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Star corner: What it takes to win

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Every leader absorbs important lessons that propel him or her from follower to leader. Here are nuggets of wisdom that several celebrities say helped them reach the top:
  • George Clooney’s mother taught him to be “scrappy.” A beauty queen with her own TV show, Nina Clooney also liked power tools and literally put a roof over Clooney’s head.
“She taught me how to be realistic and survive in weird situations,” Clooney says. Example: When a car smashed the leg of his motorcycle palin a remote part of Italy, Clooney directed the rescue effort despite not speaking the language.

“Keep your cool, get the job done,” he says. “That’s what I got from my mother.”
  • Regis Philbin was preparing to leave military service when a grizzled Marine asked him what he planned to do with his life. Philbin said he wanted to go into television but wasn’t sure he had enough talent to make it.
The Marine slammed two shoes together and barked, “Don’t you know you can have anything you want in this life? You’ve just got to want it bad enough! Now, do you really want it?” To which Philbin naturally replied, “Yes, sir.”
  • Rev. Al Sharpton says he learned from Rev. Jesse Jackson that people need repetition to remember things. He notes that Jackson’s mantra “Keep hope alive” may seem like little more than a slogan. But he also notes that people remember it.
  • Jack Valenti flew fighter jets and aided President Johnson before taking the reins of the Motion Picture Association of America. Valenti say she’s learned that you need to take risks to succeed. And, to make it big, you have to take big risks.
“It’s hard to do anything that will have some measure of impact unless you take risks,” Valenti says. “If you take the easy way or the comfortable way or the safe way, you’re not going to leave a big legacy.”

— Adapted from “What I’ve Learned,” Esquire.

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