The Gratitude Tour

Yesterday, I went back to Harvard Business School for an alumni conference, which I found energizing and interesting.

Going back was fun, as it made me feel young again. I have fond memories of business school: people were very nice, the professors were nearly always engaging, and many life-long friendships were formed there.

I learned that the school is investing a great deal into entrepreneurship, gender equality, non-profit activity and the environment, all of which I laud.

For me, the highlight of the day was a session with Dean Nitin Nohria, who was very thoughtful. I asked him this: “If the goal of medical school is healing and the goal of law school is justice, what is the goal for a business school?”

Without hesitation, he said: “Prosperity.”

Thereafter came a very impassioned POV, how he is from India and has seen first-hand that a person’s ability to have economic self-determination and provide for one’s self and children is a source of tremendous human dignity. He also added that it was critical to create prosperity for society as a whole, to help others benefit, too.

I thought it was a great answer. You see, way back when, I almost didn’t go to business school, as I wondered about “the meaning” of it all. Ruthless capitalism didn’t align with my values. I was a deferred admit, who could matriculate after one year of work, and after three years of investment banking and management consulting, it would have been easy to go back to school. I really needed a break.

But, I hesitated.

In the end, I went ahead, largely because no other serious option crossed my path, and I went with the vague idea that perhaps “doing well and doing good” would be my goal.

And, I’m so glad I went. For me, business school was transformative and had a huge impact on my life, more so than college.

Some years ago, I asked for the name of, and email for, the admissions officer who read my file and admitted me. I wrote to her and thanked her, that she changed my life.

My friend Jamey Sperans calls this “a gratitude tour,” whereby you identify all of the people who have had a major impact on your life, and you reach out and thank them. I’m on my own personal gratitude tour, and I’d encourage you to consider the same.

So, it was a great conference for so many reasons. I’m very thankful to all the people who planned it. It was a fulfilling visit for me.

3 thoughts on “The Gratitude Tour

  1. Nice post, Jo!
    I can’t take credit for the concept. I learned about it from my friend Jason Green, whose dad (Walter) wrote about his yearlong experience tracking down the people in his life who had had the greatest impact on him. And, importantly, letting them know exactly how they had been important to him. I found it a very powerful construct. I believe the book is called “This is the Moment.”

  2. Jo-Thank you for the very thoughtful question, coupled with an incredibly quick hand in the air from the sky deck! It was a phenomenal lead-off for the Q&A and really, for the rest of the day, as it set an incredibly meaningful tone. Agreed it was an inspiring visit!

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