In this season of graduation and commencement, Jeffrey Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, was the keynote speaker Friday at the hooding ceremony at the UNH Paul College of Business and Economics. His remarks follow. Best wishes to the Class of 2014.
Thank you to Dean Garron for your warm introduction. It’s truly an honor to be here this afternoon and be a part of the UNH Paul College of Business and Economics Hooding Ceremony.
I am especially pleased to be a part of this event and your graduation weekend, as it’s one of those magical moments in your life; it’s an experience anyone who has donned a cap and gown will not soon forget. It’s a moment to pay respect to your past and to anticipate and embrace your future.
For the graduates, it’s a time of reflection – thinking about the adventures and experiences that have brought you to this moment. But also about the opportunities and journeys that are about to begin. Today is a day to be inspired – by your fellow classmates, your professors, and all those who are wishing you well in your next endeavors.
For me, being here today prompted me to revisit my graduation a few years ago – ok – close to 20 years ago – and remember the speaker at my commencement. At the time, former NYC police chief Ray Kelly had just returned from an assignment in Haiti and his words were especially powerful, even all these years later.
His comments focused on the importance of speaking the truth, being loyal, and acting in an ethical fashion. All very relevant and wise comments, but there was one other interesting point he made – never to follow a job just because of the money.
While that may be hard to digest with looming college loans just around the corner, thinking about it more closely – there is a deeper message in the comment – and one that has been a driving force behind every opportunity I have encountered.
Passion is the currency that will bring riches to your life, not the numbers on a paycheck.
This has not always been a truth that I’ve known, but upon reflection, it’s been a steady driver in the successes of each phase of my life. I’ve worked to harness my passions through every activity – playing sports, enjoying the outdoors, connecting with friends and family, and certainly in the career choices I’ve made.
And when you follow your passions, a willingness to lead, to discover and to be happy is much closer to your grasp. It allows the all the pieces to fold together and make the whole all the greater.
Following my passions have served me well – to be a positive contributor to causes, beliefs, and values that I hold true and dear. They are filters and guideposts in times of challenging decisions and incredible opportunities.
This has kept me here in New Hampshire – a place I knew early on I did not want to leave – and led me to a career opportunity that fuels one of my greatest passions – public service.
Serving the state I love as the commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development is extraordinarily rewarding.
Every day is a new challenge, challenges that are offset each morning knowing that I have the opportunity to make a difference, by preserving, protecting and promoting the elements here that we all love and which collectively help produce the amazing quality of life for which New Hampshire is known.
Whether it’s our remarkable landscape and natural resources, our parks and historic sites, promoting our attractions and destinations or nurturing our distinctively friendly business environment, I have the opportunity to make a contribution – a positive impact in every corner of the state – each and every day.
This was never a career I thought possible, and in all honesty, I had not even thought much about … especially when I was wearing a cap and gown 20-years ago.
At that time, I would have scoffed at the suggestion that following my passions would land where I am now … in a career I love for its rewards and challenges.
Following my passions uncovered personal riches and happiness, which are priceless.
As you move forward with the next chapter in your lives and assess your career options, I encourage you to find your passions. To play to your strengths, beliefs and ideals that are true to you.
You are New Hampshire’s freshly-minted business leaders and I suspect you are all eager to make a difference. With an open mind and heart, your passion can be your inner compass that steers you forward in a direction that will bring great rewards.
With our boundless technology giving businesses new ways to be competitive, the opportunities to make a difference are waiting for you to grab.
Working with businesses every day, I see owners and managers looking for leaders to add to their teams. They seek leaders with a passion, drive and a sense of purpose in what they are doing.
I can tell you this … businesses are starving for the next generation of thinkers, doers, creators and dreamers.
And to think of the path that remains before you is incredibly exciting. To think about the advances you will see in technology, in social responsibility, in global connectivity, and personal opportunity are only limited by your imagination.
I hope you will pursue your passions and be among those that bring vision and drive to our economy in New Hampshire.
As you know, it’s such a distinctive state, characterized by its hardworking, honest, and community oriented people. We are a state that relies heavily on having a healthy business environment and consistently ranks at the top of the lists of best states to live, work, and raise a family – and maintaining this enviable climate is going to need drive, determination … and yes … passion.
To sustain our advantages, we need to constantly infuse our workforce with skill and enthusiasm. We need people from various perspectives and diverse backgrounds to help bring out the best thinking and creativity. We need people like you, who have received a first rate education from our state’s university, to step forward, with your passions, to lead our state – our economy – beginning today.
Along with your education, there is something else I encourage you to carry with you as far and as long as you can … and that is the connections you have made through the years.
While it’s never been easier to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues through technology, it’s the personal relationships that you forged here, that have the potential to make a difference in your lives.
Look around, there is a lot of talent around you, don’t be afraid to tap into that talent as you build your network. Collectively you share a common connection, a link to your past, but perhaps even more important, a seed to your future.
In seeking out your passion, know that you will find it enhanced by the people sitting beside you and the people seated beside them. This is the start of a network that will be both a guide and an inspiration. Learning from others, seeking role models, and identifying attributes from colleagues that inspire you – is a powerful tool.
Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to work with so many talented people. I have tried to take life and career lessons away from each of my experiences, and most of these people probably have no idea how much they’ve affected me.
I have learned to focus on what’s important and not get too caught up in the hustle of what others deem to be urgent.
I’ve learned to focus on the things you can control and that you do well, and not dwell on things you don’t have the ability to impact.
And I’ve learned that each moment shall pass – and upon reflection it’s never as good as it seems and never as bad as it might seem.
Being steady, focused, thoughtful and grounded, will allow you to see through the clutter and noise and make more rational and consistent decisions. It has allowed me to be true to my passions and to make meaningful contributions.
I hope you will take your passions – all of them and in whatever state of development they are in – and allow them to be a guide. I hope you will follow them and that they will follow you.
In the months and years to come, when the demands of work, family and life compete for them, resist the urge to cast those passions aside … for you will find that they have brought you to where you are and, more importantly, to the places for which you are destined.
It is these passions what will bring you riches and rewards and allow you to be true to who you are.
Congratulations to the Paul College class of 2014 and I wish you all the very best in pursuing your passions. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day.