What It Takes
Simplecast logo 1928x798

Revealing, intimate conversations with visionaries and leaders in the arts, science, technology, public service, sports and business. These engaging personal stories are drawn from interviews with the American Academy of Achievement, and offer insights you’ll want to apply to your own life.

  1. Thumb 1525789864 artwork

    Julie Andrews: An Angel on My Shoulder

    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 it!). She also talks about some harrowing setbacks, like the surgery that destroyed her soaring voice, and the life lessons that helped her find new ways to share her extraordinary talents with the world.

  2. Thumb 1525725847 artwork

    Andrew Weil: The Healing Power of Nature

    Dr. Weil has been on a decades-long campaign to convince 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 Amazon. He also talks about establishing the Center for Integrative Medicine, the first of its kind (there are now similar programs at the most prestigious government and academic medical institutions in the country). And he revels in seeing his approach to healing finally gain traction, after years of being dismissed as a radical by the mainstream medical world.

  3. Thumb 1523892103 artwork

    Kazuo Ishiguro: Lyrical Tales of Emotion

    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 year, when the Nobel prize in literature has been derailed by scandal, we invite you to revel in the thoughtful, musical, imaginative world of the 2017 winner!

  4. Thumb 1523288868 artwork

    Demis Hassabis: A.I. Mastermind

    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 mankind. Along the way, he hopes to unlock some of the mysteries of the universe. This episode also includes excerpts of earlier pioneers in the field of Artificial Intelligence: Marvin Minsky and Ray Kurzweil.

  5. Thumb 1523191594 artwork

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

    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.

  6. Thumb 1519160680 artwork

    Steve Schwarzman: King of Wall Street

    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.

  7. Thumb 1515527681 artwork

    Bartlett Sher: A Reason to Sing

    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 Roof.” His most recent production is "My Fair Lady."

  8. Thumb 1515438885 artwork

    Jeremy Irons: Thespian and Provocateur

    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 his generation.

  9. Thumb 1515015947 artwork

    Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton: The Price of Gold

    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.

  10. Thumb 1515012573 artwork

    Sue Grafton: The Alphabet Ends at Y

    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 spent a total of eight years on the New York Times bestseller list.

View Older Episodes