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Mort Zuckerman: Do what you love
Age: 72
Chairman, Boston Properties; chairman, editor-in-chief, U.S. News and World Report

The best advice I ever got came from one of my professors at the Harvard Business School. He told a story about how George Bernard Shaw was working as a clerk in a dry-goods store in Dublin, and he decided to give himself three years to go and write plays in London. And if it didn't work out he could always go back and be a clerk in a dry-goods store. The way I interpreted his advice was to really do what you love. I was anticipating that I would be practicing law, which to me was the functional equivalent to working as a clerk in a dry-goods store.

So I decided I was going to give myself three years to try something that I was always interested in. I was always fascinated by urban life, and I grew up in Montreal, where the residential areas were closer to the downtown part of the city. The father of one of my best friends was in the real estate business, and I thought he had a wonderful life because he traveled a lot and seemed to be building things. And I really liked building things. (And as I once said when I was a teacher, he also had a lot of women chasing him, which I thought came out of the profession. A student then asked me, "Well, has it worked?" And I said, "Well, I travel an awful lot.") So I went into a field that I really liked. I got a job in Boston with Cabot Cabot & Forbes, in real estate development. Since I loved both urban life and journalism -- I was a journalism addict when I was 12 years old -- all I did was pursue those two careers. And I feel as if I've never worked a day in my life.

--Interview by Leigh Gallagher

NEXT: Lloyd Blankfein: Empower a subordinate
Last updated July 08 2009: 2:26 PM ET
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