Investing Lessons From Da Vinci And Edison

I met Michael Gelb when our mutual friends Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg brought him and his wife Deborah Domanski to Bellavitae.  He had just published his latest book, Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking.  It was a wonderful evening with good food, great wine, and wonderful conversation.

Last week, Forbes magazine published a fascinating interview with Michael by Jason Apollo Voss, retired co-portfolio manager of the Davis Appreciation & Income Fund.  While the interview’s angle is aimed at professional investors, its substance is useful in any walk of life, even cooking!

Michael is a 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.  He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, Raytheon and YPO.  He brings more than 30 years of experience as a professional speaker, seminar leader, and organizational consultant to his diverse, international clientele.

Michael is the author of 12 books on creativity and innovation including Innovate Like Edison and the international best seller How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, which has been translated into 25 languages and has appeared on the Washington Post,, and the New York Times best seller lists.


Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Jason Apollo Voss (JAV):  Which of Da Vinci’s principles do you feel are important for investors to know about to improve their understanding of information?   How may someone apply these principles to make better investment decisions?

Michael J. Gelb (MJG):  All of the principles are important.   Each one sets the stage for the one that follows and together they form a system for thinking like Leonardo.

The Da Vinci principles are:

Curiosità – An insatiable quest for knowledge and continuous improvement.
Dimostrazione – Learning from experience/Independent thinking.
Sensazione – Sharpening the senses.
Sfumato – Managing ambiguity and change.
Arte/Scienza – Whole-brain thinking.
Corporalità – Body-mind fitness.
Connessione – Systems thinking.


Edison’s Five Competencies of Innovation™ are:

Solution-Centered Mindset.
Kaleidoscopic Thinking.  Edison’s strategies for generating new ideas.
Full-Spectrum Engagement.  This competency focuses on the ability to manage complexity.
Master Mind Collaboration.  Strategies for leveraging diverse viewpoints.
Super-Value Creation.  The holy grail of investing: how to discern opportunities for value that are outstanding in a competitive marketplace.


MJG:  Da Vinci and Edison both took their inspiration from Nature.   Leonardo writes poetically about the Earth as a living being and Edison wrote that his purpose was to “bring out the secrets of nature for the happiness of humanity.”  They didn’t sit in the Lotus position and repeat mantras but they were both deeply contemplative.   Leonardo stated that “Men of genius sometimes work best when they work least!”  Here he is expressing the importance of receptivity and deep relaxation in the process of creation.   Edison would go fishing in the middle of a workday at a nearby pond, and he would fish with a baitless hook.   Why?  Because he was really “fishing” for breakthrough ideas and he knew that relaxation made him more receptive to intuitive insight.  These modes of consciousness are critically important to investment success (and success of any kind).   The key is to find your own natural rhythm-balancing intense focus and concentrated work with reflection and receptivity.

Read the whole thing.  And while you’re at it, order the book.  I highly recommend it.


Further Reading:




Dining at Bellavitae

                                             Michael J. Gelb'sWine Drinking for Inspired Thinking: Uncork Your Creative Juices [Hardcover](2010)

James Beard award-winning authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg came in for dinner tonight.  Joining them were Michael J. Gelb, author of just-published Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking: Uncork Your Creative Juices, and his lovely wife, the accomplished mezzo-soprano, Deborah Domanski.  Michael’s book sounds very interesting and has received terrific reviews.

By the way, Karen and Andrew’s new book, On Mastering Wine, will be published this year.  If it’s anything like The Flavor Bible, we’ll put it to good use here at Bellavitae.