To spend or invest your most valuable asset? That is the question.

Today, you have 86,500 seconds to do something. Over the next week, you’ll have 605,500. And by the age of 32, most of us become time billionaires. UW-Green Bay Fall 2023 Commencement Speaker and Schreiber Foods President and CEO Ron Dunford challenged UW-Green Bay graduates to ponder that thought during the University’s afternoon ceremony at The Weidner.

“Esteemed faculty, proud parents, family and friends, and most importantly, the remarkable graduates of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

It is indeed an honor to be with you today. Thank you, Chancellor Alexander for this privilege to share a few thoughts with you.

I considered several options of what to talk about this afternoon and ultimately narrowed it down to advice I wish I would have received when I graduated, so I decided to talk about a currency more valuable than gold and more fleeting than the wind.

Today is a significant milestone. As you stand on the threshold of a new chapter, consider the invaluable currency that accompanies you into the future: that currency ~ time.

There is a specific number I often share; the number is 86,400. That happens to be the number of seconds in a day.

I have the privilege of traveling frequently, in fact I started this week in the UK, spent a couple of days in Spain, and then finished in the Czech Republic, before returning home last night.

I’ve been to over 50 countries, including some pretty impoverished areas of the world. Through my travels, it has become apparent there is only one thing in the world where there is absolute equality. Time, an intangible asset, is the resource we all share equally.

Regardless of economic circumstances, social differences, ethnic differences, or any other difference, we all have the same amount of time each day, 86,400 seconds.

The amount of time may be equal, but there is enormous variation in how the time is used. Some people view time as something they spend, while others view time as something to invest.

Did you know that from a time perspective, you will all be billionaires by the time you are 32 years old. You will each have had 1 billion seconds worth of time given to you. The question will be how much of this time did you spend vs how much did you invest?

Today, I’ll share the significance of investing your time wisely. Following are 8 suggestions for you to consider:

1: Be intentional ~  As you step into the professional world, invest time to define what truly matters to you. Prioritize endeavors that align with your passions, values, and long-term goals. It’s not about doing everything; it’s about doing the right things for you.

In this era of constant connectivity and endless distractions, it’s crucial to discern between what’s merely urgent and what’s genuinely important. Your time is finite, it’s a resource that can be spent or invested.

Know what you will do and just as importantly, know what you won’t do. Every choice you make, every hour you dedicate, contributes to the narrative of your life. Make those choices count.

Part of being intentional is forming the right habits. Your habits, how you spend your time, will be the greatest of your friends or the worst of your enemies.

Habits are Life’s version of compound interest. Leverage them for massive growth and impact in your life.

2- Embrace Failure and Challenges ~  The journey ahead will certainly present unforeseen challenges, but remember, setbacks are not synonymous with failure. Don’t see them as wasted time but as opportunities to learn and grow. The most valuable lessons often come from navigating through difficulties.

At Schreiber Foods, we are stronger because of the challenges we faced the past few years, including a global pandemic, a cyber-attack, social and political unrest and conflict, labor challenges, and unprecedented cost increases. We chose to learn, grow, and build new skills every time we faced a new challenge.

You have a choice, just hope the bad times get over soon, or embrace the challenge and come through stronger and wiser than ever. Those individuals and companies who take time to embrace the challenge will win in the long run.

3- Cultivate Meaningful Connections ~  In a society where technological advancements sometimes distance us, investing time and energy into authentic connections becomes a powerful antidote to isolation, creating a network of shared values and mutual support that ultimately defines the richness of our lives.

Invest time to build meaningful connections, for they are the threads that weave the fabric of a fulfilling life. Nurture relationships with mentors, peers, and those who challenge you to expand your horizons.

These connections will serve as pillars of support during both triumphs and tribulations. Whether personal or professional, the richness of your life will be measured by the depth of your relationships.

4- Pursue Lifelong Learning ~ Lifelong learning is the compass that navigates the ever-changing landscapes of our personal and professional lives. In a world characterized by rapid advancements and constant evolution, the commitment to invest time in continuous learning becomes paramount.

It empowers individuals to stay relevant, agile, and to contribute meaningfully to a society that thrives on innovation and progress.

Your education doesn’t end with today’s ceremony. Commit to being a lifelong learner. The world evolves, industries transform, and knowledge becomes obsolete. Stay curious, stay relevant.

5- Serve Others and Do Good ~  Time is a gift; share it generously. Find ways to contribute to the community, uplift others, and make a positive impact. Be agents of change in a world that yearns for compassion, understanding, and progress. Your time has the potential to be a catalyst for meaningful transformation.

You want more in life, then give more of your life.

You want to earn more, then serve more.

You want more opportunities, then serve more.

You want more gratitude, then serve more.

You want more joy and happiness, then serve more.

Treat other people with respect, always. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Our vision and purpose at Schreiber Foods is; To Do Good Through Food. We are a “for-profit” business, but we understand our obligation to each other, our food, our communities, and our earth.

The investment in the betterment of society is a legacy that transcends time.

6- Doing Something Hard Every Year ~ Find something hard, something that might even scare you, and invest time to do it at least once per year. It might be climbing a peak, participating in a race, or public speaking, as examples.

Why?  Because doing something hard proves to yourself that you can do hard things. Life will give you plenty of challenges, hard things to overcome. When you know you’re capable of doing hard things, then when life gets tough, you’ll be able to use these words, “it’s OK, I can do hard things”.

I actually love taking on challenges and doing hard things, whether it’s climbing a peak or doing an ironman triathlon. But even if you don’t, still do something hard every year, if for no other reason than to prove to yourself that you can, and to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

7- Work on You Daily ~ invest 30 minutes to work on you. Whether it’s physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional well-being, do something to improve yourself in at least one of these areas every day.

If you work at Schreiber Foods, you hear this advice often because I understand in order to be a great company, we have to have great individuals.

If you want to be a great employee, be a great you.

If you want to be a great leader, be a great you.

If you want to be a great friend, be a great you.

If you want to be a great spouse or partner, be a great you.

If you want to be a great citizen, be a great you.

You get the idea.  If you want to be a great anything, be a great you. Think of success, friendship, love, joy, happiness, fulfillment, they all begin with YOU.

One of your challenges will be to find time every day to work on you. Your life will get busy, and one of the first things you’ll be tempted to cut short is time for you.

If you only remember one thing from this speech, remember this, always invest a portion of your time daily on self-improvement, whether physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. Your level of personal success and contribution will never exceed your level of personal development. It will be the greatest investment you ever make.  Work on you every day!

8~ Create and Cherish remarkable moments ~  Cherish the moment, in fact today is one of those moments you will remember the rest of your life. Life has a way of propelling us forward, and it’s easy to get lost in the rush. Take a breath, savor the achievement, and appreciate the journey that brought you to this day. 

There is power in moments. Life is a series of mostly forgettable events, with occasional remarkable moments. Let me repeat that sentence…life is a series of mostly forgettable events, with occasional remarkable moments.

We remember moments. Moments are generally either the highs or lows of life (the peaks and valleys). You don’t have to work on the low’s, you’ll experience enough of them without trying.

But the highs, the peaks, are ones you need to be intentional about creating.

Defining moments shape our lives, but we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We can be the authors of them.

The occasional remarkable moment shouldn’t be left to chance. They should be planned for, invested in. They are peaks that should be built. And if we fail to do that, look at what you’re left with…..mostly forgettable.

In conclusion, the clock of life is ticking, and each moment is an opportunity. It’s not what you do as you leave here, it’s who you become. It’s not what you get, it’s what you contribute that will give meaning to your life.

This is “Day One” of the rest of your life. Choose to invest your time wisely, for it is the currency that, once spent, cannot be reclaimed. You are the architect of your future, a future defined by the wise investment of “time”, your most precious resource.

Consider doing the 8 suggestions I just shared, (1) be intentional,

(2) embrace failure and challenges, (3) cultivate meaningful connections,

(4) pursue life-long learning, (5) serve others and do good, (6) do something hard every year, (7) work on you daily, and (8) create and cherish remarkable moments.

Congratulations, Class of 2023! The world awaits the extraordinary contributions that your well-invested time will undoubtedly bring. May your journey be a testament to the enduring legacy of time, well-invested.”

Ron Dunford was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Schreiber Foods in 2019. He is Schreiber’s eighth President and CEO. Ron spent more than 40 years in the dairy industry. 

Ron joined Schreiber in 1996 at the Green Bay, Wisconsin, home office. He was named a Vice President in 2000, Senior Vice President in 2002, President & COO of Schreiber Chain Sales in 2003, President & COO Operations in 2006, and President Schreiber U.S. in 2014. Additionally, Ron was elected to the Schreiber Foods Board of Directors in 2003. 

Ron serves as a Board Member for the Utah State University Center for Entrepreneurship, the International Dairy Foods Association, and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy where he serves as Food Safety Vice Chair. He also served a 2-year term as the Chairman of the National Cheese Institute. In the community, Ron is actively involved with non-profits and in serving the needs of others. 

He earned a B.S. in Geology from Utah State University in Logan, Utah.  

 He and his wife Dana have two married sons and have been blessed with five grandchildren. Ron enjoys spending time in the mountains; skiing, hiking, and biking. He is also a life-long learner with a passion for helping others achieve their dreams. 

Schreiber Foods strives to do good through food every day. Based in North America, they are a customer-brand leader in cream cheese, natural cheese, process cheese, shelf-stable beverages and yogurt. Their more than 10,000 employees and presence on five continents enable Schreiber to be an essential ingredient in their customers’ success. With annual sales of more than $7 billion, they partner with the best retailers, restaurants, distributors and food manufacturers around the globe. Schreiber also recognizes its responsibility to do good in the world and are driven to make a difference in everything they do. 

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