Duke Wins!

Upon becoming Section NI’s Harbus rep, I decided that I would introduce every member of the section before taking a second look at anyone I’d already introduced. When I made that commitment to myself, I couldn’t know how difficult it would be to stick to it. I couldn’t know, for example, that Toni Pelaez (of “Long John” fame) would reply to Marketing Professor Luc Wathieu’s question about the look of the Volkswagen Beetle by telling him that the car looks just like him. Or that Tiberius would defy conventional wisdom and just keep on running for new elected positions here at HBS.

But alas, a commitment is a commitment-so I can’t tell you about Tiberius or Toni’s latest exploits.

Speaking of commitments, I also pledged to try a different genre for each week’s article. Let’s do a quick status update. For my first article, I distributed a survey to our newly elected officers and then shared some highlights with you, the reader. The next week, we took a walk together down profanity lane. In upcoming weeks, you can expect a sonnet and then perhaps a haiku. Later, I may follow Sanjay’s lead. Sanjay, Section NJ’s Harbus Rep, has vowed to fill his articles with fiction. That’s right: he plans never to tell the truth in his section NJ articles. Apparently, his sectionmates have signed off on this. It’s some combination, I suppose, of Sanjay’s strength at writing fiction and Section NJ’s strength
at being utterly unremarkable.

In any case, it’s time to turn to this week’s focus. The genre this week combines Barbara Walter’s approach to interviewing with Johnny Carson’s. Daisy Wademan, our own private Barbara Walters, and Janet Greer, her own private Ed McMahon, take a close look at David Nathanielsz:

Daisy: How did you meet your wife Heidi? How did you fall in love with her?

Janet: Heidi. Great name.

David: We met in college. At Tufts. Which, I’m proud to say, was considered a prestigious university in the SCORE! case.

Daisy: Did you meet her at a party?

Keith Gordon: Yes.

David: No. I was directing a show and she auditioned…

Janet: Hmmm… She must have breezed through the audition.

Keith Gordon: Yes.

David: Actually, no. I was confronted with a moral dilemma. Many of my fellow directors were giving parts to people who they wanted to sleep with. I couldn’t bring myself to be that way. So I gave the part to someone else. And then a little later, I managed to set it up so that I “spontaneously” ran into her and then asked her out.

Daisy: So when did you know she was the one?

David: There’s no big story here. At a certain point, I just knew.

Daisy: There was no special moment? It seems that you’re corroborating Mark Partin’s story. He says that women will keep looking until they find the perfect man and are then eager to get married, whereas men will find that they’re ready to get married and then turn to the person they’re with…

Janet: Eager?

David: Mark may be right-but the process of being ready is a function of who you’re with.

Daisy: Yes, it’s a bit of a circular reference. So tell us about Broadway.

David: I wasn’t on Broadway. I started a theater company in Chicago.

Janet: What was it called?

David: I’m not going to tell you that. But I will tell you that I was very involved in improv before that.

Janet: Improv. Great.

Daisy. So-you’re acting-and then you’re at Harvard Business School-what happened?

David: (chewing)

Daisy: Take your time.

David: My first job was as a writer for the interactive game “You Don’t Know Jack.”

Janet: Can I shake your hand? I can’t believe that I’m meeting the master.

David: Not the master. Just a member of the team.

Daisy: Take ownership of it. You did it.

David: Okay then. Then I became an editor, then a creative
director-all of a sudden, I was doing the management thing.

Daisy: Talk to me about your dad.

David: My father’s half Sri Lankan. My mother’s British; so most of my family has a British accent.

Janet: British like Edouard Metrailler?

Daisy: No one is quite like Edouard…

David: That has more to do with the timbre of his voice than his accent. In any case, my family name was originally “Naripuvatane.” Nathanielsz is a Dutch translation. I get calls from Spanish-speaking telemarketers all the time. I think it’s because it ends with a `Z’.

Daisy: What are you most passionate about?

David: That’s a hard question. I wish I could be Jake Capps, who tells us that his one consuming passion is his wife. I’m definitely passionate about my wife. But I’m also passionate about music, about Survivor…

Daisy: Survivor? What are we down to?

David: We’re down to eight.

Janet: One tribe.

Daisy: This is when it gets interesting.

Keith Gordon: Yes.

David: Yes. I just love Survivor. It combines everything I love about television-I’m a big fan of pop culture-with everything I love about game theory. Sure, everyone on the show is a big media whore. But it’s so well done; there’s so much drama.

Daisy: What’s a perfect Sunday morning for David Nathanielsz?

David: I do homework.

Daisy: No no no-not school-you’re a million miles away, with no school to worry about. What’s your perfect Sunday morning?

David: I’m stumped.

Daisy: Me, I have a routine-I wake up, I read the New York Times, maybe watch This Week…

David: Wow. Cokie Roberts is one of the five sexiest women on the planet.

April 9, 2001
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