By Carrie Gavit ‘14
Securing his first job in high school working at McDonald’s taught Darryl Scriven the key to success in life: attitude. Placed at the cash register, it wasn’t long before Scriven realized the position would teach him to maintain a positive outlook and how to communicate with others.
The motivational speaker returned to Hanover for the second year to spread his message as part of Hanover’s celebration for Black History Month, sponsored by the student group Kaleidoscope and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Born in Jacksonville, Fla., to a single mother, Scriven did not allow negativity to defer his dreams.
“I grew up between two housing projects in a place called ‘The Rat Hole,’” said Scriven to the students in the audience. “Around 80 percent of the kids from my neighborhood dropped out of school.”
With his mother and baseball coach serving as two constant role models, Scriven made sure he completed high school so he could earn a college degree. Scriven said he learned to focus his frustrations and discipline his disappointments.
“I had to learn that things were going to work even when they didn’t seem like it.”
Beginning with engineering and later switching to math, religion and philosophy, Scriven earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and a doctorate in philosophy from Purdue University. He held various faculty positions at Wilberforce, Southern and Tuskegee universities, achieving a tenured professorship at age 32.
Five years later, however, Scriven decided to pursue a career in entrepreneurship. He bought water at Sam’s Club, put them in laundry tubs filled with ice and went to a busy intersection in Baton Rouge, La., where he sold 2,000 bottles of water in two days.
“I did not do this because it was in my mind,” he said. “I did it because it was in my heart… Don’t let your degree stop you from doing what it takes to achieve your dream.”
Though his first business — tutoring — failed, Scriven learned from his mistakes and now manages five successful businesses, including the African-American Family Enrichment Institute and Rolling Video Games of Maryland.
He approached writing with the same determination and published his first book in 2004. Scriven now has seven titles to his credit, including two novels.
“If you want to be extraordinary, you have to be relentless,” he said. “ … I had to learn a new discipline because I was a novice in a new (style) of writing. I constantly invest in myself even though I am done in school. I’m always learning.”
That approach has served Scriven well. In addition to executive producing two documentaries, he has speaking engagements all over the world and does a daily YouTube broadcast, all while raising three children with his wife, Laticia.
Scriven’s life and message resonated with a number of students. Sophomore Amelia Smith it as an example of attitude determining altitude.
“He was built for success simply because he knew these values,” she said. “To know things like that at such a young age is somewhat unusual, especially in this day and age.”
“Many people like to put blame on their situation and think a person’s environment and resources tend to make a big difference in their outcome in life,” added senior Cary Menifee, “His examples show that a positive attitude can change your outcome, an outcome that you probably would have never expected.”
Sophomore Acea Holland said Scriven’s tips — change your attitude, find your genius and be relentless — as key to achieving her life’s goals.
“He also helped me to realize that it doesn’t matter what people think of me, I need to get “mine” and let them do their own thing,” she said. “They are not living in my shoes or experiencing what I (experience) so their opinions and attitudes don’t really matter. As long as I continue saying that I can, then I will be able to. If I let people tell me that I can’t, I will get nowhere.”
Junior Carrie Gavit is from Fishers, Ind. An English major, she edits the Career Center newsletter and is co-president of People for Peace.
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013