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Can It Be? That Guy's EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jack Guerrero

Can It Be? That Guy’s EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jack Guerrero

It’s snowing in Hell. Monkeys are flying out of my butt. Pigs are sprouting wings. You guessed it-That Guy is making his peace with Section I.

For those of you who have followed my column this term, you know that I’ve given the I-ers a lot of crap. Perhaps it all came to a head in my last column when I made no less than four references to Section I, and none of them were particularly flattering. But after several hours of meditation, aromatherapy and electro-shock treatment, I (and my therapist) have decided to bury the hatchet. As a sign of my goodwill, I asked Jack Guerrero (arguably the human embodiment of all that is “I,” if you exclude the Dmitry part) if he would be willing to be interviewed by That Guy. He agreed. Or rather, he “proffered a decidedly enthusiastic response to my appeal.”

In the wake of Jack’s quasi-heroic “I’m in Section J” joke in the Larry Summers speech two weeks ago (see last week’s HARBUS editorial by Allen), Section I has become, well, kinda funny. And now that they apparently whipped the jocks of Section J in dodge-ball last week, they’re almost…well…cool (dear GOD, am I saying this?) So without further ado, here is what the intellectual captain of Team I had to say to That Guy:

TG: In your opinion, does Section I get too much heat in the HARBUS and elsewhere? Should we all just lay off?

JG: In some ways, the coverage has been flattering. Your on and off-the-record references to our sports jackets, sweater vests, and wheelie-bags (yes, there is more than one wheelie-bag in section I) have hardly been sources of embarrassment. We prefer to think of these symbols as reflections of our professional demeanor, decorum, and good-taste in style. I’ll also have you know that our professors are privy to the image, and each has been absolutely supportive.

TG: Couldn’t agree more – nothing says “decorum” like a nice wheelie-bag. Next question: what’s your favorite / least favorite thing about Section I?

JG: I could not have asked for a better-behaved or better-prepared group of student-colleagues. No jokes, no horseplay, no nonsense. Although I consider myself to be one of the most “normal” members of the section, I do rather enjoy the diversity and eccentricity that most of the section-mates offer the class.

My only source of concern is that members of the section are too unsmiling, very intense, and rather stiff. I hate to remonstrate on the theme, but my advice to them is to relax, loosen the collar occasionally, give the cuff-links intermittent rest, and enjoy the social soirees. We can all change a little. In my younger days, I used to be pretty unadventurous and old-fashioned myself. Now look at how culturally avant-garde I’ve become!

TG: Word, Jack-daddy. It’s hard for us to imagine you back then, but it must have been amazing. OK, we all want to know. Where do you come up with your questions for the guest speakers in Burden? Do you and Derek and Soo Chuen ever compare notes beforehand?

JG: In our world of Q&A, the section rule is every man for himself! Derek, Soo Chuen, and I, each assume responsibility (and credit) for the questions we originate, as individuals and no more. From this perspective, our yester-week Section J reference should have offended no one. Indeed, we secured approval from our Community Standards Representative.

However, I will suggest that our regular case-follow-up discussions in the section website do help inspire some of the questions.

Our Q&A motto: “Don’t go to Burden Auditorium, observe how other sections DO question, and ask WHY? Rather, think of how our section CAN question, and ask WHY NOT?”

TG: That’s friggin’ awesome. So if you could ask President Bush one question, what would it be (4,000 words or less, please)?
JG: I have uploaded my response to the course platform.

TG: Yes, I heard the servers crashed a few hours ago. What’s the most obnoxious / hilarious thing about your neighbors on the second floor of Aldrich (i.e., Section J)? Feel free to take the gloves off…they’ve got it coming.

JG: Section J’ers might be physically uncoordinated, funny-looking, and diffident negotiators (if my inter-sectionised negotiations class was any indication), but having traveled on Los Angeles and Swiss Treks with plenty of J’ers, I find them rather decent at heart. I would be willing to lead the poor souls in a basketball or dodge-ball clinic, anyday.

TG: Great, but can you out-drink them? My sources tell me NO. Anyway, back to the questions. We all can safely assume that one day you will be on the other end of the Q&A at Burden. Who will you most likely be: (a) a US Senator / President / Cabinet member, (b) a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, (c) founder of the next high-tech behemoth or (d) a porn star?

JG: U.S. Senator from California, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and author of the Harvard Coop bestseller, “Rise of the Skinny Kid: How I became a celebrity at Harvard Business School.”

TG: I woulda bet serious money on the porn star thing, but have it your way. Getting serious now – what were your reasons for coming to HBS? What do you like most (and least) about HBS? How do you hope to be remembered by your classmates after graduation?

JG: I like to joke about my senatorial and gubernatorial ambitions, and I much enjoy the “Senator” title with which my section-colleagues refer to me. But in all seriousness, I do have an interest in public service, and I hope one day to honourably transition my private sector skill-set into government work toward business solutions of community problems.

Central to this objective is my faith in enterprise, the private sector, and the free market. I also believe that the world’s best medium for peace is free trade, limited governments rooted in respect for the individual, and the free flow of labour, capital, culture and ideas.

TG: I sincerely hope you end up in charge of some major s-. You’ve certainly got my vote, all jokes aside. Staying on the serious theme – what’s the meaning of life? (Allen asked me this one, so I thought I would seek a second opinion from someone a bit smarter…)

JG: I think the Aravind case-protagonist from our Entrepreneurial Manager course nicely reflected on this: “… all of us through dedication in our professional lives can serve humanity and God…” (page 4 of case.) I’ve been inspired by variations of this theme.

TG: A powerful yet surprisingly rare aspiration. Anything else you feel like telling the Class of 2004 (and the rest of the HBS community, for that matter)?

JG: My classcard identifies the following quote from Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

Well, Jack, on behalf of all of the beer guzzling, pub crawling, four-letter-word uttering jackasses at HBS, we salute you. Pardon me while I actually say something serious and heartfelt: you are a living example of one of the highest ideals that That Guy aspires to – the ability to be completely comfortable with oneself. You also use a butt-load of really big words, which is pretty cool too.

We may not understand your ways nor use the term “gubernatorial” when describing our ambitions, but you and your “section-colleagues” have withstood the barrage of slander from the rest of us in the classiest way possible. Your responses were astute, audacious, droll and inspirational (holy s**t, I’m turning into YOU!) Best wishes for a great summer, and don’t be afraid to moon us all at Graduation next year. We know you secretly want to…

April 28, 2003
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