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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

Maya Lin: The Art of Remembrance

1/15/2018
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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


Edward Teller: Destroyer of Worlds

1/1/2018
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The "Father of the Hydrogen Bomb", the force behind Reagan's Star Wars initiative, and the model for "Dr. Strangelove," was a Hungarian math prodigy who fled Hitler's Germany. In America, he became one of the scientific minds behind the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, in a race against the Nazi war machine. Teller's story is told here in his own voice, and by many of the other leading scientists from the dawn of the nuclear age.

Duration: 01:09:13


Anthony M. Kennedy: Principles of Freedom

12/18/2017
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When the United States Supreme Court is divided on an issue, it is often Justice Anthony Kennedy's views that influence the outcome. He is the court's longest-serving justice, and his vote, neither predictably right nor left, has affected the fate of abortion, campaign finance, same-sex marriage, and many other critical issues. In this episode you'll hear Kennedy talk about his early life and his path to the judiciary. You'll also hear him eloquently describe his devotion to the...

Duration: 00:41:24


Jimmy Page: Guitar Hero

12/4/2017
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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 as...

Duration: 00:47:39


Itzhak Perlman: The Gift of Music

11/20/2017
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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 of...

Duration: 00:41:51


Ernest J. Gaines: Letters of My Ancestors

11/6/2017
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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: "As I Lay Dying," "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "A Gathering of Old Men," and others. In this episode, Gaines describes the path that...

Duration: 00:38:02


Esperanza Spalding and Wayne Shorter: Jazz Invention

10/23/2017
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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
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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
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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
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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


Barbra Streisand and Pat Conroy: The Way We Were

8/28/2017
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Barbra Streisand is one of the greatest entertainers of all time. In the early 1990's, she forged an unlikely friendship with novelist Pat Conroy, when they collaborated on the movie version of his book, The Prince of Tides. In this episode, you'll hear wonderful, engaging talks by both of these great artists - about what it took for them to overcome the adversity in their early lives, to achieve greatness.

Duration: 00:31:01


Louise Glück: Revenge Against Circumstance

7/31/2017
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Louise Glück uses simple, unsentimental language in her poems to evoke overwhelming emotions. That rare combination is what has distinguished her as one of America's greatest living poets, for over half a century. In this episode, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, former Poet Laureate of the United States digs into the torment and uncertainty that has hounded her throughout her writing life. She talks about how teaching poetry, which she feared would diminish her art, instead allowed it to...

Duration: 00:41:55


Rosa Parks and Judge Frank Johnson: Standing Up for Freedom

7/3/2017
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In the fall of 1955, Rosa Parks refused to stand for a white passenger on the bus, Martin Luther King Jr. was chosen to lead the boycott that followed, and a lawyer named Frank Johnson was appointed to be the first and only federal judge for the middle district of Alabama (also the youngest federal judge in the nation). These three people didn't know each other, and yet, their paths converged in Montgomery, at the crossroads of history. In this episode, you'll hear rare audio of Ms. Parks...

Duration: 00:46:55


Robert Langer: Edison of Medicine

6/19/2017
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Some of Robert Langer's inventions sound like the stuff of science fiction: "smart" pills that can release medicine by remote control... organs and bone, coaxed into growing on polymer scaffolds. But these inventions are already in clinical trials, or in development at Langer's Lab at MIT, the largest bioengineering lab in the country. In this episode, Robert Langer talks about the very unconventional route he took from chemical engineer to medical pioneer, and he explains his first...

Duration: 00:28:40


Leslie Wexner: Victoria's Other Secret

5/8/2017
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This is the story of Les Wexner's path, from a tiny, old-fashioned neighborhood store in Columbus, Ohio, owned by his immigrant father... to one of the biggest retail empires in the world. His company, L Brands, now includes that lingerie giant, Victoria's Secret, as well as Bath & Body Works, and Henri Bendel. But Wexner helped innovate the very idea of a specialty clothing chain store, with his first business: The Limited. Wexner has been CEO longer than any other head of a Fortune 500...

Duration: 00:29:11


Dr. Jane Goodall: A Dedicated Pursuit

1/16/2017
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As a girl in England, Jane Goodall dreamed of traveling to Africa to study animals in the wild. In 1960, that dream brought her to Tanzania, to observe the wild chimpanzees at Gombe Stream Park. As she describes in this episode, other scientists did not believe that a young woman could survive alone in the bush, but Jane Goodall did more than survive. Her work revolutionized the field of primatology. She was the first to document chimpanzees making and using tools, an activity that had...

Duration: 00:34:37