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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


Wendy Kopp

Founder, Teach for America

Everyone was talking about all of the challenges that exist in our -- particularly urban and rural -- public schools, and particularly about the need for excellent teachers in these schools. And here we had all of these carefully selected student leaders from all over the country, who were all saying, "We would teach. No one's recruiting us to teach." We were known as the "Me Generation." Supposedly all we wanted to do was go work in those firms, go work on Wall Street and such, make a lot of money. And I just knew -- I knew from my own searching, but also from my friends and others -- I just knew I was one of thousands of people who were really searching for something we weren't finding. So that led to this idea: why aren't we being recruited as aggressively to commit two years to teach in our urban and rural public schools as we were being recruited at the time to commit two years to work on Wall Street? And the minute I thought of it, I just became obsessed. I just knew this has to happen. I thought it would have such a huge power for kids growing up today, just to channel all this talent and energy -- that's good enough for the firms on Wall Street -- but into our highest-need schools. And at the same time, I thought it would have this kind of larger power. That we would be influencing the priorities and the consciousness of all these future leaders. And I had this idea that this was going to change the consciousness of the country, and generate a belief that we need to do something to bridge the disparities that exist in our country.
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Wendy Kopp

Founder, Teach for America

Wendy Kopp: I just felt like the timing was absolutely perfect for this, and I just thought it had to happen. The mood on college campuses was really so conducive to this. I myself and I ended up pursuing the idea of actually teaching in the New York City public schools, and that also contributed to my realizing this is actually it could work. But I was still trying to figure out, "What do I want to do?" and that was the one thing I could think of that was inspiring. So I just knew, for this generation, this is what we want to do. Secondly, there were huge needs which enabled the whole thing. There have never been headlines like this since. Just the level of teacher shortages in the big urban areas was overwhelming. They were starting -- New York, L.A. -- with 1,200 teacher vacancies, et cetera. And there were various business executives in corporate America who had made this big pledge to say, "We're going to take on the American education system. We want to improve it." So it just seemed like the perfect time, and it seemed like if we passed that window of opportunity, it might never happen.
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Henry Kravis

Financier and Investor

My career, I have really just loved it. It has been a challenge. There is something new every day for me. I mean, the fantastic thing about the career, it's not just buying and selling companies. It's the fact that we've got a portfolio of companies, that range all the way from hotels and motels, to television stations and cable TV companies, and oil and gas, and consumer products, and industrial products. And anything that I want to know more about, I have that opportunity. It's right there, it's in our portfolio. And I can spend the time at a factory or with the management and learn as much as I want. And so that's wonderful, and that's a real challenge. You can't get bored doing that.
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Henry Kravis

Financier and Investor

Henry Kravis: I like to succeed. I don't want to fail. And I said to you earlier, the fear of failure drives a lot of people. That probably is part of what drives me. I know there will be things that I'll fail at, but overall I don't want to be a failure. And I come back to the challenge again. You know, why am I in a hurry? Why do I work as hard as I work? I do it because I enjoy it. I don't have to do it, obviously. But I enjoy it. I enjoy creating something -- financial creation. I'm not an artist or a musician, but creating something that hasn't been done before, I enjoy that. We have a lot of people at this firm, and we are all built more or less alike. We love to succeed. There is nothing that gives greater pleasure than success.
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Henry Kravis

Financier and Investor

"Henry, I just wanted to let you know, the guys said we've got the transaction signed up and go have a great vacation, and relax." And it's a feeling, obviously, you can see, I get choked up even re-telling the story. Every time I talk about that. Or just that feeling, you know, up there in the air and that camaraderie, and just that excitement of wanting each other to know. It's all part of the teamwork. And it's one of the great pleasures I get as that team, and that teamwork.
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Nicholas Kristof

Journalist, Author & Columnist

Nicholas Kristof: There's a local newspaper that came out initially twice a week, later three times a week, called the News Register in McMinnville, Oregon. And when I turned 16 and got my driver's license, then I signed up to write for them. And the editor of it, he knew that -- it's a farming area -- that he needed to cover farming, but he didn't know anything about it. And as a result, he couldn't actually determine I didn't know anything about it either. So as a high school student I covered farming in the area, and again, I just found it extraordinary to run around, talk to people, find out about things that were interesting, and then get paid for it. So that was a major step along my road to being a journalist.
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Nicholas Kristof

Journalist, Author & Columnist

Nicholas Kristof: I have a lot of wanderlust. I had found, really when I was at Oxford, just the excitement of entering different worlds, different cultures. On my first vacation from Oxford, that's when I got stuck behind martial law in Poland, and then at the end of that trip I went to Morocco. I remember waking up in the morning and hearing the call of the muezzin from the mosque, the call to prayer, and just feeling it was really a different civilization, being really excited by that. So I tended to do a lot of traveling from Oxford, and I found it in many ways a better learning experience than anything that I had done in the classroom. And that was one of the -- again -- the attractions of journalism. The sense that if you want to learn about the world, that one of the best ways to do that is journalism, rather than through the academic route.
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