Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at Brigadoon, the conference that is the brainchild of my friend Marc Ross. Brigadoon brings together a small and intimate crowd of about 50, men and women from all industries.
This gathering is about thinking, about getting people to think differently, and outside of their usual frameworks.
In a program filled with lectures about foreign policy, and economics, I decided instead to speak about what I call my life vectors. These are guidelines, rules that help me make decisions in life, to help me stay the course, help me live the best life I can.
My 3 vectors are: choice, harmony, and kindness. Over the next three weeks, I will share my thoughts on each vector.
But first, here is how these came about.
When I was 6 years old, my parents decided to move to Boston, MA, for their medical career. Between 1984 and 1986, I went to public school in Brookline, learned English, loved my teachers Ms. Leslie and Ms. Ruth, and made the best of friends, mainly Rachel, Kayci, Shane, and Tommy. I learned about GI Joe, tie-dye, and played in the junkyard behind our house. These turned out to be my favorite childhood years.
I had such a wonderful time that I told my mother, the day we had to fly back to Geneva, that “I will come back to Boston for school – because here, girls fix their own bicycles.”
And I did. From high school in Geneva, I applied only to American universities. I wanted to go back to Boston. I wanted to go to Harvard. I applied to 10 schools, and got in everywhere except Harvard. So I began college at Yale.
At the age of 17, my parents dropped me off at the Geneva airport, with two huge suitcases, and said “do good work, see you at Christmas.” A family friend picked me up at JFK, and drove me to New Haven, CT. I remember after she dropped me off that my first interaction was with a campus police officer telling me I should not leave my suitcases unattended on the sidewalk because they would get stolen. Needless to say, for a girl coming from the safety of Geneva, it was quite a culture shock.
It was at that moment that the concept of vectors crystallized for me. I felt alone and scared – but only for a minute. In that very moment, I reminded myself that I didn’t have any reason to be scared – college was school, which I had always loved and excelled at. I also reminded myself that I should be elated. After all, this was what I had decided I was going to do when I was 8 years old. I had worked 9 long years to get here. I was going to love it, and make the most of it. I was not going to be homesick, I was not going to be sad, I was not going to be scared. I was going to do well in class, and I was going to go to Harvard.
The vectors I will share with you have evolved since that day entering Yale’s campus in 1995, and help guide my actions.