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The Achiever Newsletter
When the Going Gets Tough
We share the following anecdotes in the spirit of inspiration
and motivation we all need from time to time. Please enjoy each and pass
them on to others in that same spirit.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her
mother took a very active interest in her education, introducing her to
the library at a very young age. She never lost her love of reading —
a very valuable lesson for today's youth.
She was genuinely interested in politics at a young age as she ran for
student government at James Madison High School — and lost. Little did
she know at the time of her loss that many years later this high school's
law program would dedicate a courtroom in her honor.
Ginsburg's older sister died when she was very young. Her mother struggled
with cancer throughout Ginsburg's high school years and died the day before
graduation. At that point, she dedicated her life to make her mother proud
She married Martin D. Ginsburg, later a law professor at Georgetown University
Law Center and an internationally prominent tax lawyer. She went on to
receive her B.A. from Cornell University in 1954 and enrolled at Harvard
Law School. When Martin took a job in New York City she transferred to
Columbia Law School and became the first person ever to be on both the
Harvard and Columbia law reviews. She earned her LL.B. degree at Columbia,
tied for first in her class. After her graduation from the Columbia Law
School, not one major law firm in New York City offered her a job — because
she was a woman! This was less than 50 years ago!
In 1959, Ginsburg became a law clerk to Judge Edmund L. Palmieri of the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. From
1961 to 1963, she was a research associate and then associate director
of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. She was
a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law (Newark) from 1963
to 1972, and at Columbia Law School from 1972 to 1980, where she became
the first tenured woman and co-authored the first law school case book
on sex discrimination. In 1977, she became a fellow at the Center for
Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. As the
chief litigator of the ACLU's women's rights project, she argued several
cases in front of the Supreme Court and attained a reputation as a skilled
oral advocate. Ginsburg was appointed a Judge of the United States Court
of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter in
1980. President Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court in 1993, making her the second female justice in the Court's history.
Johnny Cash, "The Man In Black," was born in poverty in Arkansas
and was working in the cotton fields with his family by age 5. His family's
personal struggles during the Depression shaped him as a person and inspired
many of his future hit songs. He sang with his family and wrote songs
throughout his childhood. He joined the Air Force and served as a radio
operator in Germany where he formed his first band. Upon his return to
the U.S., he sold appliances door-to-door as he studied to be a radio
announcer. He also played back-up guitar for many artists at the famed
Sun Recording studios during this time. Several Sun recording stars recognized
Johnny's singing potential and brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips
who launched his first recording in 1955. Johnny went on to write over
1,000 songs, sold more than 50 million albums, and received multiple Country
Music Awards and ten Grammys. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's
Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1996, Cash received Kennedy
Center Honors in Washington, D.C. From those Arkansas cotton fields, he
forged a career that spanned five decades.
Sigmund Freud, the "Father of Psychoanalysis," sold only 600
copies of his first book The Interpretation of Dreams. After eight
years, his initial effort netted him a mere $250 in royalties. Early in
his career, the Austrian neurologist opened a private practice specializing
in nervous brain disorders. He smoked cigars from age 24, resulting in
having his jaw removed due to a malignancy. He later contracted cancer
of the mouth and underwent 30 operations to treat the disease. For several
years, he wore a painful prosthesis to seal off his mouth from his nasal
cavity. He experimented with hypnotism but was admittedly very poor at
it. He gave up the practice and converted to putting his patients on a
couch and encouraging them to say whatever came into their minds, a practice
termed free association. His persistence paid off, and he became one of
the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. His widely read book,
The Interpretation of Dreams, is considered the gospel of psychoanalysis.
Sylvester Stallone was born in New York City in 1946. Sly was thrown
out of fourteen schools in eleven years. At fifteen, his classmates voted
him the one "most likely to end up in the electric chair." After
struggling to graduate from high school, Stallone attended the University
of Miami for three years. He came within a few credit hours of graduation,
before he decided to drop out and pursue an acting career. His professors
discouraged him from pursuing a career in acting. His trademark sneer,
double lazy eyes, and slurred speech — the result of paralysis in the
left side of his face caused by birth complications — was certainly not
an asset at that time.
Sly was turned down for bit part after bit for years. He finally managed
to land a few contracts as an "extra" — seen on the movie screen
for only a minute or two in several films. One night, Stallone attended
the Ali-Chuck Wepner fight, and the idea of Rocky was born. That night,
Stallone went home, and in three days he had written the script for the
movie that would change his life forever. Rocky. Sly wrote the
script with the intention of playing the lead role himself. It was rejected
time and time again because no one could visualize Sly in the role of
a film star. Sly could have sold the script alone several times and pocketed
a good deal of cash. He felt no one could play the role of Rocky as well
as he could. Finally, the quality of the script and the potential for
success convinced a studio to gamble on a great script and a so-so actor.
The rest is history.
Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards in all, including two
for Stallone himself, for Best Actor and for Best Original Screenplay.
In addition to winning Best Picture, Rocky won for Best Director
and Best Film Editing. Rocky cost about $1.1 million to make and grossed
about $225 million worldwide. The movie has made the steps of the Philadelphia
Museum of Art a Philadelphia tourist attraction. The Rocky series successfully
grew to six box-office blockbusters. His military character, "Rambo,"
generated four triumphant films, and Sly was instrumental in writing,
directing, producing or acting in a total of 26 major films since 1975.
Thus far he has avoided the "electric chair.
Publication Date: Winter 2007
K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®,
Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars,
and consulting services.
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