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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


Robert Langer

Biotechnologist and Entrepreneur

I think that everybody likes quick gratification, but I think that when people really go through a scientific training, like doing a doctoral thesis, you learn at that time -- or really through any kind of research -- that science moves slowly. It just can't help but do that. So I think that the instant gratification issue may, in certain cases -- though I'm certainly not any expert on this -- could discourage people at a younger age. But if you've gone through the kind of scientific training -- like doing research, or certainly doing a Ph.D. -- I think then you clearly learn that that's something you live with, that that's just the way it is. In fact that's part of the value of a Ph.D. It teaches you how to do research, kind of what science is all about. But it may be somewhat discipline-dependent. I think more about biology and chemical engineering and chemistry, but maybe there are areas like computer science where it's a little bit different, because you could do different things. But certainly in the areas that I'm most familiar with, I think when you go through this whole doctoral program, you learn that that's just the nature of things.
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Richard Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and Conservationist

I knew the fossils. I knew the background. I had a lot of energy, and I was fairly cheap, and so I would be sent off with a vehicle and a couple of men to explore the possibility of A or the possibility of B, and so I got into field work and prehistory that way. Fortunately, my first real venture into looking for fossils in a small group resulted in a very important discovery. That was in late '63 or early '64, where we discovered a lower jaw of an Australopithecus that had not been found before. It was in perfect condition. We found it on the first attempt, and so that got me very excited, and I began to realize that there were probably a lot more of these things, and that if you find these things, you get a position in the ladder which you can't get to unless you have either got an education or something else. So by finding important things, you immediately get into the game, which you'd been excluded from otherwise.
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Richard Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and Conservationist

Richard Leakey: Finding fossils, you've got to be looking in the right place, so an understanding of geology is very important. You've got to be able to locate areas where there might be fossils, because of the geological evidence or conditions under which fossils are formed, and conditions under which fossils might now be re-exposed through erosion. Then you've got to ascertain that there are fossils where you are looking, and then you have got to look mighty hard, and you can look and look and look and not find anything, go back exactly to the same place a year later, and there was something there all the time. It really is a question of persistence and doggedness, but you could look as doggedly as you like in the wrong place and never find it. So there is an element of subliminal knowledge that plays a major part that a lot of people obviously don't have. I had it because I was raised in it. It was second nature to me.
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Leon Lederman

Nobel Prize in Physics

Leon Lederman: We formed a team. We formed a not-for-profit academy called The Teachers Academy in Chicago, and we were trying to set up a model for changing all the cities in the United States. I mean, my own research is in particle physics, which involves huge accelerators, and we learned from that, that you might as well do it right by doing the whole system. So here we are in the third largest school system in the nation, Chicago, trying to re-train all the teachers. Not a teacher in one school here, or two schools, or ten schools, or fifty schools, but 600 schools, all the teachers in Chicago. Re-train them in ways of teaching math and science that are delightful because it's a wonderful way to start a kid in being interested in learning.
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Leon Lederman

Nobel Prize in Physics

Leon Lederman: I love science, and I think the hardest thing for young people is to know what they want. It takes effort to really know what you want. You want an extra income? If you're really interested in becoming wealthy, then you don't want to go into science. It's not impossible, but unlikely that that's a road to wealth. You really have to know what makes you happy and that takes a little effort. What makes you pleasurable? What makes you say, "Thank God it's Monday," instead of "Thank God it's Friday." That's a lot. You're going to spend some vast fraction of your life in your business, whatever it is, whether it's running a lathe, running a corporation, or running an experiment. Therefore, you want to really enjoy that, otherwise it's a dumb thing you're going to do. If you hate to go to work, even though you're making three times as much as a scientist, probably you're life will not be that satisfying. The biggest effort is, know thyself. That's Shakespeare, right? "To thine own self be true." It's not easy, so you've got to have some experiences. I generally advise kids to, you know, take the hardest courses, because that's useful. Aim high, because you can always fall back, but if you aim low, there's nothing to fall back to. You know? Try hard things, and there's always fall-back. You can always do less and still have fun at it. Especially in college: smorgasbord! Try everything. Listen to the best professor, whether it's a Latin professor, or an economics professor.
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