Almost as soon as a sunglasses-sporting Zaslav started an uninspired speech reminiscing about his own time at Boston University as a law student, people started berating the 63-year-old entertainment manager during the commencement ceremony and didn’t stop until he stopped almost 20 minutes later with talking.
“When I was announced as a speaker a few weeks ago, one of my BU friends texted me,” Zaslav said with a wave of jeers. “It said, ‘Who would have thought,’ and he was right. Who would have thought that one day I would be here to give you life advice? I must admit I am a little nervous.”
As nervous as Zaslav was, he tried to use his time to relate to the class of 2023 by telling how, after getting a job at a “large, prestigious company” where he “made good money”, he found work of writing prospectuses was not only difficult, but also so unsatisfactory that he had to find a way out. In response to Zaslav’s attempts to share life advice, people in the audience told him to shut up and challenged him to “pay.” [his] writers” – messages repeated by picketers demonstrate outside the event.
“I had to find something that really interested me – something that I really loved,” said Zaslav as someone in the crowd yelled back, “Television screwed up.” “But that was really scary. I had a lot of fear because I was stuck. I had an apartment and I had to keep the job until I found something else.
As it became increasingly clear that the public’s sympathies were with the WGA, Zaslav switched things up a bit by telling a story about a valuable lesson he learned from his mentor, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, whose ruthless approach of management plunged the company into a legendary profitable disaster. The key to success, Welch told Zaslav, was knowing “how to get along with everyone, and that includes difficult people.”
“In my career, I’ve seen so many talented people lose opportunities or jobs because they didn’t get along with others,” said Zaslav. “You can’t choose the people you work with. Find out what you like about a person. There is always something and do what it takes to face their challenges. We have them all. The reality is that most of us don’t pay enough attention to our weaknesses because it doesn’t feel right to think about our flaws, especially when we all think we’re preoccupied with them most of the time.”
Disclosure: Vox Media’s editorial team, including The edgeis also affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East.