John Moriarty -- Class of 1983
When I was asked me if I would be interested in contributing to this space, at first I wondered what I could offer to school aged kids having been so far removed from my experiences at Franklinville Central School and Ten Broeck Academy. But it gave me some time to reflect on how I was feeling when I was standing in your shoes and wondering what I could make of my life. I honestly had no idea what I would do once I finished school other than I thought I should go to college and see what happens next. I even picked the college I would go to, not based on their degree programs, but on their athletic program I wanted to participate in. So I clearly didn’t have much of a 1 year plan, let alone a 10 year plan.
I am positive that between my teachers, coaches and family, I was given some very solid advice about working hard in school and finding a good job with the right company and having a long successful career. I remember at the time not really believing it because I couldn’t visualize it and I really didn’t feel like I knew what I wanted to do.
Also what I wasn’t aware of was that there were experiences I had that were providing me some of the skills I was going to need to be successful and that many of those were happening right in Franklinville.
Reconnecting with my TBA classmates over the years has shown me one thing, we mostly agree that Franklinville was a great place to grow up. There may not be as wide a variety of options for education and other experiences as those in bigger towns, but the things we learned there were no less valuable. Wherever a person is raised, they will get out of that experience exactly what they decide to put into it. The values that lead to success are hard work and persistence, but more than that, there is the need to find out what you are good at and then making it happen. Dedicating yourself to it and finding out exactly how good you can be. You should love what you are doing in order to be really good at it, don’t settle for picking something you are good at just because it comes easy. You need to be passionate about it and that will bring you true rewards.
Undoubtedly, you may not recognize some of the lessons you will learn until further down the road, so I encourage you to treat every opportunity and experience with an open mind and give it your best shot. One of the most valuable experiences I had growing up in Franklinville was working for the Department of Public Works during the 3 summers while I was in college. I learned as much about honest hard work, responsibility and leadership as I have learned anywhere in my professional life. At that time Larry Agett was running the DPW and he was an outstanding example of what a good leader should be. He was able to balance positive and negative feedback in a way that encouraged us to want to work very hard for him. Larry showed me how important it is to give people direction how to do a project, but then allow them to own it and make it a reflection of themselves. I try and follow that same leadership principle to this day. He was a true people person who was an excellent communicator. I guarantee if you were to ask people in town who knew Larry, they would be able to tell you great stories of the kind of person he was. He also had two other great leadership qualities that served him well, and I learned from. Larry definitely held his employees accountable for themselves and he did an excellent job leading by example. He would never ask someone to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself, and there were plenty of times he had to jump into the trenches in order to fix a problem or provide us further instruction. Other than the excellent leadership qualities I learned from my parents, you could say that everything I needed to know about leading business people, I learned in 3 summers working for Larry Agett in Franklinville.
So take every opportunity as it comes along with the knowledge that it could frame the type of person you will be for the rest of your life and don’t miss out on a chance to find what it is you truly want to do. Discover what it is you are passionate about and your chances for success will dramatically increase.
Something else I can tell you that I wish I had learned back then was to be thinking about being an entrepreneur. Finding that one thing you are passionate about and making that you career and livelihood. My generation, like our parents, approached our education with the mindset of working hard to find a good company to go to work for and spend a long successful career. The US economy has changed in that regard. My generation overall, hasn’t always enjoyed the same length of employment with a single company that our parents and grandparents did. This has been true for those of us who are professionals like engineers and accountants as well. Being an entrepreneur is definitely harder and involved more risk, but the rewards are exponentially greater. Your high school years are the perfect time for you to explore those types of possibilities. With the interenet, you have access to research interesting business ideas and even launch them there. Sure beats trying to set up a lemonade stand on Maple Avenue, which was my option. This is a unique time, and may be one of those moments you will look back at and realize a great lesson you learned.