Transforming Good Kids into Great Kids: Insights from Audra Karam

An Interview by Natalie Ruiz

Natalie Ruiz
7 min readApr 29, 2024
Audra Karam, BA, CLS. who is the Co-Founder of Karam’s Little Leaders with Black Belt Bruce.

As part of my Powerful Women Interview Series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Audra Karam, BA, CLS. who is the Co-Founder of Karam’s Little Leaders with Black Belt Bruce. In this insightful interview, we get to know Audra, a dedicated advocate for childhood development. She shares her journey of turning a passion for martial arts into a unique leadership program for children aged 3 to 9. Through engaging activities and life lessons, Audra’s work focuses on helping kids become leaders while instilling values such as focus, discipline, and respect.

Join us as we explore the mission and vision behind Karam’s Little Leaders and the story of the woman who co-founded it, inspiring the next generation of leaders.

Thank you so much for connecting with me and sharing your story. I’m so excited to get started!

Tell me about what you do professionally:

Every day, we help Good Kids become Great Kids! Our leadership program for 3–9-year-old children, “Karam’s Little Leaders with Black Belt Bruce,” teaches important leadership skills like focus, discipline, courtesy, respect, etc. We do this through a plug-and-play at-home program with short animated videos, fun and engaging weekly challenges, and a fun reward program uniquely designed for this age group.

How did you get into this?

After we closed our family martial arts school due to the Pandemic, we were excited to create a ‘Done for You Program’ that could be taught in a school setting or in the comfort of a family home. My husband’s family had a martial arts school that started back in the early 70s, and we noticed in the mid-late 90’s parents across the states were starting to see the positive impact of martial arts and learning that Martial arts for kids are NOT about kicking and punching but learning self-confidence and leadership skills.

So about 25 years ago, we set out to create and implement a life skills program for our parents to implement at home with their children to take their life and leadership skills to the next level, and then from there, we created an online version with fun and easy monthly workbooks mailed to the home so that families across the globe could participate.

That is so interesting! What do you love about it?

We love that we can help parents of young children go from being Good Kids to Great Kids… and in some cases, Exceptional Kids! With every family that joins our online membership, we can make our world a better place.

Why is this work important to you?

We love children and we care about the direction of our children’s — children’s future. We know that the particular age group we work with (3–9y.o.) are the most eager to learn new things, and we are helping them develop important habits for their future success. Better habits = a Better future.

Clearly, you’re thriving; your passion is coming through loud and clear! What makes you so great at this?

Wow, Thank you. I think mostly because, just like you said, this is my/our passion. It is a calling, mission, whatever you want to call it. But it is important work in our minds. We have all heard the statement , “Our children are our future.” Well, we couldn’t agree more. Helping them develop skills that will help them reach their greatest potential and thrive is a win for all of us. Agree?

Yes, absolutely! What is the most challenging part of your work?

Well, there are always different challenges, but right now, I would say it is getting parents to understand that they have limited time to help their kids learn these important life/leadership skills. I think most of us know that children’s brains are like sponges and this is THE most important time to develop important habits and skills for them to succeed and thrive in life. Right? — I think as parents, we all want our children to be, happy, healthy, self-sufficient adults, who contribute to society and can hopefully make an impact and be a leader; not a follower. And the reality is, it doesn’t just happen. We as parents have to be intentional about teaching our children important life skills. That is generally why many high-performing parents join us. They understand the impact of getting started early. Raising a Great Kid who can lead won’t….just happen. To raise successful children who can lead, help, and inspire others, we as parents need to be intentional about it.

What kind of an impact are you hoping to make through what you do?

Huge! Right? My dad always said, ‘If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ Initially, we were hoping to impact families on a national level, but now, we are seeing opportunities to be globally impactful, so that is very exciting.

I am a big reader — well, I am more of an audiobook person nowadays. In any case, I love talking about great reads. What is one of your favorite books?

Well, I have lots of them, but I would have to say the one book that always comes to the top of my list is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

It’s been around since the early 1900’s, but to this day continues to be one of the top 10 most popular read books for business leaders around the world. And it’s because the book is about the fundamentals of how you should treat people and once you learn how to do that, you can then successfully lead. Because if you don’t know how to treat others — you can’t lead effectively or successfully.

If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?

If you decide to start a family and have children, make sure to cherish the time you spend with them when they’re young, as they grow up remarkably fast.

Do you have a favorite quote? What does it mean to you?

Yes, I Love quotes. I can’t say I have an ALL time Favorite, but currently… My favorite quote today is: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” I think many of us get so overwhelmed with making the RIGHT decision because we don’t like to make mistakes, but this reminds us — it’s more important to do something than nothing! Indecision can rob us of many great opportunities.

Outside of work, what do you love doing? What lights you up?

I love working out/exercising as well as spending time with family and friends.

I believe there is power in having big dreams and audacious goals, and lately, I have been pushing myself and everyone I know to speak them out loud… Do you have any dreams or goals you want to go on record about here?

Oh yes! Thank you for asking! We would love to impact children on a global level, raising up leaders all around the world, and helping thousands more Good Kids Be Great Kids!

Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. Ok, now I for the big question of the interview! What is the biggest lesson you have learned through your life and career journey?

WOW! That’s a tough one. I guess the biggest lesson I have learned is that we all have setbacks and mistakes are inevitable, but I have learned to view them as opportunities for growth and learning. We must bounce back from challenges with renewed determination.

Finally, what makes you a powerful woman?

While I don’t typically label myself in such a way, I attribute much of my strength to my unwavering determination and faith. I firmly believe in my capabilities and have learned to trust in myself through various life experiences that have shaped me into a better individual. The unwavering support of my family and friends has been instrumental in my journey. I firmly believe that the people we surround ourselves with play a significant role in shaping our paths and defining who we become. Being blessed with the opportunity to raise four remarkable children, enjoying a loving marriage of over 30 years, and sharing my life’s passion with my husband have truly enriched my journey.

How can we support you?

At this moment — it is helping to share the mission of Karam’s Little Leaders and recognizing that as high performing parents who want to raise up Great Kids we need to be intentional about raising this youngest generation to be future leaders that believe in themselves.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and insights. I know our readers will love learning more about you!

Connect + Follow Along:


Black Belt Bruce LinkedIn Page

Black Belt Bruce Instagram

🌸 About the Author:

Natalie Ruiz is the CEO of AnswerConnect and often says that her path to success has been unconventional, which fuels her to continue to challenge assumptions about what work, success, and the concept of balance in life look like.

Natalie is an award-winning executive recognized as Female Executive of the Year and for Women Helping Women by the Stevie Award Association and a Woman of Influence by the Portland Business Journal.

Outside of her day job, she volunteers, speaks on international stages, lends her voice and words to podcasts and publications, and seeks to leave people and places better than she finds them in all that she does.

Connect with Natalie here: on Medium, on LinkedIn, and Instagram

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Natalie Ruiz

Tech CEO. Mom. Non-Profit Board Member. Working to normalize belonging at work. Living in gratitude. Trying to leave people and places better than I find them.