“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

My mom taught me that the world’s problems could be solved by smiling. Whenever we walked past someone, she would beam and cheerfully say, “Hello!”. She has had long conversations with strangers more times than I can count, treating each as if they have a fascinating story to tell and there is something meaningful she can learn.

When I was younger, I found this embarrassing. But as I got older (to my horror), I started to say “Hello” too. Smile. Strike up conversation. And the more I wanted to keep doing it. People from different corners of life taught me things I couldn’t learn from the classroom or my network, like how to find fulfillment as an immigrant or what it feels like to lose your partner or how to let go of your kids when all you want to do is hold on.

When we leave HBS, our education isn’t over. It continues with people we meet on the street. It continues with seeing everyone as being able to teach us as much about the world as we can teach them. It continues with a smile.

Everyone has a story. It’s up to us to figure it out.

— Justine Lee