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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    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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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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