Letter to My Younger Self: Hari Moorthy, Investment Banking Division

08 NOV 2019

Hari is global head of Investment Banking Division (IBD) Engineering and global head of Transaction Banking in IBD. Here he shares five pieces of advice he wishes he had received earlier in his career. 

Hey Hari,

You’re very lucky to have found this letter. While I don’t think you can entirely avoid the mistakes we all make growing up, this letter highlights that what matters most is to try hard despite those mistakes.

People often say it’s about the journey – there’s some truth to that. I am not saying you should not set goals or short-term and long-term objectives. But it’s key to not attach yourself solely to these desired outcomes, and keep in mind that the means are as important as – if not more than – the end result.

Right now, you are trying to avoid mistakes (as you always seem to be) and trying to succeed by minimizing failures. But remember that it’s the failed attempts that make you grow as a person and as a professional. Learn, and learn fast from those failures. In the successful moments, recognize the part played by others who helped make the outcome successful – spend time reflecting on their contributions rather than your own.

With that, here are a few tips to navigate what’s ahead. And by the way, your amazing future spouse and children have around 120 pieces of advice on how to grow up differently, but let’s stick to five for today:

  1. Be mindful. Be deliberate. Be present. Awareness in any situation is the only true currency you have. Looking at a situation for what it is – with a non-judgmental quality – allows you to be consciously present anywhere, anytime. This requires consistent practice, but it’s well worth it. Ultimately, who you are matters much more than what you accomplish.
  2. Innovation is redefining a problem under constraints. Don’t confuse innovation and imagination. Imagination, with constraints and practical execution, transforms into innovation
  3. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and different from you. The smartest thing you can do is to discover early on that your smartness is actually reflected in the people you surround yourself with – and how they bring things to the table that you don’t and can’t. Be sure to surround yourself with people who can freely challenge you.
  4. Happiness is a choice. If you begin anything looking to "become" happy, all your work will be through the lens of trying to fulfill an existing deficiency. When you actively choose to be happy from the get-go, the process of doing the work becomes really fun.
  5. Every day is a new opportunity. You will fail in more than 95 percent of your attempts. The 5 percent of successful attempts are merely the result of learning from the prior 95 percent of failures. Your failure is the insurance for your future success.

You may not understand all of this advice just yet, but over time, with the right context, these values will become crystal clear. In the meantime, here is the only thing for you to remember every single day: When you are stuck after you have explored all possible solutions, just remember this one thing: you haven’t.