The 2012-2013 series featured Walter Isaacson, Dr. Robert M. Gates and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 


NBA Legend, History Author & Global Cultural Ambassador


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of basketball’s greatest players. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, dominated the NBA for 20 years, first with the Milwaukee Bucks then with the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA’s MVP six times, a 19-time All-Star and set NBA all-time records in nine categories. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. Prior to his stellar professional career he was the star of the UCLA Bruins teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships and was the only person in the 75-year history of the NCAA to be named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament three years in a row.

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Former U.S. Secretary of Defense


From 2006 to 2011, Dr. Robert M. Gates served as the 22nd Secretary of Defense for both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, and is the only individual to be asked by a newly-elected President to remain in that office. In all, Gates served a total of eight Presidents through his career. Considered “The Soldier’s Secretary,” for his commitment to placing the men and women in uniform as his top priority, Gates made significant advances in soldier safety, including replacing field transportation with heavily armored vehicles, which according to USA Today, reduced roadside bomb attacks and fatalities by almost ninety percent. Further successes include the reshaping of U.S. nuclear weapons policies, the removal of troops from Iraq and the resurgence of troops in Afghanistan.

Gates began and spent the larger part of his career in the Central Intelligence Agency. Recruited as an intelligence officer from the U.S. Air Force in 1966, Gates is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He is the author of From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. Currently installed as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary in February 2012, Gates continues to make history as the first alumnus in the modern era to serve as the institution’s Chancellor.

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Best-selling Author and CEO of the Aspen Institute


Walter Isaacson, the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and chairman of the Board of Teach for America, has been chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of Time magazine. He is the author of the bestselling biographies Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Kissinger: A Biography.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues— Isaacson’s portrayal of Jobs is a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.Isaacson’s most recent book, the exclusive biography of Steve Jobs, has remained on the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists since its release in October 2011.

Though Jobs handpicked Isaacson to pen his biography, Isaacson demurred twice, suggesting they wait until Jobs was further along in his life and career. Isaacson accepted the offer however, after Jobs revealed his terminal battle with cancer.

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