Academy of Achievement Logo
Home
Achiever Gallery
Keys to Success
 Passion
 Vision
   + [ Preparation ]
 Courage
 Perseverance
 Integrity
 The American Dream
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers

 
 
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


Oprah Winfrey

Entertainment Executive

I was taught to read at an early age. By the time I was three, I was reciting speeches in the church. And they'd put me up on the program, and they would say, "and Little Mistress Winfrey will render a recitation," and I would do "Jesus rose on Easter Day, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, all the angels did proclaim." And all the sisters sitting in the front row would fan themselves and turn to my grandmother and say, "Hattie Mae, this child is gifted." And I heard that enough that I started to believe it. Maybe I am. I didn't even know what "gifted" meant, but I just thought it meant I was special. So anytime people came over, I'd recite. I'd recite Bible verses and poetry. By the time I was seven, I was doing "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley: "Out of the night that covers me, black as a pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods there be for my unconquerable soul." And at the time, I was saying it, I didn't know what I was talking about, but I'd do all the motions, "O-u-t of the night that covers me," and people would say, "Whew, that child can speak!" And so that's, you know, whatever you do a lot of, you get good at doing it. And that's just about how this whole broadcasting career started for me.
View Interview with Oprah Winfrey
View Biography of Oprah Winfrey
View Profile of Oprah Winfrey
View Photo Gallery of Oprah Winfrey



Oprah Winfrey

Entertainment Executive

I don't know if anybody really skyrockets to success. I think that success is a process. And I believe that my first Easter speech, at Kosciusko Baptist Church, at the age of three and a half, was the beginning. And that every other speech, every other book I read, every other time I spoke in public, was a building block. So that by the time I first sat down to audition in front of a television camera, and somebody said, "Read this," what allowed me to read it so comfortably and be so at ease with myself at that time, was the fact that I had been doing it a while. If I'd never read a book, or never spoken in public before, I would have been traumatized by it. So the fact that we went on the air with "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1986, nationally, and people said, "Oh, but you are so comfortable in front of the camera; you can be yourself." Well, it's because I've been being myself since I was 19, and I would not have been able to be as comfortable with myself had I not made mistakes on the air and been allowed to make mistakes on the air and understand that it doesn't matter.
View Interview with Oprah Winfrey
View Biography of Oprah Winfrey
View Profile of Oprah Winfrey
View Photo Gallery of Oprah Winfrey



Tom Wolfe

America's Master Novelist

The writing programs, where you get the Masters of Fine Art in writing, are always telling people to "write what you know." And students interpret that to mean your own life. Unless you're Count Tolstoy, there's not that much in your own life. I'd be out with a cup if I had to write surely what's based on my own life. But in the 19th century, where there were so many great realistic novelists, they understood. You had to go outside of your own life to get new material. Even Dostoevsky, we think of him being such an internal, psychological creative force. When he wanted to write about the student radicals of his era, he went to the archives. And then started going -- he'd hear about a meeting of some of these groups, he'd go attend, to just get the material. Dickens was, of course, famous for this. Zola did it just time after time after time, going to a new area of life. He wanted to get all of France into a series of novels, and he pretty well did. He'd go from farming to warfare, to whatever he thought he really hadn't covered yet.
View Interview with Tom Wolfe
View Biography of Tom Wolfe
View Profile of Tom Wolfe
View Photo Gallery of Tom Wolfe



Tom Wolfe

America's Master Novelist

So it was at that point that I started The Bonfire of the Vanities. And at first it was going to be a novel about New York. It had no real focus. It was going to be based more or less on Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Hence the title, The Bonfire of the Vanities. I thought I could -- I had been a reporter for all those years here in New York, and I thought I could just draw upon my experiences, the things I'd seen, and write this book. And I found I couldn't. For the way I wanted to write a novel, I had to go out and do reporting just like the reporting that I did for The Right Stuff, for the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, or anything else that I had written.
View Interview with Tom Wolfe
View Biography of Tom Wolfe
View Profile of Tom Wolfe
View Photo Gallery of Tom Wolfe



Tom Wolfe

America's Master Novelist

I decided I should have a great party scene -- a party of great social wattage in a Fifth Avenue apartment -- in this book. And I had been to a number of parties like that. And so, I said, "At last. I don't have to do any research for this." So I wrote this chapter, and then I read it over, and it was like a gossip column. You know, just "Who's that person? Who's that person? What did he say? What did she say?" So the next one I went to, I just shut up. I was just on the receiving end of whatever was going on. And for the first time, I noticed the strained, willfully raucous laughter that goes on at parties like that. People laugh in this frantic manner as if to say, "See! I'm a part of all this, and I know what's funny, and I'm just having the time of my life because I fit in!" And then I'd notice that the worst fate in the world was not to be in a conversational cluster. And if somebody's left out, you'd see them studying paintings as if they were very fascinated with art. They'd talk to empty spots on the wall. At last resort, they'll go up to a wife or a husband and start conversation. But you've already lost the game if you're reduced to doing that. There were so many things that I saw once I was not a participant. I was just there. I noticed that, at that time -- and we're talking about the 1980s -- in an apartment of great social wattage, there was never modern lighting. There were no down-lighters, which is essentially industrial lighting. It was always, you were always sometime in the 19th century. Everything's overstuffed. There are these sort of small amber lamps that make everybody's complexion look pretty good. And I just never would have noticed any of this from my own experience. And I discovered that if my radar isn't on, if I haven't switched it on, I don't notice any more than anybody else does.
View Interview with Tom Wolfe
View Biography of Tom Wolfe
View Profile of Tom Wolfe
View Photo Gallery of Tom Wolfe



John Wooden

Basketball's Coaching Legend

John Wooden: I think very definitely it's the little things that make the big things happen. It's putting your shoes on properly. It's getting the wrinkles out of your socks so you won't get blisters. Those are important things. It's making sure that no soap is left on the shower room floor where someone -- maybe not you, but somebody else -- might slip and fall and hurt themselves. Just little things like that. They may seem inconsequential, but I think they're important. I think teaching your youngsters to be courteous to airline stewardesses, courteous to waitresses, courteous to all people in hotels, I think makes you a better team. I think that helps your basketball. I think that makes you a better basketball player. I think it brings you together more. I think it makes you more considerate of others. Team spirit is just being considerate of others, in my opinion.
View Interview with John Wooden
View Biography of John Wooden
View Profile of John Wooden
View Photo Gallery of John Wooden



Browse Preparation quotes by achiever last name

Previous Page

          

Next Page