A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. Toward the end of the war Edith and other prisoners had been moved to Austria. On May 4, 1945 a young American soldier noticed her hand moving slightly amongst a number of dead bodies. He quickly summoned medical help and brought her back from the brink of death.
Paul Sudhir Arul Kalanithi (April 1, 1977 – March 9, 2015) was an Indian-American neurosurgeon and writer. His book When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about his life and illness battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House in January 2016. It was on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller list for multiple weeks.
David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an American writer and university professor in the disciplines of English and creative writing. His novel Infinite Jest (1996) was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. His last novel, The Pale King (2011), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012. The Los Angeles Times' David Ulin called Wallace "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last twenty years". Among the writers who cite Wallace as an influence are Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Wurtzel, George Saunders, Rivka Galchen, John Green, Matthew Gallaway, David Gordon, Darin Strauss, Charles Yu, Porochista Khakpour, and Deb Olin Unferth. Wallace died by suicide at age 46 after struggling with depression for many years.
Clayton Magleby Christensen (April 6, 1952 – January 23, 2020) was an American academic and business consultant who developed the theory of "disruptive innovation", first introduced in his 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma, which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century, and which led The Economist to term him "the most influential management thinker of his time." He served as the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (HBS), and was also a leader and writer in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).Christensen was also a co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, a venture capital firm, and Innosight, a management consulting and investment firm specializing in innovation.
Robert J. Waldinger (born 1951) is an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. He is Professor of Psychiatry (part time) at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of 724 men for over 80 years and now studies their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science can teach us about healthy human development, and he is Founding Director of the Lifespan Research Foundation, dedicated to bringing the insights of lifespan research to the general public. He is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as two books, and he directs a teaching program in psychodynamic psychotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He has won awards for teaching and research from the American Psychiatric Association, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. Waldinger is also a Zen priest and sensei (transmitted teacher) in both Soto and Rinzai lineages, and teaches Zen in New England and internationally. His TED talk on lessons from the longest study of happiness has had over 40 million views and is the fastest spreading talk in the history of TEDx events. Waldinger grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1973. He completed his M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1978.
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