Best-selling author talks to current students
By Eric Coker
Arel Moodie '05 knows how to get an audience to pay attention to him.
Moodie, who spoke at orientation, instructed new students, parents, advisers and others in attendance at the Osterhout Concert Theater to stand up, turn to the person next to them, give a high-five and say, "You're awesome."
Hundreds of hands clapped, as strangers and friends shared an "awesome" greeting.
"My life changed here," said Moodie, an entrepreneur and best-selling author of Your Starting Point for Student Success. "I know that since you are here, all of you are awesome. … I want this to be your starting point. I want you to remember this day for the rest of your lives."
Moodie gave students his tips for success by first referring to his own journey. The son of a Jamaican-Cuban father and a Jewish mother, Moodie made it out of a low-quality Brooklyn high school and entered Binghamton University. An illness early during his time at Binghamton led Moodie to reassess his lifestyle. Moodie said he began reading more books, visiting professors during office hours, joining organizations and talking to successful people.
He eventually become a finalist for the Exemplary Student Award and led four student organizations, including Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).
Moodie urged students to understand their "why."
"What life are you trying to build for yourself and others?" he asked. "That is what is going to help you stay here. Anyone can get to school. It takes a real champion to go through college. College is a stepping stone, not an ending point. It’s about making it here so that when you hit the real world, opportunities line up that you've never seen before. Now is your time."
Moodie, who has spoken to more than 65,000 students in 39 states, then told students to follow the following principles:
* The only person responsible for success is you.
Don’t blame professors for poor grades, he said. Go to office hours and ask for feedback. "If you reach out to (professors), they'll be happy to help you," he said.
* Attach your self-worth to something that doesn't change.
"Go on a journey and find out what it is for you," said Moodie, citing spirituality and science as examples. "If you know what it is, deepen it. There are tons of organizations that will help you do that."
*Three to succeed.
Write a goal on the front of an index card, Moodie said. (Example: Get a 3.5 GPA to help obtain a dream job.) Then write three things on the back of the card that can be done to move you to achieve that goal.
"All you have to do is these things that move you measurably toward your goal," Moodie said. "That’s it."
*The average of five.
Moodie told the audience members to find their five best friends and ask them their grade point averages and add them together. Divide by five. He predicted the audience members' GPAs would be in the middle.
* Pleasure-pain: Move toward things that make you feel good or away from things that make you feel bad.
The best pleasure, Moodie said, is contribution.
"If you want to feel good, join an organization and do community service," he said. "That feeling of someone saying 'Thank you for feeding me' will never make you unhappy. It'll never make you sad. All it will do is help you and make this world a much better place."
Moodie poked fun at himself during the presentation, from stories about working as a telemarketer to making pop-culture references to various dances. He even suggested that some of the crowd might consider him "corny." But Moodie gave the students advice that he received from a mentor, Angelo Mastrangelo of the School of Management.
"When you do things that are corny, what you are really doing is stretching your comfort zone," Moodie said. "If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to do the things other people won't so you can have the things other people don't."