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Robert Strauss

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Robert Strauss: Oh yes, I loved to read, but I didn't read very many worthwhile things. People now are too young to remember Tom Swift, or to remember Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Those are the kinds of things that I read growing up. I couldn't get enough of them, and I can remember the marvelous stories that were in The Saturday Evening Post. I couldn't wait for it to come every week, so we could read the fiction story that was in there or the novel that was in there. Sometimes it was continued from week to week, other times it was in one issue. So I read, and I read newspapers. When I was 12, 13, 14 years old, I read the paper regularly. Today, I guess I read four papers a day, maybe five or six. That comes from a habit of my early youth of enjoying reading current stories. I never was as interested in history as many of my friends, but I was always more interested in the current than they were. So you can have chocolate or vanilla; I chose one flavor.
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John Sulston

Nobel Prize in Medicine

John Sulston: It's broad and narrow. Broadly, there's no question, my whole life, I've been inspired by the advance of understanding. So that includes two components. One is just factual knowledge, because we find out things, we observe and so on. The other, of course, is to integrate and to understand how things work. That's harder. And not everybody does that. Nevertheless, we can all contribute as part of this growth. And I just looking back, more and more, sometimes when I'm talking, I like to go back and remind people of what happened 400 years ago -- the cosmology. A hundred-fifty years ago -- evolution. Things like this, which really affect the human condition. The way we think about ourselves. These are not technological advances, these are philosophical advances. They completely affect the way we think about ourselves and ourselves in the universe. And we're going to do a lot more of this. For example, we're all talking a lot now about how we're going to understand much more about the brain. I'm sure that's true. We don't know how far we can take it. We don't know how long it'll take. We're going to understand a lot more about the brain. That's going to be very challenging. Because that really is the innermost part of being human. But this progression of understanding -- which I feel is so amazing -- and to be part of this is great. So that's a broad motivation. The narrow motivation that everybody needs is to get that pat on the back from their peers, I think. So you can have satisfaction in knowing you've contributed something to the whole, but I think there's very few people who are free of this desire, and love, really, of having their peers acclaim them. And so I think that's an important part of it as well. And the two together make for a wonderful collective of people working.
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John Sulston

Nobel Prize in Medicine

John Sulston: In one's life, in one's work, I think one must not have too set an idea about where you're going. It's more important to enjoy and believe in what you're doing now than to worry about where ultimately it's going. You should not, for example, set your eye on getting a prize, on getting a promotion. You should enjoy the process of what you're doing. And then, if you do succeed in getting some sort of acclaim, then of course you're doubly rewarded. That you both enjoyed the job and you get the acclaim. If you don't get the acclaim, then at least you've enjoyed the job. I think there can be nothing more miserable than to have neither. So I would always say to somebody, "Go the way that you believe in," and for a thinking person, of course, they won't just do something because it's fun, they will also want to feel there's something important. So it's that sense of going for what you enjoy, or going for what's important, which really matters. And that will give you, I'm sure, a satisfying life.
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Hilary Swank

Two Oscars for Best Actress

Hilary Swank: School was the place that I would go where -- the kids whose parents didn't want them to play with me -- it was just an extension of that. Unfortunately, it was a place where I didn't necessarily feel like I belonged. I had a couple of wonderful teachers. My fifth grade teacher was also a big influence in my career because he had us write a skit in front of the class and perform it in front of the class, and in that moment, now I realize, I found what we call our calling. At the time, I had no idea, but I knew that something came alive inside of me and that I was doing something that I loved tremendously.
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