Zuboff likes to reflect on some of the special students she taught at the Harvard Business School. Some

Shoshana Zuboff likes to reflect on some of the special students she taught at the Harvard Business School. Some

students, she recalls, “threw themselves at learning as if their lives depended on it.” One of those students, Edward, had a troubled past. His parents split up when he was a small boy, and he was on his own much of the time as his mother needed to work. Edward and his mother lived in a neighborhood where drugs and gangs were common. By the sixth grade, he was a drug dealer, and later he ended up in a penitentiary. Then he had the good fortune to meet a judge who offered him two years in a drug rehabilitation program in return for good behavior. After rehab, he got a job, enrolled in a community college, and made the dean’s list several times. A counselor encouraged Edward to set his sights high, so he applied and was accepted to an Ivy League school, where he studied business and economics. This success led to his acceptance into the Harvard Business School, where he met Professor Zuboff.

Although Edward had accomplished a great deal since leaving the penitentiary, he felt a growing sense of shame over things he did not know. During one lecture, Professor Zuboff briefly mentioned the name of an author who had written about Auschwitz. After class, Edward asked, “What is Auschwitz?” Because of his disadvantaged childhood, he had missed out on many learning experiences that most students take for granted. To avoid giving away his deep-seated, inner secret, he mastered many defense strategies to protect his image among his peers. Professor Zuboff noted, “he was haunted by the sense of not knowing what he didn’t know or how to learn it.”

With help from this caring professor and her husband, who agreed to serve as his mentor, Edward began a program of study designed to fill in the gaps in his education. His self-esteem improved greatly as his program of self-improvement unfolded. Today Edward runs a successful consulting firm that focuses on leadership and emotional intelligence.


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