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 - David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose and David Herbert Donald: Time Travelers
It is the rare writer who can make history so compelling, so alive, that people will flock to read it. David McCullough, who died last Sunday, was one of those writers. He was the author of two Pulitzer Prize-winning books: one about President Harry Truman and one about President John Adams. In honor of Mr. McCullough, we are reposting this episode from 2020 which featured him and two other great presidential historians: Stephen Ambrose and David Herbert Donald. They talk here about their subjects as if they had gone back in time and returned, breathless, to share the stories they'd heard. And each writer explains how he fell under the spell of history and made it his life's work.
Best of - Bill Russell: Giant of a Man
The most astonishing winning streak in the history of sports, belonged to the Boston Celtics. They won eleven championships between 1957 and 1969, eight of those in a row. And the player at the center of those wins - was Bill Russell, who died this week at the age of 88. Russell changed the game of basketball, with his incredible speed, and his ability to block shots as no player had done before. When he took over as coach of the Celtics (while still playing on the team), he became the first African-American coach of any major sport in the U.S. In this episode, which first ran in 2017, Russell talks about his life in basketball, and he describes how he was shaped by the racism he confronted, on and off the court.
Best of - John Hume and David Trimble: A Vision of Peace
These two remarkable men, from opposite sides of the 30-year "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, bravely reached across the divide and waged peace. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. David Trimble, who died on July 25th, 2022, was the leader of the Protestant pro-British Ulster Unionist Party. John Hume, who died in 2020, was a Catholic civil rights and political leader. In a poll several years ago, he was voted the greatest person in Irish history. They talk here about the underpinnings of the brutal fighting that tore Northern Ireland apart, and they explain how and why they were able to negotiate a peace deal and begin the healing. They also offer some important lessons to the rest of the world. This episode originally ran two years ago. We are re-posting it this week in honor of David Trimble.
Best of - Frank McCourt: Teacher Man
No one could tell a story better than Frank McCourt. His first book, Angela's Ashes, remains one of the most compelling accounts of poverty, alcoholism, and the longing for a better life. It won a Pulitzer Prize 25 years ago, and transformed McCourt from a modest immigrant and a lifelong high school teacher, into a literary celebrity. In this episode, which originally posted in 2017, you'll hear McCourt hold forth with tremendous humor and that lyrical voice - about the miseries of his childhood in Ireland, as well as his passion for teaching and writing.
Best of - Steve Jobs and Tony Fadell: Inventing the Future
Fifteen years ago, a sleek pocket-sized device was introduced that would change much about how we interact in the world: the iPhone. This is the intimate history of the two men who created it. Steve Jobs famously co-founded Apple. In the late 90’s, when the company was failing, he hired a young engineer and designer named Tony Fadell, who created a little device that became known as the iPod. It not only turned Apple’s fortunes around, it transformed the music industry and the experience of listening. Fadell’s next assignment was the iPhone, which changed the nature of communication itself. After leaving Apple, Fadell went on to found Nest Labs, a company that has begun to alter the technology of the home. You’ll hear Tony Fadell’s fascinating personal story, told with all the passion and enthusiasm he brings to his game-changing inventions. And you’ll hear Steve Jobs, speaking as a young man (in 1982) about what it takes to innovate. This episode originally posted in 2016.
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman: The Vaccine Revolution
The COVID-19 vaccine came out at warp speed because of the work of these two scientists. For many years they had been investigating the secrets of messenger RNA (mRNA). And when the pandemic began, their research was ready and waiting. On this episode you’ll hear Katalin Karikó talk about her humble beginnings in Hungary, and the forces that enabled her to persevere, even though for decades people thought her ideas about mRNA were laughable. She was denied grants, lost jobs and wasn’t taken seriously, but she never wavered. Fortunately, she met Drew Weissman one day at a copy machine, where they both worked at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Weissman was an immunologist, working on a vaccine for HIV. He was interested in Karikó’s work and they began to collaborate. Even when they made major discoveries, they could not get support for their work… until the Corona Virus appeared. Now the scientific world sees the potential that Karikó and Weissman saw all along: that mRNA may open the door to many other vaccines and to therapeutic treatment for a host of illnesses, from Cancer to Sickle Cell Anemia to Heart Disease.
For the many years I have listened to ‘Whatever It Takes’ I have found this podcast consistently positive, inspiring, offering a lesson in life how to improve, learn and grow! Love the variety it offers!
Amazing opportunity to bring brilliance into my home, I absolutely LOVE this podcast and find myself listening to pieces over and over again, savoring pearls of wisdom. What a find and gift!
Great podcast, So many great interviews!