MARQUETTE - John S. Brinzo, chairman and CEO of Cleveland Cliffs Inc., urged Northern Michigan University graduates to get into the "discomfort zone" of continuous learning as they embark on their careers. He was the keynote speaker at NMU's spring commencement exercises this morning and also received an honorary Doctor of Business degree.

Brinzo advised graduates to develop a vision of success in their personal and professional lives based on individually-defined goals and ambitions. He said the journey toward that success can be rewarding, exhilarating and fun if it takes place in the discomfort zone.

"Over your careers you will have many opportunities for new experiences," Brinzo added. "Each one will have risk and uncertainty attached to it. Evaluate carefully, but take the path of new experience. In fact, seek it out ... New experiences and constant change are fundamental to the learning process. You must keep learning throughout your lifetime if you are to satisfy your ambition."

While hard work, dedication, vision and continuous learning combine to create the formula for success, Brinzo identified one more important ingredient: how individuals manage their careers.

"This means knowing that you are making progress on your goals, and if not, doing something about it," he said. "The odds are that you will not be able to achieve your career vision with one company. Some business schools tell their graduates to plan on having at least six different employers by the time they're 35.

Talk about the discomfort zone! ... The biggest cause of career frustration is not knowing when to make a change. If I had to err on this issue, I would recommend moving a bit too early rather than too late."

Brinzo said he was fortunate to have only two employers since college. He has been with Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. for 33 years. CCI manages the Tilden and Empire Mines in Marquette County, where NM-U is located. Brinzo told graduates he lived in the Marquette area for six years in the '70s and considers it the "cultural heart" of his company.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director