"Who is your ideal seatmate?" my mock interviewer asked me when I was applying to Harvard Business School. Even after clarifying that a seatmate is who you sit next to during first-year classes, I still did not know how to respond. In fact, I thought that it was a silly question. Why did it matter? Would I not receive the same education regardless?
After matriculating at Harvard Business School, I realized that it matters a great deal who your seatmate is. It matters a lot who you have by your side.
My seatmate was Pedro Meira, a brilliant engineer and consultant from Brazil. Always calm and smiling, he encouraged me to raise my hand in class when I was apprehensive, cheered me up when I became frustrated, and inspired me to keep everything in perspective. I am not sure how I would have made it through the first year of the MBA program without him.
Pedro died from cancer at the beginning of our second year.
In Pedro's memory, I want to spend my "one wild and precious life" being a good "seatmate". I want to find ways to encourage, cheer up, and inspire those around me, just like Pedro did for me. Even more than that, I want to purposefully seek out those who need someone and sit next to them.