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Alberto Gonzales

Former Attorney General of the United States

Do I ever second-guess myself? One of the things -- I really have enjoyed watching President Bush make decisions, because he's very good about getting information, hearing all sides. I think he would have made a good judge in that respect. But what he does, he gets his information, and then I'm sure he thinks about these big issues, and he makes a decision, and he moves on, and sometimes there's criticism. It doesn't matter. He's made a decision, and you move on. And so I think I'm a little bit like that. You have to be. There are too many decisions to make. I've learned that, certainly at the Department of Justice, there are too many big decisions to make to second-guess yourself. You surround yourself with a good team -- people that you trust, whose judgment you really value. And they make recommendations to you, and based upon those recommendations, you make your decision, and then you move on, because you've got other big decisions to make. You really -- you have little time to second-guess yourself.
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Jane Goodall

The Great Conservationist

So I got this job in Nairobi. And then somebody said, "If you're interested in animals you must meet Louis Leakey." So I rang up. A voice said, "I'm Leakey. What do you want?" He hated the telephone. So I said I wanted to meet him, and he said, "Come to the museum." The natural history museum. Asked me all these questions, took me around. I think he was amazed that a young girl straight from England with no degree knew so much, because I had done what my mother suggested, I'd gone on learning about Africa. I read books, been around the Natural History Museum in London. So I could answer many of his questions, and he offered me a job just like that, boom, first day. And I said, rather cheekily, I suppose, "Well, this is fantastic, but before I settle down to " -- because it was a secretary -- " to work for you, I must get out into Africa. I must. I've come all this way and I must go out into the wild and see a lion." You know.
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Jane Goodall

The Great Conservationist

Jane Goodall: For several years I worked on writing a book, The Chimpanzee of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, in which I was going to summarize the research results of the first 15, 20 years, whatever it was. And as I went in deeper and deeper into this, I realized that to write the kind of book that I probably should, I needed to learn all sorts of things which I would've learned had I been an undergraduate, which I had never learned, which had always made me feel a little bit at a disadvantage if I was talking to a real scientist. So the Ph.D., yes. But what about all this ground work, all this learning about endocrinology and things like that? So I taught myself these things in order to write the book, the things I felt I needed.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

What I tried to do all through college and graduate school was to go to Washington every summer, so that I could have an actual experience of government. I knew I was interested in American history and government, so I thought, instead of just reading about it I'd better find out about it in practical terms. So one summer I worked in the House of Representatives; another summer I worked in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and another summer I worked in the State Department. And then eventually I became a White House fellow and worked for Lyndon Johnson. And that probably was the single most important experience in orienting me to want to do presidential history, because I got to know this crazy character when I was only 23 years old.
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

When I look at Franklin Roosevelt's leadership, I think the most important quality he had during the Depression and the war was this absolute confidence in himself, in his country, really in the American people. He was able to exude that confidence and almost project it. So when the people in the country heard him speak in these fireside chats, they said, "Yeah, it's going to be okay. We'll get through this depression," or "We'll win this war." I think confidence comes from doing something well, working at it hard, and you build it up. It's not something you're born with. You have to build the confidence as you go along. So I would say energy, vitality, confidence, being willing to take risks at certain times if it's something you believe in. That's probably the hardest thing you have to figure out, and that's where courage comes in. I think in the long run, these qualities somehow all meld together in a way that it's hard to speak about them separately
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

Do research. Even if you're writing the college essay in some ways, you can do a little bit of research to bring it to life. You can't just expect it all to come from your head. I think the mistaken idea that we have about writing is that somebody sits by a lake and they look at the clouds. There are poets who can do that, who generate their own thoughts with nothing other than what's in their head. Ninety-nine percent of the rest of the writing is from work you build up. When I do research, I have done -- 90 percent of my time is the research, the other ten percent is the writing. So I don't have to face a blank piece of paper. I can look at this as a quote that I have from somewhere. This is an interview that I'm going to take from that. So it's not as scary as having to have it come from your head. So I think the most important thing I would tell kids is, "Don't think of it as something that has to come from your head."
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Doris Kearns Goodwin

Pulitzer Prize for History

Doris Kearns Goodwin: Whenever I start a book, I make a very long outline. Not so much A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, 4, but really paragraph outline of the episodes that I want to cover in the book. And it's before I know a lot. When I do that, it is what I, as a layperson, would want to know about, say, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Then what happens is, you get so deep into it, that after a while you're off on a million tangents. And I always go back to the outline, because what it was in the outline, that I wanted to know as a layperson, is what the lay reader is probably going to want to know too. So it's a nice reminder to yourself, if you're getting so deep into something that really the reader is not going to care about at all.
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