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President Dobkin’s Book Talk celebrates identity, leadership during Women’s Week

President Beth Dobkin hosted a talk centered around the book The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature on Thursday at Giovale Library in observance of Women’s History Month.

During the event, President Dobkin shared her thoughts on the book and discussed insights with other participants. Despite finding aspects of the book objectionable, President Dobkin said she wanted the book talk to emphasize the importance of engaging with provocative material to stimulate meaningful conversation, in a virtual interview Wednesday.

“[The book] was suggested to me by someone I admire and respect,” President Beth Dobkin said. “Sometimes finding something that is provocative helps with conversation.”

President Dobkin shared an excerpt from the book telling readers to always seem dumber than their mark. She explained this is to take advantage of people who like to be flattered for their intelligence, a “highly manipulative” strategy, according to President Dobkin.

“[That mindset] is something I think women in particular are taught to do in some cultures, and it is a way of achieving a result,” President Dobkin said. “It isn’t something that I would ever put out as a leadership strategy.”

Attendees listen as Audrey Clare, a career coach at Westminster University, discusses different experiences in the workplace before coming to the college during President Beth’s Book Talk centered around the book The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature on Thursday at Giovale Library. Despite finding aspects of the book objectionable, President Dobkin said she wanted the book talk to emphasize the importance of engaging with provocative material to stimulate meaningful conversation, in a virtual interview Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Jack Fairbanks. Image description: People sit in a circle against a windowed background on the first floor of Giovale Library.

The book talk served as an opportunity to discuss whether an approach like appearing less intelligent is comfortable, and if it’s appropriate and effective to employ, according to President Dobkin.   

The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature by Robert Greene contains short pieces, which is part of the reason President Dobkin said she chose this book for the talk. 

“I thought, ‘Let’s just do something where people don’t have to read a whole book and we can just take some excerpts and have good prompts for discussion,’” President Dobkin said.

President Dobkin said she hopes attendants take away a sense of increased empathy and understanding for one another after the book talk.

“I hope that we are ever more thoughtful about when identity differences matter, the difference they make and how to try to understand when they’re at play,” President Dobkin said.

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