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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David McCullough: Years ago, when I was first brave enough, when I'd summoned the courage to decide I was going to attempt writing a book, I met a man one night at a party. And he was an elderly fellow, and I was about 28 years old, and I had heard -- his name was Harry Sinclair Drago, and he wrote Westerns -- and a friend said to me, "You see that old fellow over there? That's Harry Drago. He's written over 100 books." And I thought, "I'd like to talk to him." So I went over, and I said, "Mr. Drago, I - -somebody told me that you've written over 100 books." He said, "Yes, that's right." I said, "How do you do that?" He said, "Four pages a day, that's how you write 100 books. That's how you write books."
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Obviously, if you're doing something in the theater, what you're doing has to be on a large enough scale that everybody in the theater can experience it. You have to hit the back wall, as they say. You have to be able to make sure, if you're experiencing some incredible thing on stage but no one can hear you, then you might as well not be on stage. However, if you were to be that big on television or in film, you'd look grotesque. It would look odd and weird, because the camera is right in your face, so you just have to learn how to exercise different muscles, but still going for the same goal, which is the most truthful way that you can express a character or an emotion. So for me it's just about staying within that truth, and then learning about the different techniques. And then the same thing with concertizing too. You have no script. You've got no fourth wall. There's nothing, really, no character to hide behind. So for me it was about learning how to communicate with the audience, and be comfortable with who I am is enough, and then slip into character for each song. But in between each song, you have to be honest and be comfortable with who you are. So that was also another sort of thing for me to learn. It's trial by error. I fell on my face many times, figuratively and literally. I have fallen on my face in concert. But someone said to me once -- a lady I was doing my first national tour with, Mary Fogarty. She had done a million plays by this point. She was about 70 years old, she's passed away now. But I said, "Where did you study acting?" She said, "The stage, honey. I learned on the stage." I said, "You didn't go to college? "She said, "No, no, no, no. I had to get on stage to figure out what I was doing wrong, and the stage will teach you." And I've never forgotten that either.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Audra McDonald: I guess you can look at it sort of like when you look at an Olympic runner and they cross the finish line. It's the same thing, I think, working and training to get to that moment. Sometimes it's less definitive with a Broadway show or in theater. I guess there's the opening night, if you get to the opening night. But it's like crossing a finish line. You have the moment of awareness of what's just happened, and awareness of, "Okay. That's a goal that I wanted to reach, and I've reached it, but you can't tell me that Usain Bolt isn't thinking, "Okay, now I gotta be faster." So you have a moment, which may last a week, it may last 30 seconds, it may last a year, and then the goal gets put all the way across the other side of the world again. Then there you go running towards that one. For me anyway, that's how it is always.
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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

The purpose of the training is to weed out those both weak-minded and weak physically before you really even begin the hard SEAL training. So there is a lot of demand placed on you physically, but there was also a lot of demand mentally. They put you in situations where you are either not going to succeed or you're not going to succeed as well as you thought you were going to succeed. So they will, for example, they used to play a little bit of mind games. They would say, "Okay, we are going to have a four-mile run on the beach." And as you were closing in on that last couple of hundred meters, they would go, "Oh no, this isn't the finish line. The finish line is another couple hundred yards down the beach." And there were a lot of guys who went, "Come on, I was just coming to the finish line." "No, the finish line is further on." So you learned that maybe there is no finish line, and you learned how to deal with failure, and you learned kind of what is really inside you, because you were tested physically every day. You were cold, you were wet, you were miserable, and you still had to perform at a certain level.
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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

William McRaven: He was a very flamboyant officer. He had served in Vietnam as an enlisted man -- became a mustang, as we say -- he was later commissioned. And he was brilliant in his own way and I harbor absolutely no ill-will against Dick Marcinko. But I was young, and he was trying to shape SEAL Team Six at the time. And I came in with probably a little bit more of a conservative belief in how we should run operations. I believed in kind of the basic tenets of good order and discipline because I had learned that -- growing up in the earlier part of my SEAL team -- good order and discipline made a difference. It made a difference in the morale of the men, it made a difference in the professionalism of the men, it made a difference in the operations. And Dick Marcinko's approach was a little bit more, I don't want to say cavalier, but he had a little bit different approach in terms of how he looked at both the relationship of the men and the relationship of the operation. So it was a little bit of a conflict of personality and a conflict of how business gets done on the SEAL teams. But again, he was the commanding officer. So in a military organization, at the end of the day the commanding officer makes the decisions. And again, I don't fault him for the decision, but it was one of those things I had to deal with personally when I went on to another SEAL team. Because people knew that I had just been essentially relieved of that command position, and that's not a good thing in any institution. So you have to be able to -- it kind of summons up your personal courage -- and decide that, "Okay, things didn't go so well. I've got to prove that I'm as good an officer as I think I am. I have got to continue on." The option to quit was always there. It's a volunteer force. I could have gotten up and left.
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