Retrospective from 2Y Juan Vasquez

Having been raised around “Los Barracones del Callao” - one of Lima’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods - it was never easy for me to ‘fit in’ as I transitioned into the corporate world of Peru. I always thought I lacked ‘something’, some sort of credential or membership card that would allow me to actually be part of a society other than Callao. Making connections or even friendships was always hard for me because I was entirely sure I lacked that something; which is why, when I got the chance to come to B-School in the USA, my eyes sparkled on the amazing value proposition that this offer entailed: getting my golden ticket to a life of ‘fitting in’.

However, reflecting on these 2 years of walking down the yellow brick road, I realize my Booth experience has successfully shown me that I already possessed what I had thought I lacked. Of course, LEAD, with its focus on developing one’s own leadership style, has played an important role; but, the main factor has been the people I’ve met here. Bringing such diverse people with different worldviews and backgrounds under one roof is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was only through tough conversations with them, learning to laugh at ourselves, and being comfortable with vulnerability that I learned three things: 1) life isn’t worth living if we have to pretend to be someone we are not just to please others, 2) the best way to demonstrate our charisma is through embracing our uniqueness, and 3) having the nerve to invite people to know the real you is a talent we should all strive to acquire.

A selfie with Francesca and DeMarrea.

A selfie with Francesca and DeMarrea.

I know this doesn’t come as a surprise to most Boothies, since we typically use these 2 years to engage in self-reflection. So why is this even a reflection worth reading? Because I hope that after reading this, you will also begin thinking about it in the reverse direction: might we be looking past some people just out of believing they lack that ‘something’? I certainly did, and I’m glad I was able to course-correct, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to meet incredible people such as Francesca Aguilar (ABM), DeMarrea P. Jefferson (Opening Bell) or the Follies star Paul “The AV Guy” Karabush. Harper Center is filled with people with amazing stories to tell, several laughs to share, and I’m sure the same will be true for most of our future workplaces, so I challenge you all to go and introduce yourselves to someone you otherwise would not.  You might find yourselves, much like me, wondering why you had not done so before.