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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


Frederick W. Smith

Founder, Federal Express

I learned an awful lot in the Marine Corps -- particularly about, I think, how to treat people, lead people -- which has played a big role in FedEx. A big part of the employee relations systems and all that we have at our company came from my experience in the service. The Marine Corps is the best when it comes to teaching people how to lead other folks. And so, it had a profound experience on me, some bad, some good.
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Frederick W. Smith

Founder, Federal Express

I think I came up with a very, very different perspective than most people that end up in senior management positions about what people who wear blue collars think about things and how they react to things, and what you should do to try to be fair to those folks. So in that regard it was an invaluable experience. And a great deal of what FedEx has been able to accomplish was built on those lessons I learned in the Marine Corps.
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Stephen Sondheim

Award-winning Composer and Lyricist

Stephen Sondheim: It was a long afternoon. Well, it was probably two and a half hours, but the packed information I got in makes it seem longer. And you know, at that age you're a sponge, you just absorb everything. And he (Oscar Hammerstein) gave me the distillation of 30 years of experience. Now, not all in that afternoon, because then he set up a course for me, so to speak. He said, "If you want to learn to write musicals, why don't you take a good play, one that you like, and make it into a musical? And then, after you've done that, then take a play that you like but you think is flawed, and see if you can improve it and turn it into a musical. Then take a story, not one that you've written, but that is not in the dramatic form, like a novel or something like that, make it into a musical. And then make up your own story and make it into a musical." He said, by the time you get all those four done, you'll know something. And that's exactly what I did.
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Stephen Sondheim

Award-winning Composer and Lyricist

When I was 17, it was their third show. They'd written Oklahoma! and Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Oscar asked me if I'd like to work on it, because they were rehearsing over the summer, which was between college terms for me. So that's exactly what I did. I was a gopher. You know, fetched coffee and typed script. And he just wanted me to inculcate myself. And I learned a great deal watching because, particularly, the show was highly experimental and it was a failure. And both those things were very important to me, because one of the things I learned was to be brave, and the other thing, not to expect that everything's going to come out perfectly.
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Esperanza Spalding

Singer, Songwriter and Jazz Bassist

I don't remember which writer said this, but in an interview, a prolific novelist was asked, "Do you write only when you're inspired, or do you write all the time? Do you wait for the muse, or do you just kind of knock it out? You can just sort of spin it out?" And he said, "Well, I do wait for the muse. I write when the muse comes, but fortunately she shows up, like me, every day at 9:00 a.m." And to me, I think the anecdote is actually much shorter than the way I just said it, but that sort of sums up the point that I was trying to make earlier, with follow-through, and Doctor -- I assume -- Shostakovich or Maestro Shostakovich was trying to instill in the student. The way that I've learned, the way that I've convinced myself to keep at something when it doesn't seem like any fruits are forming -- because that can happen. You have an arranging project or an assignment, or preparing for a gig, something that's very new and difficult, and it can feel like you're doing the same thing and nothing is changing. You know you're able to do it faster now. Okay. I couldn't put that chord there as quickly, but it just doesn't seem like much is coming, especially with lyrics and poetry because you know when the words are there, and there isn't like a method to have great lyrics. And I always think to myself, "Well, if I were the muse and I had something really special that could only be translated through a human form, wouldn't I want to give it to the person who was most, agile and fit for the task?" You know, like if you want to get this message to Marathon, you give it to a runner. You wouldn't give it to somebody who doesn't run very often, because you're not sure if they're going to make it. So I think if there is this kind of idea of a muse or whatever that could be, the muse isn't going to waste all that gold on somebody who is not in shape. So you want to be somebody. You want to be a good candidate for the muse to travel through. The muse is whatever that is, magic to travel through.
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