Written By: Ashayla Burnett, 11th grader at eStem Public Charter School
To kick things off at the first-ever Arkansas High School Startup Weekend, Seattle Seahawks defensive end, Greg Scruggs, spoke about the adversity he went through to be as successful as he is now. He mentioned how this substantial feeling of failing and not being good enough, is the driving force for his ambitions. He encouraged participants of ARHSSW, by telling his personal story, and presenting this theme of not being afraid of failure as a reason to want to strive to be better in life.
Scruggs talked about how people in his community were at a disadvantage to receive that chance of a higher education. “Everyone from my neighborhood never went to school. They never had the opportunity to go to school. For me, the height of my career…I felt was going to be you know…just getting a job at McDonald’s if I could. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s so much more potential in the world. There are so many more things, so many more opportunities for you to do things. Why not go forward? So I started to take flight lessons because I was going to enroll in the Air Force Academy. And then I said I’d give football a shot.”
He spoke of his time playing football as a senior in high school, struggling with grades at such a prestigious school. “My first year of high school was at St. Xavier. It was considered the best high school in the state of Ohio. My very first report card I had a teacher tell me you were well on your way out of here. I didn’t like that. But it was a feeling…it rubbed me the wrong way. That’s the type of things that fuel me. And I graduated from the best high school in the state of Ohio after being well on my way out the door. That was a failure that I had overcome.”
Scruggs entered the University of Louisville with a full ride. “My coach told me as long as you show me that you’re not scared to hit anybody I can get you a scholarship.” He mentioned how the opportunity he had in football coincided with dreams of winning a national championship, being the first All-American, drafted Top 5 pick, taking care of his family, and a Rolls Royce in his garage.
He said, “And then reality sets in, I’m not a first team All-American. My team was 4 in 8 my first year, 5-7 in the next year. My first semester of my sophomore year I failed every single class. I was failing through school. I was failing in everything I wanted to do there.” Having a GPA of 0.366 and having his coach tell him that he would never play with those credentials caused the turn around. He went on to make a 3.6. GPA. Today he is known as a Super Bowl Champion.
“As a team, the Seattle Seahawks, we won the Super Bowl…so technically we were really good. But I’ll have you know the Seattle Seahawks did not go undefeated last year. So we had some failures. We did not have the solution to every problem. But what we did is we regrouped and came back together as a team and we made it happen.”
He encouraged the groups as well saying, “The thing I love, and the thing that drives me is I will never be complacent. I’m always looking for a way to get better. That’s what drives me. That’s what I think fuels entrepreneurship. I looked up innovative. I was trying to think of the best words to describe the three top characteristics, abilities, and skills of successful entrepreneurs. It’s not necessarily meaning cutting edge. It just means being better. Taking something that’s established and making it better.
Why not be better today? Why not compete? Why not take the underdog approach and say I have to be better.” His story should serve as an example to the groups to get through all the frustration, hard-work, pivot, and come back better than before.
“I appreciate everybody letting me be here. Keep this in mind. I have no idea about entrepreneurship okay. I play football for a living. So if I come by your group, just realize that I’m learning from you all. As I’m here this weekend I’m learning from everything that you’re building. And I want to continue to learn. And I want to grow. I want to be better because of you. I challenge you all this weekend: go embark, enjoy yourselves, but compete.”
Thanks to Greg Scruggs for coming out to support these participants at Arkansas High School Startup Weekend!