Motivational speaker Patrick Combs never thought he would be inspiring people for a living.
“I had run into a unique set of advice from a phenomenal professor who taught me how to do college differently,” Combs said. “I got in it because I was like, man, I certainly want to be the guy who shows other students how they can do college differently so they can be happier (by finding a) job that they really love, getting paid more and feeling like they’ve got a lot of control in life.”
Combs spoke about making college experiences more successful and how his first novel “Major in Success: Make College Easier, Fire Up Your Dreams and Get a Very Cool Job” could aid those still confused about their future on Tuesday in Chumash auditorium.
With more than 120,000 copies sold and five editions published since its 1995 release, the novel aims to inspire students to live up to their potential. Combs seeks to answer the universal question many seniors have after graduating: How am I going to get a job?
He provides interview tactics and resume boosters for the job market to graduates. Combs also gives advice to first and second year students to find a major that would be the most enjoyable for them in their future career, and teach students to face their fears when it comes to living on their own.
His interest in helping others sparked from one of his professors when he was a student at San Francisco State University.
“I was one of her worst students who had a bad attitude and struggled to get good grades,” Combs said. “(But) she started teaching me about real-world success and what I would have to do during college to get it.”
Combs said his professor was influential because she stepped outside the college norm. Typically, he heard students were expected to go to school, pick their major, do their homework and graduate. However, the professor taught him this “has nothing to do with the vast majority of what students will be.” Instead, increasing the college experience and finding something you love to do is far more important.
This led Combs to give students one piece of advice: what students learn in college cannot be found in textbooks and class lectures — it’s unassigned homework.
“It will never be assigned in college, but it will make you successful,” Combs said. “I’m not against getting grades. I just know as a statistical fact by all measures that if you haven’t figured out your passion, your grades aren’t (going to) save you.”
Combs’ strategy of success is outlined in his novel. He said his number one advice book is different than the others out there.
“It (not only) gets you a good job, it makes your college experience better,” Combs said. “It increases your grades without trying. I’m showing (and telling) college students that when they graduate, they are doing something they like.”
Associated Students Inc. (ASI) program coordinator Missi Bullock said Combs would be a perfect speaker to bring to Cal Poly since he was such a powerful advocate for directing students to a better future. On a survey conducted last spring, Combs was the number one preference who students wanted to see next in Chumash Auditorium.
Bullock said Combs’ message will connect with Poly students.
“It’s an ‘I’m in college now’ speech,” Bullock said. “It’s about finding success in your major. He specializes in going to schools with really impacted majors.”
Here at Cal Poly, students from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and College of Engineering understand just how impacted this university can get.
“The architecture department, compared to other schools, has a very high enrollment,” architecture junior Travis Chin said. “We have about 15 to 20 students per studio when other schools have about eight to 15.”
Mechanical engineering junior Adam Eberwein said he agrees.
“It’s difficult getting into classes as an engineering major,” he said. “I’ve had to crash a lot of classes and I know a lot of people who won’t be able to graduate on time because they can’t get in.”
Nevertheless, Combs still remembers the best piece of advice he has ever received: when you finally follow your bliss, it truly is a different life.
As far as Combs’ speech goes, he hopes students will leave with “less of a hope and more of an experience.” He said he wishes students will walk out the door with three new perspectives: finding something they want to do with their lives then giving themselves permission to do it, finding the courage and enthusiasm to do it and knowing the step they will take to make happiness come true.
Students who attended the discussion were pleased with what Combs had to say.
“His advice made sense,” business junior Alexis Beverly said. “Seeing him on stage was a privilege.”
“He was really enthusiastic and sincerely wanted to help students.”