The students in Southeast High School’s auditorium knew their slogans.
They shouted back in unison the ending to several popular catchphrases to motivational speaker Brooks Harper.
“Like a good neighbor ...” Harper said. “State Farm is there,” the students shouted back.
For the opening of a talk all about how students are their own personal brand, it was an effective way to grab the attention of more than 300 high school seniors.
Harper, an author, speaker and career expert, spoke to the high school seniors in each of Manatee’s seven traditional high schools about career readiness this week. And each student walked away with a copy of his book, “Why Should We Hire You?”
Even if they don’t read his book, the seniors will probably remember a thing or two from the excitable redhead who got them out of class for 45 minutes. Harper, who has been speaking professionally for 12 years, sprinkled his talk with memorable catchphrases.
Turn your passion into paychecks.
Brooks Harper, an author, speaker and career expert
“Turn your learning into earning.”
“Turn your passion into paychecks.”
“We believe facts tell, stories sell.”
Harper said his message is that students have natural gifts and abilities, but they need help discovering and developing those attributes. He said students over the past decade have shown a deficiency in interpersonal skills, and he wants to help them articulate what they are good at — especially when talking to future employers.
Aarti Patel, a senior at Southeast, said the visit from Harper would be beneficial for her and her classmates.
A lot of seniors need help because they don’t know what they’re going to do.
Southeast Senior Aarti Patel
“A lot of seniors need help because they don’t know what they’re going to do,” Patel said.
Harper on Wednesday visited Manatee Technical College, where he ran into some of the students who had heard his talk earlier. Based on his message, they had decided to check out the technical college — which has it’s own memorable unofficial catchphrase “You give us a year, we’ll give you a career.”
Harper said seeing the students checking out the school’s offerings validated the importance of his message.
“The skills we are talking about are what employers and colleges are looking for when they admit and hire students,” Harper said. “(We want to) develop that so that they can go to the marketplace and turn their passion into their paycheck.”