Episode 2: Dr. Paul Fanning on Life Long Learning, Growing Where You're Planted, and Frog Gigging

My Dad, Dr. Paul Fanning, has been in education for 46 years from 1969 to 2015. He was school superintendent for 27 of those years. The school superintendent is essentially the CEO of the school system.

Over these years he saw to the education of over 125,000 students in Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky.

He led schools systems successfully through big changes such as desegregation, proration, and Title IX, Education for the Handicapped, Migrant and Homeless education, recession, student nutrition, sex education, and technology.

Additionally, he led a school system out from under state management. During this same time, the school system had schools in the bottom 25% of the state and under his leadership they rose to be recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools.


Ed.D., Doctorate The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Educational Administration.

M.S., Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, Secondary Education and History.

B.S., Athens College, Athens, Alabama, Secondary Education/Social Studies and English.


  • Outstanding Superintendent Award, University of Montevallo
  • Alabama District IV Nominee, Alabama Superintendent of the Year
  • Service Recognition by Alabama State Senate


  • The importance of learning to grow where you are.
  • What to do if you don’t have a supportive cast to help you get to the C-Suite.
  • How to get noticed by senior leaders and get “drafted” to move up.
  • How to approach someone who has a lot of potential but doesn’t see it in themselves.
  • Why waking up at 5 am every time can fuel your success to the C-Suite.
  • The surprising cost of waking up at 5 am...it's not just sleep.
  • The essential exercise of establishing a daily and weekly routine for yourself and your team.
  • The time when John Maxwell landed his plane on top of strip mine to speak to his team.
  • The art of "frog gigging" and how it applies to life long learning.

Key Points:

The one trait he’d instill in every employee...lifelong learning.

If you have big idea for the C-Suite make sure understand the policy and process, provide options, and show you’ve thought through the pro’s and con’s.


"Leadership is not always a loud activity but sometimes is has to be.”

"Get in there, do the work, let your actions do the talking.”

“I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won't matter. If I'm wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won't make a difference.” "If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Sources of Inspiration:

Judge Frank Johnson 

Colin Powell 

John Maxwell


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