Yellen to grads: Grit separates fit from git

McClatchy Washington BureauMay 21, 2014 

Yellen NYU Commencement

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen waves to the crowd at New York University's commencement ceremony Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at Yankee Stadium in New York.

FRANK FRANKLIN II — AP

— Education is important but grit is a key ingredient in ultimate success, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the graduating class of New York University on Wednesday in a commencement address delivered at Yankee Stadium.

The diminutive Fed chair, a New York native, skipped over market-moving topics and instead shared life lessons gleaned from the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. The experience, she said, showed how perseverance and grit are necessary attributes.

"I learned the lesson during this period that one's response to the inevitable setbacks matters as much as the balance of victories and defeats," Yellen told the class of 2014, urging them to stay true to their mission, whatever that be.

Look at failure as a learning experience, added the first woman to head the world’s most influential central bank.

"Yankee Stadium is a natural venue for another lesson: You won't succeed all the time, she said, pointing to the recent financial crisis. "We brainstormed and designed a host of programs to unclog the plumbing of the financial system and to keep credit flowing. Not everything worked but we kept at it, and we remained focused on the task at hand."

Ability alone is rarely the only ingredient to success, Yellen said, taking time to lavish praise on her predecessor Ben Bernanke.

"To stabilize the financial system and restore economic growth, he took courageous actions that were unprecedented in ambition and scope. He faced relentless criticism, personal threats, and the certainty that history would judge him harshly if he was wrong," she said. "But he stood up for what he believed was right and necessary. Ben Bernanke's intelligence and knowledge served him well as Chairman. But his grit and willingness to take a stand were just as important."

Email: khall@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @KevinGHall.

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