CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following are excerpts from Duke Energy Chairman Jim Rogers’ speech to graduates at Clemson University’s Commencement exercises Dec. 19.
“Like some of you, I’m looking for a job. On January 1st, I won’t have a job anymore.
“Sure, there is a term for this. It’s called retirement. But I cannot and will not sit still on January 1st.
“To me, retirement is a new beginning; a time to reimagine your world and reinvent yourself. It’s very much like this commencement — and how it marks a fresh start for each of you.
“While I don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen next, I do know one thing for sure: I have the highest of expectations for myself.
“I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. My wish for you is just the same. Have high expectations of yourself. Be passionate about the mission you select. Be unafraid to make a positive difference in the world.
“All of this means that we must — together — think outside the box, defy conventional wisdom and not be afraid to speak up or challenge the status quo. We need to approach our next opportunities with a mindset like no other. We need to think differently.
“Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s travel 500 miles west to Arkansas — to Pulaski Academy, home to one of the nation’s most unconventional high school football programs.
“Coach Kevin Kelley has received a lot of notoriety — and criticism — because of his coaching style. He refuses to allow his team to punt the football.
“But Coach Kelley is a student of the game. He does his research. He’s looking for whatever advantage he can find — within the limits of the rulebook, of course.
“He’s discovered that his team has a 15 percent better chance of winning by not punting the football.
“The team’s record speaks for itself: They’ve won 89 percent of their games since 2010, including an 11-and-1 record this season.
“Another example is the United Parcel Service. A short time ago, UPS faced tremendous pressures to cut costs and institute an across-the-board environmental stewardship policy. These dynamics created great challenges for employees.
“But a team of engineers got together and eventually implemented a simple rule: Eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible.
“The company cut nearly 100 million minutes of idle time and eliminated 90 million miles from their routes each year. They’re saving big on fuel, and they’re better stewards of the environment, too.
“Last, but certainly not least: Eliminating left turns cut back on the number of UPS traffic accidents, making their employees — and our communities — safer.
“UPS, Coach Kelley and countless others are rethinking their roles. They’re achieving real results by defying conventional wisdom in their respective fields.
“So, how will you succeed as you begin your next chapter? Simply working hard won’t cut it anymore. You must reimagine and reinvent the future. But we will need some other qualities, too. I call these the basics, the non-negotiables in your life.
“You and I must be honest and genuine all along the way. We need to be focused on making the right ethical decisions, no matter what. We will succeed not only based on our ability to think differently, but also our capacity to earn and build trust each day.
“I’ll close by stating the obvious: We don’t know exactly what life will be like as we begin the next chapter. But we know what we must do. We must think differently to solve the world’s problems — as well as the everyday challenges that we’ll encounter along the way. And we must strive to be brief, be brilliant and be gone ” on to new challenges and new opportunities.”
Jim Rogers will retire as chairman of Duke Energy on Dec. 31, 2013. He also served as president and CEO of Duke Energy until July 1, 2013, when he was succeeded by Lynn Good. He served 25 years as CEO of Duke Energy or a predecessor company and has achieved a total annual shareholder return of more than 12 percent since 1988.