Carla in Fortune Magazine
Fortune: Tell me about your family background and how you grew up.
Harris: I grew up as an only child in a no-nonsense, no-excuses household. My parents gave me the sense that I was supposed to do well, and never made me think it was extraordinary to get As or to excel in school. I remember telling my father, ‘You owe my money for my A,’ because one of my classmates was getting paid every time she got a good grade in school. But my father said, ‘I don’t owe you anything, that’s what you’re supposed to do.’
My mother always told me—and I thought this was genius—’There are a lot of inequalities in the world. Be so outstanding that there is no debate. If you want an A, shoot for the A+, so if the teacher is unfair, you still get an A.’ What a genius way to say the world isn’t fair and the world may discriminate against you.