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Between Two Classes: Julian Gluck



“The Impossible Dream…it’s a song of perseverance and sacrifice, where the protagonist – the Don Quixote character – sings about how he has ‘dreamed the impossible dream.’ It reminds me of the journey I’ve been on, as well as the broader quest that many of us are on at HBS.”


We’re excited to share our fifth and sixth interviews of Between Two Classes, an interview series where we explore how HBS classmates see the world, and why.


Our fifth interview is with Julian Gluck (MBA ’25). Julian graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and earned his pilot wings at Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training. As an active-duty B-52 bomber pilot, Julian flew combat missions against ISIS and the Taliban and was honored as the 2018 Air Force Times Airman of the Year. He was later named to the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and selected as one of JCI USA's 2023 Ten Outstanding Young Americans for his humanitarian leadership. Julian presently serves in the Air Force Reserve in the Defense Innovation Unit and will spend this summer in McKinsey’s London office and in Poland and Germany as a FASPE Business Fellow exploring the ethical responsibilities of business leaders.


What impact did your childhood have on the person you are today?

Gluck: I grew up primarily across the southeastern United States. We moved a lot due to my father's flying career, and through that, I had the opportunity to get to meet many different people, to acquaint myself with different cultures around the country, and make lots of new friends.

That element of always being somewhat itinerant and having to pick up and go every couple years as a kid, I found to be really useful later within the armed forces. 


What are some of the places you lived as a kid?

Gluck: As a kid I lived in Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, South Carolina, and finally in LaGrange, Georgia. And as an adult in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana (with deployments to Qatar, Guam, and the British Indian Ocean Territory), South Korea, Virginia, and now I'm here in Massachusetts.


That's quite the list! I’m especially curious to hear if you could have dinner with 3 people (dead or alive, real or not) who would they be and why?

Gluck: So the first one for me is the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. I think he'd have a lot of interesting stories to share about civic responsibility, leadership in both war and peace, and philosophy. Meditations is one of my favorite texts. I think his ability to balance understanding for the citizen, the soldier, and the statesman – while still being able to be present within the political life of the Roman Empire and on campaign – is really impressive.


The second person I would choose is the ronin samurai, Miyamoto Musashi. His story is legendary, but he was a real life sort of Chuck Norris of feudal Japan. When I was traveling through Japan on different language study abroad programs for the Air Force, I visited some of the locations that were associated with his life: from the site of his most famous duel against Sasaki Kojiro on the tiny island of Ganryu-jima, to the cave where he meditated and wrote his seminal philosophical text on war called the Book of Five Rings. I would love to hear more in-person about his philosophy and the stories of his duels.


And for the third person, perhaps it would make sense to choose a Latin-Japanese translator, but assuming no language barriers, I’ll go with Theodore Roosevelt. I think he's just the most incredible American polymath. He did everything from boxing to academic writing, to being a police commissioner, cowboy, explorer, adventurer, mountaineer… and Harvard grad of course! And he’s the only US President ever to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize.


I doubt we’re going to get a more interesting selection of dinner guests! 

Gluck: Everyone is going to read this and say “Nerd!” 


That’s actually part of what we look for in our interview guests! Finally, for our last question, we’d love to know if there’s a book, movie, or piece of art that has had a meaningful impact on you?

Gluck: There’s a song called “The Impossible Dream” from the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha, which was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote from the 17th century. I listened to it on vinyl at my grandmother’s house, chose it for my playlist for the final 5K at Squadron Officer School, and heard it performed live at the Shreveport Opera House after returning from deployment. So it’s something that’s stuck with me throughout my life. It’s a song of perseverance and sacrifice, where the protagonist – the Don Quixote character – sings about how he has “dreamed the impossible dream.” It reminds me of the journey I’ve been on, as well as the broader quest that many of us are on at HBS. Whether we're coming from a military background, the nonprofit sector, or another industry, we're all here because we're trying to improve ourselves and “follow that star.”


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