Being successful means setting goals, experiencing failure, having struggles and taking risks, Peter Barsocchini, screenwriter for Disney's High School Musical, told students at Junipero Serra High School during the school's Career Day Friday.
Barsocchini, a Junipero Serra High School alumnus, welcomed the idea of coming back as the day's keynote speaker and noted "it was all the same, but so much has changed."
Growing up in the Bay Area rooted him, and feels that with his roots he was able to pursue what he wanted to do and overcome his obstacles.
"Serra played a central role in the creation of 'High School Musical,'" said Barsocchini. "I was the jock who was interested in the arts, which is the premise for one of the main characters, Troy Bolton, played by Zach Efron."
For Barsocchini, his passion for the arts began in 1966, when he attended The Beatles' last concert.
"I felt like something happened there; it was like magic, and at that moment I knew my life had changed," said Barsocchini.
Barsocchini first applied his passion through storytelling when he was assigned to write about his summer. When he realized that his summer wasn't very interesting, Barsocchini decided to get creative -- and made it up. He continued his writing career writing for what was then known as the San Mateo Times as a high school student and eventually became their music columnist.
Barsocchini moved from print to the stage as the producer for 'The Merv Griffith Show.' But he didn't stop at television. Barsocchini wrote and co-wrote several books, including "Ghost," "Mission: Impossible," "The Jeopardy," "The Look" and "Drop Zone." Barsocchini didn't think screenwriting was a possibility until a film company bought one of his books, which bolstered his determination to become a screenwriter.
"There's always something that you shouldn't be able to do," Barsocchini told the high school students about taking risks, "but you just have to take a leap."
As a screenwriter, Barsocchini tried many times before he could actually get a job and sometimes had 20 interviews just to get one job.
"I wrote every day," said Barsocchini about waiting for his big break. "What you can't do, as a writer, is wait for your muse to descend."
Learning how to lose brings success, Barsocchini said, and when success does come it's exciting. Setting goals are also important, he said, and a goal should never be to be like someone else.
"The most important thing is to not lead someone else's life," Barsocchini said. "Kids imitate their heroes and others that they aspire to be because they don't think they are good enough, but the most successful people are the people who lead their own lives."