If I Knew Then Advice on careers, finance, and life from Harvard Business School's Class of 1963

J. Lawrence Wilson

Happiness & Success

When I think back over my career, I am struck that my fondest memories are of people rather than experiences, places, or accomplishments.

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Life's Lessons

Do not look back. Once a choice is made, live with the consequences. Forget what might have been.

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Leadership

Personality characteristics do not define a leader. A leader must present a recognizable objective and explain why achieving the goal is important.  No one wants to follow a person who does not know where he is going or is unable to explain why achieving the goal is important.

Making a lot of money for the shareholders is not an inspiring goal — achieving excellence can be.

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Charity & Spirituality

If one is devoted solely to promoting the welfare of himself, his family, and his friends, life can be barren. Charity, faith, and spirituality enrich one’s life. Faith or the belief in a power greater than oneself seems to be important for humans, for spirituality is a part of every culture. If this spirituality fosters concern for the welfare of others, it is of great benefit to society. No matter what a person’s professed faith, I admire him if he is charitable.

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Business

The first requirement is to work in a field where continuing success is possible. If there are no barriers to entry, a profitable business will be overwhelmed with new competitors as soon as it begins to make money.

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