What It Takes-logo

What It Takes

Interviews >

What It Takes is a podcast featuring intimate, revealing conversations with towering figures in almost every field: music, science, sports, politics, film, technology, literature, the military and social justice. These rare interviews have been recorded over the past 25 years by The Academy of Achievement. They offer the life stories and reflections of people who have had a huge impact on the world, and insights you can apply to your own life.

What It Takes is a podcast featuring intimate, revealing conversations with towering figures in almost every field: music, science, sports, politics, film, technology, literature, the military and social justice. These rare interviews have been recorded over the past 25 years by The Academy of Achievement. They offer the life stories and reflections of people who have had a huge impact on the world, and insights you can apply to your own life.
More Information

Location:

United States

Description:

What It Takes is a podcast featuring intimate, revealing conversations with towering figures in almost every field: music, science, sports, politics, film, technology, literature, the military and social justice. These rare interviews have been recorded over the past 25 years by The Academy of Achievement. They offer the life stories and reflections of people who have had a huge impact on the world, and insights you can apply to your own life.

Language:

English


Episodes

John Banville: Literary Confessions

6/18/2018
More
A darkly funny conversation about writing, weather & Ireland. Banville, a Booker Prize-winning novelist and master wordsmith, explains why nothing in the world is more powerful than the sentence. He has sometimes spent weeks getting one just right. He's also a contrarian, and talks about why he loathes vacations, loves rain, and does his best to avoid other authors.

Duration:00:41:23

Julie Andrews: An Angel on My Shoulder

6/4/2018
More
Who doesn’t love Julie Andrews? She has delighted generations of audiences, whether singing on the London Vaudeville circuit, in the Broadway productions of My Fair Lady & Camelot, or in the Hollywood classics Mary Poppins &The Sound of Music. Younger generations also know her from The Princess Diaries, Shrek & Despicable Me. And for every decade of her remarkable 70-year career, she’s got charming, insightful stories, starting with her London debut at the age of 12 (yes we have sound of...

Duration:01:00:48

Andrew Weil: The Healing Power of Nature

5/21/2018
More
Dr. Weil has been on a decades-long campaign to convince the the medical establishment that the mind-body connection is real, and that many alternative forms of healing should be combined with conventional medicine... especially in treating diabetes, depression, and many other epidemic "lifestyle" diseases. He describes here how he developed his ideas, on a path that included Harvard Medical School and a career as an ethnobotanist, studying psychotropic drugs and traditional healing in the...

Duration:00:50:54

Kazuo Ishiguro: Lyrical Tales of Emotion

5/7/2018
More
This Nobel Prize-winning writer — the author of “Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go” — started out as a singer songwriter. He talks here about falling in love with language at 13, while listening to Bob Dylan, and describes how the spare language of songwriting affected his approach to writing novels. Ishiguro also discusses other influences, including years spent working in a homeless shelter. And he beautifully expresses the intimate human connection between writer and reader. This...

Duration:00:58:56

Demis Hassabis: A.I. Mastermind

4/23/2018
More
Artificial Intelligence is already changing the course of society, and it’s only in its infancy. Hear one of the most innovative and successful thinkers in the field describe the coming revolutions A.I. is bringing about in medicine and in environmental science. Demis Hassabis, a neuroscientist and former game developer, describes how his company, Deep Mind, is developing technologies that can extend the power of the human brain, in order to solve some of the biggest problems facing...

Duration:00:49:03

Wallace Stegner and N. Scott Momaday: Chroniclers of the American West

4/11/2018
More
These two great American writers reflect on their place in the landscape, the history and the culture of the West. One is Kiowa Indian, one is White. One was raised in Arizona and New Mexico, one in Montana and Utah. During the 1960's one was a student, the other his professor. But both writers created works reflecting a deep reverence for the West and its peoples, and both were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Duration:00:31:44

Steve Schwarzman: King of Wall Street

3/26/2018
More
Take a peek into the mind of Stephen Schwarzman, the financier who established a little financial startup called Blackstone with $400,000 in seed capital, and transformed it into one of the largest investment firms in the world, with $434 billion under management. Schwarzman explains his rise from the son of a dry-goods store owner in Philadelphia to become one of the savviest and most strategic financiers in the history of Wall Street.

Duration:00:51:38

Bartlett Sher: A Reason to Sing

3/12/2018
More
Going to see live theater, Bartlett Sher believes, is a unique experience... one that’s not just entertaining, but also has the power to change your view of the world. Sher is one of the most creative, thought-provoking Broadway directors working today (he directed the 2017 Tony award-winning best play, "Oslo"). Sher talks here about how a childhood trauma steered him toward the stage, and about finding new relevance in classic, beloved musicals like “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the...

Duration:00:46:16

Jeremy Irons: Thespian and Provocateur

2/26/2018
More
The star of theater, film and television talks about how acting has allowed him the life of a vagabond and the ability to challenge the status quo. He tells the story of his childhood on a rural English island, and his first great success in the theater — as John the Baptist in the 1961 British production of the musical “Godspell". The television hit "Brideshead Revisited” and the movie "The French Lieutenant’s Woman" followed, helping to secure his reputation as one of the great actors of...

Duration:00:48:04

Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton: The Price of Gold

2/12/2018
More
Two of the greatest figure skaters to ever grace Olympic ice explain why winning a gold medal was not the absolute triumph you might think. For both Hamill (’76) and Hamilton (’84), skating offered relief from painful childhood circumstances; when their Olympic dreams were reached, the future seemed suddenly uncertain. Listen to these stories, both heartbreaking and victorious, and you will never watch the Olympics the same way again.

Duration:00:41:33

Sue Grafton: The Alphabet Ends at Y

1/29/2018
More
Sue Grafton wrote a mystery for every letter of the alphabet but one. When she died in December of 2017, she left her fans with the ultimate cliffhanger: there would be no book for the letter Z. In this fascinating and funny interview, she talked about facing her fears every day when she sat down to write. And she explained how a difficult childhood and a miserable divorce paved the way for one of the most successful mystery series of all time. Her books were published in 26 languages, and...

Duration:00:34:25

Maya Lin: The Art of Remembrance

1/15/2018
More
When Maya Lin’s design was chosen for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1981, it sparked a political firestorm in Washington. The design was almost quashed, but Maya Lin - only 21 at the time - fought for her vision and prevailed. Lin talks about how she has continued to pursue her unique artistic vision ever since, whether designing monuments, buildings or sculptures, and she shines a light on her creative process.

Duration:00:46:33

Anthony M. Kennedy: Principles of Freedom

12/18/2017
More
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the deciding vote in critical Supreme Court cases - from abortion to campaign finance to same-sex marriage - talks about his path to the judiciary. He also eloquently describes his devotion to the ideals of freedom and human dignity, and to civil discourse, in an era when it is more badly needed than ever.

Duration:00:41:24

Jimmy Page: Guitar Hero

12/4/2017
More
Jimmy Page’s plan all along was to transform rock n’ roll. And he did. The band he founded, Led Zeppelin, remains one of the most influential and popular rock bands in history. Page is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His epic onstage solos, on hits like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir,” are legendary. And he was just as innovative as a producer. On this episode Page talks about how he fell in love with American blues music, how he learned to play the guitar, and how his days...

Duration:00:47:39

Itzhak Perlman: The Gift of Music

11/20/2017
More
For the past 60 years - ever since he made his American debut at 13 - Itzhak Perlman has made classical music fans swoon. He is not only one of the greatest violinists of all time, but also a charming and passionate champion of the music. On this episode, Perlman talks about falling in love with the violin at the age of 3, contracting polio (and losing use of his legs) at 4, and emigrating from Israel to the United States at 13, after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He recalls some...

Duration:00:41:51

Ernest J. Gaines: Letters of My Ancestors

11/6/2017
More
Ernest Gaines grew up in the 1930's and 40's on the same Louisiana plantation where his ancestors were once slaves. After he became a successful and celebrated novelist, he returned, bought the land, and lives there even now. The voices he heard as a child, telling stories on the porch or around the fire, are the voices that populate his novels: "A Lesson Before Dying," "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "A Gathering of Old Men," and others. In this episode, Gaines describes the...

Duration:00:38:02

Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter: Jazz Invention

10/23/2017
More
Esperanza Spalding - bass player, composer, lyricist and singer - is one of the most exciting artists in contemporary jazz. Wayne Shorter is a legendary saxophonist and composer whose career began in the bebop era of the 1950's, and has continued until today. He began playing with Art Blakey, became part of Miles Davis' groundbreaking quintet, and then formed one of the most influential fusion jazz bands, "Weather Report." Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding are from different jazz eras...

Duration:01:07:16

Leon Panetta: Decisive Action

10/9/2017
More
The last time the budget of the United States was balanced - and even had a surplus - Leon Panetta was in charge of it, as Director of the Office of Management & Budget. From the Nixon years through the Obama Administration, Panetta had a large, firm, warm-hearted hand in the government of the United States... leading Congressional committees, OMB, the staff of the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon. You could call him the ultimate public servant. On this episode he shares stories from...

Duration:00:56:50

James Earl Jones: The Voice of Triumph

9/25/2017
More
When James Earl Jones speaks, his voice reverberates so deeply that you can almost feel it in your own chest. Think Darth Vader. For 60 years now, Jones has been captivating audiences with that voice and with his commanding presence -- on stage and on screen. In this episode, he talks about how he overcame a stutter that silenced him for years. He explains how the radicalism of the 1960's changed the world of acting, and opened the door to his success. And he describes how growing up on a...

Duration:00:33:00

General Colin Powell: My American Journey

9/11/2017
More
Colin Powell has worn many hats, among them: Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Advisor. He was the first African-American to hold each of those positions. When he joined the Army in the 1950's, though, his only ambition was to be a good soldier. It was beyond the realm of possibility for the son of working class Jamaican immigrants to aspire much higher. In this episode, you'll hear Powell's stories about his journey from the South Bronx, to...

Duration:00:57:29