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

Gary MacDougal

Marriage & Family

I envy my friends who have not had to experience divorce. Though many get it right the first time, research shows the odds are not good if you get married before age 30. I believe most of us change a great deal in our 20s, and know ourselves and others better later. 

I am blessed with great children and, early on, listened to a wise man in my company who told me: “Spend as much time as you possibly can with your kids now, because you can’t come back and do it later.”

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Happiness & Success

A number of years ago, a friend of mine was retiring from a board on which we both served, and I asked, “What are you going to do now, Jim?” He responded: “Happiness is having something to do, something to look forward to, and someone to love.” He was so right, and I am blessed with an abundance of all three.

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Charity & Spirituality

The evidence is clear and persuasive: after “friends and family,” the leading source of happiness is “helping other people.” These commitments are enhanced by regular churchgoing, where one necessarily spends an hour or so each week thinking about things larger than oneself.

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Growing Older

We’re all different, but for me the key is to live where there are stimulating things of all kinds to do, so that every day can be filled with great activities — nonprofit work, family, friends, business, tennis, ballet, symphony, opera, lectures, or long, interesting walks. For me this has been Chicago and New York. Weather is far down the list, fixed by a warm coat.

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