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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


John Hennessy

President of Stanford University

I think part of -- certainly my success and lots of other people -- is realizing that the time is now, that you're at a point where an opportunity lies to really change the direction that a field is going and take advantage of that and be bold. Take some risk. Be a pioneer as the field is opened up and is created. And I think that's what we were willing to do, and it made a big difference.
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John Hennessy

President of Stanford University

It was a risk, and I think leaving the university for the 18 months or so that I left was a big risk. We could have published our papers. They would have been completely accepted and this technology may have just sat on the shelf for years. But I think because we were willing to take that risk, not only did we have a much larger impact much sooner than we would have otherwise had, but I think actually the understanding of the technology and our understanding of what the problems were -- we gained a tremendous amount in that period of commercializing the technology, of filling the glass the rest of the way, and that was a wonderful learning experience for me as well.
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John Hennessy

President of Stanford University

John Hennessy: Certainly fear of failure at some points, which is why I would try and do this while you're young. When failures aren't -- when you know that it's a time you can afford to take risks in your career. Much harder to do it when you're older. Much harder to do it when you're older. You're already established in a field. You're well thought of. Branching out to a new field and doing something that's highly risky is harder when you reach a certain point in your career. Certainly some self-doubts. A few times my wife probably thought I was crazy. And lots of hard work, and you're wondering, "Are we going to be able to carry this through?" And of course, when you decide to commercialize it, lots of other issues besides the importance of the technology come into the picture. Can you build the team? Can you manage it? Can you finance it? Can you sell the technology to people? And those turned out to be some of the major challenges. In fact, the technology challenges were probably the easy ones in that part of the process.
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John Hennessy

President of Stanford University

And, I think, being willing to take risks. This not only is the technology industry, and much of what has happened in technology about being willing to take risks, but I view risk taking and being pioneers as really something that is in the culture of America. And when I look at an institution like Stanford, it is something that's really made it unique. It has grown up in the West. It has thought of itself as a pioneering institution, and it has been willing to take risks. Not all those risks will be successful, but the ones that are successful have such impact and make such a difference in the world. I think that's probably the thing I've been willing to do, is take a number of risks that people have been doubtful about the wisdom, but the ones that have been successful have really had that kind of impact. And the ones that haven't, by and large, have been small investments of time and energy that didn't work out, and that's okay. You can have those as well, and I think that's a lesson that I've really learned over the years.
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Sir Edmund Hillary

Conqueror of Mt. Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary: Well there were lots of challenges. Even the route we were climbing Mt. Everest was one of the two easiest routes on the mountain as we know now. Of course, nobody had climbed it then. But even so, there are demanding parts of it. At the bottom of the mountain, there's the ice fall, where it's a great tumbled ruin of ice that's all pouring down and filled with crevasses and ice walls. It's under slow but constant movement. It's a dangerous place because things are always tumbling down. So you have to establish a route up through that which you can get with reasonable safety. But over the years, literally dozens of people have died in the crevasses. They've been engulfed by ice walls falling down and things of that nature. I had one experience on the ice fall with Tenzing. We were actually descending after having been further up the mountain and it was getting close towards dark so we wanted to get through the ice fall before darkness fell. We were roped together, but I was rushing down ahead in the lead. About half-way down there was a narrow crevasse, I guess it was about four feet wide, but just a bit too wide to step across. On the lower lip was a great chunk of ice stuck against the ice wall, and we'd used that as sort of a stepping stone to get over the gap. I came rushing down the hill without thinking too carefully, I just leapt in the air and landed on the chunk of ice, whereupon the chunk of ice broke off and dropped into the crevasse with me on top of it. It was interesting how everything seemed to start going slowly, even though I was free-falling into the crevasse. My mind, obviously, was working very quickly indeed. The great chunk of ice started tipping over and I realized, if I wasn't careful, I'd be crushed between the ice and the wall of the crevasse. So I just sort of bent my knees and leapt in the air. I was still falling, but now I was a couple of feet clear of the chunk of ice. Time really seemed to pass even though I was falling clear and I realized that unless the rope came tight fairly soon, I would come to a rather sticky end on the bottom of the crevasse. Up top, Tenzing had acted very quickly. He had thrust his ice axe into the snow, whipped the rope around it, and the rope came tight with a twang and I was stopped and swung in against the ice wall. The great chunk of ice just carried on and smashed to smithereens at the bottom of the crevasse. Then really the rest was what I would have called a routine mountaineering matter. I had my ice axe and my crampons on my feet, so I chipped steps in the side, I was able to bridge the crevasse, and I worked my way up to the top and got safely out. I wouldn't have said at any stage, because it all happened so quickly, fear really didn't have much opportunity to emerge. My only idea was to get safely out of this unfortunate predicament. And of course, without Tenzing's very competent mountaineer's response, I certainly wouldn't have made it. But once he had stopped me, then I was able to, using the techniques of mountaineering, to get myself safely to the top, again. When you've been going as long as I have, many of them have happened during the course of your life, but you tend to forget them, really. I think nature tricks us a little bit because you tend to remember the good moments rather than the uncomfortable ones. So when you leave the mountain, you remember the great moments on the mountain, and as soon as you leave the mountain, you want to go back again.
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Sir Edmund Hillary

Conqueror of Mt. Everest

Sir Edmund Hillary: I still regard adventure pretty much as a hobby to tell you the honest truth, and I think this approach to it keeps one refreshed almost. I think if you just regard adventure as a business, working becomes very boring as many other businesses can become. But even though adventure changed my life considerably, both in what I was doing and even economically, I've always regarded myself in a sense as a competent amateur. Because of that, I think a freshness has been brought to it, that every new adventure has been a new experience and great fun. I really like to enjoy my adventures. I get frightened to death on many, many occasions but, of course, fear can be, also, a stimulating factor. When you're afraid, the blood surges in the veins and so on. If you get rigid with fear, quite obviously, fear is not a very satisfactory characteristic to have, but if it's a stimulating factor, then I think you can often extend yourself far more than you really believe is possible. And instead of being just a mediocre person, for a moment anyway, you become someone of considerable competence.
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

I've gotten a lot of recognition, especially by Time magazine. I've never said that I am the representative for the AIDS community. It was Time that, in trying to recognize the achievements in the field, they typically do it through the story of one and I was the chosen one. I fully realize that it's symbolic for the progress made by the field. And, a lot of people deal with that very well and many colleagues have said very nice things to me about that and about how good that is for the field and for science in general. But, there are a lot of big egos in the field and if they're not the one, some of them can be vicious and have been vicious. But, I don't think you would find much in terms of a response from me about such type of criticism. I've said that I'm just going to continue to work and to do my science and advance the field. I don't want to be dragged into the mud into such an unnecessary debate which is harmful to the field, to science, and most importantly, what does that look like from a patient's perspective?
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

If you insist on the infeasible, you'll get into a situation where nothing is done. And, the most important thing we could do now is to come up with strategies that would decrease mother-to-infant transmission of HIV. So I got involved with that controversy because the New England Journal took a very strong ethical position against any use of placebo and basically did not welcome my opposing view and I had to express my view in Time Magazine. And they didn't care for that, and therefore because of this disagreement, I said I had to go with my own beliefs and I don't think I could serve the Journal well by remaining on its editorial board.
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