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In the olden days… — The Germans say: Damals… In alten Zeiten… And that is usually the beginning of a story.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But this man has some new tricks to teach you about how to get “old dogs” to tell you really good stories about the olden days.

Marc Pachter, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery and of the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian Institution), created “Living Self-Portaits”, a program of interviews with great Americans staged before a live audience. One of his decisions in selecting the candidates was that they should be of a certain age. We call them elderly, but actually think of them as old. Here master interviewer Marc Pachter unlocks the secrets of empathy that allowed him to ask them the questions they had always wanted to be asked, getting them to share their surprizing stories. Take a quiet 20 minutes to watch this beautiful presentation. You won’t regret it!

Given at the EG Conf 2008, posted and downloadable at TED.com.