Elizabeth Blackburn on What Gives Her Energy

The Nobel laureate and President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies on her life hack.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Elizabeth Blackburn: I check the weather forecast so I can get a feel for the day, and, importantly know what to wear when I walk to work that morning!

TG: What gives you energy?
EB: A lively discussion about an idea, with one or more people who enjoy the company and love the process of exchanging ideas.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
EB: I genuinely like people. I just do.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
EB: “Madame Curie,” by Eve Curie. It is a biography about Marie Curie, the scientist and Nobel Laureate, written by her daughter Eve Curie. It was a book I read as a pre-teenager and I was captivated by the story depicted of her as both a person and a scientist.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
EB: It is not very close. I answer it, if it looks like a call I want to take, or need to take, but I turn it off to silent at night. While it stays near the bed (handy for that weather check-in the next morning!), it is set on silent. If someone calls me late at night while I am wanting to sleep, I will only take it if it looks like it might be an emergency — otherwise, even if I know the caller, nearly always I don’t take the call.

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 alongside two colleagues for their discovery of telomerase and telomeres’ role in the aging process. She is currently president of the Salk Institute. Blackburn was elected president of the American Association for Cancer Research and is a recipient of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, among many other awards. In 2007, she was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people.

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