Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lessons on Life

10:30 AM Tuesday May 25, 2010 
by Adi Ignatius 

A couple of weeks ago, my remarkable brother in law, John Tarbell, died in New York City.

John [didn't have] time to finish his most important project: a comprehensive guide to how to live a good life. It was something he spent years working on for an audience of one: his only child, a daughter, now 15


1. Seek out a mentor — possibly someone who was involved in your hiring process. Learn what to expect two or three years ahead and prepare for it.

2. Assume the behavior and habits of the people at the next level, and you will demonstrate that you can get there.

3. Whatever you do, be sure your involvement and actions' ethics and results will look honorable and wise if they appear in the right hand column of the Wall Street Journal's front page. They just might.

4. ''Try to find out what you're good at, and have a passion for, and get someone to pay you for doing it'' — advice I was given early on, and it has always proved to be the path for success and, just as importantly, happiness.

5. The first job is rarely anything but a start. Do the best you can, try to work with people you like and admire, and hope for the best. In your lifetime, you may change jobs, if not your career path, many times.

6. Avoid bosses who promise promotions and advancement but who take credit for your work. They won't fulfill their promises to you.

7. Save for a rainy day and always be able to support yourself. You can lose everything in a flash, and scenarios of financial adversity do present themselves in life, even to the best prepared.

8. Avoid speculative ventures. If making money were easy, everyone would be wealthy. If someone can't answer all your questions and ''what ifs,'' there's something wrong.

Adi Ignatius is the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Business Review Group.

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