Teetering on the edge of his apartment roof, high above the projects of Brooklyn, New York, Arel Moodie had a choice to make. And as he reflected on it later, he was convinced he’d made the wrong one: He had decided to live.

“I was beating myself up, thinking, ‘I couldn’t even commit to that! I can’t do anything right. I’m not good at anything,’” he says, recounting his close call with suicide as a teenager.

But Moodie, whose friends were falling into drugs and crime and being shot and killed on the mean streets where he lived, found a way to survive, thanks to a vigilant parent and a caring mentor who convinced him that education was his ticket out of poverty.

“College, for me, was when my life began,” Moodie says. “On the first day, someone told us, ‘No one knows who any of you are … You can be whoever you want to be. Be the best version of yourself.’”

He soon secured a mentor, a professor who was starting an entrepreneurship group on campus. The two had little in common, yet something clicked. “He saw that I was hungry, and I was willing to work hard. He said if I kept coming back, he’d keep helping. I kept coming back,” Moodie says. “He believed in me in a way that was so powerful before I could believe in myself.”

Today, Moodie is a successful businessman, student success expert, best-selling author, and sought-after motivational speaker who has been recognized by President Obama’s White House. His college mentor remains a powerful influence in his life and the No. 1 example Moodie cites when encouraging mentors around the world.

“I really believe in the idea that a consistent drip of water can bore a hole into a rock,” he says. “You may think you made no difference, but you may be surprised, 10 years later, by an email, a phone call, a tweet saying, ‘You changed my life. Thank you.’ Everyone can be helped, because every single drop of water leads to that hole that goes through the rock.”

To hear Moodie’s story and learn about other innovators in the education field, listen to Episode 6 of our monthly podcast, Upgraded by Hobsons.


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