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

Richard L. Peterson

Careers

As my good friend and author, Richard Leider, says, “Heed your life’s calling — that inner urge to give your gifts away.” This requires being clear about your gifts, values, and passions, and using them as a compass to find your career path. It is an “inside-out” process.

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Leadership

Hire people better than you and give them support and the freedom to thrive.

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Business

It’s a mistake to credit success in business too much to one’s own skill. My experience is that good timing and luck contribute as much or more to success as does skill. The same is often true of failure. My advice is to stay humble, patient, and persistent. Over time, timing and luck tend to even out.

Debt sucks.

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Wealth

My belief about money evolved in my 40s (a dramatic change) to put fulfilling work ahead of the pursuit of money. Money is necessary to support you and your family’s life needs. The very difficult questions are: What are needs versus wants? How much is enough for me? I still live with these questions.

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Charity & Spirituality

Giving to those less fortunate, and to causes that we are passionate about, needs to be disciplined lifetime habit. Faith and spirituality is a very individual thing, and so it needs to be at the center of each one of our lives.

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