Inspiring stories of famous people who achieved their dreams
Inspiring stories of famous people who achieved their dreams
the manager who couldn’t write by gary sledge
what launched amy tan’s career wasn’t a great opportunity, but a kick in the ass.
Before selling a million copies of The Lucky Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan was a writer. a business writer. she and a partner ran a technical writing business with “billable hours” similar to those of a lawyer.
her role with clients was mainly account management, but this daughter of immigrants wanted to do something more creative with words, words in English.
so he made his proposal to his partner: “I want to write more”. he stated that his strength was making estimates, chasing down contractors and collecting bills. “It was horrible.” the very things she hated so much and she knew she wasn’t very good at. but his partner insisted that writing was his weakest skill.
“I thought, I can either believe him and keep doing this or make my demands.” then she argued and defended her rights.
He wouldn’t give up.
surprised, tan said: “I quit”.
and he said, “you can’t quit. you’re fired!” and added, “you’ll never earn a dime writing.”
tan set out to prove him wrong and took on as many tasks as he could. she sometimes worked 90 hours a week as a freelance technical writer. being alone was hard. but not letting others limit her or define her talents made it worth it. and on her own, she felt free to try fiction. And so Joy Luck Club was born, with the bright and lonely daughter of Chinese immigrants. And the manager who couldn’t write became one of America’s best-selling and best-loved authors.
“you are studying dirt” by fran lostys
dr. Judah Folkman retains a reproduction of a 1903 new york times article in his archives. in it, two physics professors explain why airplanes couldn’t fly. The article appeared just three months before the Wright brothers broke the air in Kitty Hawk.
In the early 1970s, Folkman proposed an idea in cancer research that didn’t fit with what scientists “knew” to be true: that tumors didn’t grow new blood vessels to “feed” and grow. he was convinced that it was. but his colleagues told him: “you are studying dirt”, which means that his project was useless science.
folkman ignored the whistles from the research community. For two decades, he was met with disinterest or hostility as he pursued his work in angiogenesis, the study of the growth of new blood vessels. at a research convention, half the audience walked out. “He’s just a surgeon,” he heard someone say.
but he always believed his work could help stop tumors from growing and could help find ways to grow blood vessels where they were needed, such as around clogged arteries in the heart.
folkman and his colleagues discovered the first inhibitors of angiogenesis in the 1980s. today, more than 100,000 cancer patients benefit from the research he pioneered. His work is now recognized as being at the forefront of the fight to cure cancer.
“There is a fine line between persistence and stubbornness,” says folkman. “I have found that the key is to choose a problem that is worth persistent effort.”
the child stays in the photo by fran lostys
He was not a scholar and his classmates made fun of him. Instead of reading, the boy actually preferred to run around with an 8mm camera and shoot home movies of the wreckage of his lionel train (which he showed his friends for a small fee).
In his second year of high school, he dropped out. But when his parents persuaded him to come back, he was mistakenly placed in a class for people with learning disabilities. it lasted a month. Only when the family moved to another city did he land in a more suitable high school, where he eventually graduated.
After being denied entry to a traditional film school, Steven Spielberg enrolled in English at California State University Long Beach. then, in 1965, he remembers, in one of those fortuitous moments, his life took a complete turn. While visiting Universal Studios, he met Chuck Silvers, an executive in the editorial department. silvers liked the guy who made 8mm movies and invited him to visit sometime.
appeared the next day. Without a job or security clearance, Spielberg (dressed in a dark suit and tie, carrying his father’s briefcase with nothing in it but “a sandwich and chocolate bars”) confidently approached the guard at the gate of Universal and greeted him. casually. . the guard returned the salute. he was inside.
“All summer long,” spielberg recalls, “I dressed in my suit and hung out with the directors and writers [including the silver ones, who knew the kid wasn’t a studio employee, but winked at the hoax. ]. I even found an office that was not being used and became a squat. I bought some plastic roof tiles and put my name in the building directory: steven spielberg, room 23c.”
It was worth it for everyone. Ten years later, Spielberg, 28, directed Jaws, which grossed $470 million, at the time the highest-grossing film of all time. Dozens of movies and awards have followed because Steven Spielberg knew what his teachers didn’t: Talent is in the eyes of the filmmaker.
too short to dance by nancy coveney
Couldn’t she smile? if only she was taller. She loved the kick of it, but… like thousands of other young women, Twyla Tharp came to New York City with big dreams. The self-described farm girl from Indiana enrolled at Barnard College to pursue a degree in art history. but her real passion, her real obsession, was dance.
To meet college physical education requirements, she studied dance with the legendary Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. soon she was fitting in her schoolwork between two or three dance classes a day. a dream was born but dance is not exactly a foolproof profession for life.
When he graduated in the mid-1960s, he auditioned for commercials and tried out for roles, but he didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. she lacked the technical skills to be a dancer and she found out at a big audition that she was too short for rockets. they “loved my kicks and 52 fouettés on pointe,” she wrote in her autobiography, “but couldn’t you please smile?” and she also learned that she was “too small in every way to work as a chorus girl in the Latin quarter, but I still tried.” and tharp wondered, will i ever be a ballerina? Do I have a dancing business? the only way to find out, it seemed, was to form her own company and create her own dance style.
For five long years, Tharp and his group rehearsed practically every day in the basement of a Greenwich Village church. sometimes the janitors had to “throw them away” on Sunday mornings. they worked for little pay and almost without recognition. tharp kept asking himself, do you want to do this or not?
Forty years later, after choreographing more than 100 dances on Broadway and in movies like Hair and Ragtime, after winning the National Medal of Arts in 2004, Tharp still asks that question. and the answer is yes.