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

John A. Moeller

Marriage & Family

Finding that special person whose values, goals, interests, and tenacity match yours, then getting and staying married, is the greatest pleasure and satisfaction anyone can possibly have. It isn’t always easy, but the companionship and partnership produce continuing teamwork, rewards, and pleasure.

Raising children becomes a never-ending source of pride, requiring work, time, patience, and expense. As children mature and themselves become spouses and parents, they provide an ever-changing perspective on wisdom and happiness.

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Life's Lessons

An important lesson in life is learning whom you can rely on, depend on, and trust, and whom you cannot. Only experience and “gut feel” can teach this. Human nature and values — whether of business owners, top management, associates, or staff — vary all over the place. Steering your life, family, career, time, investments, and loyalty toward those you can trust and rely upon is a priority.

Never forget where you came from, and always remember what you are here for. Be true to your values and faith. We are here for a purpose. Enjoy the ride.

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Turning Points

A major turning point in my life was taking a personal and financial risk against long odds. One day at work, after seemingly being fired by a new owner, I went out to play golf and shot a career-best 76. I’m not that good, so obviously somebody was talking to me.

Shortly after that, my father passed away and I was sad and depressed. However, management and union factory workers urged me to step in and try to rescue them from the new owner of this company of 1,500 folks. We had no significant capital and would need to almost totally leverage the company. With assistance from many unexpected sources, we succeeded in our takeover and, more important, succeeded in the ensuing years.

We, the investors, took an extreme risk. Even with the help of employees, suppliers, customers, and friends, it wasn’t only our work, skill, or wisdom that produced our success — the stars lined up and God was smiling on our endeavors. The fruits of this experience have given me a reasonably comfortable retirement and a broader view of life, family, personal relationships, and miracles.

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