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

Frederick M. O’Such on Turning Points

I had built up a group of businesses for a public company, and then the parent made a major strategic shift. In 1981, I elected to purse a management buyout of the businesses I knew well, at a time when private equity was scarce and interest rates reached 22½%.

Although the risks were high, the timing far from ideal, and my own funds limited and reserved for my children’s college education, it was my chance to run my own show as a CEO and share ownership with my key employees.

The outcome far exceeded even my own expectations — both financially and from the standpoint of personal satisfaction. The lesson to me is clear: One needs to know when to accept sizable risks in order to capitalize on the opportunity. I decided to put all my eggs in one basket, and nurture and watch that basket each and every day.

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