10 Questions
for Peter Barnet

Created 2010-10-15

Childhood home?

I was born in Washington, D.C. during the Second World War and raised in New York City and Paris.

Favorite place in the world?

Paris. From my boyhood experiences to residency here since 1992, Paris has been a lifelong love affair. I still get a thrill every day I step out into this urban garden. Walking along the Seine to AUP in the mornings remains a special part of each day and, when travelling, I am always happy to come back.

Current bed-time reading?

I am passionate about history and biography. Max Hasting’s new book on Winston Churchill is terrific and now I am reading Berlin at War, a new work on daily life for Berliners 1939-45. Fascinating.

If you unexpectedly had an afternoon off, how would you spend it?

This would depend on the weather and season. My wife and I love to walk the streets and parks of Paris and take advantage of its cultural treasures. And then there are the cafés and restaurants…

Favorite place to lunch in Paris?

There are too many exciting places here to have just one favorite. My oldest French friend and I lunch once a month, someplace different each time. Last month we lunched in the 6th at a place that was supposed to have been D’Artagnon’s home in the early 1600s. This month we will go to the brasserie, La Closerie des Lilas in the 14th, where Hemingway, Fitzgerald and so many of the greats of the 1920s, hung out.

When out-of-town friends come to visit, what do you make sure they do?

Again this depends upon how well they know the city and what they want to do. We always suggest two or three museums, lunch at Café Marly at Le Louvre and dinner at Chez Georges on the rue du Mail in the 3rd.  Both venues capture the history and culture of Paris. There are many others as well but this is an article and not the Zagat guide.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Always early in the morning and usually in my kitchen at home. I have my coffee, the International Herald Tribune and a writing pad…all three are essential equipment.

An important mentor in your life?

I had one teacher in primary and another in secondary school who inspired me to learn…and then there was my first “big boss” in the advertising business. He was forty years older and at the top; I was 27 and at the bottom. He taught me the profession and how to think about the profession, what was important and what was not. He was old fashioned in dress and manner, a complete gentleman and a wise man. I worshipped him. In the decades that followed I always thought about him when something good happened in my career. I always wondered if those good things would have happened had I not had him as my teacher. Mentors are a fine thing.

At age 12 what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was in Paris and had decided to become a diplomat with the US Foreign Service. I pursued that dream throughout my student and university days majoring in political science, international relations and comparative government. But then I changed my mind and became an advertising man.  Business and government are different fields but their international and diplomatic aspects are similar.

What have you learned since working at AUP?

I think I rediscovered what I have probably always known…that people of all ages are capable of doing extraordinary things if they are allowed and encouraged to spread their wings. This is the great virtue of the American liberal education model and it takes on such power in the multi-cultural environment at AUP. I have been blown away by many student achievements in my classes. I think I have learned more from them than they have from me. This is why I so enjoy working with AUP students and why I love this unique global melting pot of learning on the banks of the Seine.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work at AUP.

I graduated from Yale in 1965 and then spent almost forty years in advertising and marketing working for global advertising agencies, Ogilvy and Young & Rubicam, and multi-national corporations, Unilever and Sara Lee. My work focused on building consumer products, domestically, regionally and globally. I am a global brand manager. I have always wanted to teach.  Shortly after I retired, my son came to AUP for a junior year semester. My wife and I accompanied him to a parents orientation event and I met some folks. It really was serendipity. My son stayed for the semester and I simply stayed. I am so glad.

Peter Barnet is Associate Professor of Global Communications at AUP.