Spring Thaw and Section B

Here in New England, spring has finally sprung. The weather has turned warmer, and the trees are starting to pop. I love spring: the earth renews itself, and everything starts to come back to life. For me, that means fly fishing (outings this past weekend here and here).

Spring also brings with it the end of the semester here at HBS.

This week marked the last class for the course that I help teach on entrepreneurship. For some reason, HBS is the only highly-rated school that requires all first-years to learn about entrepreneurship. A vast majority of HBS grads start their own business within 15 years after graduation, and we feel that learning to measure and manage risk applies to all executives and not just entrepreneurial ones. It’s a fun course.

On the last day, I gave a “My Take” that comprised some personal reflections and life advice. I give the same talk in all my classes on the last day and also spoke to some reunion classes in prior years. It’s a tough talk for me. I’m usually nervous before giving it, and my hands shake when I am done. I cover a lot of very personal details.

In all honesty, a main reason I teach is to earn the trust and credibility to give that talk. At the end of my life, it’s the “last words” I would offer to my children and any future grandchildren. There’s a hope at HBS that the school can change the arcs of our students’ lives. As someone from a low-income, immigrant background, it most certainly did so for me. And, I hope the My Take helped them think about themselves and the world slightly differently.

I was fortunate to have an amazing Section this year: Section B! They’re viewed by many faculty as being one of the most cohesive Sections in the first-year class. They came to class prepped, eager to engage, and to challenge each other.

But, they also never veered from certain values unique to this Section: respect, grace, and affinity. Every year at HBS, a Section or two veers off the rails for one reason or another. I’m grateful that Section B was the opposite of that.

I very much will miss my students. The Case Method involves a great deal of interactions among students and with faculty. It’s a dynamic environment and, with office hours, you get to know well your students.

I of course will run into them on campus, and I hope a few will be in the fall course on venture capital and private equity that I help teach. But we will no longer be in the same room together as a group.

So, spring always gives me mixed feelings. I’m relieved that the semester is ending, as the Case Method requires a great deal of mental and physical energy. (And, due to the VC job and some course administrative duties, I’ve had to work nearly every weekend since January 2.) But, I will miss my students.

I hope they feel that they learned much in class, both about business but also about life. I wish only the best for them. They’re courageous, gifted, and very, very kind!

See you on campus, Section B!

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