Guests: Zak Hansen, Robert Deutsche, Greg Wilberger, Pat Brown, Doug Barry
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: The search for Brooke Wilberger. She‘s a 19-year-old co-ed with a reputation as a top grade student at Brigham Young University, and she‘s a devout Mormon.
So when Brooke vanished, police had reason to suspect foul play.
CAPT. ROBERT DEUTSCHE, CORVALLIS, OREGON, POLICE: We‘re not having the luck we‘d like to have.
NORVILLE: Now, an entire community is hoping to turn that luck around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When somebody needs help we all want to pitch in and help.
NORVILLE: Tonight, a family‘s plea for their daughter‘s safe return.
And the search for clues that might solve the mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re all here, and we‘re—we‘re looking for her.
NORVILLE: Plus, the making of a mogul. What does it take to climb the corporate ladder? The author of this book has some answers, serious answers, from some of the top CEO‘s of the world.
Now Doug Barry is sharing the secret of their success with other young apprentices like himself. How young, you might ask? Doug is only 17.
ANNOUNCER: From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening.
It has been more than 48 hours since 19-year-old Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger disappeared from an Oregon apartment complex.
She was there visiting her sister and brother-in-law, who managed the apartment complex in Corvallis, Oregon. That‘s about 80 miles south of Portland.
Brooke was last seen in a parking lot about 10:30 Monday morning. She‘s 5‘4” tall, weighs 119 pounds and has shoulder-length blond hair and blue eyes. Her keys and some of her other personal belongings were found in her sister‘s apartment and her car was still in the parking lot.
Police also found a piece of Brooke‘s clothing in the parking lot.
Joining me now from Corvallis, Oregon, are Brooke‘s father, Greg, and her brother-in-law, Zak Hansen. He manages the apartment complex where she disappeared.
Also with us is the Corvallis police Captain Robert Deutsche. And I thank you all for being here.
Zak, I want to start with you, since you and your wife run the apartment complex there. What was Brooke doing there at the parking lot when she disappeared?
ZAK HANSEN, BROOKE‘S BROTHER-IN-LAW: She was working for us doing just normal maintenance of the complex. She was—she stays with us, and she was—she was just cleaning some light fixtures.
NORVILLE: So she was just out in the parking lot helping out cleaning the lamppost there near all the cars?
HANSEN: Yes. That‘s correct, completely out in the open.
NORVILLE: And this is 10:30 in the morning, broad daylight. When was the last time that you or your wife actually saw Brooke there in the parking lot?
HANSEN: About 10 a.m. in the morning.
NORVILLE: And when did you realize that she wasn‘t there and the cleaning supplies had been left behind?
HANSEN: She had indicated to us that she was going to break for lunch at about noon. As that time passed, we started to become concerned, and at about 1 p.m. we started actively searching for her.
NORVILLE: And what did you guys do, just on your own start looking around the apartment complex or did you immediately call police and try to get them involved?
HANSEN: Initially, we tried to check everything that we could. We tried to keep a calm head, but at some point we decided that she was not there and we called the authorities.
NORVILLE: And Captain Deutsche, when you all got the call, what time of day was it?
DEUTSCHE: It was about 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Just a few minutes after 3 p.m.
NORVILLE: So you knew right off the bat two hours after they started looking for Brooke. This was out of character for her, we need to let the cops know.
What was your response when you first got a call she‘s been missing just for a few hours. Did you guys immediately jump on the gun?
DEUTSCHE: Well, you know, under normal circumstances we would not. A couple of hours would not be an extraordinary amount of time.
But in this particular circumstance, we were alarmed within a couple of hours, and I think you had already mentioned in your introduction that they found articles of clothing.
Initially, we weren‘t releasing the information but it has already been in the papers. We thought it might be an investigative key. But her shoes were actually found in the parking lot, kind of separated by a couple of feet near the fixture that she was working on, a bucket of water and some other utensils that she was using to clean the fixtures over by the side.
Of course that was very, very suspicious and really alarmed the first officer who was on scene.
The second component of that really is Brooke herself. We did a complete background on Brooke. Of course, we have to be skeptical.
DEUTSCHE: That‘s our job. I guess we‘re the cops. And, we—within the first few hours realized that this was really a nice girl who was really very responsible and an honor student in high school, honor student in college, connected to her church and community. Up visiting her relatives. And this is totally out of character for her to have walked away from this.
So, we weren‘t going to take any chances at all, and we launched a complete criminal major investigation, and we titled it an abduction/kidnap within a couple of hours.
NORVILLE: Which—which just underscores the level of urgency. And the fact that you were able to get on it so quickly certainly has got to be a helpful thing.
I‘m curious about the shoes. How were they positioned in the parking lot? You said they were some distance apart from one another? Were they askew? Did they look like they‘d come off during a struggle?
DEUTSCHE: You know, I—I don‘t have direct information so what I‘m telling you is what I heard secondhand.
DEUTSCHE: And what I understand is they were about three feet apart, and that one was kind of on its side. So it looked like they were askew. They weren‘t next to each other as if they were taken off by the person and put neatly together.
DEUTSCHE: Which, of course, raised our level of alarm.
NORVILLE: Mr. Wilberger, I can‘t imagine what it is like for you and your wife at this moment. But I also know that there have been other instances fairly recently in which young ladies have disappeared, college students, like your daughter.
Did you and your wife ever talk to Brooke about some of these other high profile cases in the past?
GREG WILBERGER, BROOKE‘S FATHER: We haven‘t talked to her about specific cases, but at BYU, I think, last fall there was an incident, and the school was really careful and sent all the girls to some training. And so Brooke was really conscious of being aware of people around her.
NORVILLE: And she was the type of young lady who would always keep an eye over her shoulder, just to make sure that she was in a safe situation?
WILBERGER: Well, we hope so. She was also sending notes home through e-mail, telling us about things that we should do to be aware of ourselves. So she seemed to take it pretty serious.
NORVILLE: What—What are you doing right now to stay calm and your wife as well? I know there‘s only so much that you can do in terms of going out and searching for her.
WILBERGER: Well, my younger daughter and myself searched the first night Monday until early into Tuesday morning. But since then, we‘ve just been trying to get the word out on the various networks and—because our belief was that if we could get people aware, that somebody may have seen something and we need to rely on this to happen, for them to call into the tip line.
NORVILLE: What do we need to know about Brooke, about the way she walks? About the way—Does she talk with her hands? Is there any kind of specifics about the way your daughter moves, talks, comports herself that would be helpful to someone who may see her out there?
WILBERGER: She‘s pretty typical 19-year-old teenager. She—When she‘s excited she‘ll talk with her hands, but she‘s usually kind of reserved so you would have to know her pretty well.
But I think that the biggest identifying mark is on her right forearm. She‘s got a scar from her wrist to her inside of her elbow, and it‘s really obvious. And so it would be really hard to miss that.
NORVILLE: And is she—Is she—Is she conscious of it or does she tend to keep it covered up with long sleeves, this scar on her arm?
WILBERGER: No. It doesn‘t bother her at all. So it‘s usually in the open. It‘s not something she would hide. It doesn‘t bother her at all.
NORVILLE: Captain Deutsche, tell me a little bit about the kinds of tips that you‘re getting in. We‘ve seen people going door-to-door putting up fliers, obviously the local community doing everything they can.
What kinds of phone calls are you getting and from where?
DEUTSCHE: We‘re getting—so far we‘ve gotten about 300 tips. I just checked within the last half hour. And that‘s pretty good.
We‘ve got a bank of people that are working the tips—the tip line right now.
What we‘re doing right now is we‘re working in partnership with a number of other agencies. This is so broad in scope that we don‘t pretend to have enough resources and expertise within in-house to be able to handle something like this.
Fortunately, we have great partners that work with us. The Benton County Sheriff‘s Department, Oregon State Police, Oregon state security. I‘m going to rattle off, naming some agencies to give them some credit. Albany Police Department, Linn County Sheriff. I‘m sure I‘m missing somebody.
NORVILLE: What about the FBI? Has the FBI come into the investigation, because you believe it to be an abduction?
DEUTSCHE: Yes. That was the next agency. The FBI was probably one of our first phone calls to help us out. We‘ve got two agents that are working with us around the clock right now, you know, using the resources that they have, helping us run backgrounds on everybody, canvassing the apartment complexes, canvassing the adjacent complexes. You know, I could go on and on.
NORVILLE: Let me just interrupt you, if I may, sir.
What about looking at the known criminals in your area and the surrounding area? I mean, when a girl disappears like this, the immediate thought is there‘s a stalker, someone who‘s a sexual predator.
Have you gone through your database to see if any of those individuals have alibis that can‘t be backed up?
DEUTSCHE: That was actually probably the first thing out of the chute for the detectives to do, in working with the FBI and the other agencies.
That very night, within a few hours, we ran a database of all of the predators, all the registered sex offenders, ones that we know that may not even be registered that we have suspicions of and began contacting them.
And my last notice is that we had contacted just about all of them.
We‘re checking their initial alibis, and will continue checking them out.
NORVILLE: Zack Hansen, you and your wife are the managers there at the apartment complex. Just about every apartment complex I know of has security cameras all over the place. I presume that you do at your facility.
Have you all checked the tape? Have you seen anything that looked suspicious on those tapes?
HANSEN: Unfortunately, we don‘t have, you know, security cameras. This is a town and a neighborhood that has not—has not seen—I‘ve lived here my whole life. I cannot recall an incident like this.
NORVILLE: Yes. That‘s so unfortunate. It‘s good that you live in a community like that, but boy, it would have been a big help if something like that were out there.
And Captain Deutsche, what can viewers do to assist you in any way? Is there anything somebody watching who really cares can do that really helps?
DEUSTCHE: Keep an eye out. Anything that‘s suspicious that comes up.
First of all, let me express my sincere appreciation to all of the media. This is great. You‘ve been terrific. It‘s really offered us an expansive way of getting out information, pictures and other information that no other outlet could offer.
Anybody that has any information, any suspicions, any tips, nothing is too small. Please call it in to the tip line that we have.
NORVILLE: And we‘ve got the number up on the screen. It‘s area 541-766-6989.
Captain Deutsche, thank you so much for being with us.
Zak Hansen, our thanks to you.
And Mr. Wilberger, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family for a happy resolution during what is, we know, a very difficult situation for you now.
WILBERGER: Thank you.
DEUTSCHE: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Coming up, probing the mind of a kidnapper.
DEUTSCHE: We‘re looking into anybody that might be a suspect including anybody on the sexual predator or offender list.
ANNOUNCER: How criminal profiles can lead the police to some of the nation‘s most notorious suspects. Can they help find Brooke Wilberger?
When DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: More on the disappearance of Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger, who disappeared from an Oregon apartment complex on Monday morning.
Joining me now is criminal profiler Pat Brown. She‘s the author of “Killing for Sport: Inside the Mind of Serial Killers.”
Pat, it‘s good to see you again. When you first heard about this case, what was your immediate reaction?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Pretty much the same as the family, Deborah; pretty much the same as the police.
And I have to really commend the police, because they‘re out there this quickly saying we suspect an abduction, which is what they should be saying so that everybody can jump right in and the community can jump right in and start to help trying to find this girl.
NORVILLE: Have the cops learned from other high profile cases where they didn‘t get on the ball quite as quickly?
BROWN: Well, one would hope, but there are still a dozen serial—suspected serial homicides every month around the country that nobody is jumping on. A girl disappears, she‘s found dead.
And still, the police don‘t say that this is a suspected serial killer, so the killer stays out in the community. People don‘t even look around to find out who could have done it.
And that serial killer stays out in the community to get another victim, perhaps somebody like Brooke or another girl. And if this guy stays out in the community, he might be looking for somebody else.
NORVILLE: You‘re making a really big jump. Right now what we have is a girl who disappeared very mysteriously, and you‘re using the term serial killer.
NORVILLE: Why are you making that connection, and are you making that connection with Brooke?
BROWN: I am making that connection. The police are saying, the family is saying they don‘t suspect it‘s anybody she knows, any kind of situation she‘s been in with a boyfriend.
She‘s not doing a feeler type thing where she‘s just going through—anybody who doesn‘t know that case, this is the girl who claimed in Wisconsin that she was kidnapped and wasn‘t. She just wanted attention.
The family and the police are saying this is not the kind of girl Brooke was. This is not what happened. She—What‘s happening in the parking lot with the scene, with the shoes and what‘s going on there, they‘re suspecting somebody did, indeed, grab her.
The reason I say serial killer, and I‘m not saying that—hopefully Brooke is not dead at this point.
BROWN: We‘re hoping that Brooke is alive and we‘re going to find her, because not all serial killers kill right away. They may abduct and hold the person. And we‘re hoping that‘s what‘s going on here.
But any kind of guy who‘s going to grab a girl out of a parking lot who they do not know, has no reason to do this except for what?
BROWN: And unfortunately, they‘re not very good reasons. So that‘s why I call it a suspected serial killer so that we‘re out looking for that creepy, psychopathic guy who does live in this community. Because this is not a trucker. He‘s not coming through. This is not a vagrant without a car.
NORVILLE: Which is why it important that people, particularly in the community or the surrounding environment where this guy may have come from -- and we assume it is a man—are paying attention to this and do call that tip line.
What should they be looking for? What kind of creepy guy, specifically? What can you tell us about the creepy guy?
BROWN: Well, one thing I can tell you about serial killers is they‘re almost like a cookie cutter type guy.
They are all psychopaths. And by that, I simply mean they‘re going to be a manipulative, lying kind of guy who doesn‘t care about anybody else but himself. He thinks everybody else is wrong; he‘s right.
Any family member, anybody who‘s dealt with this guy for more than a day or two is going to say that guy drives me nuts. He gets on my nerves. He‘s always using people. I don‘t like him. He‘s been a problem forever.
He‘s not some kind of guy who‘s a really nice guy and one day just does this. He stepped across a line to do something absolutely awful, and that kind of guy is a psychopath.
People should be looking for somebody they know, that they work with, a relative, a friend, anybody who was missing at that time of day, who had a car, who could be driving around, who knows the neighborhood and has those kind of behaviors. Call that into the police if you know that guy.
NORVILLE: And you know, it‘s funny. I‘m reminded of the case down in Florida, the Carlie Brucia case, the little girl who was walking past the car wash, and the security camera caught the shot of her being picked up by the guy.
It was ultimately someone who, through a combination of the way this person had been acting and the possible tattoo on the arms, so they did have a little bit of a visual. But it was also a behavior pattern that helped that individual call police and eventually lead to an arrest in the case.
BROWN: Absolutely, because if you don‘t know who you‘re looking for, what kind of guy this is. Just because you know somebody who knew the area, for example and perhaps was missing during that time of day, and maybe came home and acted a little strange. And you wondered why he‘s in the backyard burying some clothing or why he‘s taking his car and vacuuming it.
You‘re not going to jump at that conclusion unless you realize you‘re looking for a psychopath. And if you know that, and then you see those other behaviors, you say, “Wait a minute. Maybe I better call this into the police. Maybe we can save Brooke‘s life. Maybe we can save somebody else‘s life in the future.”
NORVILLE: I wonder how much the Audrey Seiler case up in Wisconsin earlier this year has sort of inured people to all of this. Because that was a case where, similarly, people were going crazy and searching and doing everything they could, and ultimately it was determined that she had faked her own kidnapping.
I want to just roll the sound bite from the end of the case, the conclusion, when the police made the announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF NOBLE WRAY, MADISON, WISCONSIN, POLICE: Due to continuing inconsistencies, with this investigation, and lack of any evidence to support her allegations of being abducted, we do not believe that there is a suspect at large related to the second reported abduction. So we do not believe that there is a suspect at large, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Does that make it tougher for people to rally around kidnapping, suspected kidnapping like Brooke‘s?
BROWN: Absolutely. It‘s poisoning their mind. It‘s the cry wolf thing. I mean, I thought of the same thing the minute I heard about Brooke going missing. I thought, well, is she jumping on the same idea that—that Seiler did? And is she saying, “Well, that worked for her, so let me try it. I can get some attention, too”?
And because punishment doesn‘t seem to be the strongest thing going to be happening to Ms. Seiler, and I think it should be. I think there should be some strong punishment levied against her. I think it was a horrible thing she did.
She abused the community. She abused the feeling of her friends, her parents, everybody, and ruined things like this when people should be jumping out to help. They‘re going to stop and think, “Well, why waste my time? It‘s probably another one of those kind of girls trying to get attention.”
I think she did tremendous damage. But I hope people ignore that and with every new person who goes missing doesn‘t, you know, doesn‘t take that to heart and goes right out and tries to help.
NORVILLE: What‘s going on out there, Pat? We‘ve seen an awful lot of young college girls go missing in the last several months. Dru Sjodin last winter in Minnesota. There was a young lady who was just found yesterday in New York City, disappeared after—who was found after disappearing for a week.
Is there something going on that college girls need to be intensely aware of?
BROWN: Absolutely. One is that there are serial killers out there everywhere. There really are. And when you finally find out somebody like the Green River Killer, who‘s killed 48 women, after 48 women, they weren‘t aware that he was there, really. They just went out and did their thing.
Something else is important for the college students to know. When they suddenly take these self-defense courses that pop up when they become concerned about a predator in the community. They run out. They take these courses thinking this will protect them.
And I can guarantee you a three-hour self-defense course will do nothing but get you hurt because you‘ll start to believe it will work. But when you‘re up against a guy the size of Mike Tyson and you‘re a little girl like Brooke, 5‘4”, 120 pounds, you are no match to any guy that size.
So the only thing it will save you is witnesses.
NORVILLE: And finally, real quick. After 48 hours what are the chances of this case being successfully ended?
BROWN: Well, I—you know, we all hope because of Elizabeth Smart that someone who goes missing will show up alive, if not happy and maybe need a lot of help. We always hope that they‘re going to arrive alive, but the chances are not good.
That‘s why these guys should not be left in the community. And that‘s why we should take it so seriously to really fight back against the serial killer problem in the United States, to stop this from happening.
NORVILLE: Pat Brown, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate your time.
BROWN: My pleasure, Deborah.
NORVILLE: And once again, as Pat indicated, citizen help can be so important. Police want you to join in the search, the disappearance of Brooke Wilberger. Any information you‘ve got, call the tip line. The number is 541-766-6989.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Up next...
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: You‘re fired.
ANNOUNCER: Move over, Donald. A new generation of entrepreneurs is planning to take over corporate America, and they‘re being motivated by a high school student. We‘ll meet that 17-year-old whiz kid when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Watch your back, Donald Trump. There‘s a new apprentice on the block, and he‘s only 17.
Four years ago, Doug Barry wanted to find out some of the secrets to success, so he wrote letters to more than 150 corporate CEO‘s and asked them what characteristics are needed to succeed in business.
Here is what many of Doug‘s letters said. Or Doug‘s letters, rather, to the CEO said, “Dear CEO, I know you‘re a very busy person, but if you could find a few moments to give some brief advice about leadership to an ambitious 13-year-old eighth grader I would be most grateful.” Signed “very truly yours,” Doug Barry.
Well, guess what? More than 100 CEO‘s wrote back, and three of them will be joining us in just a little bit.
And with all that advice Doug was able to round from those corporate titans, he, a now high school senior, has written a book called “Wisdom for a Young CEO: Incredible Letters and Inspiring Advice from Today‘s Business Leaders.”
And Doug Barry joins me here in the studio.
This is way cool. Congratulations.
DOUG BARRY, AUTHOR, “WISDOM FOR A YOUNG CEO”: Thank you.
NORVILLE: You know, some people go a lifetime thinking I‘m going to write a book. You‘ve done it, and you‘re only 17.
BARRY: Yes. It‘s amazing. I still can‘t believe it sometimes.
NORVILLE: How did it all happen, the idea of going out and asking people you‘ve never heard of to give you advice?
BARRY: It stemmed from my mom, who was a big inspiration, because she was involved in the corporate world. And she worked for a chemical company in Delaware, and she‘d come home every night with stories. And basically stories like a kid would tell you from school. And it brought the whole experience closer to home for me, and that was—it was just so exciting. It just seemed so interesting.
NORVILLE: And it seemed a little more interesting than being an anthropologist, because that‘s what you thought you wanted to be until you saw one of those Discovery Channel shows about what it‘s really all about.
BARRY: Yes, when I was younger I wanted to do that, and then I realized that it‘s kind of, you know, a little bit more work than I was used to.
NORVILLE: And you said the idea of what you wanted to do when you really do grow up, because you‘re only 17, kind of hit you like a bolt of lightning. This is a passage from your book, right in the very beginning.
It said, it hit me like a bolt of lightning, this awesome power of major corporations to influence the entire world, even tiny villages in France. What you had seen was a McDonald‘s. And that sort of sparked something for you. How?
BARRY: Well, I guess mostly because we‘re, you know, in the middle of France. And I had never been there before. And it‘s just pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We‘re on our way to Normandy and, you know, I‘ve heard stories that, you know, French people hate, you know, American food, especially McDonald‘s. And here is a McDonald‘s in the middle of a French village that, you know, you can take right out of medieval times.
It was just so amazing that wow, if you can succeed where people hate it, I mean, you know, where else can it do well?
NORVILLE: And you said, “I want to be in that world.”
BARRY: Yes. I just thought it was just so impressive to me, that it could have that much influence.
NORVILLE: Now, the idea of writing CEOs was one—you sort of stuck your toe into the water and did a test run with the CEO of your mom‘s company.
BARRY: Yes. Mr. Keith Elliott (ph), who really just wrote me a great letter back and just—actually, a couple of pages long. And it really just got my confidence going. And I decided, well, maybe I can write to more. And they‘ll maybe they‘ll respond, too.
NORVILLE: Did your mom and dad, who—your father is a physician. Your mom, as you said, is a business executive. Did they kind of lower your expectations and say, Doug, don‘t be surprised, honey, if you don‘t hear from anybody?
BARRY: Absolutely not. Just the opposite. They said why don‘t you give it a shot? This is a great idea. Why don‘t you try it? And you might hear from a lot of people and it might get a great response.
NORVILLE: And you started out with companies that you were family with, 12-, 13-year-old kids. So you wrote the guys, what, at McDonald‘s, Coca-Cola?
Basically, I just went through the things I knew and asked my mom, is this a company? Well, Burger King is a company? No, it‘s part of Pepsi.
And I just went through. And I just wrote them. And within a week or so, I started to get letters back and it was very exciting.
NORVILLE: And what were those letters generally telling you?
BARRY: Basically, the letters were, you know, very personal. And they very just—you could tell that they read my letter thoroughly. And they said, really, the key was, you have to do what you love to do. And that is the building block for success, that if you know exactly what it is you love to do, then you can be successful and let that passion drive you.
NORVILLE: And in the book and you actually print scans of the letters, as well as excerpts of some of the pearls of wisdom that these notes back to you contained. Almost every one of the CEOs‘ letters said, don‘t aspire to be a CEO.
NORVILLE: They sort of dissuaded you from that. Don‘t aim for the top. Aim for work that you love.
BARRY: George Fisher, who‘s the CEO Kodak, and he said—very short letter that said, there is more life than being a CEO, but go for your dreams, whatever they are. And it struck me. I was just so astounded. I was a little, wow, that is kind short, at first. But I look back on it and I said, he‘s really right. There‘s something you have to find what you really love to do first and then take that goal to wherever it may lead you.
NORVILLE: And on that same page is a letter from Erroll Davis, who is the chairman and president of Alliant Energy up in Wisconsin. And he says, one caution, do what makes you happy. They do say, choose work you love. You‘ll never work a day in your life.
BARRY: Yes. And it is something I have found to be true, that if I follow what I love to do, then I‘m a happier person instead of basically just following what should be done.
NORVILLE: What was your favorite letter? Of the 100 that or so that you got back, which one hit you as, God, this one is just—this is great?
BARRY: Mr. Bob McKnight, who‘s the chairman of the board at Quicksilver, a boarding company out in Huntington Beach, California.
NORVILLE: And why did you love that one?
BARRY: I love to surf. And he basically talked about how he started his company on a wing and a prayer. And he just wanted to go surfing at the beach and make board shorts. And it turned into this huge company and just basically that underlying theme that passion can carry you all the way to...
NORVILLE: And here‘s some of the words that he shared with you. As you said: “We started the company on a wing and a prayer and wanted to make board shorts. Stay near the beach, keep surfing, and have some fun.” He said, “My career just happened. I didn‘t premeditate it. I think it was my natural instinct of being an entrepreneur, being honest, being loyal to workers and friends, and asking of people has led me to good leadership.”
Are you better about asking people for things, having gone out and asked these CEOs for advice and been just inundated with great responses?
BARRY: It is just so positive to hear back, especially from people the are deemed so unreachable, that they will respond. And they will respond wholeheartedly. And it was so, you know, uplifting to me that now I have no problem asking anybody for advice because I figure if they answer me, why wouldn‘t anybody else answer me?
NORVILLE: And kind of in the back of your head, I‘m sure the thought is, the worst thing that can happen is they will say no.
NORVILLE: And that is really not so bad, I guess.
BARRY: Yes, not really.
NORVILLE: We are going to take a short break.
When we come back, we are going to talk more with Doug. And we‘re also going to talk with some of the CEOs who were kind enough to share the secrets of their success with him. We will be joined by the chief executive officers of Southwest Airlines, Mattel and Tyson Foods. That‘s all coming up next.
NORVILLE: Some of America‘s most successful business leaders shared the secrets of their success with a curious teenager. Three of those CEOs join me next.
NORVILLE: I‘m back with 17-year-old author Doug Barry, who wrote letters to more than 150 corporate CEOs to find out their secrets of success. He then took the responses and put together a book called “Wisdom For a Young CEO.”
Also with us now are three of the CEOs who wrote back to Doug, James Parker, who is the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Bob Eckert, the CEO of Mattell Incorporated, and John Tyson, who is the chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods.
It is so nice to have you guys with us because I think your response and the other executives really is a great statement because people think business is cynical and you guys clearly were touched by what this young man was doing.
Mr. Eckert, tell me why this hit a button with you.
BOB ECKERT, CEO, MATTEL INC.: Well, he is a very sharp young man, Deborah.
And, Doug, it is good it see you. Come on out to Southern California any time. The surf is up today. You would have a great time.
But I‘ve been inspired by his book. It is very uplifting. And I thought it was very positive. And this is clearly a young man on a mission and he is going to be successful in life whether or not he chooses to go into a career in business.
NORVILLE: And, Bob, I imagine you get letters from kids all the time. You run the biggest toy company out there. Why did this particular letter find its way to the top of your to-do pile?
ECKERT: Well, I respond to every letter I get, Deborah, because I think that is important. And his letter was memorable. It is very well written. It was short. It had a point. It asked for something. And I think it is only human nature that if someone asks you for something you try and help him or her out. And that‘s all we tried to do.
NORVILLE: And, John Tyson, you got the note from Doug and you were very good about responding really, really promptly. And one of the things that you shared with him was that notion of making a difference. You said:
“What is your relationship with God? Moral understanding is a lifelong process. One must have an anchor.”
That was a lesson that I think doesn‘t have anything to do with the bottom line, but obviously it was one that you thought was important to share with this young man.
JOHN TYSON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TYSON FOODS: Well, I thought it was important because in today‘s environment there are a lot of negatives that have been written by the business world. And there are a lot of great people trying to do the right things.
But in the end, whether we are young or people in the business career, I think we all must have an anchor when we have to face tough decisions, whether it be in the news business, when you all have to face tough choices on what you report, us in the business world when we have to make tough decisions. One must have a moral compassion or a moral anchor when we get into those situations.
And when Doug does become a CEO, he will be in that situation. And I think it is very critical that he has that moral anchor to guide him through those tough situations, because that is what leaders do.
NORVILLE: Doug, was that something that was a surprise to get a response like that back from a business executive?
BARRY: It was so—what struck me was that it was so heartfelt and that it really came from somebody who cared. And I just appreciated that kind of advice so much because of its sincerity and because, who am I? I‘m Doug Barry. And here is John Tyson writing to me, so it is a very humbling experience.
NORVILLE: Were you all surprised to get a copy of the book back?
James Parker, your letter was printed in its entirety. Did you have any idea that this kid‘s letter was going to turn into a book that would be talked about on national television?
JAMES PARKER, CEO, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: I was really kind of doubtful, Deborah, to tell you the truth. I get a lot of letters from people me telling me about things that are going to happen and most of them never do. So when I responded to Doug‘s letter, I was happy to do that and hopeful that it would help him out. But, to be honest with you, I was a little surprised when I got the book in the mail.
NORVILLE: And the message that you shared with Doug was very dear.
You said: “Be a servant leader.” Again, all of this advice is so unexpected from business leaders. You said: “I believe that, as a leader, one must have a true desire to serve in order to be effective. I see my role as a servant leader, as one that encourages employees to always stretch their abilities to the next level.”
I can‘t help but notice you are wearing the same uniform that just about everybody else at Southwest does.
NORVILLE: There‘s a method to that.
PARKER; Well, the only thing I would add to that, I think, Doug, you have got about 150 pages of great bits of advice in your book. And there were a lot of common themes that emerged.
Insofar as being a servant leader is concerned, the only thing I would add is, it really needs to connect to your personal agenda and your personal emotions, because if you use it as a tool for personal advancement, you will just come across as a fraud and a charlatan. You really have to be committed to serving other people and to the success of your team and not just your personal advancement.
NORVILLE: Doug is your idea of what it means to be a CEO different now after getting all these letters back?
BARRY: Oh, absolutely.
I no longer think of the boss as somebody to be feared and hated. It is something that is very integral in being in business. And hearing from all of these men and women, it‘s just so exciting that they are really hands-on and they‘re really excited about what they do. And that is something that is different for me.
NORVILLE: John Tyson, I misspoke. You are the one who has got the same outfit that everybody else at Tyson Foods does. And there‘s a reason for that.
TYSON: Well, I think it gives us a common denominator, because we are in the food business. And being in the food business, we have a lot of activities. And so going out, it helps me identify with people. It lets all of us accept the same responsibility.
And I would echo what Mr. Parker said. We are in the service business and I believe leaders truly do serve the people they work with. And if we are serving the people that we work with by helping them get better, by helping them develop their skills, by helping them achieve what they want to do both personally and professionally, then we have done our jobs as leaders.
NORVILLE: But is the goal to be a CEO?
Mr. Eckert, when you started out, was that what you were aiming for when you began your business career?
ECKERT: Absolutely not, Deborah.
I didn‘t even know what CEO stood for when I started my business career. I grew up in a family headed by a dentist, my 87-year-old retired father. And we talked about teeth around the dinner table. So, going into business was a very different experience for me. And like much of the advice that Doug received from others who have gone on the path that we have gone on, it is about finding something you really enjoy, like to do, have a passion about, enjoy being with people.
And it all comes together quite naturally. But I was not one who set a certain goal when I entered the business world.
NORVILLE: Doug, you got into this with the idea, I‘m going to be a CEO and these are the guys who are going to give me the secret. Has your goal changed a little bit as a result of all the advice you have received?
BARRY: Well, I would say it has, as a result of the advice and, you know, just growing up. And right now, I‘m about to go into college.
And to me, writing is so very important and I really love to express myself in my words. And it is just something that means a lot to me. And hopefully maybe that could lead me to being a CEO, but right now I would like to focus on something that is a little more honed in, a little more passionate, I guess.
NORVILLE: Yes, a word we‘ve heard a lot in all these letters from CEOs.
We are going to take a short break. We will be back more with our young author, Doug Barry, and our guests in just a moment.
NORVILLE: Integrity does not have a switch, more words of advice from our author‘s book. Teenager author Doug Barry wrote lots of letters to lots of CEOs and he got lots of responses, the results of which are published in his book called “Wisdom For a Young CEO.”
And three of the CEOs who wrote back are with us this evening, James Parker from Southwest Airlines, Bob Eckert of Mattel Incorporated, and John Tyson of Tyson Foods.
Doug, when you got all these letters back, you started seeing some themes developing in the responses. What were they?
BARRY: Well, I organize them in the book.
And the big seven themes, it was passion, respect, vision, humanity, curiosity, integrity and pragmatism. And they were just something—it was just a list that kind of every letter had some aspect of those themes in it. And, yes, so that is basically how we organized the book.
ZAHN: Which one of those resonated the strongest with you?
BARRY: Probably passion.
It seemed like it was the building block. That‘s why we had it as the first chapter to becoming a successful person, that if you didn‘t love what you were doing in the first place, then you were probably were not going to get very far.
NORVILLE: I am going to throw the question out to all three CEOs.
Which of those seven attributes resonate most strongly in your own lives?
James Parker, let‘s start with you.
PARKER: Well, I think it is a combination.
The fundamental attributes of a successful person I think are going to be passion for what you do, enjoying what you do, and integrity. And at one point in his book I think Doug says that integrity really comes through as the No. 1 attribute that people recommend to him, and it is really true, because if you don‘t have integrity, you are not going to achieve any of those other goals, except maybe on a transitory basis.
NORVILLE: I know when Jim Kelleher tapped you to be his successor at Southwest, he said there were three attributes about you, Mr. Parker, that really stood out. And the one that was at the end of the list was—and, first, it was your acumen. It was your dedication. But the one at the end of the list was altruism.
How important is it in all of this getting for CEOs to give back?
PARKER: I thought he picked me because I drank Wild Turkey.
PARKER: At Southwest Airlines, we have a culture that is really built upon customer service and service to other people. And I don‘t think that any of our leaders at our company could be successful without a fundamental commitment to that value.
NORVILLE: Bob Eckert, I will throw the list of seven your way. Which ones stand out to you as absolutely essential in business today?
ECKERT: Well, I think, Deborah, the last time I looked, there were something like 4,500 books written on leadership. And one of the themes that I have seen in the dozens of books I have read that Doug picked up on is integrity.
When we talk about our values at Mattel, we used the term unwavering integrity. You either have it or you don‘t. And if you don‘t have it integrity, I don‘t think you can be successful in business long-term.
NORVILLE: And, John Tyson, what about you?
TYSON: I would add to the list that Bob and James put out there service. You have got to be willing to serve not only your customer—and we think that is the primary purpose of business—but, for me, to be a key leader, you have to serve the people that work for you.
They have to know that you are willing to go above and beyond to do each and every activity that you are asking them to do and that you are willing to step in, step in and help, and in effect become a servant to the people that work for you.
NORVILLE: John Tyson, what do you wish you had known when you started out that you probably learned the hard way?
TYSON: The one thing that I wish I would have known, which Doug has, he wasn‘t afraid to go ask. I think a lot of young people are afraid to ask and they‘re afraid to fail.
And I think one of the permission that people have to have, young people in particular, is, it is OK to try. It‘s OK to fail. Learn from that and move forward. And I think that is a great lesson we all have to have the opportunities. I was fortunate that my parents gave me that opportunity to fail without criticism.
NORVILLE: And, Bob Eckert, I am going to ask you the same question.
What do you wish you had known?
ECKERT: Well, I would just build on what John just talked about.
One points I made in my letter to Doug was to get over that fear of failure. I think it natural. I think we all have it. And the sooner one can get over that, the better.
NORVILLE: And, Doug, what advice would you give to high school kids -
· and there are thousands of them out there—a little uncertain about the future?
BARRY: I would say the best advice is probably, just ask. Like, if you have a question about business or leadership or anything, I don‘t think anybody—I think this book proves it—anybody is too far removed to answer your question.
And I think it‘s—if you learn from the best, I think that is probably what sets you on the right track to success.
NORVILLE: Well, we have certainly got three of the best with us tonight.
James Parker, Bob Eckert, John Tyson, thanks so much for writing back to Doug and for agreeing to be with us tonight to share your insights.
And, Doug, it sounds like you got three guys who are ready to hire you. And I dare say, there‘s probably a lot of other people, too. I know you have got finals tomorrow. Good luck on your tests.
BARRY: Thank you.
NORVILLE: And all the best what you head down to Tulane next fall.
BARRY: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Good to see you.
We‘ll be right back.
NORVILLE: We got a ton of e-mails from a lot of you about last nature‘s show about Laurene Jessop, who escaped a polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona border, and also Flora Jessop, who escaped a similar situation and is now working against polygamy.
Luke V. Hopkin wrote in from Provo, Utah. He said: “As a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I must make it clear that the teachings of those that call themselves fundamentalists are not in harmony with the official doctrine of the LDS Church. What the so-called fundamentalists teach about the roles of men and women in marriage are appalling to any true Latter-Day Saint.”
Sue Durdu writes in and says: “I hope that young woman who escaped and is devoting her life to helping others gets a Nobel Prize. I so admire her for her courage.”
And Wendy from Bessemer, Alabama, writes in: “You treated Ms. Jessop with respect and allowed her to retain some dignity. That doesn‘t seem to be a quality that is very popular among the major newscasters these days.” It is here.
You can send your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com. We‘ve got some of them posted on our Web page at Norville.MSNBC.com. And you can sign up for our newsletter there, not a hard thing to do.
Thanks our program for tonight. Thanks so much for watching. I‘m Deborah Norville.
Coming up tomorrow, two women who lost their sister to Lou Gehrig‘s disease tell me why they put her life to film in a new documentary. And they talk about why they‘re taking on the controversial debate over stem cell research. That‘s all coming up tomorrow. Also coming up tomorrow, actor Morgan Freeman will be with us. He is going to be driving the pace car at the Indy 500 this weekend. He‘ll be with us, as will racing legend Mario Andretti.
Now coming up next, Joe Scarborough on why one state has tried to ban low-rise jeans. That‘s coming up next on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
Thanks for watching. We‘ll see you again tomorrow night.
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