Are you a Renaissance Man/Woman?

Someone recently referred to me as ‘Renaissance man’ on email, while introducing me to someone else. I knew about the famous ‘Vitruvian man’ visual by Leonardo da Vinci, but had no clue about the actual meaning of that phrase and had to Google it. The term Renaissance man or woman is used for a person who is good at many different things. I’m most definitely not good at ‘many different things’.

The context for me being called that was to do with my day-job and my musical side-pursuits. I have also spoken about the need to be passionately interested in more than one thing in life in my book (Be Social: Building Brand YOU Online), right in the first chapter (page 23).

That phrase—Renaissance man—had me connecting things I had read recently, in context. Here are some of those articles, for your inspiration:

1/ Why You Should Have (at Least) Two Careers – “the answer isn’t to plug away in your current job, unfulfilled and slowly burning out. I think the answer is to do both.

2/ Seven things everyone should do in college that can help in the future – No.4 is “Start Something”! “Why you should do this while you’re still in college: Conceiving of a venture, bringing it into reality, and keeping it going will provide you with an education like no other. It also preps you for future jobs, no matter what they may be”

3/ The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge | Institute for Advanced Study – An article by Abraham Flexner, written in 1939!! A fantastic read.

There’s a famous quote by Steve Jobs: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

The so-called ‘useless’ things seem useless, but on a larger scale, that’s when we are able to connect things and that, according to Jobs, is creativity. Scott Adams, Dilbert creator, puts it eloquently in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life: “The more you know, the more you can know” 🙂

4/ ‘Be good at two things’ – A video featuring Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy UK – a compelling watch!