On Thursday, February 8, the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts invited New York Times Bestselling Author Jared Cohen to speak about the message and lessons we can take away from his latest book, Life After Power: Seven Presidents and Their Search for Purpose Beyond the White House

A Connecticut native, Cohen explained in a pre-talk interview with The Rearview that he has always had a fascination with United States’ presidents. This love has led him to amass a collection of interesting and rather peculiar artifacts…from a wax sculpture of the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, to several locks of Presidents’ hair, to a vial of poison intended for Charles J. Guiteau, James A. Garfield’s assassin. 

Being an accomplished businessman, government official, author and CEO, Cohen explained that a person’s mindset is the key to success; fulfilling day-to-day goals will have a greater impact than focusing on the long-term. 

What John Quincy Adams tells us is to set yourself up in the conditions that will allow you to succeed. In other words, instead of finding a cause in your life, you will have greater success letting the cause find you.

New York Times Bestselling Author Jared Cohen

Fairfield University President, Mark Nemec, PhD. opened the talk with Fairfield’s motto, Per Fidem Ad Plenam Veritatum, or Through Faith to Full Truth. Nemec continued to explain that Fairfield’s commitment to civic engagement and education is made possible by scholars such as Cohen, who take the time to educate others on the truth.

Cohen began his presentation with his inspiration for writing his book. He explained that his book was driven solely by the question, “What’s next?”

Cohen’s goal in writing his latest book was to investigate the lives of presidents after they leave office, finding relatability and inspiration in their stories. He summarized the stories of several of the presidents’ lives after power to the audience, quoting John Quincy Adams as his favorite.

“The chapter on John Quincy Adams was my favorite chapter to write and it really spoke to me,” said Cohen.

He explains that John Quincy Adams, after serving as president of the U.S., returned to the government as a congressman, a humiliatingly lower position from the one he previously held. Cohen explained the lesson we can learn from John Quincy Adams, 

“What John Quincy Adams tells us is to set yourself up in the conditions that will allow you to succeed. In other words, instead of finding a cause in your life, you will have greater success letting the cause find you,” he said.

Cohen’s talk concluded with questions from the audience, who asked his opinions on various current issues. He discussed everything from the relationship between the U.S. and China to the electoral college.

Cohen ended questioning by claiming there is a shortage of great leaders in present day politics. He explained that social media is to blame for the mediocracy of current politicians. 

“So it used to be that you became a leader before you became a public figure. Now you become a flash of the pan celebrity before you have any time to fill that celebrity with any leadership skills,” Cohen stated.

President Nemec closed the talk thanking everyone for their attendance and reminding the audience to watch Cohen this Sunday on Global Public Square with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, and to tune in next Friday for Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on PBS, where Cohen will be a guest speaker.

Author

By Nathanael Wilhelm

Digital Journalism Major and Film Minor at Fairfield University

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