American Airlines CEO Doug Parker’s Advice to Graduates

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Parker would done better by imparting some experience on the graduates, like not letting facts or morals get in the way of doing what you feel like, or telling them not to drink and drive because getting a DUI sucks.

  2. Parker’s commencement speech was well above average (including its brevity!) from what I witnessed this weekend. It actually offered some pretty good insight into the changes — good and bad — that new college graduates have lived through in the past couple of decades. Your suggestion that Parker misunderstands the history of media polarization is silly. Parker obviously wasn’t talking about the 1780s; he was comparing the current media climate to that of the 1980s. As a former journalist myself, his observation is spot on. Back then, the media made money by at least attempting to be objective. Now that make money by being partisan. This isn’t good for the country, and we’d all be better off if it changed.
    As to the benefit of travel making the world less polarizing, I’m more skeptical. I think travel is very educational, and that’s a huge individual benefit. You do learn that the people of the world are more than same than they are different. But it doesn’t necessarily make you think that the political ideas that you disagreed with before you travelled now have more merit. For example, in college I thought capitalism had significant imperfections but was, by far, the best economic system. What I’ve seen has only reinforced and strengthened my pre-existing views.

  3. If anyone thinks commencement speeches are anything more than fluff they are overthinking it. The standard platitudes and stories yet the success stories don’t mention the special circumstances and stars aligning that allowed it. I would listen too closely to any address.

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