Ethics And The Ladder To Success

Michael Day CBS

Honesty, ethics and success in business - do they really go together?

CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman introduces us to a young man in Lafayette, Indiana taking plenty of business courses with an emphasis on ethics while on his way to climbing the corporate ladder.

After selecting a random location, normal protocol for "Everyone Has a Story" is to profile someone at his or her address.

But this time we're stretching that rule ever so slightly to tell the story of Michael Day. Although he grew up in the house, and you'll still find him here on occasion this summer, following 18 years of being told what to do, when to do it, even how to pet the pet cat, Michael escaped.

"I definitely wanted to get away from my house," said Michael.

Now, he's got a home away from home. It's a dorm, and Michael is a freshman at Purdue University. He's a world away, that is, at least six miles from his house.

"I'm decently far away," said Michael. "Yeah, It's really close… closer than I'd like to admit it... I'm comfortable in the knowledge that it's forever away and they'll never come over here."

"But I'm trying really hard to leave him on his own," said Michael's father, Tom.

In fact, Tom and Janet say Michael has earned his freedom. He's at the university on a full ride - a national merit scholar who scored near perfect on the SAT.

"Yea, we're pretty proud of that," said his mother, Janet.

"I've always thought that he could do anything he wanted to do," said Tom.

Which bring us to his aspiration in college.

"I'd like to run a business. CEO of a company if I could," said Michael.

It's a tough time for CEOs today, but that doesn't sway Michael. That's why at Purdue's Krannert School of Management, and at business schools all over America, administrators say they're focusing more intently than ever on producing, not only a great business mind, but a great business conscience.

"The dean said, 'We need to make sure every course includes some ethical aspects,'" said Michael's accounting teacher, Professor John Hatcher.

There is at least a five to ten minute talk about business ethics in Michael's class, but Hatcher says basic morals have to be developed before a student arrives on campus.

Which brings us right back to where we started.

"We've raised him with a sense of right and wrong," said Janet.

"Be true to yourself and most likely if you have at least a shred of dignity you'll be true to everyone else," said Michael.

Maybe some day, Michael will introduce his own brand of integrity to corporate America.

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