Denny’s Daily Zinger: “Always see a salesman once.” — Franklin Watts

See these speakers.

Children’s book publisher Frank Watts was my second boss in business. Many of his aphorisms—including the title above—are hard-wired into my DNA.
What triggered this piece was the withdrawal by two distinguished, high-achieving commencement speakers at Rutgers University and Smith College.

The student body and faculty members vociferously complained. The two speakers—Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—said the hell with it.

Firebrands in My Teen Years
I went to Phillips Academy, Andover, 1949-1953—the height of the Cold War and the Korean police action.

The entire country was virulently anti-Communist.

Twice, the school invited wild-eyed revolutionaries to speak at assemblies. Attendance was required.

“Let the kids hear them firsthand,” was the philosophy, “and they can make up their own minds.” So we heard:

  • Earl Browder, former chairman of the U.S. Communist Party
  • Bayard Rustin, human rights activist and rabble-rouser.

Browder rambled. The audience was attentive. The questions hostile.

Rustin was mesmerizing. At the end he said quietly, “Let us pray.” Every head snapped down—even atheists and agnostics.

I am sick of radio and TV talk shows where babbleheads read the papers, watch the news on television and then pontificate on events 8,000 miles away.

Same thing with these ditzy college kids and faculty, who preferred to stick their fingers in their ears, shut their eyes and shriek gibberish.

“I never learned anything while I was talking,” said Larry King.

Always see a salesman once.

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Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.
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Comments
  • Meg Nugent Hodges

    This has been a growing – and disturbing – trend in recent years. The WSJ made this a page 1 story May 13. But one incident I most appreciated took place recently at Haverford College. A number of students and professors protested an invitation to Robert Birgeneau – former Chancellor at UC Berkeley. They were upset by his actions to involve police at a student protest in 2011.

    Who speaks instead? The President of Princeton University, William Bowen. Not exactly a conservative choice – or so they thought.

    President Bowen ripped apart those that protested, calling them "immature" and "arrogant". He even took one senior leader to task by name in his remarks. and while not necessarily in agreement with the chancellor’s actions in 2011, he held firm that it was Birgeneau that should have spoken, not himself.

    The response? A standing ovation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alPu6hFj0Zk

  • Etoain Shrdlu

    Christine Lagarde might have been something of a novelty in this country, but Condi Rice had eight years of high profile exposure during her White House proximity to George W. Bush. Her opinions are not new and, in my humble opinion, most of them are long discredited. I can understand students who say, in effect, "This day is to celebrate my own achievements and the financial sacrifice that I or my parents have made (and that I may continue to make for years as I pay off my student loans.) I don’t want to see part of my money used to celebrate and give an honorary degree to somebody who will spoil the zeitgeist of this special day."

    We have seen this salesperson too many times before, and the goods she is peddling (WMD just for openers) are rancid.

  • Mikewirte

    Kind of ironic that Condolezza Rice was prevented from speaking by mostly white professors and students. In some circles that would be considered racist.