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Wells Fargo CEO to grads: Work for a company that shares your values

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf delivers a commencement speech in May at the University of Minnesota, from which he earned a master of business administration in 1980. Stumpf advises graduates to work for a company that shares their culture, values, beliefs and ethics.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf delivers a commencement speech in May at the University of Minnesota, from which he earned a master of business administration in 1980. Stumpf advises graduates to work for a company that shares their culture, values, beliefs and ethics.

For graduates seeking advice as they prepare to launch their careers, here’s some from John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo: Don’t just go to work for any old company.

“Work for a company that shares your culture, your values, your beliefs, your ethics,” Stumpf said in a commencement speech he gave earlier this month at the University of Minnesota. “If you are a ‘us’ person, work for an ‘us’ company.”

Stumpf shared that and other advice during his roughly 20-minute address to graduates of the university’s Carlson School of Management. Stumpf, a Minnesota native who grew up on a farm in that state, earned a master of business administration from Carlson in 1980. Two years later, he went to work in the loan administration department of Norwest Corp., a predecessor company of Wells Fargo.

Stumpf told the graduates it was his first time giving a commencement speech. Here are some highlights:

▪ “There’s a very wise British humorist who said the following: ‘Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing it does not belong in a fruit salad.’ Your goal is wisdom.”

▪ “I know a lot of really smart people who have lots of knowledge who say perfectly stupid things all the time. You’ll find that common sense is not so common. And the best way people go on the journey from knowledge to wisdom is by making mistakes or, they call it, experience. And I wish I would have been much more aggressive in sharing my mistakes and learning from other people’s mistakes along the way. You’re not going to live old enough to make all the mistakes yourself. Learn from others’ mistakes.”

▪ “Never fall out of love with learning. ... People who are the happiest on this planet fall in love with learning and they never stop.”

▪ “Work for a boss who ... really wants to invest in making you a better team member, more productive and happier and makes sure that you have balance in your life.”

Roberts: 704-358-5248;

Twitter: @DeonERoberts

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