Former USC Trustee and businessman Alex Cappello urged student involvement and emphasized the importance of reputation Tuesday at an event in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Cappello gave students advice on how to succeed and best use their time at USC during “How to Maximize Your Potential,” an event sponsored by the Trojan Scholars Society.
Cappello graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business in the ’70s and has worked at several large companies, including The Cheesecake Factory, Inc., California Republic Bank, Geothermal Resources Intl. and Koo Koo Roo, Inc. He now works solely for his own company, Cappello Capital Corp., an investment bank that does business in more than 50 countries with offices in 11 cities.
Cappello has also served as president of the USC Alumni Association.
Throughout the presentation Cappello stressed integrity as the most important quality one can possess.
“Your integrity is the most valuable asset you can have. … If you lose your integrity, you lose your reputation, you have lost everything forever,” Cappello said.
After asking all students in the audience to introduce themselves with their name, grade, major, hometown and professional goals, Cappello spoke about his own time at USC.
Cappello ran track at USC, but stopped at his doctor’s recommendation and threw himself into other activities. In addition to advising businesses on investments and advising students on how to present themselves to employers, Cappello was Interfraternity Council President.
“Every service group I could be a part of, I did,” Cappello said.
He also advised students to remember that the purpose of college is academic growth.
“I loved my social life in college, but that’s not why I was here, I was here to learn,” Cappello said.
Though his journey has not been the easiest, in part due to a degenerative spine disease that leaves him constantly in pain, Cappello urged students to appreciate life.
“I want to kiss my two daughters and my wife every morning, I want to breathe fresh air, I want to feel sunshine on my face,” Cappello said. “I’m so grateful for life.”
The event was exclusively for members of the Trojan Scholars Society — students who are the recipients of Mork, Trustee and Presidential scholarships. About 40 students of all grades and majors attended the presentation.
Jerry Ting, president of the Trojan Scholars Society who helped plan the event, said the choice of Cappello was unconventional for the group.
“Traditionally our scholarship society has been very diverse in its events that it puts on, but this year we’re focusing very specifically on trying to bring professional speakers and offering professional advice,” Ting said.
Kiersten Stanley, a freshman majoring in writing for screen and television, found Cappello to be a compelling speaker.
“This was a really good event for the Trojan Scholars Society to host … Mr. Cappello’s advice about meeting people and branching outside of your comfort zone is very useful,” Stanley said.
Vivian Rotenstein, a freshman majoring in cognitive science, said the event was informative for students, regardless of what subjects they are studying in the classroom.
“Even though I’m not a business major [and business is what] this particular speaker devoted his life to, I think he provided a lot of life lessons and really good insight,” Rotenstein said.