New York Times columnist urges business students to place integrity above ambition

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Robert Daniel Smith.

New York Times columnist David Brooks told business students Tuesday they should resist pressure to place personal ambitions above all else.

Brooks, who also appears as a commentator on the PBS NewsHour, urged students in Lisner Auditorium to embrace humility at the University’s first endowed lecture on business civility.

“We are raised in a way that emphasizes success and outer achievement,” he said, but added that the drive to succeed should not lead businesspeople to sacrifice their integrity.

He said students should build character by finding historical figures to serve as their role models and placing photographs of their idols on their desks to inspire them each day.

Brooks said American culture shifted in the 1970s from “self-effacement to self-distinction,” or from an emphasis on stifling personal ambition to perfecting one’s inner self. This shift led to the rise of “uber moms” who obsess over preparing their children for traditional colleges, he said.

Richard Blackburn, an alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees, established the annual lecture with an endowment gift to the School of Business. The lecture serves as the capstone event for the school’s first-year development program, which all freshmen are required to complete.

Blackburn, who spoke at the lecture, said civility and integrity were the building blocks of trust.

“Trust is permission to share ideas with others. It allows us to collaborate and accomplish more,” Blackburn said.

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