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What It Takes

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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.
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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

Lord Norman Foster: Building the Future

9/9/2019
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This is the story of a working class son of Manchester, England, who came to change skylines around the globe, envision a future for architecture that is in harmony with the environment, and design solutions to the most pressing problems of the world’s poor. In his 50 years as an architect, Norman Foster has designed an abundance of iconic buildings & sites, including the Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, London’s “Gherkin” and City Hall, Hong Kong’s Check Lap Kok Airport, Berlin’s new...

Duration:00:53:29

Toni Morrison and Harold Prince: Immortal Voices

8/26/2019
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Toni Morrison was a novelist and Nobel Prize Winner, who carved a space for African-American women’s voices and stories. Hal Prince was a producer & director, who had a hand in shaping Broadway for over five decades. These two giants of American culture recently died, just days apart. In 2007 they shared a stage and regaled young leaders with lessons they’d learned over the course of their storied careers. On this special episode, we play their inspiring talks.

Duration:00:32:25

Peter Jackson: Master of Film Fantasy

8/12/2019
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Peter Jackson grew up in a country without any film industry or film schools, and yet, he only ever wanted to do one thing: make movies. The story of how he came to direct The Lord of the Rings (and Heavenly Creatures, The Hobbit, King Kong, and They Shall Not Grow Old) is both improbable and inspiring. He tells the story here of how he quit school to earn enough money for a 16 millimeter camera, and then, while learning to use it, inadvertently created his first feature length film -- a...

Duration:00:49:47

Sylvia Earle and David Doubilet: The Living Oceans

7/29/2019
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The ocean covers 70% of the earth. It regulates our climate and it provides most of the oxygen we breathe. And yet we still know very little about it. Well, this is the story of two people who have spent the past 60 years discovering the mysteries of the deep. Sylvia Earle is one of the world’s greatest marine scientists, and David Doubilet is one of the world’s greatest underwater photographers. Each tells the story of falling in love with life underwater. Each talks about how technology...

Duration:00:59:39

Hank Aaron: Field of Dreams

7/15/2019
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Babe Ruth's home run record held for almost four decades. But then Hank Aaron came along and smashed it. On the way to making baseball history, Aaron persevered through poverty, segregation, racism, and threats on his life. He talks here about joining the Negro Leagues, about playing through a period of transformation in America, and about helping to change the world by doing what he did best - swinging that bat.

Duration:00:45:53

Anthony Romero: Guardian of Civil Liberties

7/1/2019
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In honor of the 4th of July, we are featuring the foremost champion of civil liberties in America, and a man who embodies the American Dream. Anthony Romero tells the inspiring story here of his path from a housing project in New York City to an Ivy League university and eventually to the head of the ACLU, where he has been Executive Director since 2001. Romero also talks about the tremendous growth of the organization during his tenure, the non-partisan philosophy that drives their work,...

Duration:00:53:27

Alice Waters: A Love Affair with Food

6/17/2019
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Alice Waters has been called a food revolutionary. In 1971, she opened a cozy restaurant in Berkeley, California called Chez Panisse. It showcased seasonal, local, organic fruits and vegetables and meats... a radical departure from the kind of food Americans were used to eating. Waters and her restaurant ushered in the farm-to-table movement and raised Americans' consciousness about fresh ingredients and healthy eating. She talks here about the trip to France that started it all, about her...

Duration:00:54:51

General David Petraeus: The Perils of Victory

6/3/2019
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He is considered by many to be the greatest military strategist since Dwight D. Eisenhower. General David Petraeus was the man President George W. Bush turned to, four years into the War in Iraq, when it was clear that the war was failing dismally. Petraeus took command of "The Surge," completely changed the U.S. military's approach, and turned the war around. He then moved on to the War in Afghanistan, before President Barack Obama appointed him Director of the CIA. David Petraeus talks...

Duration:01:01:40

Suzanne Farrell: Ballerina of the Century

5/20/2019
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Ballet changed course on the day that George Balanchine met Suzanne Farrell. It was 1960. He was 56. She was 15, and had just arrived in New York from small-town Ohio, with dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Within a couple of years, she would become the greatest ballerina of her generation, and muse to the greatest choreographer in history. Their collaboration at the New York City Ballet crossed boundaries of art and love, and sent ballet pirouetting in new directions. But it was not...

Duration:00:51:07

A. Scott Berg: Chronicler of The American Century

5/6/2019
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This Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer began writing his first book when he was still in college (it earned the National Book Award), and he has devoted each of the last five decades to telling the life story of one 20th Century American giant: Charles Lindbergh, Woodrow Wilson, Katharine Hepburn, Samuel Goldwyn and Maxwell Perkins. Scott Berg tells some of the most fascinating stories from his subjects' lives here, and he describes the joys of his own life - as a researcher, a writer, and a...

Duration:00:56:32

Jimmy Carter: From Plains to the Presidency

4/22/2019
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It’s a remarkable American story: a poor peanut farmer from the Deep South becomes a nuclear naval officer, then governor of Georgia, and finally President of the United States. And what Jimmy Carter has done for peace and human rights in the 40 years since leaving office is just as remarkable. The 39th president talks here about his early life in rural Plains, Georgia, where his deeply-held beliefs about equality and fairness took root, and he describes his unlikely rise through the...

Duration:00:58:26

Peter Gabriel: Genesis of a Rock Star

4/8/2019
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"Sledgehammer," "In Your Eyes," and "Red Rain" are some of the hits that made Peter Gabriel a rock superstar in the 1970's and 80's. Before he became a solo artist, he was already a star -- as lead singer of the band Genesis. But somewhere along the way, Peter Gabriel also became a political activist, particularly after his song "Biko" became an anthem of the anti-Apartheid movement. Since then, he has devoted much of his time to creating two organizations dedicated to human rights, justice...

Duration:00:57:01

Brendan Sullivan: Standing Up to Power

3/25/2019
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If you're a senator, a military leader, or a business executive accused of wrongdoing, Brendan Sullivan is the lawyer you probably want to call. Sullivan is considered one of the greatest trial lawyers in the country, and has represented some of the most high profile defendants of the past fifty years, including Oliver North, Ted Stevens, and the Duke lacrosse players. But he began his career defending a group of soldiers during the Vietnam War, who dared to peacefully protest conditions in...

Duration:00:50:45

Susan Butcher: Call of the Wild

3/11/2019
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This is the story of a true original... a woman who dominated the extreme sport of dog sled racing for years, was a four-time winner of the Iditarod (the grueling, thousand-mile race across Alaska). Susan Butcher, a legend of the Alaskan frontier, died at the age of 51 from Leukemia, but at the peak of her career as a racer, she gave this revealing interview. In it, she explains why she chose to live in a cabin without running water or electricity, 40 miles from the nearest neighbor, in...

Duration:00:48:52

Frances Arnold: A Nobel Vision

2/25/2019
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Thirty years ago, Dr. Arnold had an idea: to breed molecules in the laboratory the way we breed animals - to bring out the traits we want in them. The molecules she was particularly interested in were enzymes, which are essential to life, and which she knew could be used to make environmentally friendly materials, including bio-fuels, cleaning products, and pharmaceuticals. Her idea worked right away. It’s now called “directed evolution,” and it has had huge implications for industry. In...

Duration:00:43:09

Michael Caine: An Accent on Life

2/11/2019
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He has been nominated for an Academy Award in every one of the past five decades, and won twice, for "Hannah And Her Sisters" and "The Cider House Rules". Fifteen year olds think of him as Alfred, Batman’s butler In the Dark Knight Trilogy. 85 year olds think of him as Alfie, the shameless womanizer in the iconic 1960’s film by the same name. In between Michael Caine has been in 150 movies, and he’s still going strong. He is as amusing and charming off-screen as on, and tells story after...

Duration:00:55:08

John Updike: Dreams from My Mother

1/28/2019
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John Updike used his unique literary talents to peel back the layers of middle-class American life, exposing its less-than-placid exterior. He was one of the most prolific and esteemed American writers of his generation, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his "Rabbit" novels but was as well known for his stories and essays and works of literary criticism. He talks here about his very beginnings in a small Pennsylvania town, and about his mother, who inspired him with her own efforts to get...

Duration:00:37:39

Chuck Yeager: The Right Stuff

1/14/2019
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The man who broke the sound barrier in the experimental Bell X-1, and ushered in the era of manned spacecraft, never saw a plane when he was growing up in the hills of West Virginia. But he became an ace fighter pilot in World War II, and later - an absolutely fearless test pilot, who managed to survive the most harrowing mishaps, with an unflappable calm and sense of duty.

Duration:00:58:56

Johnny Mathis: Timeless Voice of Romance

12/31/2018
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He is one of the romantic singers of all time... with a voice people often compare to satin, to silk or to velvet. It's hard to describe, but you sure know it when you hear it. Johnny Mathis talks here about signing with Columbia Records at the age of 19 and about his life in music over the past 60+ years. He pays tribute to the African-American artists who paved the way for him. And he tells the story behind some of his greatest hit songs, including "Chances Are," and "It's Not For Me To...

Duration:00:41:11

Stephen Sondheim: Maestro of Broadway

12/17/2018
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He grew up next door to Oscar Hammerstein and became his greatest protege. In 1957, Sondheim wrote the lyrics for "West Side Story," and for the next 60 years dominated the world of musical theater. His shows include "Gypsy", "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Company," "A Little Night Music," "Sweeney Todd," "Sunday in the Park with George," "Into the Woods," and "Assassins." He pulls back the curtain in this interview, giving fascinating insights into some of the greatest...

Duration:01:00:38