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Craig McCaw

Pioneer of Telecommunications

I had a particular English teacher who was wont to challenge me in the learning of Macbeth. And as a result of that, I think I memorized more passages of Macbeth than anyone would ever want to know. But to this day, those beat heavily in my mind as I think about processes and about Macbeth's whole sort of philosophical relationship to opportunity and the good and evil that he failed to comprehend, and as it were control his most base instincts. And that ultimately destroyed him. And I must say that whole process with that professor was very powerful to me.
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Craig McCaw

Pioneer of Telecommunications

I think people who understand both science and philosophy, anthropology, whatever, really are going to be benefited the most. And I've always been rather negative about studying the specific aspects of business in school. I always have felt that business schools, which are too disciplined, create wonderful bureaucrats. And bureaucrats are important, but if you really want to make a contribution I think you need to be open to the possibilities.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Frank McCourt: I learned to drop the mask. I went into the classroom as -- my only models were Irish school masters and I thought I'd go in there and I'd roar at the kids in McKee Vocational High School the way the masters roared at us. It didn't work. "Yo, teach, why you talking like that?" And they were talking to me. I'm the school master, "Yo, teach," and I had to stop this. I had to find some other way of dealing with the kids, of running the classes, and I found eventually the only way to deal with them was to be honest, to just try to get to them. I didn't know how. I found it very difficult to even deal with people on a one to one basis because we put up so many defenses when we were kids. And we were so angry all the time that even in the one-to-one situation in New York, if somebody disagreed with me, it got my Irish up so to speak, and I'd get angry. I couldn't realize that this is a person who just wanted to discuss something. I thought they were opposing me and that would lead to fisticuffs. "Would you like to step outside?" So it took me a long, long time to get over that. And it was only through the teaching I learned to put this anger aside and not to take it personally when the kids would erupt. You know, when you have 150 or 170 high school kids every day there will be eruptions, and they get angry and they direct it at the teacher, but it's not at the teacher. It's something they brought from home. You know, you can get all psychological about this, but I learned not to take it personally. I learned not to be quite impassive over it, but to understand what was happening in the classroom. That was the beginning of my education.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Kids were asking me about my life, and I would dole out a few anecdotes, and they kept saying, "Oh, you should write a book. You should write a book." And I thought I should write a book, and I was trying. And every summer I would try to write the book and you need -- You can't do it. It's like running a marathon. You can't say, "Oh, I'm going to run the marathon." You have to, nine months in advance at least, start training. And it's the same thing with writing. You have to get the rhythms, and you have to, above all, find the voice, and it took me all those years, not until I retired. But I had the material. That's the main thing. The material was circling around my head and lying there in my notebooks waiting to be tapped.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

I wish I could say again that I was like James Joyce, who worked things out, or Hemingway, who just sculpted those sentences. For me, it was my method of writing that led me to it. Sitting with a notebook and a pen writing on the right-hand page whatever story I wanted to tell, and making notes on the left-hand page about ideas coming to me for future reference. And I wrote 19 or 20 pages of Angela's Ashes which is in the past tense, describing my mother and father coming to New York. And on the left page I wrote one day -- I knew the next day I wanted to get to my earliest memories and start my story. My story. And I wrote, "I'm in a playground on Claussen Avenue in Brooklyn with my brother, Malachy. He's two. I'm three. We're on the seesaw. He goes up. I go down. He goes up. I go down. I get off. Malachy comes down, crashes, bites his tongue and there's blood." That was my earliest memory. And the next day I picked that up in the present tense with the perspective of the three-year old, me, and it felt comfortable and I continued that way. I just -- it was a glove that I put on.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

When I arrived in New York, I needed a job, and I was fortunate enough to be taken on as a trainee in a brand new magazine that was just starting called Sports Illustrated. And I think now, in retrospect, that what I did in the next 12 years was to serve a kind of apprenticeship in different jobs, different magazine jobs, primarily editing, writing. And after I'd done that for about 10 or 12 years, I felt that I had reached the point where I could attempt something on my own.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

I had no anticipation that I was going to write history, but I stumbled upon a story that I thought was powerful, exciting, and very worth telling. And I taught myself, in effect, how to do the research, how to dig out the pieces, both large and small, of the past. I discovered in the process that -- contrary to the notion that the past is a dead thing -- that in fact, wherever you scratch the surface, you find life. And it was the life -- the people and what happened to them -- that was the pull for me.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

I set out to try to understand how the Brooklyn Bridge was built -- the engineering, yes, but also the human story, which is very complicated, and dramatic, and moving, and I had to teach myself the engineering involved. I found the material, the treasure house of letters and diaries stowed away in an attic. That's supposed to be a mythic experience. That happened to me. I found all of those letters and diaries of the Roebling family, which -- they were responsible for the bridge, the design and the building of the bridge -- in a closet up in the attic of a library in Upstate New York, at Troy, New York, at the RPI, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the material was untouched. It hadn't been catalogued, it hadn't been sorted out, hundreds and thousands of items stuffed away in a big storage closet, and I had to unscramble it all. It was like the ultimate tangled fishing line that I had to slowly put back the way it was meant to be, and then I had to try and understand it, and it took the better part of several years just figuring that out. Now if I had gone to a lecture, or if I had been given a textbook, I could have absorbed what was in the lecture, I could have absorbed what was in the textbook, and I could have had it in my head long enough to take the test to pass the course. But probably six months, maybe a year, certainly six years later it would be gone out of my head. But it's now been almost 25 years since I did the work on that project, and I could sit down and take a test on all of that and do very well right now because I had to do it myself.
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