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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


Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State, United States of America

Colin Powell: And then I think in one of the sad chapters of American history, having promised the South Vietnamese that we would come to their assistance with more weapons and ammunition if they needed it, the United States Congress finally abandoned them. That went against our word. Whether they would have prevailed even if we hadn't abandoned them is, I think questionable. I think they would probably have lost anyway, but I wish they had not lost on the heels of an American abandonment. So it was a very dismal period. And when it was all over, I was still a professional soldier, now a lieutenant colonel. And we were in an army that had been seen as the loser in this war. We were shaken to our core. We had lost a generation of leaders. We'd had the scandal of My Lai. We had racial relations. The American people said, "We want out of the draft. We no longer want to have a draft." In fact, they were separating themselves from the army. "You just go out and recruit and that's what you get. But no more draft." So we ended the draft. There was an estrangement between the American people and its military. But I was a professional soldier, and so it was my job to work in that world and try to fix it, repair it. And one of the things I'm proudest of in my life is that over the next 15, 17 years, working with great leaders and finally with the new political leadership that came in with the Reagan Administration -- political leaders who told us to be proud of ourselves once again and gave us the resources to really finish the transition to a modern, powerful army -- we became a force that the nation once again was proud of. And we saw the result of that in Desert Storm.
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Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State, United States of America

Colin Powell: I've had problems in my career, I've had downturns. I've had people who thought I wasn't very good, and said so in writing. I've had assignments that didn't come along when I thought they should have come along. There have been several times in my career where I thought I had reached as high a level as I was going to reach, and had started to make alternative plans, when suddenly luck came along, and things changed, and so it just kept going.
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Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State, United States of America

Colin Powell: We bombed a complex overnight, an Iraqi bunker that we thought was a command and control bunker. Turned out it was a command and control bunker, it was a military installation. But what we didn't know was they packed it with civilians. Maybe the civilians went there for protection, but it was the worst place to go for protection. We weren't bombing their neighborhoods, we were bombing their bunkers. But that's where 300 civilians were. So there you are, faced with, "You terrible people! You've killed several hundred innocent civilians!"
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Dan Rather

Broadcast Journalist

I hitchhiked up to Sam Houston State Teacher's College, which was on the Dallas Highway, 70 some odd miles north of Houston. It was a small college and I thought, "Well, the University of Texas, SMU, Rice, A&M, our larger football factories have failed to recognize my prowess so I'd probably have a little better luck at a smaller place." And I hitchhiked to Sam Houston State Teacher's College. And I didn't know who the football coach was but I asked. It was a guy named Puny Wilson. I asked where he was and they said they thought he was in the gym watching basketball practice. I went to the gym and I sidled up to him and I introduced myself. He looked at me like I was a hitchhiker with pets. I told him I was a football player and that I'd appreciate it very much if he'd consider me for a scholarship. And he looked at me, and looking back on it, I think he was kind of amazed but I also think he kind of respected it. He had not heard of me, which was no surprise, but he basically said, "Well, when do you graduate?" I told him I was a midterm graduate. I said, "Well, I graduate in two weeks." It was just after Christmas in January. He said, "Well, spring practice starts (I've forgotten the date) sometime in March and I'll be glad to see you there." I left the gym absolutely walking on air because this to me was my ticket to get to college.
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Dan Rather

Broadcast Journalist

Anyway, Coach Puny told me -- he was kind about it but he was also forceful about it --that not only was I not getting a scholarship but he made it pretty clear that I wasn't likely to have one in the future. If I was a project, I was too big of a project for Coach Puny. And I left his office and it was raining, and I walked in the rain, and I cried about it, which I'm not proud of. I shouldn't have, because I was already grown, but it meant a lot to me. But in I guess kind of a perverse way, I had some pride that I really had stuck it out. And you know, you never know when you're a teacher, you may say something to a child or even a young man who is a student, that you have no idea it's going to stick with him for a long time. But Puny, who was a kind of idol, partly because he was a coach, also because he'd been All-American -- you know, big, raw-boned country guy. The only thing he gave me -- he didn't give me a scholarship, he didn't give me any hope, he didn't give me any phony expectations, but he shook my hand. He says, "You didn't quit." And so in my disappointment, in my --I think it's not too strong a statement -- my crushed state, I had that. Now my journalism teacher, Hugh Cunningham, when I went to him, he said, "Well thank God! Thank heaven. That foolishness is over. You know, you're not a football player. You're weren't going to be a football player. It's not compatible with my making a journalist of you. So let's suck it up here and let's have some supper and let's talk about how you're going to be a great journalist."
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Dan Rather

Broadcast Journalist

Somebody once said, you know, "It's good to be smart, brilliance is even better, but persistence will trump them both if it comes down to that." My whole professional life has taught me of the importance of "if you have a goal don't give up on it. If you have a dream, don't let the dream die." That what's absolutely essential is a fierce blinding determination to make it, and it doesn't always have to manifest itself in aggressive ways. But the persistence of just putting one foot in front of the other and just keep on keeping on no matter what the odds, no matter how dark it looks, just say, "Well listen, if I can make one more minute, I can make one more hour, I can make one more day, make one more week, make one more month." It's impossible to overestimate the importance of that in my opinion and based on my experience. Somebody half jokingly said, you know, "Ninety percent of life is just showing up." I think there's something to that. I think if you show up, that's a lot of it. And then if you stick to it, those are, I think, the two biggest things. Go for it, stick to it. Listen, God's grace and luck plays a lot, timing, all of those things come into it, but I think they're infinitesimal compared to sticking to it.
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George Rathmann

Founding Chairman, Amgen

We had a pretty good role model in Genentech, and as it unfolded, they were even better. So that the month I started at Amgen, Genentech went public. That told us something. They had the courage to go public with a company that was not making money, that had no products, no sales, and that was almost a first in its own right. But it meant to us, "Well, when we need it, we'll be able to raise money and go public, " and on and on. Genentech had really been the visionary company that said, "This is the moment in time." Of course, sometimes being second, you actually get some benefits of not having to be the guy that breaks all the ice, and you can follow the better -- maybe more attractive -- pathway. So it took about five or six years, and then Amgen really outstripped Genentech. But it was certainly not without the guidance that Genentech provided, and us getting going in the right channels. We would never have gone into the pharmaceutical thing, for example, if it hadn't been that Genentech showed it was feasible. We had some programs, but they weren't very successful at first. And it was discouraging, and you thought about the huge cost of the FDA. And you just thought, ""Can you really do this?" And Genentech said, "Yeah, we can do it. We're going to be the next pharmaceutical company." So I said to our Board, "We can do it. We can be the next pharmaceutical company," and two of the pharmaceutical people on my Board just about killed me on the spot. "You'll never be a pharmaceutical company. You can't do that from being -- a biotech company should never try to be a pharmaceutical company. Bring your products to the pharmaceutical industry and that will be the way to exploit them. Don't try and do it yourself." "Well, let's watch Genentech. They're doing pretty well." "I don't think Genentech is a reasonable company as a model for this company. We don't want to use Genentech." Mm, maybe. But we did, and we learned a lot, and they did show us the right way.
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George Rathmann

Founding Chairman, Amgen

The stock went from $18 a share, with a lot of enthusiasm, to $12 a share, with somewhat less enthusiasm, to $9 a share, to $6 a share, to $3.75. That's a big burden to have to carry, because you have investors that are very disturbed, and you have, supposedly, employees that are disenchanted. Except it never happened. The people at Amgen always felt that we were on the right track, we were going to do great things. They had great science. They liked each other. They knew they were brilliant. We had a brilliant scientific board, and we knew that we had the right ammunition to win the war. But there were times that it took a lot of that kind of enthusiasm -- and might have seemed to some people misguided enthusiasm -- and that's what sustained the effort. We were sort of even prepared to change direction. We weren't locked in by any rules of the company that we couldn't go this way, you have to go that way. That happens today a lot more. Even the successful biotech companies will tell you that, well, they can't go into that field because their franchises are over here. And I always worry about that. I think I like the uninhibited approach. It's dangerous. You can spend too much money, you can scatter your shots. But boy, it's hard to predict ahead of time where the answers that are really going to pay off are. So we had the good fortune that we could change direction with ease. And the board that we had was visionary enough to say, "Well, if that's what you fellows want to do, then we'll support that." So we went in and out of fields, and we went back into the pharmaceutical thing, even though the first pharmaceuticals we tried to work with hadn't been very successful. And then huge advances were made by some really wonderful scientists in the company, and they set the stage. It's basically -- it's all science. The era that Amgen was in -- and I think Genentech started it -- it's all science. You think business is it. Well, without the science, you've got absolutely nothing. And the science that you have is closely linked to academic science. So there's a huge transition to make it a business proposition, but you still have to have really some of the best scientists that are around in that field at that time.
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George Rathmann

Founding Chairman, Amgen

George Rathmann: We thought we had successes in those eight products. The success of finding that you can make chicken growth hormone, I'll tell you, it made Genentech very envious. We were the first to have chicken growth hormone. There are nine billion chickens in the world, four billion chickens in the United States. This was going to be a great thing. It just happened that it didn't do anything to the growth of chickens. The prediction was that it would enhance their growth, they'd grow more efficiently. They might even grow bigger. We talked about chickens as big as turkeys, and they never got any bigger than chickens. They weren't any cheaper, and they didn't get there any faster. So that was one of those. It was a great success that we got the gene and it functioned as a growth hormone. It just didn't affect the commercial end of the chicken market -- broiler market as it was called. And then we had indigo. We made indigo, and brilliant science work, and made indigo in bacterial cells, E-coli, common bacteria, and we were able to make indigo blue dye. It was a hundred million-dollar business. We thought we'd certainly get a piece of that. But we couldn't dislodge the existing ways of making the drug, even though it involved toxic chemicals and so on. Environmentally, the Amgen approach was far superior. But the overall economics weren't there. So that was a disappointment.
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George Rathmann

Founding Chairman, Amgen

Interferon, as I mentioned today. The Holy Grail, we thought. If you have an interferon, you're going to have the cure for everything. Well, it didn't work. As far as we could tell, it didn't work. The interferon we had just didn't do anything particularly useful. But we just kept looking around and looking around, and the first big success was a program we had started at the very beginning of the company. So it wasn't redirected, it was just that we were now spending more time on the pharmaceutical side. And this was erythropoietin -- EPO, as it's called. Everybody knew since 1907 that there was a molecule that would cause red cells to form, that it existed probably in the bloodstream. In 1947, 40 years later, it was discovered that it was actually produced in the kidney. And 20 years after that, somebody was able to isolate a small amount from a patient that was actually spilling over into their urine, because they were aplastic anemic patients, and that would cause a very high level of erythropoietin, so you got some isolated material. So all that process taking years and years and years, and when we picked up the ball, it was to take that first smidgen of EPO and see what we could do. And a Taiwanese scientist just worked night and day, and I mean night and day. And he was working in the face of people saying, "Fu-Kuen Lin " which was his name, " there isn't really much hope you're going to find this." Genentech couldn't find it. Biogen couldn't find it. A half a dozen other biotech companies had looked like they'd tried to find it, but they can't find the gene. But there has to be a gene. I mean, you know there has to be a gene. The fact that you can't find it is almost a paralyzing experience, but you know it has to be there.
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