Thirteen months after starting at Google and my first product went live, I was simultaneously filled with excitement, anxiety, and relief. But most significantly, the product launch sparked a real reflection of my time and work at Google.

I remember very slowly shaking my head—I’d spent more than a year at Google, and it still felt like a dream.

I loved my role. My coworkers and managers were expert mentors. I felt like the company’s top priority (so did everyone else!). I played soccer twice a week on Google’s idyllic Mountain View campus. Everyone around me was very “Googley”—a term that can mean a lot of things, but which I came to define as very sharp, very passionate, and very kind.

Both before and during my time at Google, I had casually considered an MBA. I was a few more years into my career than most MBA applicants, so many of my Google peers were recent business school grads. I eventually surrendered to my curiosity and began to gather information about business schools. As I investigated Harvard, every interaction I had—information sessions, alumni panels, and even simple blog posts—left me noticeably energized.

But the watershed moments that really compelled me to apply came from talking to HBS alumni. While each individual had unique experiences and found varying degrees of career success, not one regretted the decision to attend. I never detected a single trace of regret. That might not be the best reason to apply, but for me, it was sticky.

I was fortunate to get accepted into HBS and decided to attend. Even though I was already on a great track and well-compensated at Google, I determined that attending would be a long-term investment that would likely pay off during the twilight of my career.

It turns out I was right about the risk being worth it — but I was way off about timing. HBS paid off before I left campus. Let me share three reasons:

First, I learned to ask what else? That question has helped me create richer solutions.

I remember leaning forward in my seat during a class discussion in my second-year Financial Management of Smaller Firms class. Ninety students were debating a case about a recently purchased window-washing business. We skillfully dissected the immediate priorities for the new owner: customer retention and employee recruiting. Though some debate ensued about which of those should come first, we were confident we had covered the main points.

Then, we were introduced to a guest: the case protagonist and business owner. He told us that the most important priority in his business, hands down, had been to learn to talk to, energize, and organize the workers each morning in their locker room. These employees were very different than his past colleagues, and he’d needed to adjust. During the first few weeks, he had missed these talks, and his employees would leave work early or argue endlessly over scheduling. By asking “what else” — going beyond the obvious business analysis — he’d turned his company around.

Second, I learned when to not trust my answer.

For the entire first year, Harvard places new students in a section—a deliberately diverse group of 90 students. In each class, we’d come prepared, having read and analyzed a “case,” a business narrative always ending in a difficult problem or decision faced by a business leader. During in-section debates, I’d often make a comment in class and be proud of my analysis. I usually hit key points, but almost inevitably, the next few comments would reveal large gaps in my approach or highlight inaccurate assumptions.

Harvard’s case method gave me the opportunity to solve the real issues faced by case protagonists through hundreds of repetitions. Debating these issues as a section—and noting that my “great” analysis often fell short—helped me recognize personal blind spots. It also trained me to seek out and rely on suggestions stemming from my classmates’ diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, thereby yielding better solutions.

Finally, HBS helped me see new opportunities.

Because I’d had such a fulfilling experience at Google, I was convinced that I’d return after graduating. On my first day in Boston, I met Tim Chaves, a brilliant classmate and neighbor who lived across the hall from me in Soldiers Field Park. Tim and I quickly became friends and constantly brainstormed entrepreneurial ideas.  

Between my entrepreneurial second-year course load, a budding potential partnership, and increasing confidence in my own judgment, I started believing that entrepreneurship might be the path for me. After graduating, I joined up with Tim to build and launch ZipBooks—modern accounting software for small businesses. 

While Tim and I haven’t built a lunch-time soccer league at ZipBooks (yet), we have built a habit to frequently ask “what else?” to recognize when decisions deserve input from more perspectives and to keep our eyes open for opportunities that may be right in front of us.