Since I arrived at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, so many people in different settings said to me “Oh you must meet Aaron Brown,” that it compelled me to “Google” him. And though I had every intention to find a way, I didn’t get the chance to “meet” Brown till last Monday, when he spoke at a combined seminar attended by visiting Murrow Fellows, Humphreys and attachés.
It seemed a fitting occasion to finally be introduced to the award-winning journalist (whose awards include the Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the Sept 11th attacks).
Every minute of his presentation was powerful. It covered snippets of his life, aspirations at an early age to be a great journalist and the journey to his goal, his relationship with his mentor Walter Cronkite (btw, Brown is also ASU’s inaugural Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism), and his interactions with Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who lived “down the block and around the corner”.
So much of what he said left an indelible impression on me. To summarize, the three golden nuggets I took away:
- The power of hard work. In describing himself, Brown says: “I’m not talented, but I outworked everybody else.” The evidence is clear how that paid off in his career.
- Everyone has a defining moment. Recalling a conversation he shared with the legendary Cronkite just after his epic Sept 11 reporting, where Cronkite tells him: “This was your Kennedy moment.”
- Get up and make a change. He spoke at length of “The Happy Warrior”, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and the fact that no matter how much he got beat up, he had the resilience to get back up again; and how that indomitable spirit led him to “take on big issues, care about big things” and “change the destiny of his party and his country.”
I appreciated the wealth of knowledge and advice that Brown had to share. I was also totally impressed by his presentation style. It was one of the few times that I’d witnessed a dynamic presenter, without a presentation or keynote. (As he spoke, his assistant called up relevant multi-media clips or images from the internet to support his points.) He was funny, insightful and corroborated what everyone had said to me.
I left that seminar more enthused about my Humphrey Year of Transformation. I guess it’s like everyone said. You really must meet Aaron Brown to understand.