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

Charles Hale


To greatly enhance the odds of enjoying a career which is both fulfilling and successful, one must find an endeavor, a subject, métier, process, environment for which one has a passion. This could be aviation, geology, medical science, investing, writing fiction, etc. 

In my case, it was a love of markets and investing that my father inculcated in me very early on. This passion has led me to often declare, “I have never worked a day in my life.”

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Financial wealth is only one yardstick of success. There are many others — among the greatest are respect and admiration from one’s peers and family, and few, if any, regrets about roads not taken or opportunities lost.

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Turning Points

One turning point occurred quite early, when I decided to compete for a naval ROTC scholarship at Stanford. Upon graduation I found myself, at age 21, onboard ship and responsible for 35 men, many nearly twice my age. Over the ensuing three years, I discovered that I had both a desire and some aptitude for molding, leading, and inspiring others. This, together with a strong love for investing, caused me, upon leaving the Navy, to opt for business school and ultimately a career in finance.

My naval experience led me to the firm belief that most young men, if presented with the opportunity of military service — preferably in peacetime and as an officer — should grab the opportunity to gain leadership experience early in life.

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