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Passing down the Haas Defining Principles



My wife and I were at a wedding while she was still pregnant when a good friend asked me, "What are the three things you would want Nikhil to know by the time he's an adult?" I didn't have an answer at the time, so I started asking everyone I knew and trusted the same question. I got a ton of very interesting answers. Like any good Haas student, I wrote them all down and ranked them to identify trends or patterns.

By and large everybody had a theme you could call humility or empathy. Humility and empathy really come from a recognition that the world does not revolve around you and your needs, that you're one piece in a larger world. That one was clearly articulated by the Haas Defining Principle Beyond Yourself.

Almost unanimously, the people I spoke with also mentioned a commitment and passion for education, not just as a student but also as a professional. That's Student Always.

The third common theme was dealing with adversity and bouncing back from a tough situation. To do this effectively, you need the confidence to persevere with the humility to look inward to solve the problem. That's Confidence Without Attitude--confidence to get through tough times but without the attitude of blaming others for the situation.

Question the Status Quo didn't come up specifically, but it's embedded in everything we want for Nikhil. In order to really achieve success, we have to constantly ask, "Why are things done this way?" It is a general trait in any pursuit of excellence, and more specifically, a critical skill in entrepreneurship.

It wasn't by design that I was thinking about the Haas values when I started thinking about this question for my son. My goal was to take everyone's feedback and summarize these answers in my own words in a pithy way. I hate to admit it, but Dean Lyons beat me to the finish line with the Haas Defining Principles! The insight for me: Our Haas culture transcends generations.

Nikhil is one year old now. From the moment he came into the world, the purpose and meaning in my life completely changed. He scales up a lot faster than most startups do as he's learning and growing every day. It's a great blessing to witness someone discover the world for the first time. Being a dad rocks! That said, I will be happy to see the day when he doesn't need diapers anymore. -As told to Ronna Kelly