The Tao of Paris – Reflections on life from a newly 30-year-old Business School student

Isaac-Gross's picture
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The way I see it, you should live every day like it's your birthday - Paris Hilton

When I was 13 years old, I had images of myself at 18. These images, which were somewhat plagiarized from iconic 80s/90s movies, involved me driving a jeep along the beach in Southern California with beautiful women dancing in the back of my car. So when I turned 18 in a cold Boston suburb driving a eucalyptus green station wagon, it was a bit of a let down. I also fell slightly (and by slightly I mean extremely) short of my high expectations for 21: spraying champagne down from the VIP section of a club, a scenario I'm fairly sure was influenced by music videos.

However, when I turned 30 a few weeks ago, I had no misgivings about not yet realizing the ludicrous goals (start up multi-millionaire) my younger self had set. I can't pinpoint the direct cause of my lack of regret, but I think it's because I'm finally at a point where I have enough historical evidence showing that whatever plans I may have had for myself, things worked out pretty well. I travelled to exotic destinations in Asia and Africa in the two jobs I had before starting my MBA. I have a family that supports the majority of my life decisions, regardless of how non-traditional they are or the tropical disease risks that accompany them. And finally, I am currently a business school student.

I don't know what you've heard about MBA programs, but there is so much more to it than career and networking opportunities. It is one of the few places in the world where I feel totally normal meeting the CEO of Uber in the morning and then going on pub crawl dressed as Santa Clause in afternoon. The experiences and opportunities are incredible, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone trying to transition sectors, accelerate their career or someone who just needs some time off to reflect on their future.

And so, as I venture into my fourth decade, I am guided by an appreciation for how fortunate I am. I'm not sure if I can follow Paris Hilton's Mantra and live every day like it's a celebration of my existence, but I can take time to reflect on the incredible experiences I have had and the ones I plan to have in the future. This self-awareness nourishes my positive attitude and keeps me smiling when things don't work out as planned. I'd love to have an apartment overlooking Central Park and a private plane by the time I'm 50, but if I have a job I like, family and friends who love me, and some time to enjoy myself, I think I'll be alright. And if for some reason that isn't enough, hopefully I'll at least have a chauffeur by that point.

Isaac Gross is a member of the 2015 MBA class at London Business School. Before coming to London Business School, Isaac worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative in West Africa and the USA. In Africa, Isaac managed a $10 million HIV medication donation, which provided lifesaving medication to over 50,000 people. He also advised governments on cost reduction strategies. In one instance, he helped Ivory Coast save over $3 million by convincing policy makers to update their HIV treatment protocols and buy medication from low-cost generic manufacturers. Isaac is at London Business School because he wants to transition from public health to development finance. He is on the executive committees of the Africa and Net Impact Clubs at London Business School and enjoys playing golf, tennis and rugby. Isaac graduated from Brown University in 2007 with a Bachelors in Science in Psychology.

Comments (9)

Best Response
Nov 12, 2014

I'll be honest... you had me worried slightly when you decided to lead off with a Paris Hilton quote.

    • 4
Nov 12, 2014

Haha I'm glad you read on. Though I'm not the biggest fan of hers, it is a pretty good quote

Nov 12, 2014

Nice post! Let us know what job you ultimately end up with.

Nov 12, 2014

Glad you enjoyed it. Will try to write something as well thought out about where I end up, so stay tuned!

Nov 12, 2014

Do you mind answering a few questions about LBS via private messages?

Nov 12, 2014

Not at all. Send them along and I'll answer them as best as I can

Nov 12, 2014

How did you go from college to managing a budget for an NGO in Africa ?
Was is it a long time goal of yours (looks like the answer is no), you seized an opportunity or you juste realised that staying all day long in a cubicle wasn't for you ?

Nov 12, 2014

It's a long story for a WSO response, but the short of it is I was very fortunate. I started as an intern in the Boston office of the Clinton Foundation and was offered a junior analyst role in West Africa. After a year in that position, I was promoted and put in charge of the donation. Working for an organization like the Clinton Foundation was a long term goal, but I still definitely seized an opportunity to move from the operational to the programatic side. While I think cubicle work has its benefits (stability, office environment, low malaria risk, etc), I can't pretend I didn't love jet-setting around West Africa to places like Ivory Coast and DRC with a purpose.

Nov 12, 2014
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