FOMO, Take 2

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EC Gong Ke Gouldstone

With just an eighth of her MBA experience left, EC Gong Ke Gouldstone reflects on where her fear of missing out has taken her so far, and where it will take her in the years to come.

[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]T[/stag_dropcap]oday, professors in two of my classes announced that we are now half way through the term, which meant that ECs are 87.5% done with the MBA program.  Between the half-joking laughs and collective “aww” from the audience, I felt an undercurrent of disappointment and a feeling of loss.

FOMO is setting in again, except this time around, it’s not about missing The Social Gathering of The Year, or the Billionaire Entrepreneur Speaker or any other quantifiable event.  It’s about that life-long friendship we’ve developed or have yet to develop, the critical class that we didn’t get into, or the bulletproof-proof network that will raise us above the severest recessions.


Have we accomplished what we came here to do? Have we met the people we wanted to meet?  Do we feel ready to take on the next 2, 5, 10, 20… 50 years of personal and professional growth?  Are we happy with what’s to come next, after graduation?  These are big questions indeed and, questions to which some of us (me included) still don’t have the answer.

This I know: When I started HBS, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Now, at least I know what I don’t know.  Clearly, I should stop having FOMO about classes I didn’t get into because the curiosity and drive that got me here will ensure that I doggedly continue digging after what I don’t know.  And thanks to HBS, I now have a better idea of what they are.  And just in case, there’s always the shiny new Tata Hall, beckoning me to Executive Ed (are MBA alums allowed?) which I hear has its own set of really awesome professors!

[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]W[/stag_dropcap]hen I graduated from college, however long ago that was, it also represented a transition between chapters in my life.   I wondered then, too, what would happen to the friendships I’d built and whether my learnings would bear fruit in the real world.  A decade later, I can say with certainty that what happened was very much unexpected, and only by looking backward can I connect those dots.  So perhaps, trying to project forward isn’t a useful exercise right now.  I can only trust in my own newfound abilities and a heightened sense of FOMO to take me wherever the challenges (and hopefully rewards) are the greatest.

The past ten years have also seen interesting changes in my social circles.  Of the friends I had in undergraduate, many are scattered to all parts of the country, with a few overseas.  Between time zones and physical distance, some relationships faded away while others strengthened.  Should I focus the remainder of my precious time here on building quantity or quality of relationships?  If we didn’t meet every one of the 900+ students in the class, have we lost our one and only chance?  If history is any indication, I’d say no.

As much as our learning will continue beyond the MBA program, so will our relationships.  You might decide to work on a special project with a fellow classmate (startup on the side, anyone?), take a serendipitous work-related trip (you know who you are) and, for sure, we would all gladly take a call with a future student who is just trying to pick our aging brains about something they really care about.

If all else fails, I can still count on FOMO to get me out of the couch and to the Breckenridge Ski Trips in the future.  Let the FOMO live on!

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You can follow Gong Ke on Twitter at @gongkeshen and read more of her writing at