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Author Michael Gelb teaches modern man how to be more like the original Renaissance man.

Be Like Leo

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Leonardo da Vinci, the original Renaissance man, has a spiritual stranglehold on organizational consultant Michael Gelb, who researches the Italian genius and travels worldwide teaching people to adopt da Vinci's habits. In his book "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day" (Dell Trade Paperback, $13.95), Gelb defines seven principles of creative thinking and encourages readers to develop specific sensory and cognitive skills to enhance their work and life. Style caught up with Gelb before his Wednesday, May 17, appearance at Barnes & Noble at Libbie Place at 7 p.m.

Style Weekly: Why Leonardo da Vinci, and why now?
Michael Gelb: I think that the most personal answer for people is that we're going through a time now that is as extraordinary as the Renaissance was. We are experiencing a revolution in human awareness, culture, economy, the structure of society, technology, as was the Renaissance … Leo was probably the most creative person who ever lived. His wisdom is so universal, so timeless, that an intensive study of his life and work can improve the quality of our lives in the face of what most people perceive as a period of great stress. How do you maintain your balance? You need to think like a genius. He's an ideal role model for today.

SW: In this Oprah-fied world, many of the principles mentioned in your book are already out there — stop and taste the wine, celebrate your spirit, develop your potential. How is this approach different?
MG: The main difference is this is my core interest for my entire career, a lifetime study of the nature of creativity, the nature of accelerated learning, and how to apply that to yourself, your organization, your family. I've attempted to test out the validity of these ideas to find the core wisdom.
What's fair to say is that these are ideas whose time has come.
In the '80s, to gain enlightenment, you had to trek through the Nepalese Mountains, or go through the desert in Turkey. Now it's on the Internet, it's in the bookstores. All these remarkable truths that we can see from the great traditions of the world … the great similarities from other cultures, other times. But the question is: How do you apply them to your life?
The wisdom of the greatest independent thinker who ever lived, helps you cut through all of this information. It's not just a theoretical exercise — if you're serious about it, you can apply the ideas and learn to think like Leonardo.

SW: Do you think that you are Leonardo?
MG: (Laughs) Leo and I did a Vulcan mind meld, like in Star Trek. I entered so deeply into his consciousness through my research into his life. I'm not a New Age person, but I feel like Leo opened this phenomenal stream of perception, of thought, that hasn't been fully explored. What's been written of him is from an academic place. There's a lack of real participation with it: How can we be like him? My long-term mission is to get the world to think like Leonardo, and the book is now in 18 languages.

SW: So, you've carved out a pretty good life thanks to Leo?
MG: It's amazing … I've created my life in accordance with the principles in the book. I travel around the world, inspiring people to develop their human potential. I do da Vincian dinners and wine tastings and martial arts demonstrations. I make my living because big companies pay me to teach them how these principles apply to building more effective cultures, through times of mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, stock market changes — how do you stay centered, what are your values in the face of change? I get hired by the most creative and visionary people in business.

SW: What will Richmond get from Michael Gelb?
MG: I will take people through the seven principles of learning and get them excited about applying each of the principles to their lives. I will give them a juggling demonstration, because Leo was a juggler, and we will listen to some of the greatest music ever written, for a little music appreciation lesson.
I expect readers and audiences to be skeptical, as they should be. People say they didn't think I could pull this off … but there's actually a feeling that develops as we go through the exercises. These ideas have a

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