Yes, It’s still worthwhile to read, and understand, Aristotle – business knowledge alone is not enough

It goes by a lot of names and labels. “Start with why” says Simon Sinek. We need more liberal arts studies, says a panel at the Aspen Institute. From this article in The Atlantic, Why America’s Business Majors Are in Desperate Need of a Liberal-Arts Education, by Yoni Appelbaum:

…business majors seem to be graduating with some of the technical skills they’ll need to secure jobs, but without having made the gains in writing or critical-thinking skills they’ll require to succeed over the course of their careers, or to adapt as their technical skills become outdated and the nature of the opportunities they have shifts over time.


Businesses want workers who have “the ability to think, the ability to write, the ability to understand the cultural or historical context of whatever business decision they’re making,” added Rachel Reiser, assistant dean at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The article observed that plenty of entry-level opportunities are available for graduates with busienss majors, but:

American undergraduates are flocking to business programs, and finding plenty of entry-level opportunities. But when businesses go hunting for CEOs or managers, “they will say, a couple of decades out, that I’m looking for a liberal arts grad,” said Judy Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

In other words, people need to know more, by learning more widely, to fill the greater needs of our organizations, and our society.

This ties back into Simon Sinek partly because it takes broad-based reading and thinking to work on the “bigger questions” of why.

I thought of all this recently when I heard a speaker refer to Logos, Ethos, Pathos — the three primary means of persuasion, from Aristotle – to an audience that may have had little knowledge about Aristotle’s rhetorical insights. And I think that all communication is enriched with remembering Aristotle. (That’s my starting point in my Speech Class Refresher course that I teach to business audiences).

So, here’s a simple question:

  • do you read any books outside your field? Books that fall into the category of the “liberal arts?” If not, maybe it’s time to read one, or a few…

You might even want to go back and take a liberal arts class, or two.

Now, back to my business book reading…


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