NYU Alumni Weekend

Here are a few quick snapshots from my reunion today down in the Village. This ‘playable actions’ slide, a call to remember our purpose in public speaking, is from a workshop in finding your voice. The leader, Jackie Miller of Be Spoken Partners, reminded us that actors trains for six, eight, ten weeks so when doing public speaking, we should likewise train and be well prepared. The gifts of having an actor’s training with emphases on breathing, posture, focus, all translate well in daily, needed communication skills. Her exercises were experiential and fun. Image-1

This first workshop I attended, basically on disputing fake news, was led by Michael Posner, who runs the first ever human rights discipline in a biz school, Stern School. On the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt) — and on a day like today, with, God help us, a horrible synagogue shooting  — we must know that all humans have rights simply by being human. Rights to worship, learn, be safe. This is the universality of humanity. This is our right.

Posner made an interesting point when he said he used to ask Secretary Clinton at the State Department, “Why do we have an ambassador to Benin and we don’t have an ambassador to Walmart?” After all, he reported, the economy of Walmart is bigger than Chile, and Apple is bigger than Bangladesh.

He also called upon the digital platforms to do a better job of prioritizing information. “The most divisive posts become the most amplified.” We react to emotion — fear and anger, mostly.

“You’re not editors, but you’re prioritizing information,” he would say to those who run search engines and social media. And the companies have a responsibility, to take down, “not just what’s illegal, but what’s not right.” And to call out the bad actors, like Russia, who plays upon a country’s divisiveness.

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And, finally, as I was leaving my NYU reunion day, after a lovely breakfast, lunch, and evening party, as well as additional workshops, I saw this message at Judson Memorial Church. It is why I love the village and have always loved NYU. The community opens your mind. Image

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