The awkward situational humor that seems to be all too common in college life is something that The New York Times bestselling author Harlan Cohen enjoys exploring. Many of the issues that are touched upon in his book The Naked Roommate were topics for discussion during the workshop and talk he led at Geneseo on Monday Sept. 9.
Much of Cohen’s inspiration for his material came about when interned at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in college. While there, he said he met a writer who wrote advice and found the notion fascinating.
Upon returning to Indiana University Bloomington, the Naked author began to write his own column for his school’s newspaper.
“Any life issue that is uncomfortable I like to write about,” he said. “Really about life transitions more than anything … In all of these transitions there is a common thread: How do we get comfortable with the uncomfortable?
According to the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development’s schedule page, Cohen led a discussion on risk-taking in leadership positions. The workshop involved participants undergoing self-exploration in order to better understand and deal with uncertainty, and project confidence.
“The workshop is a little more intimate. The room is smaller, the energy more closed … we form a connection. I like the personal interaction,” Cohen said. “I love the big shows, too. I love doing it because it’s scary. Every time I do something that scares me, I do it to be authentic.”
Later on in the day, he gave a talk during which the audience opened up through interaction and anonymous questions. Upperclassmen and underclassmen alike explored common issues like isolation, relationships and social life at college.
“I love coming [to colleges] because I know that when I leave I think people are really going to have something they can use in their life that can make a profound difference,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he plans on visiting many other universities in the Eastern United States including Fairleigh Dickinson University, the University of Akron as well as the University of Florida. Though September is one of the most hectic months in terms of traveling, it is also one of the most rewarding, according to Cohen.
“It’s always powerful to listen … It enables me to grow. The more I listen, the more I grow,” he said. “This year especially, I’ve been really honest in a way I haven’t been before, which is frightening but also rewarding professionally.
“College is so incredibly exciting because we really have the ability to have limitless thoughts with the least amount of responsibility,” Cohen said. “We can be wild and live the most authentic life, but yet we’re so limiting and so afraid.”