Life lessons taught by Jon S. Corzine — the former governor speaks at FDU


Above: Jon Corzine's complete remarks at FDU. (Video by Bill Doran)

By Kaidi Ilves

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business welcomed former N.J. Governor, U.S. Senator, and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Jon S. Corzine to the University’s Florham Campus on Thursday, December 3. In his first public appearance since presiding over financial firm, MF Global's bankruptcy in 2011, Corzine gave a riveting speech about successes and failures, and taught the students in attendance life lessons such as resilience.

 “Resilience is an important characteristic to go through life, and that is not something I lack — my key to success is probably that I’m just plain stubborn,” said Corzine, who discussed what led him to his career as a politician and businessman. He also advised students to aim past their objectives, “thus when you fall short, you still reach your original objective!”  

Corzine called integrity fundamental for the pursuit of long-term success. “Accepting short-term wins whilst compromising long-term success is hardly ever a good idea. It’s important to do it with integrity,” he said. He continued, “You don’t always win. Failures happen, and that’s okay — you truly fail when you give up, so quitting should not be an option.”

The former governor stressed the importance of teamwork and surrounding oneself with strong peers who are up for challenges, “when you have a strong team, you can go far. Everyone needs someone behind them, whether in good times or bad,” he said.

Corzine finished his remarks with a request for all students to “buckle up,” referencing the nearly-fatal car accident he was in while governor, stating he was lucky to be alive.

The event was organized by the Silberman College of Business as part of the lecture series for the Professional Development Program. Around one hundred students attended the event, excited to learn something that could pertain to their careers.

Melissa Raushi, a second year MBA student, said “Governor Corzine gave a thought-provoking speech about the importance of ambition, drive, and determination to get where you want to go in life. What really resonated with me was Corzine recognizing that failure can be an option — no one wants to fail, but if you do fail, fail honorably, and fail knowing that you can always start again.”

Another MBA student, Marcela Alzate-Gomez, found the event to be a great learning opportunity. She said, “Corzine reinforced that making mistakes is part of being human. The key to turn around difficult situations, and making them productive and memorable is looking at the positive side.”

Read more about media’s reflections on Corzine’s speech:

Wall Street Journal: "With campus speech, former Gov. Jon Corzine re-enters civic life"

Bloomberg: "Corzine tells students to take some risk, doesn't name MF Global" The Star Ledger: "8 things we learned from Jon Corzine's first public appearance in 4 years" The Record: "Former Gov. Corzine reemerges to discuss triumphs, pitfalls at FDU"

Politico New Jersey: "MF Global collapse was 'disruptive and painful' for many"

Business Insider: "Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine gave college students a big speech on success and failure"