EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Motivational speaker EJ Carrion talks about success and the ironies that precede it on Friday at Peshtigo Middle/High School.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Motivational speaker EJ Carrion talks about success and the ironies that precede it on Friday at Peshtigo Middle/High School.

PESHTIGO — Students at Peshtigo Middle/High School got a healthy dose of motivation from a special speaker on Friday. 

EJ Carrion, CEO of Student Success Agency and a published author, spoke to students about success and how to find the truly important things in your life.

“I really want to let them feel more confident in knowing that it’s not your IQ, it’s your I will,” he said. “It’s not about how much smarts you have, it’s about how much heart you have.”

Student Success Agency, according to Carrion, is the first to represent teens instead of celebrities and athletes.

“I just think looking at kids as assets and understanding they may not be getting million-dollar contract extensions by Nike or endorsement deals, but they’ll be getting college scholarships and jobs,” she said. “We need to teach them they’re assets and they can be a valuable part of the world. The more we can make kids feel valuable in our towns and invest in them, they can build that confidence — which I think is the biggest missing piece in high school.”

Over the last 10 years, Carrion has spoken to over a quarter of a million people in 43 states and around the world.

“Student Success Agency is an online mentoring platform that connects teenagers to college advising anywhere from their cellphones,” he said.

Carrion said the background story of the company came from when he was in high school.

“I was an average kid in school,” he explained. “When I took the ACT my junior year, my eighth grade brother got a higher score than me. I was a super average kid and did not graduate in the top 20 percent of anything like that as other college bound students were.”

While Carrion was a super average student, he had amazing people skills that was one of his main strengths.

“I was a leader in school, even thought I was not academically smart,” he said. “I really try to share with these students to find their strengths.”

Carrion said he likes coming into the schools because he remembers being in their shoes.

“I’m from a small town in north Texas — more cows than people,” he said. “I remember being in their situation and thinking that I had no idea what I wanted to do, especially after I took the ACT. My parents didn’t go to college, I was the first in my family to do that. it was just a very blur of what was next for me.”

Who and where students are today, Carrion emphasized, is not who or where they will be in the future.

“It’s never been a better time to be a teenager in the history of the world,” he said. “I truly mean that because of innovation. Today we are so obsessed with the new thing. No one knows what’s best and coming next than the teenagers.

“Look at Snapchat or Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, all these things blew up not because their grandparents wore them — it’s because kids are the future of innovation. I think every fortune 500 company CEO wants to know what students are doing because they have the next idea, the next dance move, the next trend. kids just need to be empowered that they offer so much more to the world.”

Carrion also stressed students need to know to start now.

“I kind of look at it in a business metaphor,” he explained. “A lot of investors invest in risky businesses — businesses that most likely won’t succeed. I think if we invested in our students like we did business, you’d see the people who actually win seem risky at first. I think the more you invest in students and treat them almost like an opportunity — a stock that can blow up — the better their future will be. Today they can be an at-risk student who has no idea, but they could be so much more if you invest in them.”

A lot times high school students believe they need to follow the rules and listen to everyone else, Carrion said. 

“Then when they get old they can start living their life,” he said. “i think a lot of times high school students think they have to wait to become awesome and in reality they can be awesome now, with whatever they do. They just need that empowerment, encouragement and people investing time in them.”