Walter Isaacson, The Making of a Genius

Published on15 OCT 2018

Journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson discusses his most recent book on Leonardo da Vinci and shares insights drawn from his definitive biographies, including his thoughts on the qualities that define “genius.”

On which of his biographical subjects the world would miss most: “The person I like in terms of what they put in the DNA of humanity would be Ben Franklin – simply because everything about what America became – sort of middle class, entrepreneurial, business-oriented, but still civic-oriented, main street values – he’s  the one founder who brings that to the party.”

On the best piece of advice he’s received: “The best piece of advice I learned from all of my books, but ultimately from Leonardo [da Vinci], is just the power of curiosity – pure curiosity…. In fact, we all were more curious when we were in our wonder years like age 6 or 7, like when Einstein is given the compass and he keeps wondering. Well, the key to Einstein is he never outgrows his wonder years. He’s always, until his deathbed, wondering why does the force field hit that particle and make it move? And, likewise, with Leonardo, to his deathbed, he’s always curious…. And so, each step of the way, I just try to be passionately curious about something.”

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