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From Sheet Metal to Spreadsheets

Thirty years ago, when I was applying to MBA programs, my dad asked, “Are you going to apply to Harvard?”

“No, Dad,” I snapped back as if he had no idea what he was talking about. There was no way he could know what he was talking about. My dad spent one year at Saint John Fisher College before dropping out and becoming a sheet metal worker in the union.

“Your name isn’t on any buildings and we don’t know anyone who has even visited there. There’s no way I’ll get in. It would be a waste of $100 and all that time to even apply.”

He thought about it and suddenly his face lit up with a smile “Ok, I’ll bet you $100 you get in.”

We grew up playing cards and gambling with family almost every week. Calculating odds was one of the highest valued skills a person could have in a family, in life, and by extension, the world.

This bet didn’t require calculation. “Ok, I’ll take that bet.” I’d already written a dozen essays for other schools so new essays would be easy. I’ll just slap them together and make a quick $100.”

I lost the bet and moved to Boston.

My dad was 54 then, I was 24. Now I’m 54. We are 30 years and a day apart in age. A few years ago, I realized that everything I had written about in one of Harvard’s application essays had came true…in order. There was only one thing that I’d written about that hadn’t happened yet: “I would write a book.” 

“That’s strange,” I thought.  So, I started writing.

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