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A Reputation Worth Keeping

When you control for execution and remove the processes, equations and frameworks, what remains that might separate us?

I hope it is not leadership, for while we aspire to educate leaders who help to fill that void in the world, we do not endeavor alone in this regard. Nor should the world pin all of its hopes on this campus, no matter how hallowed these grounds may be.

Regardless of whether an individual flaunts noble ambitions or private aims, the Harvard Business School offers some level of psychic capital that gives them an edge. I do not know of many places where you can go and hear people muse of their dreams and find that the feedback given to such musings is consistently fixed on edifying the dreamer’s aspirations and determining how such dreams might be transformed into reality sooner.

This brings to mind a comment by a friend, Chris Lee, in Wichita who quipped that he, “[Ate] candy before going to sleep at night so that he had energy for his dreams.” For those who have been familiar with the Harvard Business School experience there is something here that serves as a catalyst for the pursuit of dreams, feats, and goals that were once unspeakable for those gathered within.

It is a difficult thing for anyone or an institution like ours to stand in the face of the future and take comfort in that which sets it apart and makes it different.

I have maintained for sometime that there is something special about this school, in terms of its espoused mission and its capability to deliver on that very mission.

Interestingly enough we are and will continue to be defined not for our responsible actions but our irresponsible behavior as stewards of significant talent and meaningful capabilities.

Some have raised concern that I would herald such lofty expectations for the greater ends of this institution, but in my mind it is largely through great expectations that men and women have allowed society to step forward. Conversely, it has largely been the absence of expectations that has often left the world hostage to our worst fears and the dogma of sad realities. To my critics in this regard I acknowledge that expectations alone can serve to be nothing more than wasted breath and ink. However entitlement without expectations is recipe for disappointment just waiting to be served.

The reality is that we live in a world where everyone is not so fortunate to have dreams, let alone the energy to transform them into reality. For those fortunate enough to be gathered here now and in the years ahead we should set upon a worthy journey to ensure that our differentiation is more than a benefit to us, but rather that it is a benefit to society; in terms of the men and women we aspire and struggle to become.
This is the mark of a reputation worth keeping.

September 17, 2007
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