Hamilton and second ward native Eric Broyles graduated from Badin High School “literally” at the bottom of his class.
His grades ranked him about 150 out of 153 students, he said.
However, by the time he graduated University of Cincinnati with a pair of bachelor’s degrees in marketing and management, Broyles rose to become valedictorian of the class of 1992.
The once struggling high schooler found success by finding inspiration and confidence, he says. He realized he couldn’t help his community unless he was successful. Now, he credits his Christian faith and mentors such as attorney and fellow second ward native Nathaniel Lampley Jr. for helping turn things around.
“I don’t know my struggle had as much to do with my own capacity and abilities versus just being disengaged for a variety of other personal reasons,” Broyles said.
During high school, he said he began to take notice of his community coming apart, including the closing of a General Motors/Fisher Body plant and a crack drug epidemic.
“It bothered me a lot and I think I was focused on some of those broader social things than what I was doing in school,” he said.
Broyles hopes an upcoming speech at UC Blue Ash College about his career advice will be a way to give back. Before Broyles attended classes on the university’s main campus, he obtained an associate’s degree at the Blue Ash regional campus.
After finishing his undergraduate degrees in Cincinnati, Broyles later completed his law degree at University of Virginia. Today, he is a successful corporate attorney and the chief executive officer of an international investment research firm living in the Washington, D.C., area.
Mentorship was very important to Broyles’ success. “Having people to look up to who also made it out of the community and were doing good things — made it out but didn’t forget,” he said. “We’ve never forgotten nor detached ourselves from our community or where we came from.”
In an interview with the Journal-News, Broyles gave the following advice for others who might be struggling like he used to.
1. Have a vision: What vision do you have for your life and for your future?
2. Tell your story: Once you have your vision, what is the story you want to tell about yourself? What are your values, what are your goals, and what voice do you listen to in your head? Because there’s going to be naysayers.
There are competing narratives — the one that tells you that you can succeed and have a positive impact or the one that tells you that you can’t —but which one will you listen to?
“I choose not to listen to the narrative that tells me I can’t do those things,” he said.
3. Draft a team: Find who’s on your team to help you achieve those things. Be careful to have a team around you that buys into your narrative. The team can be a mentor, friends and family members, or business partners.
4. Act on it: After identifying your team and making sure your team is in agreement with your narrative, and that you agree with their narrative, it’s all about execution.
“You have to execute every day,” he said. “The way I became successful at University of Cincinnati is I set targets for myself every single day.”
Broyles told how he worked to sell garage doors during college, and he mapped out his day’s plans to the hour. For example, his goals included selling one garage door a day, going to class each morning, spending five hours studying every night in the library or elsewhere, and making room for personal time.
“Even today, I have every hour of the day mapped out,” he said.