When I knew it was time for my career to shift drastically, from corporate to academic, I considered different doctoral programs. It seemed to make sense to start at The Ohio State University, nearby and conveniently located, and the place where I earned my MBA.
First, I visited my marketing research professor at OSU for advice. Given that PhD programs in business are all about research, I hoped he might mentor me through this scary process. Toward the end of our meeting, which I thought was going well, I asked him if he would write a letter of recommendation for me.
His reply was direct: “No.”
Then he added “the best I could do for you is damn you with faint praise.”
On to Plan B. With the support of my family but more or less on my own, I applied to several different programs, eventually leaving my job, moving my wife and kids a couple hundred miles north on Rt. 23. I went to the University of Michigan to learn about consumer behavior and marketing research. What could I possibly regret?
Early on, I took a psychology class and the professor told me about a book his colleague had just published. He invited me to her book release party. Dr. Janet Landman’s book, Regret, caught my interest immediately and inspired my own research program.
Over the next few years, I met with Dr. Landman frequently, and she was generous in sharing her time, ideas, guidance, and wisdom. Like a mentor.
She presented regret from the perspective of an academic psychologist. I, however, had other ideas. Consumer regret became the subject of my dissertation, supervised by Dr. Rick Bagozzi.
Dr. Landman’s demonstrations of persistence and imagination, and her willingness to engage in ideas that did not match her own, served to motivate me. We haven’t spoken in many years, but I see she writes poetry now. That makes me very happy.
The subtitle of Dr. Landman’s book is “the persistence of the possible.” When a door closes, when it’s shut in your face, persist: you still have many choices. No time for regret. Climb through the window. Find a better door. Or keep knocking. But don’t quit.
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See you tomorrow!