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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


Charles Kuralt

A Life On the Road

When I worked in Los Angeles covering hard news, very often when something important would happen I'd be off in the woods covering something unimportant, which was more interesting to me. A very big setback was a big story that broke, the big earthquake in Alaska. And, NBC managed to get its first film on the air from that event 20 minutes, or half an hour before CBS News did. That was entirely my responsibility. And, I was abruptly -- well, within a few days I was told to forget about it. I could just come home from Los Angeles and return to New York where my bosses can keep an eye on me. They knew I wasn't any good at covering breaking news stories.
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Charles Kuralt

A Life On the Road

TV critics, especially those of The New York Times, who traditionally hate television and make their living writing about it, often didn't like what I did on the air. But, I figured I knew more about it than they did, and so it never bothered me a lot. I guess it must have bothered me a little bit when Tom Shales of the Washington Post ridiculed me for a whole column one time. Talked about -- I have this fat face -- he talked about my chipmunk cheeks and the light, inconsequential nature of my reporting. And, I guess that bothered me for a day or two. I think you do have to stop and say, wait a minute, does this guy have a point here? But, I finally decided he didn't, that he was right about the chipmunk cheeks, but about the quality of my work, I'd finally decided he was wrong.
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Ray Kurzweil

Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence

Ray Kurzweil: I've always been rather relentless and managed to find a way to get the resources -- the hardest one of which is my own time -- to see ideas through. That's an important aspect of success. It's just not to recognize failure. I mean, failure is just sort of success deferred. It just means it's going to just take you a little bit longer. But where an idea becomes so real to you that it absolutely is real, even though it may not be real to anybody else, and then it's just a matter of carrying out this plan that has emerged in your head, and you work backwards from this vision, from this fantasy that becomes very real, and then imagine, well, okay, how can we work backwards? If that were to exist, what would have had to have happened? And then it lays out a path that you kind of work out in reverse, and then you just follow it. You have to be very, very persistent in doing that. But persistence towards a vision usually works. That's been my experience.
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Ray Kurzweil

Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence

Ray Kurzweil: Talent is really just one prerequisite to success. There's a lot of other factors. Certainly luck had something to do with it, and a lot of factors beyond our own efforts, in terms of having the right types of support and opportunities, and also picking the right problem. Einstein, after a few successes, picked a problem that we now know he was destined to fail at. So brilliantly pursuing a problem that you can't succeed in is -- it's pick the right problems at the right time. But most importantly, I think it's persistence, and we see again and again, whether it's in the political sphere or science, people who are really relentless about their mission -- and can see the end result even more real than what we consider concrete reality, and follow that mission with great confidence -- succeed. Very often people give up too quickly. They meet a few obstacles and think, "Oh well, that didn't work." But that confidence doesn't come from just sort of mindlessly plowing ahead. It really comes from being able to envision a reality that doesn't exist and seeing the benefit of it. So imagination is important.
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Eric Lander

Founding Director, Broad Institute

I now tell the story with a smile because it's all worked out just fine, and I look back and I laugh. But through all of these peregrinations, through different fields and random walks, I was very frequently depressed about all of it, and deeply worried about this. After all, world class math student, a Rhodes scholar, won thesis prizes in mathematics. I had a great career prospect to go ahead and do pure mathematics. I discarded all of that and I wasn't sure what for, and I recriminated often about that. I worried deeply about it, that I would never really have a good position in a university, or doing anything else for that matter. So anybody who imagines that you make these transitions without tremendous agonizing is absolutely wrong. I tell the story with a laugh today, but certainly it's a very painful thing to be searching around like that, and not knowing what you really want to do. Eventually, you make enough transitions that you realize that life is about making those transitions. I still doubt I made them very gracefully. I reckon I have a few more career changes left in me, and I don't imagine I'm going to do them completely gracefully. I hope, for the sake of my wife and my kids, I do them more gracefully than the ones I've done up to now, and worry maybe a little bit less, but you take these seriously. You throw yourself into them and they matter a lot, and somehow there's great internal turmoil as you reinvent yourself and find out what you really want to do. What you have to do is balance it with a lot of fun along the way, but I would certainly be wrong to say that the whole thing was easy. It certainly, I don't think, looks easy in retrospect, and it certainly wasn't easy. What I was very blessed by was wonderful people to do it with, and wonderful help.
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