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

Dave Puterbaugh

Happiness & Success

Happiness and success? Knowing who you are. Many people, when asked about themselves, start with saying, “I work for X company.” Then, if faced with a sudden job loss or company closure, they must determine how to define themselves independently of work. Many, if not most, will find themselves in this situation at some point.

If you are comfortable with who you are, have confidence in yourself, and don’t depend on your self-image coming from your job, I think you’ll be happy.

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Marriage & Family

Respect the interests and desires of each family member. Establish traditions and special geographic places for your family — this becomes more important as families typically move around a lot. Remember that you can’t make up later for missing key times in your family’s life.

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Charity & Spirituality

I have always believed that to those who have been generously blessed, much is expected. These elements have been very important for me in providing a much-needed perspective and balance on who I am and how I should relate to others. In times of career or other problems, your faith helps keep you grounded and focused on what is really important.

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It’s a mistake to stick too long — for whatever seem good or necessary reasons — in trying to make an effort successful when there are clear signs it isn’t really viable.

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Life's Lessons

Enjoy the journey! Each time and situation — even the most difficult ones — has blessings and joys associated if you look and appreciate them.

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Growing Older

Find a passion to get involved with, ideally with a hands-on element to it. 

Maintain and seek out ties with a wide group of friends — long-term ones, new ones, and people of all ages. Surround yourself with people who are happy and doing meaningful things.

Don’t put off doing the things that require good health. I hope to do a lot more travel, with some international bucket list items. But when I get to the point I can no longer do these things, I won’t feel cheated because I made them a priority over the years.

And finally, play from the senior tees!

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