How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

by Michael J. Gelb, Michael J. Gelb

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Overview

This inspiring and inventive guide teaches readers how to develop their full potential by following the example of the greatest genius of all time, Leonardo da Vinci.

Acclaimed author Michael J. Gelb, who has helped thousands of people expand their minds to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, shows you how. Drawing on Da Vinci's notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, Gelb introduces Seven Da Vincian Principles—the essential elements of genius—from curiosità, the insatiably curious approach to life to connessione, the appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. With Da Vinci as your inspiration, you will discover an exhilarating new way of thinking. And step-by-step, through exercises and provocative lessons, you will harness the power—and awesome wonder—of your own genius, mastering such life-changing abilities as:

•Problem solving
•Creative thinking
•Self-expression
•Enjoying the world around you 
•Goal setting and life balance 
•Harmonizing body and mind

Drawing on Da Vinci's notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, acclaimed author Michael J. Gelb, introduces seven Da Vincian principles, the essential elements of genius, from curiosita, the insatiably curious approach to life, to connessione, the appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. With Da Vinci as their inspiration, readers will discover an exhilarating new way of thinking. 

Step-by-step, through exercises and provocative lessons, anyone can harness the power and awesome wonder of their own genius, mastering such life-changing skills as problem solving, creative thinking, self-expression, goal setting and life balance, and harmonizing body and mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440508274
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/08/2000
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 78,319
Product dimensions: 6.99(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Michael J. Gelb is the world’s leading authority on the application of genius thinking to personal and organizational development. He is a pioneer in the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. Gelb is the author of fourteen books on creativity and innovation, including Innovate Like Edison: The Five-Step System for Breakthrough Business Success, with Sarah Miller Caldicott, the great-grandniece of Thomas Edison.
 
In 1999, Michael Gelb won the Brain Trust Charity’s Brain of the Year Award; other honorees have included Stephen Hawking, Garry Kasparov, and Gene Roddenberry. In 2003, he was awarded a Batten Fellowship by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Gelb co-directs the acclaimed Leading Innovation Seminar at Darden with Professor James Clawson. From 2008 to 2012, Gelb also served as the Director of Creativity and Innovation Leadership for the Conscious Capitalism Institute.
 
A former professional juggler who has performed with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Michael Gelb introduced the idea of teaching juggling as a means to promote accelerated learning and team building. A fifth-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of aikido, Gelb is co-author, with International Grandmaster Raymond Keene, of Samurai Chess: Mastering Strategic Thinking Through the Martial Art of the Mind. Gelb is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique and the author of the classic work Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique.
 
In 2010 Michael Gelb released Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking: Uncork Your Creative Juices, a unique and original approach to team building. His most recent book is Creativity on Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius.
 
Michael J. Gelb lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: Your Brain Is Much Better Than You Think


Although it is hard to overstate Leonardo da Vinci's brilliance, recent scientific research reveals that you probably underestimate your own capabilities. You are gifted with virtually unlimited potential for learning and creativity. Ninety-five percent of what we know about the capabilities of the human brain has been learned in the last twenty years. Our schools, universities, and corporations are only beginning to apply this emerging understanding of human potential. Let's set the stage for learning how to think like Leonardo by considering the contemporary view of intelligence and some results of the investigation into the nature and extent of your brain's potential.

Most of us grew up with a concept of intelligence based on the traditional IQ test. The IQ test was originated by Alfred Binet (1857-1911) to measure, objectively, comprehension, reasoning, and judgment. Binet was motivated by a powerful enthusiasm for the emerging discipline of psychology and a desire to overcome the cultural and class prejudices of late nineteenth-century France in the assessment of children's academic potential. Although the traditional concept of IQ was a breakthrough at the time of its formulation, contemporary research shows that it suffers from two significant flaws.

The first flaw is the idea that intelligence is fixed at birth and immutable. Although individuals are endowed genetically with more or less talent in a given area, researchers such as Buzan, Machado, Wenger, and many others have shown that IQ scores can be raised significantly through appropriate training. In a recent statistical review of more than two hundred studies of IQ published in the journal Nature, Bernard Devlin concluded that genes account for no more than 48 percent of IQ. Fifty-two percent is a function of prenatal care, environment, and education.

The second weakness in the commonly held concept of intelligence is the idea that the verbal and mathematical reasoning skills measured by IQ tests (and SATs) are the sine qua nons of intelligence. This narrow view of intelligence has been thoroughly debunked by contemporary psychological research. In his modern classic, Frames of Mind (1983), psychologist Howard Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligences, which posits that each of us possesses at least seven measurable intelligences (in later work Gardner and his colleagues catalogued twenty-five different subintelligences). The seven intelligences, and some genius exemplars (other than Leonardo da Vinci, who was a genius in all of these areas) of each one, are:

Logical-Mathematical—Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie
Verbal-Linguistic—William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Jorge Luis Borges
Spatial-Mechanical—Michelangelo, Georgia O'Keeffe, Buckminster Fuller
Musical—Mozart, George Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald
Bodily-Kinesthetic—Morihei Ueshiba, Muhammad Ali, F. M. Alexander
Interpersonal-Social—Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth I
Intrapersonal (Self-knowledge)—Viktor Frankl, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mother Teresa

The theory of multiple intelligences is now accepted widely and when combined with the realization that intelligence can be developed throughout life, offers a powerful inspiration for aspiring Renaissance men and women.

In addition to expanding the understanding of the nature and scope of intelligence, contemporary psychological research has revealed startling truths about the extent of your potential. We can summarize the results with the phrase: Your brain is much better than you think. Appreciating your phenomenal cortical endowment is a marvelous point of departure for a practical study of Da Vincian thinking. Contemplate the following: your brain

is more flexible and multidimensional than any supercomputer.
can learn seven facts per second, every second, for the rest of your life and still have plenty of room left to learn more.
will improve with age if you use it properly.
is not just in your head. According to renowned neuroscientist Dr. Candace Pert, ". . . intelligence is located not only in the brain but in cells that are distributed throughout the body.... The traditional separation of mental processes, including emotions, from the body is no longer valid."
is unique. Of the six billion people currently living and the more than ninety billion people who have ever lived, there has never, unless you are an identical twin, been anyone quite like you. Your creative gifts, your fingerprints, your expressions, your DNA, your dreams, are unprecedented and unique.
is capable of making a virtually unlimited number of synaptic connections or potential patterns of thought.

This last point was established first by Pyotr Anokhin of Moscow University, a student of the legendary psychological pioneer Ivan Pavlov. Anokhin staggered the entire scientific community when he published his research in 1968 demonstrating that the minimum number of potential thought patterns the average brain can make is the number 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometers of typewritten zeros.

Anokhin compared the human brain to "a multidimensional musical instrument that could play an infinite number of musical pieces simultaneously." He emphasized that each of us is gifted with a birthright of virtually unlimited potential. And he proclaimed that no man or woman, past or present, has fully explored the capacities of the brain. Anokhin would probably agree, however, that Leonardo da Vinci could serve as a most inspiring example for those of us wishing to explore our full capacities.


LEARNING FROM LEONARDO

Baby ducks learn to survive by imitating their mothers. Learning through imitation is fundamental to many species, including humans. As we become adults, we have a unique advantage: we can choose whom and what to imitate. We can also consciously choose new models to replace the ones we outgrow. It makes sense, therefore, to choose the best "role models" to guide and inspire us toward the realization of our potential.

So, if you want to become a better golfer, study Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. If you want to become a leader, study Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Queen Elizabeth I. And if you want to be a Renaissance man or woman, study Leon Battista Alberti, Thomas Jefferson, Hildegard von Bingen, and best of all, Leonardo da Vinci.

In The Book of Genius Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene make the world's first objective attempt to rank the greatest geniuses of history. Rating their subjects in categories including "Originality," "Versatility," "Dominance-in-Field," "Universality-of-Vision, " and "Strength and Energy," they offer the following as their "top ten."
10. Albert Einstein
9. Phidias (architect of Athens)
8. Alexander the Great
7. Thomas Jefferson
6. Sir Isaac Newton
5. Michelangelo
4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
3. The Great Pyramid Builders
2. William Shakespeare
And the greatest genius of all time, according to Buzan and Keene's exhaustive research? Leonardo da Vinci.

As Giorgio Vasari wrote of Leonardo in the original version of his The Lives of the Artists, "Heaven sometimes sends us beings who represent not humanity alone but divinity itself, so that taking them as our models and imitating them, our minds and the best of our intelligence may approach the highest celestial spheres. Experience shows that those who are led to study and follow the traces of these marvelous geniuses, even if nature gives them little or no help, may at least approach the supernatural works that participate in his divinity."

Our evolving understanding of the multiplicity of intelligence and the capacities of the brain suggests that nature gives us more help than we might have imagined. In How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci we will "study and follow the traces" of this most marvelous of all geniuses, bringing his wisdom and inspiration to your life, every day.

A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO GENIUS


In the pages that follow you will learn a practical approach, tested in experience, for applying the essential elements of Leonardo's genius to enrich your life. You will discover an exhilarating, original way of seeing and enjoying your world as you develop powerful strategies for creative thinking and new approaches to self-expression. You'll learn proven techniques for sharpening your senses, liberating your unique intelligence, and harmonizing body and mind. With Leonardo as your inspiration, you will make your life a work of art.

Although you may already be familiar with Da Vinci's life and work, you'll finish this book with a fresh perspective and a deeper appreciation for this most enigmatic figure. Looking at the world from his point of view, you may also get a taste of the loneliness genius brings. But I guarantee that you'll be uplifted by his spirit, inspired by his quest, and exalted by your association with him.

The book begins with a capsule review of the Renaissance and its parallels with our time, followed by a biographical sketch of Leonardo and a summary of his major accomplishments. The heart of the book is the discussion of the Seven Da Vincian Principles. These principles are drawn from an intensive study of the man and his methods. I've named them in Leonardo's native Italian. The good news is that Leonardo's principles will probably be intuitively obvious to you. You do not have to try to invent them in your life. Rather, like much of common sense, they need to be remembered, developed, and applied.
The Seven Da Vincian Principles are:

Curiosità—An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

Dimostrazione—A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Sensazione—The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

Sfumato (literally "Going up in Smoke")—A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.

Arte/Scienza—The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. "Whole-brain" thinking.

Corporalita—The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.

Connessione—A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.
Having read this far, you are already applying the first Da Vincian principle. Curiosità—the quest for continuous learning—comes first because the desire to know, to learn, and to grow is the powerhouse of knowledge, wisdom, and discovery.

If you are interested in thinking for yourself and freeing your mind from limiting habits and preconceptions, then you are on track for the second principle: Dimostrazione. In his search for truth, Da Vinci insisted on questioning conventional wisdom. He used the word dimostrazione to express the importance of learning for oneself, through practical experience.

Pause for a few moments, and recall the times in the past year when you felt most vividly alive. Chances are, your senses were heightened. Our third principle—Sensazione—focuses on sharpening the senses, consciously. Leonardo believed that refining sensory awareness was the key to enriching experience.

As you sharpen your senses, probe the depths of experience, and awaken your childlike powers of questioning, you will encounter increasing uncertainty and ambiguity. "Confusion endurance" is the most distinctive trait of highly creative people, and Leonardo probably possessed more of that trait than anyone who has ever lived. Principle number four—Sfumato—guides you to be more at home with the unknown, to make friends with paradox.

For balance and creativity to emerge from uncertainty requires principle number five—Arte/Scienza—or what we now call whole-brain thinking. But Da Vinci believed that balance was more than just mental. He exemplified and affirmed the importance of principle number six—Corporalita—the balance of body and mind. And if you appreciate patterns, relationships, connections, and systems—if you seek to understand how your dreams, goals, values, and highest aspirations can be integrated into your daily life—then you are already applying principle number seven: Connessione. Connessione ties everything together.

Each principle is highlighted by excerpts from the maestro's notebooks and illustrated with his sketches or paintings. This illumination is followed by some questions for reflection and self-assessment. These questions are designed to stimulate your thinking and inspire your application of the principles. The questions are followed by a program of practical exercises for cultivating a personal and professional Renaissance. To get the most benefit from How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, read the whole book first, without doing the exercises. Just contemplate the questions for reflection and self-assessment. After this preview, review the explanation of each principle and then do the exercises. Some of the exercises are easy and fun, while others require challenging inner work. All are designed to bring the spirit of the maestro to your daily life. In addition to the exercises, you will find an annotated reading and resource list to guide you in exploring and applying each principle. The reading list includes recommendations on the Renaissance, the history of ideas, the nature of genius, and, of course, the life and work of Leonardo.

In the final section of the book you will discover "The Beginner's Da Vinci Drawing Course," and you'll also learn how you can participate in a history-making project that embodies the essence of the Da Vincian spirit.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Your Brain Is Much
Better than You Think
The Renaissance, Then and Now
The Life of Leonardo da Vinci
The Seven Da Vincian Principles
The Beginner's Da Vinci Drawing Course
I1 Cavallo: Rebirth of a Dream
Leonardo da Vinci Chronology: Life and Times
Recommended Reading
Resources
List of Illustrations

What People are Saying About This

Ted Hughes

A brilliant, practical guide. . .get this book and stick with it.

Interviews

On Thursday, November 19th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Michael Gelb to discuss HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO DA VINCI.


Moderator: Welcome, Michael Gelb! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this afternoon to discuss your book HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO DA VINCI. How are you doing today?

Michael J Gelb: Great! Glad to be here.


Chris from Boston, MA: For those of us new to the book, could you tell us a bit about the "da Vincian spirit"?

Michael J Gelb: Well, the spirit of da Vinci is perhaps best represented in the unfinished equestrian monument that he labored on for more than 11 years. In 1499, Leonardo crafted a 24-foot-high clay plaster model of what would have been one of the greatest works of sculpture ever created. But the bronze needed to cast the horse was diverted to the making of cannons in an unsuccessful attempt to fight off invading French troops. On September 10, 1499, Leonardo and his patron, the Duke of Milan, were driven into exile by the French soldiers, who used Leonardo's masterpiece for target practice. Then, in 1977, National Geographic published an article on Leonardo's lost horse, with illustrations from Leonardo's notebooks showing the maestro's original sketches for the horse. A pilot from United Airlines, Charles Dent, read that article and conceived a dream to rebuild Leonardo's lost masterpiece and give it to the Italian people as a gift from the American people, as a thank-you present for the treasures of the Renaissance. Before he died in 1994, Dent assembled a team of Renaissance scholars, sculptors, and metallurgists, who successfully cast a reproduction of this extraordinary work of art. And, on September 10, 1999, the completed recreation of this masterpiece will be unveiled in Milan. Charles Dent, who devoted the last years of his life to this project, did it purely for love. There was no profit motive, no self-aggrandizement, just a commitment to the intrinsic value of art. More than anything, that intrinsic love of beauty, and of truth, is the essence of the da Vincian spirit. That's why HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO DA VINCI: SEVEN STEPS TO GENIUS EVERYDAY, is dedicated to Charles Dent, and to the da Vincian spirit in everyone.


Mike from New Mexico: Do you think genius is something that lies within everyone, and it is just untapped? What do you expect the "average Joe" to get out of your book?

Michael J Gelb: The answer to the first question is yes. The average human being is gifted with 30 billion brain cells and the potential to generate an almost infinite number of thoughts and ideas. Anyone who spends time with very young children, any parent who has cradled their newborn baby in their arms and looked deeply into their eyes, sees this pure intelligence. As the writer Thomas Mann once said, "We are all born as infant prodigies." Unfortunately, this phenomenal brain and virtually unlimited potential didn't come with a manual. HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO aims to fill that gap! And for the average Joe or Jill, the first thing to understand is that your potential to learn, create, and enjoy life is probably greater than you might have imagined. Then, a step-by-step plan has to be made to take advantage of our birthright. HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO focuses on helping average folks apply the principles of history's greatest genius to making their lives more creative and more fulfilling. Life has become so complex and stressful that nowadays, one has to think like a genius to find balance and fulfillment.


Louis from Darien, CT: Hello. We're coming up on an incredibly busy season, where it's easy just to go through the motions to get by and to get everything done. Any helpful hints on how to cope? How would Leonardo handle this?

Michael J Gelb: The fifth da Vincian principle, Arte/Scienza, introduces a simple, powerful method for generating and organizing ideas, called "mind mapping." Mind mapping is a note-taking and planning tool based on da Vincian thought. Read the mind-mapping chapter, practice the exercises, and then make a big mind map of all your plans, concerns, challenges, and priorities for the season. Many of my readers and clients and friends do what I do, which is to hang up a big whiteboard in their kitchens. I'm actually looking at the mind map on my kitchen whiteboard as I answer your question. Mind mapping is a wonderful way to literally see the big picture, as well as the details, and to see connections between different aspects of a plan. So, for example, you might have an image in the center of your map that represents the essence of what you'd like the holiday season to be about -- so for example, if you are religious you might have a cross or a drawing of the Savior. If your emphasis or priority for the holiday season is more on your family, you might draw little stick figures in the center of your map, representing your loved ones. From your central image, you radiate out, printing keywords and drawing other images on lines, like a web. So, you might have one branch for business, another branch for family, another branch for friends. You might have a branch for celebrations, and another for shopping. And you let your mind associate freely, fleshing out the big picture of all your holiday season concerns. It's a great way to plan any complex event. My business clients also use mind mapping in their strategic planning and problem solving. And I used mind mapping to integrate and organize all the material for this book, and for the five books I've written previously.


Steven from Marlboro, MA: What to you is the biggest misconception made about the way we think as human beings?

Michael J Gelb: Well, it's hard to say which one is biggest, because there are so many, but certainly one of biggest misconceptions is the common view of IQ, which limits human intelligence to verbal and mathematical skills. Since Howard E. Gardner published FRAMES OF MIND in 1983, there has been a growing awareness that intelligence also includes other areas, such as musical, mechanical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and interpersonal ability. The main debate now is not whether intelligence is verbal and mathematical, but whether there are only 7 intelligences or as many as 24. The other huge misconception is that our intelligence is unchangeable, that we are born with a set quota of intelligence. But a growing body of research demonstrates that intelligences can be developed through appropriate training and practice. In other words, the ability to think isn't just something that one is born with. It's a skill that can be learned, and there are different types of thinking: analytical, creative, and so on...


Joanne Barlo from Los Angeles CA: Who do you think has effectively developed this da Vincian power?

Michael J Gelb: The people who are reading the book and practicing the exercises!


Niki from Niki_palek@yahoo.com: How did you come up with the seven principles that you write about in this book?

Michael J Gelb: After immersing myself in the study of Leonardo, reading his notebooks, reading and rereading books about him, travelling to Amboise, where he spent the last three years of his life, to the Louvre, Florence, and elsewhere to view his works, I became increasingly aware of the remarkable mystery surrounding history's greatest genius. Nevertheless, as I mapped out everything that I learned about him, the seven principles became increasingly clear.


Andia from Florida: Hi! I'm sorry to say I haven't read your book yet, but I'm curious as to why you wrote one explaining how to think like da Vinci. Is there anything you think special about his thought processes as opposed to, say, Michelangelo or Mozart?

Michael J Gelb: Yes! Leonardo is special, because his range and depth of talent and genius is unparalleled. In addition to his transcendant talents as a painter and sculptor, he was also an inventor so far ahead of his time that it is mind-boggling. Leonardo designed in his notebooks the snorkel, the bicycle, the scissors, the ball-bearing, the tank, machine gun, submarine, helicopter, and parachute. The parachute is particularly amazing, because, of course, no one was yet able to fly, and Leonardo devised a means for getting down from flying. And engineers tell me that Leonardo's proportions for the parachute are the only ones that actually work! But there's more! In addition to his artistic genius, and his design and invention genius, he was also a scientific genius. Sixty years before Copernicus, Leonardo wrote in his notebook that the sun does not move, and it is the sun, not the earth, that is the center of what we now call the solar system. Leonardo also anticipated discoveries by Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and many others. His anatomical work was the finest of his day, and he effectively developed the modern discipline of botany. And, he was also exceptionally gifted as a musician, and an athlete. He was also renowned for his interpersonal intelligence, his ability to get along with others. The first art historian, Vasari, said of Leonardo, "He made every sorrowful soul serene." So, the breadth of Leonardo's genius, the balance of art and science, of interpersonal, musical, and physical, makes da Vinci a supreme role model for anyone wishing to develop their God-given potential.


Pac87@aol.com from XX: Dear Mr. Gelb, I am a writer, and I definitely feel that at times my mind is extremely creative and productive, while at other times it runs a flat line of thoughts. At first I thought this might have to do with how tired I was, but I found no consistencies between my creativity and being well rested. I don't know how to control this creativity. Does your book cover this? Do you have any advice on how to better gauge when the mind is functional versus when it just isn't running at full speed? Does this question even make sense?

Michael J Gelb: Yes, the question makes a lot of sense. It's a concern that many people have in attempting to develop their creativity and self-expression. Learning to harmonize with one's natural rhythms, to listen to one's intuitive voice, was an important aspect of Leonardo's creative process, and it's something that can be nurtured and developed. There are many exercises in the book designed to help the reader find that balance. One aspect that you might want to experiment with, for example, is altering the nature of the environment in which you attempt to do your creative work. Lighting, music, air quality, visuals, and even aroma can affect the harmony of our natural rhythms. Learning when to focus and when to take breaks, and what to do in the break, is also very important. The book goes into these matters in some depth. I hope that's helpful.


Joe from Brooklyn, NY: You mention in your book that juggling is very important. Can you talk some more about that?

Michael J Gelb: Well, juggling is a wonderful way to develop balance and coordination. There is also considerable informed speculation suggesting that juggling and other ambidextrous, cross-lateral activities cultivate coherence between the brain waves of the left and right hemisphere of the cerebral cortex. Juggling is also a lot of fun. It tends to wake up the childlike, playful part of even the most serious and gruff adult, and this childlike openness is a key to awakening our creative self-expression, and our full power to learn. It is no surprise that Leonardo was a juggler!


John Riegert from New York City: Do you think most workplaces are stifling to the imagination? How do you break out of that?

Michael J Gelb: I'm afraid that many workplaces are stifling. They frequently suffer from "cubicle-consciousness." Organizations put people in boxes and then wonder why they have trouble thinking "out of the box." The "Sensazione" chapter of HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO offers a recipe for creating a "brain-nourishing" environment in the workplace. Many of my clients have applied the suggestions in the book with very positive results related to supporting imagination and creative thinking.


Laurie from Hoboken, NJ: What's the first thing you can do to start opening your mind?

Michael J Gelb: Recognize that it's important to do so.


Paul from Chicago, IL: I know that you are also a speaker. Will you be speaking anywhere about this book?

Michael J Gelb: I'm doing book signings all over the country. I may be in the Chicago area in the first week of February. Check with your local Barnes & Noble.


Anna from Rochester, NY: Have you ever been over to Italy to visit da Vinci's marvelous creations? What was that experience like, after he had been your hero for so long?

Michael J Gelb: It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have been there many times, but I went back for three weeks this past summer in order to immerse myself in the da Vincian worldview in preparation for the launch of the book. One travel writer said of Tuscany that it's the place on earth where the normal most regularly approaches the sublime. One of the aims of the book is to bring a taste of that sublime quality to the reader. The other point that stood out for me in my most recent visit was that as a result of this intensive study, I saw and appreciated things that I had seen before with new eyes and an even deeper sense of wonder.


Moderator: Thank you for joining us online this afternoon, Michael Gelb. It has been a very interesting hour. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Michael J Gelb: Yes. The art critic Bernard Berenson said of Leonardo that everything he touched turned to eternal beauty. My wish for all my readers is that the miracle of Leonardo's genius will reach out over the centuries and touch their lives with the spirit of eternal beauty. Grazie!


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How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book extremely insightful. I found myself wanting to share the knowledge I gained from it with my friends, who are also creative and sometimes in a "writers's block" situation. Though not everything applied to me, I didn't expect it to. This book is more than I had hoped for. It caused me to think "outside the box", and to question what I already could do.
dmusyc2 More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book with its companion 'Workbook'. The lessons encourage a person to draw on their creative side and look at life and events from that perspective. The two books together are enlighting, stimulating and enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find Gelb's distillation of da Vinici's learning, thinking and working habits to be directly transferable to all classrooms. We are using the Seven Principles as cornerstones of reading, writing, speaking and listening in high school and college classrooms with remarkable success. Great stuff indeed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
And I quote, ¿Then experiment with gestures and perhaps an improvisational dance that expresses that feeling; if you are not sure what to do, then you have got the idea. What music would you choose to accompany your ambiguity dance?¿ I could just see the Old Italian gentleman now, dancing around like Tinker Bell. Michael Gelb fills this book with exercises of this nature. At the beginning of the book, Gelb provides only a very short biography (less than 25 pages) of Leonardo¿s life. Gelb then goes onto describe what he calls ¿The Seven Da Vincian Principles¿ giving them clever Italian names. He sprinkles short quotes from Leonardo throughout the book that seem to support his principles, but the support is short lived and most of Gelb¿s book is filled with exercises such as the dance described above. Granted, some Gelb¿s suggestions are good, ¿keep a journal,¿ but you can get suggestions like these from reading just about any self-help book. One thing that any historian would agree on is that Leonardo Da Vinci was a very practical man ¿ a man of science. The title of this book promises something special. It promises a look into the mind of a man who was one of the world¿s greatest thinkers. In my opinion, it fails to deliver.
tlockney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ok, so most of the self-help, self-improvement books out there are complete bunk and just full of outrageously obvious or deluded truisms (or, not-so-truisms). But I've found Michael Gelb's writings to be consitently worthwhile. Yes, it's a bit silly to think you can "think like Leonardo," but there are some interesting tricks you can use to make yourself open up your mind just a little bit more and a lot of great things you can learn about yourself by exposing yourself to new experiences. That's mostly what this book is about: self-understanding through self-expanding.
sandrafelker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book came highly recommended to me by two people - and I have to say that I wasn't very impressed. I was expecting something a little more life-changing, however, the only additional insight I gained from the book was that I need to spend more time in my creative side... But, the likelihood of me picking up a paint brush every night after work is pretty slim. Adding to my disappointment with the book was the tone of the author. I found him to be very condescending and arogant. I did read the book from cover to cover, it is an easy read. And I will probably do some of the exercises (I did buy the book!). But regardless of how many of the exercises I do and how many self-portraits I complete over the rest of my life, I'm not anticipating that I'll get anywhere close to the genius of da Vinci.
Redbud on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author falls into the "10% of our brains" myth, but the book is otherwise useful and inspiring.
varielle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It will take a while to finish this book if you stop to tackle the exercises sprinkled throughout designed to hone your creative thinking. By examining the techniques, personalities and quirks of highly creative people epitomized by Da Vinci's brilliance, Gelb presents a perfectly viable "mind map" to inspire even the least creative to spark off a few ideas. Those already with an artistic temperament will find new ideas and those with a more mundane bent will find themselves thinking in new ways.
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jm0119 More than 1 year ago
I was already familier with some of the material in this book but as it was frequently reccomended in other books I was reading I decided to try it. It was positive and affirming and I'm glad I read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ostfriesland More than 1 year ago
so many good ideas, i have read it twice now and am reading it for the third time. so many things to think of after each reading. would recommend this book to every one.
WxIDaVincixW More than 1 year ago
Very good book for someone who is inrtigued by da Vinci in any way. If you are looking for the history of da Vinci look else where, only approx. 30 pages reference the history of Leonardo. Very good, I purchased it 2 days ago and have not lain it down once!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Mikki More than 1 year ago
This book is a sham. Obviously, the author has done little, if any, research about the thinking process of da Vinci. Why didn't the publisher do minimal fact checking to discover this. Using a title to sell a book is to me unconsciousable, especially, when the author has no understanding at all of what he is writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not at all what I expected. Either the publisher over-hyped the book or I somehow came to expect something that is not in this book. Next time, I'll peruse a book before I buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book helped me look inside myself and ask the right questions. Its a clear concept of what Da Vinci was like through the work of Gelb. I loved the book and have read it several times, i seem to find new concepts every time...its really awsome...buy it now..later
Guest More than 1 year ago
You can in fact think like Leonardo Da Vinci, if you will take the time to look into his mind with Gelb's remarkable work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Gelb, a brilliant writer, explores the thinking of one of history's greatest thinkers. You cannot read this book without becoming a significantly better thinker in the process.