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Duke Energy's Rogers Urges NCSU Grads to 'Write Your Own Book' May 16, 2011

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The following are excerpts from Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Rogers’ speech to graduates at North Carolina State University’s Commencement exercises May 14.

“I believe most of you already have gadgets like iPods, iPads and smart phones.

“So how’s this for excitement? How about a book?

“It’s called ‘No Limits’ – and the good news is, you get to write it yourself.

“The first few chapters have already been written. It may have been written by others based on real-life observation – of how you work, how you talk, how well you play with others.

“With your degree in hand, I challenge you to not be limited by the current ‘book’ on you.

“Become the strong, central protagonist in your own story.

“The most successful people I know have done just that. And by successful – I don’t necessarily mean financial net worth.

“I mean people who know how to pursue life without limits.

“Who aren’t satisfied with just being satisfied.

“Who put the needs of others ahead of their own, and in the end, get so much more than they put in.

“One of those people is Carol Hardison. Carol built a successful career in Information Technology at Duke Energy over 18 years. She had a bright future and could have stayed on the management track for another decade or so – and left with a nice retirement.

“But instead – in the year 2000, she left a job she loved – to fulfill her lifelong passion for helping people in poverty – as CEO of the nonprofit Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte.

“Every year, that organization helps thousands of people – in Carol’s words – ‘to gain stability and have hope.’

“When she changed careers, Carol didn’t redefine herself – but she did redefine her limits. Since college and as a Duke employee, she was a regular volunteer to help the homeless and those in need of a helping hand.

“Meanwhile, she was developing a solid set of business skills in management, strategic planning and customer service. What she didn’t know was – she was preparing for an opportunity to help people in financial crisis move toward self-sufficiency.

“Another person who knows no limits is Rye Barcott. He is 32 years old.

“He spent part of his summer break from college living in Kibera. Until I met Rye, I’d never even heard of Kibera (an urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya).

“More than 200,000 people live in squalor, in an area about the size of New York’s Central Park.

“We’ve all read about places like Kibera. We’ve seen the pictures that remind us how good we have it here. But people like Rye do something to change it.

“He made an initial investment of $26, and co-founded a nonprofit called Carolina for Kibera.

“It started with a soccer program, and in time built a medical clinic that grew into a grass-roots movement to help the people of Kibera help themselves.

“After graduating from college, he served five years in the Marine Corp. Rye continued to help lead the effort in Kibera while serving as a Captain in Bosnia, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.

“After his tour of duty, Rye got two master’s degrees from Harvard. Right now – he’s on a nationwide tour promoting his book, ‘It Happened on the Way to War – a Marine’s Path to Peace.’

“My point is Rye doesn’t let anyone else’s idea of what one person can accomplish get in his way.

“Busting out beyond the limits involves a certain amount of risk. At the time, you never know for sure which were the right choices, or the wrong ones – which were the good breaks, or the bad ones.

“You may only know when you look back on them years later.

“Teddy Roosevelt referred to it as being ‘in the arena.’

“He said:
‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.
‘Who … if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’

“My wish for each of you is that you have the courage to ‘get in the arena.’

“The best graduation gift that I – or any of us – can give you, is the copyright to your own story. Begin writing it today. Write it with passion and purpose. And write it without limits.”

Contact: Tom Williams
Phone: 980-373-4743
24-Hour Phone: 800-559-3853 (DUKE)

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