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  • Analysis of brilliant people

Look for common traits Learn from the best.


  • Mastery of a skill comes by working for long periods of time.
  • Life happens while we make other plans. The unexpected is a fertile source of new ideas.

These two statements are both true, and also contradictory. It's a struggle to find a good balance.

Premise: actions speak louder than words. If we want to be better, we should learn from those people who made a big impression in their time.

What general lessons do they have? What threads are there in common?

The assumption is that they were more than just smart. They also had a process and lessons that helped translate that intelligence into results.

"It is necessary for you to learn from others' mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself." - Hyman G. Rickover

"The way to tell a great idea is that, when people hear it, they say, 'Gee, I could have thought of that.'" – Feynman, quoted by Townes

Lessons learned from Genius

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  1. Einstein
  2. Thomas Jefferson
  3. Ben Franklin
  4. Napoleon
  5. Leonardo da Vinci
  6. Tesla
  7. Stephen Hawking
  8. Isaac Newton
  9. Marie Curie
  10. Alan Turing
  11. Thomas Edison
  12. Steve Jobs

General savants Tesla Teddy Roosevelt Edison Napoleon Thomas Jefferson Peter the Great Leonardo da Vinci Leon Battista Alberti Aristotle Archimedes Omar Khayyam Frederick II (Frederick the Great) Albertus Magnus Ben Franklin Goethe Henry Poincare Physics geniuses Einstein Newton Feynman Bohr Stephen Hawking Galileo Galilei Rene Descartes Pascal Other Manhatten project folks Marie Curie Carl Sagan John von Neumann Computer geniuses Turing Coders At Work Steve Jobs Nathan Myhrvold Herbert A Simon

Reading Material Sleep Habits -

I admire the intersection of passion, ethics, and competence. Turn this into a venn diagram Passion alone - flailing around Ethics alone - ivory tower debates Competence alone - amoral burnout Passion and ethics, no competence - hippies Passion and competence, no ethics - CEOs Ethics and competence, no passion -

What about how they grew up? What were their influences?