Thinking Like Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison with Michael Gelb

Exclusive Interview with: Michael Gelb

Leading authority on the practical application of genius thinking, Michael Gelb is a pioneer in the fields of creative thinking, change management, accelerated learning and innovative leadership. Gelb has authored a dozen books relating to the application of genius to everyday creativity and innovation. His international bestseller How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day has been translated into twenty-five different languages.

SPEAKING.COM: How can people nurture independent thinking, creativity and innovation in the workplace?

GELB: First, they need to learn the skills for thinking creatively. Then they must understand how to facilitate a culture of innovation. I call this: Innovation Literacy. If you want to innovate you need to have a critical mass of people who know how to think like innovators. It helps to have positive role models, so I use Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison, among others.

Personal success and fulfillment requires you to learn how to think like an innovator…”

SPEAKING.COM: What are Edison’s Five Competencies of Innovation and why are they helpful for organizations now?

GELB: Peter Drucker emphasized: All organizations need one core competence: Innovation.

With 1,093 United States patents, Thomas Edison is history’s greatest practical innovator. Beyond his invention of the phonograph, motion pictures and a system to light the world, Edison invented the rigorous, disciplined process of innovation.

In addition to creating the world’s first Industrial Research and Development laboratory, Edison was also a master at promoting a culture of innovation. Moreover, he understood that the principles of personal success and organizational innovation go hand-in-hand. Personal success and fulfillment requires you to learn how to think like an innovator; and, for your organization to be successful, innovation is now more important than ever.

Edison’s Five Competencies of Innovation™ are:
1. Solution-Centered Mindset
2. Kaleidoscopic Thinking
3. Full-Spectrum Engagement
4. Master Mind Collaboration
5. Super-Value Creation

I bring these competencies to life for my clients and show how to apply them in the workplace immediately.

SPEAKING.COM: Could you give us three tips for balancing mind and body to reduce stress?

1-Learn how to recognize the physiological manifestations of stress.
2-Learn how to recognize the psychological manifestations of stress
3-Learn to shift your posture, breathing and attitude in a way that transforms stress into enthusiasm and positive energy.

I’ve been studying the simplest and most practical ways to do this for 40 years. My study is more than just academic – as a 5th degree black belt in the martial art of aikido, a teacher of tai chi, and a professional juggler – I’ve learned how to stay centered under stressful circumstances. I share the most effective methods in my book/presentation entitled Creativity On Demand.

SPEAKING.COM: Describe some ways people can improve their mind as they age:

GELB: In my book Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age, I share the research-validated practical things that we can all do to prevent dementia and improve as we get older. They include:

1) Adopt a positive attitude toward aging. (Take a daily dose of GFH –gratitude, forgiveness and humor)
2) Devote 15 minutes to learning something new each day
3) Exercise daily
4) Enjoy fresh, wholesome food and stay hydrated
5) Appreciate beauty every day
6) Invest in your social wealth
7) Get 8 hours of sleep (not per week, every night!) and learn to meditate

The ability to adapt and learn has become the most important sustainable competitive advantage.

SPEAKING.COM: What is accelerated learning and how can it be applied to the workplace?

GELB: Accelerated learning means to learn faster and more effectively. It’s essential in the workplace because change is accelerating. The ability to adapt and learn has become the most important sustainable competitive advantage. I have many tools for demonstrating this but my favorite is to teach everyone how to juggle. (I worked my way through graduate school as a professional juggler and performed on-stage with The Rolling Stones)

SPEAKING.COM: In your book, Present Yourself: Captivate Your Audience with Great Presentations, you discuss some of the important elements in a great presentation; can you share some?

GELB: The most important elements are:

•Combine passion with knowledge: The best speakers combine intense passion with in-depth knowledge of the subject.

•Make it memorable: Understanding isn’t the same as remembering! Great presenters make their message unforgettable.

• Demonstrate body/message integrity: Shakespeare wrote; “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” Great presenters demonstrate a seamless integration of body language, voice tone and message.

•Provide take home value: The presentation offers useful information/insight that improves the quality of the audience’s life, professionally and personally.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

GELB: One of my clients calls me a “One-Man World-Class Leadership Development University.” My passion is to live up to that description by continuously deepening my knowledge of creativity, innovation and leadership.

SPEAKING.COM: What projects are you currently working on?

GELB: I’m writing a book on the principles and practices of Conscious Leadership.

©, published on June 17, 2018

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