UDM alum Neil Mandt shares media insights on campus

The driven and successful former University of Detroit Mercy student, Neil Mandt, returned to campus on Jan. 31 to deliver a master class to current students.  

Mandt’s presentation included some of his career accomplishments, tips on how to get into the media industry by forming individual capacities and insight into both augmented reality and virtual reality.  

He began by reflecting on his past, including his early beginnings as a child actor and his pursuits of professional content creation. He described the countless opportunities he had sought out and taken. Mandt started at the age of 10, and that led to his working in commercials.  

From then on, he had a series of auditions and jobs. He even interviewed numerous platinum artists. The highlights of which he discussed in terms of his early career helped Mandt gain valuable experience in journalism and sales.  

He has done so much in his 44 years working in the media industry, some of which are producing 10 movies, 3,000 episodes on television, and ABC’s news coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, while also winning five Emmy awards. 

The focus of the presentation diverged to entrepreneurship, technology and media. He emphasized the importance of taking risks and building a strong foundation.  

He started by asking the audience about the most valuable thing that everyone shares. No one in the audience could pinpoint what it was, and then he revealed that it was time. 

Mandt suggested that people should research and prepare for meetings to get the most out of them. He encouraged the audience to seek information regarding the people they will meet, whether it is for a job, an interview or a casual conversation, to gain a competitive advantage.  

“You have to convince others that you are worth doing business with,” Mandt said. 

He also focused on the importance of having a professional online presence. He proposed that listeners should search themselves online and make sure their personal brand is well-represented, including a website and social media accounts. 

The presentation shifted to his predictions, that are more actualities in the works, of future technological advancements. Mandt described how these advancements will transform business models and socialization, therefore, the possibility of ranking systems and socialization within the realms of augmented and virtual realities.  

Furthermore, Mandt described the concept of blockchain and its relation to the metaverse. 

 He simplified the definition of the metaverse and said, “It is the internet. There are two points of entry for the members. One is through virtual reality where we put the goggles on, and the second is through augmented reality.”  

Mandt also described the future use of artificial intelligence to create content such as acting and writing. He stressed the potential impact on the entertainment industry as well as risk assessment in the music industry, in which advanced technology tools manipulate and build upon existing music to create anew.  

He highlighted the magnitude of digital presence, having an established digital footprint, to be prepared for the upcoming shift in content creation, specifically AR and VR.  

“I’m not alarmed because I’m prepared, and that’s what I want you to do is not be alarmist,” Mandt said. 

Every person who attended Mandt’s master class left not only with a piece of information they had not known previously but also tricks on how to get prepared and flourish. 

“But for me, I found it extremely informative, and timely, somewhat scary, especially when he’s talking about some of the things that are just difficult for many of us to wrap our heads around,” said Cynthia Langham, Department Chair of Communication Studies. 

Langham, who organized the event, added that it was a full house. She said there were over 70 in attendance for a room with a capacity of 60.