My wife and I had a son seven months ago. He’s got thunder thighs. Once he can talk, I bet he’ll want to know what we were up to in Philadelphia. I’ll tell him about Wharton: the great friends I made, the interesting things I learned, the cool experiences I had here.
And I’ll tell him about my Learning Team.
We established values to serve as building blocks for our team. I want to focus on two of the values we chose because they are values I hope will be foundational in my son’s life, too.
The first value is freedom. And the second is joy.
There is a duality to what freedom means. On one hand, it means the opposite of a dictatorship. This is the freedom that Ben Franklin, founder of the University of Pennsylvania, stood for. This is the freedom that many of our classmates with huge biceps selflessly fought for around the globe before coming to Wharton.
On the other hand, freedom means the autonomy to create and to reinvent and to improve the world. It means not being satisfied with the status quo. It means wanting to make people’s lives better. Since most of us won’t be donning camo as we leave Wharton, this is the kind of freedom that we can promote on a daily basis: by hiring a diverse group of people, by encouraging our teams to be honest and to avoid group-think, and by creating a meritocracy that rewards hard work and accomplishment.
A byproduct of freedom is the second value, joy.
I have a friend who’s an entrepreneur, and he has a watch that doesn’t tell time. It just says “NOW” on the face to remind him to live in the moment. It says “Gifts” on the back to remind him of all the blessings he has in his life: his friends, his family, his second-rate education from HBS. His watch is a reminder of how important perspective is, and how he should be joyful even when he’s having a bad day at the office. Your joy is infectious and it positively motivates the people around you. So express it constantly.
You are the smartest group of people I’ve ever been around, and there’s no doubt you’re going to be enormously successful. You’ll change the world with the products you create and the businesses and teams you build.
But if you want to have not only a great business career but also a fulfilling life, make freedom and joy cornerstones of your businesses and your communities.