kara became known as the “Queen of Recruiting” and the “lady in the hat” at volleyball tournaments. As the nation’s leading expert in recruiting for girls volleyball, she offers College Recruiting services and consulting. With over 1 million followers and as a former volleyball player, Kara leverages her unique viewpoint and extensive experience to offer a winning strategy that gets her clients recruited.  

 

In this episode of the Building While Flying podcast, Kara shares her founder’s story: from growing up poor to a near-death accident, to building EarthKind into an 8-figure company and making the Earth a better place. Her biggest message to listeners is, “With a lot of passion and tenacity, and dog-headed discipline, you can make some amazing things happen.” 

Want to check out My Recruiting Solutions services? Browse their offerings here.

"I'm not somebody that crushes under pressure. I actually do better in high pressure situations. So for me, it's just kind of what do we need to do in order to, to navigate."

Kara Hill

Transcription

Katie Hankinson: (00:00)

Welcome to Building While Flying a Saha Group podcast where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever-changing skies.

 

Mickey Cloud: (00:11)

Kara, thank you so much for joining us on Building While Flying.

 

Kara Hill: (00:15)

Thanks for having me.

 

Mickey Cloud: (00:18)

Of course. Kara Hill is the founder and CEO of My Recruiting Solutions, where over the last decade, Kara has become known as the queen of recruiting. And the, and the lady in the red Hat at, uh, volleyball tournaments as the nation’s leading expert in recruiting for girls volleyball. She offers college recruiting services and consulting, and with over 1 million followers across social. Uh, and as a former volleyball player herself, Kara leverages her unique viewpoint and extensive experience to offer a winning strategy that gets her clients recruited. So, Kara, I really appreciate you being on today.

 

Kara Hill: (00:46)

Yeah, thanks.

 

Mickey Cloud: (00:49)

And I’m, I’m sure in, you’re in Phoenix right now, I’m sure you’re at a tournament. I’m sure it’s gearing up. This is, uh, the, the, the crux of the season, right?

 

Kara Hill: (00:58)

Yeah, well, it’s high school season at the Nike Tournament of Champions this weekend, so it is very, very hot here in Phoenix, Arizona, but it’s, uh, it’s good to be in a gym.

 

Mickey Cloud: (01:12)

Awesome, Awesome. Well, let’s start maybe by diving in and doing a kind of quick overview of the business model. So you are offering services to families of high school volleyball players, is that right? To kinda help them get noticed and recruited? So what kind of goes into that service? How are, is that an ongoing contract that they’re signing with you? How does that work?

 

Kara Hill: (01:29)

Yeah, so families will contract with us to gain a better understanding of how to navigate the recruiting process. So we, we do an academic and athletic evaluation and we create a, a list of programs for them to begin running a marketing campaign to, and we help them step by step through the process. So we manage all of their video editing, we prep them for phone calls, we prep them for visits, and we also attend, uh, most major recruiting events in the country to actually get in the gym and personally advocate for them. So we’ll talk to college coaches on their behalf, try and gain a better understanding as to where they might be on somebody’s list, and then help point the family in the right direction in terms of being able to, to zero in and narrow in on programs that might be the best fit based on also the college coaches showing interest as well.

 

Mickey Cloud: (02:26)

Yeah, and I’m sure this is something that with the rise of social and content and things like that has become more, um, you know, prevalent in the high school recruiting sports, you know, high school sports in general, but obviously with your experience in volleyball, like how different is this now than when you were in high school as a volleyball player?

 

Kara Hill: (02:44)

Well, I’m old, so when I played, we literally shipped off VHS tapes around the country to get recruited. Yeah. So, um, things have changed quite a bit since then. Uh, but it, it’s interesting, you know, there it was VHS tapes to D V D to, you know, having YouTube and then huddle. And now I’ve literally pulled all of my clients off of running a traditional email marketing strategy to where we’re only utilizing social media to create content, help build their brand, especially in light of name, image and likeness. Our focus is helping to build the athlete’s brand and to help them gain a better following so that once they get to college, they’re in a position to monetize.

 

Mickey Cloud: (03:35)

Yeah, I was gonna, that was actually where I was gonna go next. Cause I was thinking historically the contract probably ended once the scholarship was over, right? Or once the scholarship was offered and signed and the, and a plan was made. But now it seems like with an IL there’s opportunity for you to continue to work with families and players even once they’ve gotten on campus to college.

 

Kara Hill: (03:52)

Yeah, and that’s really the transition that we’ve made over this past summer is where our content creation team is continuing to, you know, create content healthy athletes with learning how to, you know, utilize the various social tools using our own, um, graphic designer and some of our videographers. We are continuing to help the athletes with, you know, understanding how to utilize social media to continue on and, and once they get into an institution, the, the reality is that once they get there, you know, there’s a lot of collectives that are out there that are in place and there are, you know, a lot of businesses that are interested in investing in, in collegiate athletes and, and investing in, but the athletes themselves don’t always understand, um, you know, how to create content for a business. And so that’s where we’re really helping to stay on and guide them. There isn’t really a, a handbook, if you will. So that’s where we’re continuing our contract on with the athletes to, to continue to mentor and help them in that area.

 

Mickey Cloud: (05:02)

So in addition to, I guess to kind of preparing them for what does, how, how do they make their brand as inviting for, um, you know, for partnerships as possible? Are you also, you know, seeking out brand partnership deals for, you know, for your athletes? Or is it more about helping them kind of review the brand deals that might be, might be coming in?

 

Kara Hill: (05:24)

So as of right now, we are helping them evaluate brand deals that are coming in. However, um, I would say in the next 12 to 24 months, we’ll be in a position where we’ll launch an actual agency.

 

Mickey Cloud: (05:38)

You mentioned over the past four to six months you’ve had brands reaching out to you about working with your athletes, and I’m sure part of that is because you’ve, you’ve been really successful at growing your own personal brand, um, on TikTok and Instagram and, and that feeds into kind of the overall recruiting consulting services, but also kind of your, uh, visibility in the sport of volleyball in general. And so I’m curious kind of where the idea for the, the Red Hat came from as well as just maybe if you could talk about the overall impact of personal branding and social media on, on your core consulting and kind of recruiting business.

 

Kara Hill: (06:08)

Yeah, so, um, several years ago I had actually, um, worn a, my mom bought me a, a fedora for my birthday and I wore it to an event that I was hosting. It was a recruiting showcase that I was hosting. And, uh, the next day there was a, a tournament the next day. So the recruiting showcase I hosted was a bunch of athletes. About 200 players came and about 50 college coaches. And then the next day I went into the tournament that kind of followed along the showcase and uh, I had like about 25 or 30 different people ask me where my hat was. And it was at that moment that I realized that there was something too wearing a hat. I didn’t ever like to wear a polo shirt with a traditional logo. I’ve never tried to represent myself as a coach or wanting to look like a

 

Mickey Cloud: (07:09)

Coach.

 

Kara Hill: (07:10)

Yeah. So the hat just kind of stuck at that moment. And I had had various colors that I had worn over the years, but, um, once I started wearing the Red Hat, I wore a red Hat a couple of times and families were like, I literally can see you anywhere in the gym. So I, I stuck with red cuz it seemed to really stand out the best. Yeah. Um, and it definitely made an impact. People will refer to me as the Red Hat Lady or

 

Mickey Cloud: (07:41)

 

Kara Hill: (07:42)

. Uh, they definitely know that I’m Bal recruiter and it’s kind of nice cuz I don’t have to wear the polo shirt with a logo on it. Right. So , um, or my Style.

 

Mickey Cloud: (07:53)

Let’s talk about V Bal recruiter as well cuz you mentioned kind of the, the, as the evolution of how you get noticed as a high school volleyball player, whether you’re sending your VHSs to, to DVDs, to putting things on YouTube and then huddle, You know, huddles obviously a a a really big player in your space, um, from recruiting services and just recruiting data and kind of that subscription model where coaches and scouts and recruiters and athletes can all kind of create profiles and, and share kind of, um, you know, information and things like that. How did you think about competing against Huddle with, with Vbo recruiter and, and, and I guess what has been, I guess maybe talk about how that business, um, is, is run.

 

Kara Hill: (08:37)

So v l recruiter is basically my brand. That’s, that’s who I am across social media channels, I would say. Yep. The biggest differences between what we offer versus like an NCS a or a huddle or a a sports recruits. Yeah. Uh, those are major software platforms that athletes been utilized to have a profile and, you know, to help streamline the email marketing process in terms of providing a higher level of customer service. There isn’t anybody in this space that’s traveling quite like my team and ir where we’re heading out to every major recruiting event we’re getting in the gym, we’re creating content. We have viv a recruiter.com, which is a news platform where we’re also blogging and creating news about players and we’re doing national player ranking. So, you know, I I kind of, um, focused on being more of a media player in the space and allowing the media site to drive leads into our college recruiting service.

 

Kara Hill: (09:49)

So when, when we’re out at events, we’re not only filming, but we have writers that are also writing and posting stories and doing all sorts of, you know, graphics and, and ranking some things of that nature. And that helps, you know, families to understand that we do more than just create and create media and create content. And that’s, that’s essentially how we have competed, um, is yeah. Is focus focusing totally on social media and marketing and, and then I think the fact that I am an actual person in some regards helps a lot as opposed to just being, you know, a big brand.

 

Mickey Cloud: (10:34)

Yeah. And I think that, you know, we, it’s something we talk about all the time with companies, which is that the brands that are gonna win in kind of today’s social environment is are the brands who think of themselves as a media company, whatever they do. Right. And so you are a, you know, your bus, the core kind of original business model was, you know, recruiting, consulting, um, and, and helping, you know, volleyball players get, get recruited and placed into college programs. You also run with and monetized the, the media business side of it, which I think is awesome cuz you’re kind of, that’s kind of the, that dual income stream that’s coming off off both of those. And so you’re, and you’re treating it like a media company would, right? Like you’re, you’re, you’ve got content creators that are covering the sport and that are doing the rankings and creating that content on an ongoing basis. And so obviously that’s something that, you know, the, the, the huddles and rivals of the world, you know, ha uh, take at from a different kind of perspective. But I think that’s something where you’ve really run with, you know, thinking of your, of your company as a media company, but beyond just thinking about it, you’re actually operating as a media company as well.

 

Kara Hill: (11:36)

Right. For us, we, um, I, because I’m also the director of the Under Armor All America game, and I run, I run the UA Next Camp series platform for Under Armour. Yep. Um, we had the Benna position where we were following and tracking athletes as young as, you know, 12 years old. And so going into player rankings and having media just really all tied everything together and made a lot more sense with, you know, the direction that I was going and working with Under Armor as well. So it, it kind of naturally came together for me over the years that I’ve been in this space. But certainly the brand, I’m the only one in the Under Armor platform that isn’t an actual coach. I’ve never coached

 

Mickey Cloud: (12:24)

. Um,

 

Kara Hill: (12:25)

I, I built a brand and built a following and built one of the more successful, you know, camp series and platforms definitely the quickest because of, because of the brand. So that, that’s really led to a lot more opportunity in the space.

 

Mickey Cloud: (12:41)

And is, I assume, is that how Under Armour did they reach out to you with that role of kind of being the director of the, their All American game and the next camp series platform?

 

Kara Hill: (12:50)

They did through a third party, uh, through a group called Three Step, which is the, they are the, the biggest players in youth sports right now. They’re, they’re, yeah, in the business of acquiring, uh, they’re in the business of acquiring clubs and events and they host, they also own real estate and they do a lot of different things in the space. But that group actually had reached out to me, uh, to bring me in. And so I just was, you know, blessed and fortunate to be in a position where I could, you know, join the team. So it’s been really exciting

 

Mickey Cloud: (13:27)

And I’m sure that adds a layer of another just layer of credibility with perspective families. Right. Or with the folks that are coming to check out, you know, viv a recruiter.com and things like that. Like obviously that all of those are kind of working in, in tangent together now.

 

Kara Hill: (13:42)

A hundred percent I would say the, the content team that I have as well, I have one of the talk writers in the country, he had, uh, Ben with one of the founders of a, a major, major blog source in the volleyball world, and Got it. He had work side by side with him for a long time. And so, uh, when I brought him on as well, he’s just so dialed into the space and understands the, understands the industry and has a lot of relationships with coaches and, uh, it’s just, it’s been, it’s been really, really interesting and it’s been a very, very exciting journey to say the least, to just watch this all kind of grow and evolve and, um, you know, continue to, to grow and evolve and, and adapt to the changing times.

 

Mickey Cloud: (14:28)

That’s awesome. Um, I know you were, uh, you’re an alumni of our, the SA group’s forties program, kind of our, our, our, uh, classroom style curriculum, um, that include, you know, that gets a, a look under the hood at how we think about brand building and marketing, but also includes some time with Gary and, and q and a and things like that. What were, as you think about that session from four years ago, what are some of the things that have stuck with you, Um, or, or kind of the, the big surprising takeaways from that session?

 

Kara Hill: (14:58)

So, a lot of what Gary had been preaching in terms of putting out your best content were, was things that I was doing in the recruiting space. Yeah. Um, but I, I would say that understanding how important it is to be early on a platform really resonated. And so as musically transitioned into TikTok, I Yeah. Got onto TikTok and, and I had a, a video early on that I think has like, I don’t know, 27, 30 million views at this point. And it’s been shared across, you know, ESPN multiple times. And it’s, uh, it’s, it’s been a, a great post for me that really helped get me going. But that I would say is something that made a huge impact. And then learning how to, you know, create content across multiple platforms, like understanding how important it is to be native to the platform. That was something that was a big takeaway and, and, you know, helped me understand, um, that you can, you can use the same piece of content, but you gotta adapt, you gotta modify, you’ve gotta, you could definitely utilize it, but you gotta figure it out.

 

Kara Hill: (16:20)

So, um, there’s been a lot of things as I’ve been able to grow. I came to the four D’s program like four and a half years ago, and I’m coming back, actually, I’m going Amazing. I’m gonna go back and do it again, uh, in a couple weeks actually in New York. Yeah. I wanted to come back because I, I wanted a little bit more time with Gary and just knowing to the kind of thinking about going down this name, image and likeness and yeah. The brand building with the athletes. I just kind of wanted to, um, dive in and dive

 

Mickey Cloud: (16:59)

In more,

 

Kara Hill: (17:00)

Pick his brain a little bit and, and then, you know, help create these content strategies for these athletes.

 

Mickey Cloud: (17:07)

Yeah, I mean, that’s such a huge part. I mean, Vayner Sports, the day in IL launched, they had, uh, they were, they were ping and ready, and where they’ve done, they’ve kind of signed athletes where they represent them, um, for, you know, to, to, to go find deals. But then they also work with brands where they source athletes. So they kind of do it on, on, on both sides. And it’s, it is, while it’s a bit still even a year in year plus end, it’s still a bit of the wild west there. I, you know, you’re so well positioned for that because of you’ve got the relationships with the athletes, um, but then also, you know, this space when it comes to content strategy and, and, and how to have, get a post that’s gonna get 27, 30 million views. And even I, you know, I was like checking out your TikTok, um, you know, over the past couple weeks and, and you’re consistently posting a lot of content and you’re also consistently getting a lot of views. And so you’re still putting in that work day in and day out. And that, I think is a great example for your athletes to to follow. Um, so I’m curious kind of what the, you mentioned kind of the ni l opportunity. What else is on the roadmap for, um, for your multiple businesses?

 

Kara Hill: (18:08)

Well, we wanna continue to grow the Vbo recruiter news platform. That’s something that is, um, really on our mind. We only launched that in March. And so, you know, continuing to invest and scale that out is really, really important. Um, and kind of going down this podcast route, I’ve, I’ve had podcasts on and off through the years, but working on being more consistent with it. So I’ve kind of held off trying to launch anything else until, um, I’m in a position where I can actually make the, the full commitment. Um, but those are, you know, I, I have made decisions impulsively over the years as ideas have come, and so I’m sure coming back to forties there will be another idea or something that will come to me and, um, you know, it’ll be something else worth in investigating. But we, we’ve grown tremendously in the last, I would say, year and a half since, since being, being the director of the Under America game.

 

Kara Hill: (19:19)

And that only happened in, uh, March of 2021, so, Oh, wow. Just to kind of give you an idea, like within 12 months we had launched the media site, and now yeah, we’re going into social media marketing for athletes. And so it’ll probably be growing my content team and really helping to create more content of the athletes and, and teaching them, you know, how to utilize social media in a way that will give them a, a, a bigger return. And then helping them get into a position to monetize. I’ve got a couple of really, really legit, uh, high level athletes that have the ability to, you know, play in a, in a Power five and a Top 10 program in the country. And with those athletes, you know, trying to help them understand how important it is to be a little bit more entrepreneurial. One of them’s into, um, gluten free living, gluten free cooking, does a lot of meal planning. And so we’re focusing in with, with that particular athlete on, you know, how to create, you know, either a line of cookbooks and meal planning exercises, starting to create that content alongside the volleyball content, um, you know, to attract other brands to wanna do those with her.

 

Mickey Cloud: (20:34)

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s part of what the, you know, when we working with athletes and, and we, I’ve got some experience in that, in that space as well, and just the, the, you know, mapping what is it that they’re interested in outside of their sport and, and then then creating content around that to attract brands. Right. And so I think that’s such an awesome, um, strategy and opportunity. Um, and it certainly sounds like you’ve, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve felt the , you know, the, the, the speeds of entrepreneurship and kind of the, the, um, the highs and the lows and those types of things. But, you know, and so last question, we kind of call this, you know, podcast, uh, building while flying and, and when you’re in that stage, it’s important to kinda keep calm under pressure the way the way pilots do. So if your back’s against the wall on your face with a tough decision for your business, what’s that kind of internal pilot checklist for you that kind of helps you, uh, get through it?

 

Kara Hill: (21:23)

You know, I, I take a step back and understand that, you know, there’s a lot at risk, but I, I’m not somebody that, um, you know, crushes under pressure. I actually do better in high pressure situations. So for me, it’s just kind of what do we need to do in order to, to navigate, you know, as the economy is going to, um, going into a, a recession here, you know, in, in my position, because we are helping athletes with earning scholarship money, and a lot of these families, you know, are looking to utilize volleyball to, you know, help graduate debt free, it puts us in a really good position where the investment seems, you know, even more important to families. The other thing that happened is with Covid, you know, we, we grew during Covid where mm-hmm. , even though sports weren’t taking place, I mean, we were in an area in southern California. I was in an area that was shut down, you know, pretty heavily. Yeah. And, uh, having the, to just kind of put your nose to the ground. I mean, we worked 18, 19 hour days just kind of grinding this out and finding new ways to evolve and get our messaging out and, you know, whether it was hosting webinars and, and educating, you know, families on what they needed to do. We’ve just, I, I just, uh, I don’t really know what I do. I just figure it out.

 

Mickey Cloud: (22:53)

 

Kara Hill: (22:54)

Just figure it out. You just,

 

Mickey Cloud: (22:56)

You just, That’s enough of a mantra. Darts. Yep. Yeah. Keep throwing darts and figure it out and, and you make do with what, what you got. So. Awesome. Well enjoy the, the, the, the gym and the tournament this weekend. And thanks so much for, uh, for being on the podcast.

 

Kara Hill: (23:10)

Yeah. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

 

Katie Hankinson: (23:21)

Thanks for joining us for Building While Flying Today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We all meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Recruiting expert!

Kara Hill is the Founder and CEO of My Recruiting Solutions, an educational resource for student athletes who want to play volleyball at the collegiate level. Over the last decade, Kara became known as the “Queen of Recruiting” and the “lady in the hat” at volleyball tournaments. As the nation’s leading expert in recruiting for girls volleyball, she offers College Recruiting services and consulting. With over 1 million followers and as a former volleyball player, Kara leverages her unique viewpoint and extensive experience to offer a winning strategy that gets her clients recruited.  

In-flight topics:

  • Kara’s founder’s story
  • Working with government bodies to change policy
  • Leading a company with purpose
  • Listening to your customers
  • Growing up on a farm
  • Treating the Earth better with better products
Connect with Kara & My Recruiting Solutions:

Kara on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vballrecruiter/ 

Kara on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@vballrecruiter09 

My Recruiting Solutions website: https://myrecruitingsolutions.com/ 

Kara on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrskarahill/

New York, NY
Chattanooga, TN
Los Angeles, CA