In an interview in theÂ Sunday Business section of Sunday’s (Feb. 7)Â Â New York Times, Â Adam BryantÂ askedÂ Walt Bettinger, C.E.O. of the Charles Schwab Corporation, about lessons he had learned in college. Here’s Bettinger’sÂ response:
A business strategy course in my senior year stands out. I had maintained a 4.0 average all the way through, and I wanted to graduate with a perfect average. It came down to the final exam, and I had spent many hours studying and memorizing formulas to do calculations for the case studies.
The teacher handed out the final exam, and it was on one piece of paper, which really surprised me because I figured it would be longer than that. Once everyone had their paper, he said, â€œGo ahead and turn it over.â€ Both sides were blank.
And the professor said, â€œIâ€™ve taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last 10 weeks, but the most important message, the most important question, is this: Whatâ€™s the name of the lady who cleans this building?â€
And that had a powerful impact. It was the only test I ever failed, and I got the B I deserved. Her name was Dottie, and I didnâ€™t know Dottie. Iâ€™d seen her, but Iâ€™d never taken the time to ask her name. Iâ€™ve tried to know every Dottie Iâ€™ve worked with ever since.