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A story untold

I believe this is a real incident, but it is an excerpt and not my writeup.

Stanford
Stanford

A lady in a faded grey dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun suit walked in timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President’s outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t even deserve to be in Harvard.

“We want to see the President,” the man said softly. “He’ll be busy allday,” the secretary snapped. “We’ll wait,” the lady replied. For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president.” Maybe if you see them for a few
minutes, they’ll leave,” she said to him. The President, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him, “We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.” The president wasn’t touched…. He was shocked. “Madam,” he said, gruffly, “we can’t put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.” “Oh, no,” the lady explained quickly. “We don’t want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard.” The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, and then exclaimed, “A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard.” For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased . Maybe he! could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?” Her husband nodded.

The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the University (in 1884) that bears their name, ‘Stanford
University’, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

Most of the time we judge people by their outer appearance, which can be misleading. And in this impression only we tend to treat people badly by thinking they can do nothing for us thus we tend to loose our potential good friends, family, employees or customers.

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Categories: Life's Stories...
  1. Sheetal Sharma
    June 21, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Warren Buffett: Another exemplary model…
    I don’t have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It’s like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GDP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don’t do that though. I don’t use very many of those claim checks. There’s nothing material I want very much. And I’m going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die.

  2. June 22, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Yes Sheetal, Warren Buffett is surely an exemplary example.

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