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

George Mosher

Marriage & Family

Recognize that choosing your life’s partner is one of the two most important decisions you will ever make. Give your choice the attention it deserves. Think through what’s truly important to you. Choose someone you will enjoy working with to achieve your common goals. Of course, being in love is very important — but it is not enough.

Once you are married, it’s important to continue to work together. Recognize that the other person has his or her own goals and ways of doing things. Make it clear what is important to you, make sure you understand what is important to her, and then reach decisions that incorporate both sets of goals.

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Think through your strengths and weaknesses. Work hard with your strengths and work with other people to balance your weaknesses. Avoid the temptation to charge off in many different directions. Stay focused, do the best job you can, and keep your eyes open for new opportunities.

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Financial wealth is a good measure of business success. But life is more than your career. To be truly successful, you need to build a good marriage, a good career, a good family, maintain good health, and have a sense of purpose to your life beyond both career and family.

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Happiness & Success

Success — business and otherwise — comes from setting goals and working steadily toward their achievement.

Be open to opportunities as they develop. Listen carefully, but always keep in mind what you’re trying to achieve and why. 

Remember that the world is always changing. Keep asking yourself what changes you must make to keep up with the world.

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Pursuing random opportunities diffuses one’s efforts. Exceeding one’s resources gets you into trouble when times weaken. If you’re always overspending and trying to do too much, you can be successful 10 times in a row and be wiped out on the 11th time. 

As time goes by, it’s become clear that people skills are very important. Ultimately, a business and a career will be successful if you understand how to motivate and work with other people.

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Growing Older

When you retire, it’s important to set up some sense of purpose to your life. You can build on what you have done before or start in a new direction, but the new direction needs to have meaning for you. You cannot make up passions. They must develop from some inner source. Share this purpose with people who are important to you.

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