Emily Landis Walker says pick yourself up when you face tragedy or obstacles

When Emily Landis Walker walked out of the Wall Street subway on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 had already hit the World Trade Center.  Emily Walker was working for Citigroup in building 7 of the WTC complex and she ran. Emily Walker is still here to speak about it.

Months went by after 9/11 that she doesn’t remember.  Emily Landis Walker kept going.  Something inside of her brought her back to life.

Emily Landis Walker had no idea at the time that she would become an instrumental part of history, sitting on the bipartisan commission set up to investigate the attacks on New York and Washington.

The commission’s report, published on July 22, 2004 called for a sweeping overhaul of the United States’ response system to possible future terrorist attacks. Emily Walker’s work focused on liaising with the victims’ families and also on private sector preparedness, included in Chapter 9 of the report and titled “Heroism and Horror.”

For one and a half years, Emily Landis Walker devoted her life to working on the panel. After interviewing many of the companies that had been housed in the WTC complex, she developed a national standard for emergency preparedness.

In addition to working on private sector preparedness, Emily Walker acted as a liaison to the families of September 11 victims, who were instrumental in pushing a reluctant President George W. Bush into setting up the investigative panel. Emily Walker thought she would be prepared for the role, after losing her mother at a young age and then her brother to cancer at the age of 30.  And Emily was there.

However, there were times when she couldn’t do it anymore. Emily spent hours on airplanes in tears. Emily Landis Walker sat with the brother and sister of Betty Ong, one of the flight attendants, as she listened to her phone call”from American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the WTC’s north tower, to a reservations desk on the ground. Emily was crying harder than they were.

Since that day, 9/11 has become a “defining moment” in Emily Landis Walker’s life.  No matter how much Emily wanted to turn away and pretend she wasn’t there and none of this happened, it did.  Even last week in New York City at the annual event of Voices of  Sept 11th, Emily Landis Walker was reluctant to attend.  So much comes rushing back.  But she did.  And Emily Walker has turned the experience around to become something positive that she can contribute to the future of emergency preparedness.

Emily Landis Walker on Resilience: It’s Personal

Emily Walker sharing her views on personal resilience.

Over the past 30 years, I have faced many situations where my personal resilience has been called upon.  The bottom line from facing seemingly overwhelming challenges in personal and professional situations is a learning curve  every day in my life.  In future posts, I will give examples of why I have written these thoughts.

Pick yourself us when you face tragedy or obstacles:   Don’t blame. Breathe, find your inner self and make a contribution that helps.

Focus.  Getting distracted wastes time and breeds potential for failure.

Deliver.  Old cliché but the proof is totally in the pudding.

Delegate. Doing it all by yourself is not a recipe for success nor does it help nuture and grow others.

Respect. Cultural, religious and other diversity need respect in all cases.  Everyone counts.

Exercise and take care of yourself. Without being and feeling fully functional, nothing can really get done well.

Walk the talk.  People see the result, not your words.

“No” is not an answer.  The real question is always “how”.

Rehearse.   The exceptional performers are those who practice over and over again.

Be human.  No one is totally personal or totally corporate.  Personal lives are important.

Make your mark.  Every vote or action, however seemingly small, does count.

Be careful in what you say and do.  You undoubtedly will see the person again in some life path.

Express your thanks.  Often overlooked, but more than good manners, people who do something nice deserve a thank you.

Be part of the team.  If you are not in agreement, don’t fake it. Decide whether you are in or out.

Give generously, unexpectedly and without a return receipt.  Flowers always bring a smile.

Emily Landis Walker at the Voices of September 11th Gala in NYC

Emily Landis Walker, and her daughter Rachel Walker with Governor Tom Kean, Chair of the 9/11 Commission and Al Felzenberg, Head of Communications for the Commission at the Voices of Sept 11 event in NYC.

Emily Landis Walker attended the Annual Gala for the family group Voices of September 11th started by Mary Fetchet, whose son Brad died on 9/11.  Emily attended with senior members of the 9/11 Commission including Chairman Tom Kean, Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Deputy Director Chris Kojm. Norah O’Donnell, Co-Host of CBS This Morning, moderated a conversation with Governor Thomas H. Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, former Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The discussion focused on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report, work that remains to be done, and the new and emerging threats that have developed. The 9/11 Museum directors updated the group on the success of visitors to the Museum since the museum’s opening this summer.