So I read a lot of interesting tell-alls from the likes of Phil Knight (founder Nike), Ray Dalio (founder Bridgewater Associates), Steve Jobs etc.
But then I thought — is it really possible that all wisdom is accessible from reading about a group of rich men born in the 20th century? Are these people the epitome of success/my ambition?
(As much as Apple et al. are runaway successes — they make iPhones for rich people — hardly revolutionary in the grand scheme of things).
So I picked up Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci (Isaacson also wrote Steve Jobs’ biography). Here are some interesting points about Da Vinci:
- He felt like an outsider. But this became an advantage. The fact that he was an illegitimate son meant that he didn’t became a notary (like his father) and was largely left to his own devices.
- He was a chronic non-finisher.
- He was a big believer in first principles thinking (understanding things from the ground up). For example, in his art, his understanding of anatomy meant that he was able to visualise (and display) each muscle group contracting in his subjects.
- Da Vinci left 7200 pages of notebooks. Isaacson jokes that it was easier to access Da Vinci’s work than those of Steve Jobs’ (even with Jobs’ blessing).