What It Takes
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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.

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    Leymah Gbowee: A Call from God

    This story is a testament to the power of one person to change the world. When civil war broke out in Liberia, Leymah Gbowee was 17 years old. Over the next fourteen years it would become one of the most vicious, deadly wars in history (one tenth of the population was killed). One night Gbowee had a dream: to organize women to pray for peace. That dream led to a mass women’s movement and to some creative non-violent tactics (including a sex strike!) that helped bring an end to the war. Leymah Gbowee tells her inspiring life story here, from a poor West African village to the Nobel Peace Prize.

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    Lynsey Addario: Portraits of Love and War

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist has covered wars and humanitarian crises in 70 countries, including Iraq, Libya & Afghanistan. She has been kidnapped twice and she’s been badly injured on the job, but she is determined to open our eyes to the state of the world and the human condition, no matter the risk. Lynsey Addario is a lively storyteller who brings emotion and humor to every tale, whether she’s describing growing up the child of hairdressers, the harrowing details of her kidnapping in Libya, or the heartbreaking work of documenting women who die in childbirth.

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    Norman Schwarzkopf: Duty, Honor, Country

    The last time the United States had a grand military parade was in 1991, following the swift, crushing victory over Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. General Schwarzkopf was the commander of that war, and he was widely credited as the person responsible for restoring America's military might and its reputation, 20 years after the war in Vietnam. The interview featured here was conducted shortly after the Gulf victory, and it gives a glimpse into a critical American moment. Schwarzkopf also reveals many of the lessons he learned about leadership during his 39 years in the military.

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    Peyton Manning and Herschel Walker: Preparing to Win

    Inspiring tales and life lessons from two of the most legendary players in football history. One grew up the son of an NFL quarterback, and one the son of a farmer, but for both, the key to living out their greatest dream was simple: work, work, and more work.

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    Bernie Taupin: Lyrical Inspiration

    When Elton John and Bernie Taupin met as teenagers, they were each talented and full of potential, but together, they were unstoppable. For over 50 years, with Taupin as lyricist and John as composer, they have created many of the most enduring songs in pop and rock n' roll. Taupin describes his decision to leave farm life to pursue his love of poetry and music, and he tells the story of how he and Elton John met soon after, in 1967. He also lays out the unusual and speedy process they have always used to write their songs. And if you've ever wanted the back story to "Your Song" or "Daniel," now's your chance.

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    Khaled Hosseini, Scott Turow and Charles Krauthammer: Second Lives

    If you’ve ever dreamed of reinventing yourself, take inspiration from these three writers. Each one followed a traditional career path, before turning the page to pick up pen & paper. Khaled Hosseini, once a doctor, became author of international bestseller “The Kite Runner”. Scott Turow, attorney at law, became the master of legal thrillers such as “Presumed Innocent.” And psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer became a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper and magazine columnist. Each speaks, in this episode, about finding one’s true passion, and pursuing it with zeal.

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    Beverly and Dereck Joubert: Spirit of the Wild

    The look in a lion's eye, fixated on its prey... the sound of a hyena taking down a zebra foal... the tender ministrations of an elephant. For over 40 years, the Jouberts (National Geographic Explorers) have lived in some of the most remote places in Africa, capturing on film what other humans have never seen. They are in love with each other, and with their mission: to save big cats and other wild creatures. They tell amazing stories here of their encounters with animals, their solitary existence in the bush, and the buffalo attack that almost killed them both, but strengthened their resolve.

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    Anthony Fauci: From Aristotle to AIDS

    This is the story of a remarkable doctor who, in 1981, became one of the first scientists to recognize that we were on the verge of a new and terrible epidemic - HIV/AIDS - and then devoted his career to understanding and finding treatments for it. Dr. Fauci has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research ever since. Along the way, he also became the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, overseeing research into every frightening outbreak imaginable: Ebola, Plague, SARS, Zika, Anthrax, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Influenza, etc… He talks here about growing up as the grandson of Italian immigrants, and about how an education in the classics prepared him for medical school. He recalls how he became a target of the AIDS activist movement, but turned out to be one their greatest champions. And he describes his relationship with presidents and lawmakers and the news media, throughout decades of medical crises.

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    Jessye Norman: Living My Life in Song

    This global icon of the concert stage was planning to become a doctor, but her voice was too powerful a force. Jessye Norman tells the story of falling in love with opera on the radio, and hearing Marian Anderson’s voice for the first time on a neighbor’s record player. And she describes growing up in the segregated South, with parents and teachers who encouraged her passions and her talents. Norman went on to become one of the most celebrated sopranos of all time in the world of opera and classical music — truly earning the title of Diva. But she talks here about choosing to sing spirituals, popular American music and jazz as well, and living a life in music on her own terms.

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    John Banville: Literary Confessions

    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.

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