Some Personal Reflections

(Editor’s Note) – I just accepted a job offer this week and – as you can imagine – I was feeling quite happy that the long job-search and decision making process was over, and was looking forward to enjoying the rest of my time at HBS. I emailed my FRC professor from last year, Asis Martinez-Jerez, to tell him the news and thank him for his guidance/advice, and he wrote the following email in reply:

“Congratulations!! Now you have something less to think about. Spend some time now thinking what you want to be as a person. You may not have a moment of mental peace like this in a long time.”

For those of you who know him, Asis is an incredible teacher in the most general sense of the term, that is, someone who can help you learn (about life as well as FRC) by asking the right questions and challenging you to think about the most fundamental (and often the most difficult) questions. So of course, he was successful in getting me thinking about this most simple of questions: What did I want to be as a person?

As I sat down thinking about this (instead of reading my CVCR and VCPE cases for the next day), I realize that I don’t have a really good answer. It seemed to me that for so long, so much of my personal identity had been wrapped up in what I did, and what institutions I associated myself with, e.g., I was an Oxonian, a lawyer, a McKinsey consultant, a HBS MBA (Section I class of 2004, no less!). Of course, there were other elements of my identity as well: I am a son, a brother, a friend, a nerd, the progenitor of the Soo-by-Soo Matrix (that’s a story for another time)……. but what did I want to be as a person?

Here’s what I don’t want: I don’t want to become too used to thinking in consequentialist terms (i.e., if I do x, I will benefit by getting y); I don’t want to ever forget where I came from; I don’t want to lose whatever remnant of youthful idealism that still remains after HBS; I don’t want to live a purely self-centered life.

Here are two things I do want: I want better congruence between my professed priorities and how I in fact spend my time, and I want not to stop thinking about Asis’ question. There’s much more, but I’m still working on it. Wish me luck!