The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Walters shares her views

Journalist notes three key factors for leaders

Legendary journalist Barbara Walters spoke at the final Tate Lecture of the year. Walters highlighted three important factors she has taken away from the notable figures she has interviewed — leadership, inspiration and hope.

The first interview she recounted for the audience was her interview with President George W. Bush in January in his first interview since re-election. Walters said she was fascinated with the president’s inspiration he draws from his faith in God.

“We have a president whose faith is a guiding light for him,” she said.

Walters believes inspiration is a vital quality of a great leader.

Another leader, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Walters interviewed gave her insight into the importance of leadership. Walters called Schwarzkopf a “great communicator.”

She added that he portrayed himself as someone who wasn’t “afraid to show true emotion.” Walters recalled how after bringing up the subject of Schwarzkopf’s father the general teared up. Walters then asked him if great generals should cry.

He responded by telling her, “Any man who doesn’t cry scares me a bit … that’s not a human being.”

Another general Walters interviewed, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, pointed to his “ability to solve problems” as the distinguishing factor in making himself a great leader.

Despite his later success in life, Walter said Powell “talked about the fact that he had no idea what he wanted to be” until he joined the R.O.T.C.

After recalling her interview with Powell, Walters shifted focus to a great woman leader.

“This has been an era of strong women,” she said. “Probably none stronger than Margaret Thatcher.”

Walters pointed to Thatcher’s ability to overcome adversity as the thing that made her great. After Thatcher’s own party voted her out of office, Walters said the former prime minister “went into a deep depression.”

“It was a terrible shock for her,” Walters said.

She was the first to interview Thatcher (in 1991) after she was ousted.

Walters then detailed her own ability to overcome adversity, recalling her early days as a network’s first female news anchor.

“I was a terrible flop,” she said. “My partner didn’t want a partner — certainly not a woman.”

Soon after her foray into the anchoring position, she, along with others, was dropped from the network.“I had to work my way back,” she said.

Despite the brief setback, Walters career has flourished because of her ability to press on. “If you go through your life and never have a failure

or setback, you’re never going have a success.”

After detailing a struggle in her life, Walters recalled her “favorite” person to interview, Katharine Hepburn.

Despite the fact that Hepburn “didn’t like to do interviews,” Walters developed a bond with her over the years.

“The kinds of conversations we had – on and off camera – [focused] on the balance in life,” Walter said, referring to the balance between maintaining a career, marriage and children.

“It is still a struggle,” Walters said. “I think it’s still difficult to make the choice.” Walters added that she used to believe someone could achieve two out of the three, but not all.

She called Hepburn’s death in 2003 “a great loss,” but added, “the kind of courage she had in life, and that humor, is something that will live on as long as her career.”

Before detailing the last interview of the night, Walters had this inspirational message, “If ever things don’t go your way, you can live through it and make a purpose of your life.”

To illustrate her point, she then described her interaction with Christopher Reeve.

Despite his injuries, Walters said his “mind was totally unaffected.”

“I did not know [him] when he chose to do the interview,” she said. “He said he chose me because I listened.”

Walters said she had no idea what to expect when she came to do the interview.

“It was one of the most extraordinary interviews we had done,” she said. It was in Reeve that Walters saw all three qualities she looks for in a great leader — leadership, hope and inspiration.

“He made a very good life with his wife, Dana, and his three children,” she said. “His life, though very hard, had meaning and a purpose.”

Walters closed her lecture by offering her thoughts on how to achieve success.

“Not everyone can be a leader, not everyone wants to be a leader, but you have to have some of the qualities of a leader,” she said. “Whatever it is, find something that you love and you’ll be a success.”

According, to Walters, it also does not hurt to make the most of what you have.

“Whatever hand you’re dealt, I hope you think it’s worthwhile,” she said.

After her lecture, Walters was asked which interviews she found difficult or had been afraid to conduct.

“Some are difficult just because the people are difficult,” she said.

As for being fearful of an interview, Walters said she possesses a “different kind of courage” when it comes to interviews that does not allow her to fear an interview.

“I can’t say that I’ve been afraid,” she said, adding that she had “probably interviewed more murderers than anyone.”

Aside from working daily on her TV show “The View” (which she will return to tomorrow morning), Walters said she is currently working on a two-hour special titled “Does Heaven Exist?” to air some time in the fall. She recently traveled to the Himalayas to interview the Dalai Lama for the special.

“I was very moved by his serenity [and] his wonderful smile,” she said.

In fact, Walters said the trip had an effect on her inner serenity.

“When I left, for about three days, I was a wonderful person,” she said, adding jokingly that her friends told her she had become extremely boring.

“So I quit.”

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