Zora’s List

I first heard the story of Zora Colakovic this past weekend on an old episode of NPR’s This American Life. To make the story short, Zora was a child when she started to become obsessed with her dreams of becoming a superhero fighting with guns, swords, and super powers. Without actual super powers a teenage Zora started to keep a list of skills to acquire that would enable her to be a super hero. She became determined to be her vision of a hero by age 23.

At age 13, Zora’s list of skills included Martial Arts, Chemistry, Hang Gliding, Metaphysics, Helicopter Piloting, Airplane Piloting, Parachuting, Mountain Climbing, Wilderness Survival, Evasive Driving, Rafting, Scuba-diving, Mountain Emergency Medicine, Body Building, Archery, Demolitions, Throwing Stars, and Knife Throwing.

As she grew older Zora would update the list and, incredibly, she mastered almost all of the skills she set out to learn. Her pursuit of becoming a super hero led her to graduate high school at the age of 15, get her BA at 18, achieve a Master’s degree at 20, and complete the coursework for a PHD at 21. After being deemed to risky and dangerous for a job at the CIA, Zora flourished as a bounty hunter and private investigator putting her skills to work.

I was blown away by Zora’s story and her dedication to her childhood lists. Like her, I wanted to be a super hero as a child but never had the logic of how to practically apply those wishes. I’m really inspired by Zora’s lists and the path she took to live her dreams. I begun to contemplate what, at this point in my life, is on my list to learn in order for me to be the person I really want to be.

After googling Zora’s name I didn’t come up with much aside from various announcements that a movie based on her life starring Jennifer Aniston was once in production (and it seems doomed to be stuck in development Hell). I was heartened to come across to this lone post that seemed to genuinely discuss her story. That blog’s author, like me, was contemplating what their own version of Zora’s list would include.

So my question to everyone is: What’s on your version of Zora’s List? To hear the This American Life episode featuring Zora Colakovic you can download an mp3 from this link (27.1 MB). The story is in the second act around the 20 minute mark. I’m working on my list, what will yours include?




16 thoughts on “Zora’s List”

  1. Zora is one of my cousins, I haven’t spoken with her in quite a few years but I occasionally google her name to see if the film is going anywhere. She has lead a very interesting life but I would think Angelina Jolie is much better suited to play her.

    Hey Zora if you’re reading this just wanted to let you know I’m still ticked that I never got to play D&D at Baba and Deda’s.(lol) 🙂

  2. Hi!!

    I found this a really interesting post as well- I interviewed Zora to do a profile story on her for my magazine article writing class in the fall. She is so nice and such an inspiration to girls (and guys) everywhere! I hope they do a movie on her for that reason alone… I just googled her name to see if anything new had happened with her.

    Whoever is reading this, I hope you have a wonderful day 🙂

    1. Mindy, I’m still waiting to see that magazine article! Did you ever get to listen to the American Life episode? BTW, Zo is my niece…the only one I have…should have known she’d become famous!

    2. Hello Mindy. I doubt you will be checking this but I am curious to read your profile story on Zora. I find her story fascinating, and do not think the podcast captured her process well enough on how she actually was determined to complete that list. Drop me a line if you can at professional_47@mailforce.net


  3. OMG, this has been one of my favorite TAL stories ever – I listen to it any time I need inspiration. This is a great idea!

  4. I used to hang with Zora and can honestly say she’s the most gifted person I’ve ever had the joy of knowing. I googled her name just to see if I could contact her to say hi. I had no idea there was a movie in development about her crazy life! She’s the shit! Ha! That’s the best!

  5. Thanks for taking the time to talk about this, I feel powerfully about it and love learning more on this matter. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more selective information? It is exceedingly helpful for me.

  6. I too had a similar “superspy” skill list! Mine was less focused on soldier type skills but I wanted to learn how to run all kinds of vehicles and speak a lot of languages. I learned how to sail a dinghy and drive stick, and learned varying (some much, some very little) amounts of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Welsh and Bulgarian. I had training as a singer so some of those languages were for that. Middle age and day jobs led me to finance, accounting and real estate, and now my life is focused on gardening, frugality/survival, and martial arts, as well as the everpresent music. Hearing that article on NPR reminded me that I’d had such a “superspy” list once.

  7. I just listened to Zora’s story on TAL. And, I’ve never been so attracted to a woman without knowing what she looks like. I can honestly say I really don’t care. This woman is amazing. I wish I could find a person so interesting.

  8. http://www.pimall.com/nais/nl/loganclark.html
    More on Ms C.

    As we all know, the Aniston movie was another “FRIENDS” spinoff screwball romantic comedy.

    I was skeptical of the public radio article, but Ms McEvers, the journalist, assured me via email it was true and checked.

    How different Ms.Colakovic’s life would have been were she a member/victim of the current environment where many young people have no aspirations beyond the immediate social ones, and those who do have a dream may face truly insurmountable barriers?

    PS: I had my “Zorah List”. Got a few items checked off, found new ones, and worked with people who did others.

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