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

John A. Fabian


Selecting your first job after an MBA graduation is extremely important.  Take the time to determine if that first job will provide lots of opportunity to take advantage of your strengths and interests, and will provide the upside that you are looking for. (A Harvard MBA is a precious commodity, and one should take full advantage of it.)

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Life's Lessons

The totality of one’s life is the sum of the many, many choices that one will face and make. Make your choices thoughtfully.

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Charity & Spirituality

Everyone who can should certainly contribute to charities since there are many people, through no fault of their own, who need help. However, as for faith and spirituality, I personally feel it is more important to live a good and useful life.

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I do largely agree that financial wealth is a yardstick of success. However, I would add that in judging the degree of someone’s financial success, it is extremely important to know where one started.

At the Harvard Business School, many if not most graduates started from a high base. Moreover, it is important to know how one handled his or her financial success and how much he or she gave back to society.

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Happiness & Success

The most successful lives are those people who have had a very positive impact on a great many other people.

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Marriage & Family

I am convinced there is a lot of luck involved in these “family matters.” Having said that, the one thing that surely makes one more “lucky” is to give family matters as much time, effort, and attention as possible. 

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I personally believe that a certain amount of circumspection and even some humility are wonderful traits in a successful leader.

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Turning Points

My first turning point was going to the Harvard Business School. The benefit was not so much what I learned in the classroom, but rather the fact that I learned I could compete with a world-class student body.

Getting married was the second turning point. One thing I definitely learned is that one’s choice of spouse is the most important decision one ever makes.

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Growing Older

Other than the usual advice of staying as active as possible, both mentally and physically, I would add that travel is a great stimulant — and try to spend as much time with other people as possible.

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The biggest mistake I’ve seen in my own experience is diversifying away from one’s core business and strengths.

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