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Take Steps Toward Your Goal, Motivational Speaker Advises Students

May 22, 2007 — Motivational speaker Tobias Brown spoke at several St. Croix high schools Monday and Tuesday, sharing his rags-to-riches academic story and some principles he believes will help create great leaders and academic superstars, whatever the student's background.
“I finished in the top one percent in college, but it took me four and a half years to graduate from high school,” Brown said at Central High School. “When I came around and wanted to go to college, I started doing the things the A students did.”
A recent graduate of Ohio’s Central State University, Brown came to the territory at the invitation of the V.I. Basketball Federation as part of its "Giving Up the Love" lectures. Now in its fifth year, the lecture series is financed with a grant from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC), which advises the governor, provides technical assistance and is a conduit for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Last year the series focused on the territory’s junior high schools. This year it's the high school students’ turn. Brown spoke at St. Croix Educational Complex and St. Josephs High School on Monday, then at St. Croix Central High School Tuesday morning. His style of speaking blends a bit of stand-up comedy with down-to-earth straight talk. One of his central themes is that someone doesn't have to start out as a straight-A student to do well; they can get second chances.
Brown compared becoming a great student to getting fit, making the analogy work for any goal.
“How many of you have six-pack abs?” Brown asked the students gathered in Central’s gymnasium. “Don’t lie now — I don’t have them either. I have maybe one ab. Now if you were to pick one exercise to help, what would it be? Sit-ups, right? It’s the same with any goal."
If students just put one foot in front of the other, soon they'll be walking out the door.
"The first thing you need to do is prioritize," Brown said. "First you need to know what you want to do … then take steps toward that goal, just as if the goal were that door there. You have to take steps to get to the door. Your steps are either toward or away from your goal.”
Brown advised the students to watch their behavior and not fall into easy traps that will hurt their grades despite studying.
“Once in high school I had a teacher tell me I had detention," he said. "I said, 'I don’t think so' and walked out of the room, slapping hands with my buddies on the way out. I was cool. It was fun. But I missed a test, and got a zero. What’s an F? A zero is worse. With that zero, if I got 100 percent on my next test, that averages to 50 — still an F. If I get 100 percent on the next three tests, that’s what — 75 percent? That’s still barely passing after three tests with perfect scores. So think about what you are doing. If you take the test and don’t do well, you’re way ahead of where you’d be getting a zero because you did something stupid.”
Brown also told the students not to let what other people say or think get in the way of their goals.
“'You’ll never amount to anything' — that’s what I was told,” Brown said. “But it wasn’t true. Look at me now. How many of you have been told something like that? Don’t believe them. It wasn’t true for me, and it isn’t true for you.”
Another major point Brown hammered home was the importance of being an owner rather than a worker.
“There are two types of people behind the counter at McDonald's: owners and workers,” he said. “Who do you think is making more money? … Kobe Bryant makes $31 million a year. He’s famous. He’s rich. Who is the (team) owner? His name is Jerry Buss. How much do you think he makes in a year? He makes more than $300 million. So do you want to be famous, or be the owner?”
Brown is the author of It’s Easier Than You Think: How to Become a Master Student. He travels the country lecturing on how to become an academic success. For more information about him, visit his website.
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