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Julius Erving

The Great and Wondrous Dr. J

Julius Erving: The more successful people are in life -- and I've found this to be true -- have this resiliency about them, where no matter what comes down the pike, they're not going to quit. They're not going to be blown out of the water, and they're not going to exit from the game, unless it's their choice. And if it's their choice to exit from the game, they're exiting because they've got something else to do. It's like the old expression, it's better to not succeed than it is to not try. If you don't try, you're guilty of a crime that, in business, or in sports, or whatever, would be considered the cardinal sin. Always give your best effort, always try. You might come up a little bit short, but have this intestinal fortitude within you. Have this attitude programmed. Understand who you are, what you can bring to the table, and then bring that to the table. Where the pieces fall, they fall. I think that the resiliency to deal with good times, as well as bad times, and still remain focused, and still remain purposeful and true in your quest for worthy things in life is part of the character that one has to have to be successful. There are a lot of technical things that you have to understand, a lot of fundamental things that you need to be a part of your make-up. But you're way ahead of the game if you have this knack for being resilient, resourceful.
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Paul Farmer

Founder, Partners in Health

It's very easy to criticize projects like this. It's very easy to go in, as a privileged person from, say, an American university, and go in and say, "Wow, this is really poor quality care," or very poor quality services. That may be true, and it's easy to say, but it's not always the best way to engage. So what I tried to do is to stay engaged, in spite of the fact that the quality of services was terrible. You know? So that diagnosis is easy. Then what is the prescription? What do you do to really engage to improve things? You know, one of the things that I can look back at with some pride and say is, "Well, at least we stuck with it." So 25 years later, we're still trying to improve and expand. We still have a long way to go, but that's the trick is persistence, staying engaged. You know, people say to me, "What's the secret?" I would say that's the real secret, is -- it's not always a big idea or some innovation. I'll make this point tonight in my remarks, because sometimes what's innovative and what's entrepreneurial is just staying engaged with something that's difficult. You know, just sticking with a tough problem. There are people in this country, for example, who are, say, providing medical services in townships. You know, if they're looking for some magic recipe to radically improve health outcomes, they're not gonna find them. It's really persistent engagement, and fighting for basic services like electricity and water and housing and primary healthcare, and that's what they call in medicine -- they call that scut work. That's just drudgery. But the real innovation sometimes is just sticking with it.
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Paul Farmer

Founder, Partners in Health

It's hard to have a blood bank without blood. It's hard to have a blood bank without electricity and lab techs, et cetera. But again, it's easy to make that diagnosis, and easy to rule against institutions, including the Red Cross. But it's much better to start working with them to build blood banks, and that takes a lot of time. But it's certainly not impossible. (If we can) put someone on the moon, we can certainly put in better blood banking. And that didn't happen. I think it happens, again, with persistence. It's not some innovation, or the really entrepreneurial thing. This is the point I'll make tonight in my comments, is the really entrepreneurial thing is for someone just to stick it out and serve the poor. Then you learn things. Now you don't want to keep re-inventing the wheel. So if we learn something in Haiti that's useful in Boston, we need to make sure and share that information. If we learn something in Rwanda that's useful in Haiti, we need to get it back there. And that's another problem, I think, in development work and NGO work, is there's a lack of coordination and sharing of information, experience. But again, these are not problems that are insuperable. That's why you guys have your web site, so you can reach out to lots of people who you're not actually ever gonna meet. We need to harness those technologies as well.
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Suzanne Farrell

Ballerina Extraordinaire

Some mornings you would wake up and say, oh boy, I really don't feel like going to class. I don't want to dance. I mean, I got depressed. I didn't always want to dance every day of my life. But somehow I knew that I had to get myself to the theater to study, to take class, because I think better when I am in the environment that I have spent most of my life. And I always thought better when I was working, thought clearer when I was working. And so, no matter how much I didn't want to go to the theater when I seemingly woke up in the morning, I always said, well, go and see how you feel. And usually by the time I started moving around and dancing, I would feel good. Some of the mornings that I felt the worst, were the days that I would have the best performances. So you just never know what the day has in store for you. So you always have to be optimistic and say, go and see what happens. Or live this moment as it comes.
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Suzanne Farrell

Ballerina Extraordinaire

I had felt that I sort of had the rug pulled out from underneath me by my hip, and that I also knew that I would be better if I had a goal to reach. I didn't care really, whether I ever got out onstage again, I only knew that I had to try. That I would be unhappy, I would be unhappy if I didn't try, but I would not be unhappy if I tried and failed. And so, that was my impetus to get out on stage again and to dance again, was to see, was to have a goal.
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