Seth Klarman - Hard Choices



Seth Karman recently gave this speech at the opening of Klarman Hall at Harvard Business School. It is really good. I’d like to give a H/T to Steve Vafier

There is, and has always been, a gap between what business is and what it can be, the actual versus the ideal. Every one of us can contribute to widening that gap, or to narrowing it by raising the bar. We will have countless opportunities to choose.

That is really what I want to talk about this evening—choices and the act of choosing. And the way I want to discuss it is by asking questions. They may sometimes seem rhetorical, but they’re not. They may sometimes seem straightforward, but they’re not. Because these choices are usually hard ones, and tests not just of intellect but of character. They are shaped not just by strategy and analysis but by values.

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Fueling Your Flame

It’s also a choice to try to win every business negotiation, to squeeze out every dollar of profit, to crush your counterparty. It’s a different kind of choice to not do that, to aim for “win-win” outcomes, to leave the other side with profit and dignity and goodwill, to build relationships that last not for a single deal, but for a lifetime of them. It’s a choice to always keep your word, even when that is costly or difficult or unpopular.

You read this great speech and others about win-win relationships and the sad thing is when you realize that a big competitive advantage is just being a decent human being.


Thanks for sharing Ian. Made me a lot wiser.
Shanti Bhushan