This month we draw upon the wisdom of a scientist, a professional athlete, a rock musician, and the CEO of a major corporation to share with us their personal secrets of excellence. Each one of these individuals offers a single insight on how a particular practice has helped them achieve personal success in their chosen fields. From these four distinct individuals we gain four pieces of wisdom to help us navigate ourselves to a winning and prosperous life in 2009.

For our first piece of wisdom we hear from Daria Hazuda, scientific director for the giant multinational pharmaceutical company Merck. For most of us, failure is a disappointment, but not to Daria. She explains her approach: “For me, a failed experiment is actually a rich source of information. People tend to focus only on positive results. But if you look at people in the drug-discovery business who are successful, it is often those who also learn from the negative. They take all that information and synthesize it in a holistic way.” One of Hazuda’s fellow researchers at Merck, Amy Espeseth, adds, “What’s unique about Daria is that she’s a very creative, nonlinear thinker. A lot of people in science do things in a step-by-step way. With Daria, it’s kind of like a chess game; her moves show she’s thinking a few steps ahead of everyone else.”