212 episodes

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.

What It Takes Academy of Achievement

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 31 Ratings

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.

    Best Of - Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam: Truth Seekers

    Best Of - Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam: Truth Seekers

    Fifty years ago today (January 27, 1973), the United States' military involvement in the Vietnam War came to an end, with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. We mark that occasion by bringing back our episode on two brave reporters, who risked their lives and their reputations during the war in Vietnam, to reveal the truth to the American people about what was happening there. Both describe here - how and when they realized the United States government was lying about the causes and the scope of the war. And both eloquently explain their views on the role of the journalist as a witness and an adversary of government. Neil Sheehan, who died earlier this month, also talks about his role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in the pages of the New York Times. And he details why he was driven to spend over 13 years writing a definitive history of the war, called "A Bright Shining Lie," which won the Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Halberstam, who won the Pulitzer during the war, went on to write one of the other most important accounts of U.S. involvement in Vietnam: "The Best and the Brightest."

    • 58 min
    Best Of - Maya Angelou (Part 2): In the Spirit of Martin

    Best Of - Maya Angelou (Part 2): In the Spirit of Martin

    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we treat you to a re-broadcast of this episode from 2017. Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. were close friends, years before Angelou became known throughout the world for her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." In this, the second our two Maya Angelou podcasts, she offers her personal reflections of Dr. King as a poet and a man with great humility and a sense of humor. She talks about the state of the African-American community decades later, and the importance of using language to uplift (describing an encounter she had with Tupac Shakur to make her point). And in her powerful, unique voice, she reminds us of the eternal relevance of Dr. King's wisdom.

    • 32 min
    Best Of - Nora Ephron: Unstoppable Wit

    Best Of - Nora Ephron: Unstoppable Wit

    Contemplating what movie to watch this holiday week? You can't go wrong with "When Harry Met Sally," perhaps the greatest rom-com of all time. Nora Ephron, who wrote the screenplay, as well as other great movies and books, knew just how to make people laugh and cry and kvell. But mostly laugh. She was a successful director and producer too, in an industry not very hospitable to women. In this episode, Ephron shares the most important lesson she learned from her mother: that all pain is fodder for a good story. She explains why becoming a journalist was the best thing she ever did. And she tells stories from her later career in Hollywood, including the one about how the famous faked-orgasm scene in "When Harry Met Sally" came about.

    • 41 min
    Best of - John Irving: A Literary Life

    Best of - John Irving: A Literary Life

    2022 was a big year for John Irving, the author of "The World According to Garp," "A Prayer for Owen Meany," and "The Cider House Rules." He turned 80, and just recently published The Last Chairlift, his first novel in seven years. It is 913 pages long and is, he says, the last long book he will ever write. Seemed like a great time to bring back our 2016 episode on John Irving. In it, he talks about why he approaches every book by writing the last sentence first. And he might just convince you that his uncommon approach is the only one that makes any sense. In this episode, he also opens up about his early life, and reveals how his mysteriously absent father, his learning disability, and his passion for wrestling, all contributed to his success as a writer. Whether you've read every John Irving novel or none, this is a fascinating story about the writing process, and about an author some critics have called the Charles Dickens of our time.

    • 30 min
    Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

    Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

    He had a slew of international hits in the 1960's and 70's, including "If You Could Read My Mind," "Sundown" and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." His songs were also performed by some of the biggest stars of that time, including Jerry Lee Lewis, The Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Barbra Streisand. Today, at 84 years old, Gordon Lightfoot is still writing and performing. He is as charming a raconteur as you might expect, given the nature of the songs he writes, and talks here about his childhood in a small town in Ontario, and about his path to the top of the music industry. He describes the quirks of his songwriting process, and explains why he changed the words of "Edmund Fitzgerald" after he recorded it.

    • 42 min
    Roger Daltrey: Rock Icon

    Roger Daltrey: Rock Icon

    The Who changed rock n roll, with the use of synthesizers, feedback, power chords and a wild onstage presence They were rock gods. And they created the first rock opera. Lead singer Roger Daltrey is now 78. He's a grandfather, and wears hearing aids. But he is still on the road doing shows. He talks here about his roots in post-war England, and about meeting the other original members of The Who in high school. He discusses how they developed their unique sound, and dishes a little gossip about why he was once kicked out of the band after getting into a fight with drummer Keith Moon. He also has a good laugh about the band's supposed sense of style. And he gives insights into some of The Who's best-loved songs.

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

Sam Roberts better than ever!!!!! ,

Very insightful

Love this podcast.

Jay Why Es ,

Love this podcast

Great to learn about so many different inspiring people.

mexicanretriever ,

One of my favourite podcasts

I’ve always been a believer that to be great, you have to first identify what defines greatness for you, then find those people, study them, and emulate them. What it Takes profiles many of the people I feel embody true greatness, and goes deep into how they achieved that level of greatness. One of my favourite listens!

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