072: The Rebirth of Renaissance Thinking and Modern Day Polymaths [Podcast]

Many people recognize Leonardo da Vinci as the quintessential Renaissance man. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, scientist, and musician. Leonardo remains a historical figure because he chose mastery of more than one skill. What if you face the same choice?

The Rebirth of Renaissance Thinking and Modern Day Polymaths

You are not stuck on an assembly line. You have varied interests, talents, education, and skills. The trick is to find where a few key elements intersect and empower you to become more than a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of some.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about the resurgence of polymaths and what it means for creatives. Listen in as we discuss why every entrepreneur ought to think like a polymath.

Listen to the podcast

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You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

Follow what fascinates you

If you’re finding yourself struggling with mastering one skill, you may need to develop a few complementary skills. There are opportunity costs in tackling three things versus one thing every day. But if you pick the right few things to do, the results far outweigh the costs.

I am a writer who uses technology and business to spread ideas. Those three areas: creativity, technology, and business, work together to establish the portfolio life not unlike the polymaths of the Renaissance.

Technology (and marketing) take the form of blogging, and social media, and podcasting. The business side involves making things sustainable so that I can make a living and enjoy the freedom to be more creative, write books, and try new things.

I’m not a master of these skills, but their combination creates something unique from what other people do, which causes the work to stand out.

There are complementary areas of interests that can strengthen your existing skills if only you just give yourself permission to do more than one thing.

You might just find that you end up doing that one thing much better when you begin borrowing from other disciplines.

BONUS: Download the full transcript here.

Show highlights

In this episode, Andy and I discuss:

  • Redefining mastery and how your craft is not just one thing
  • Why mastering a solitary skill is outdated
  • The forgotten versatility of Leonardo da Vinci
  • What it means to be a polymath
  • Fearing the challenge of multiplying mastery
  • A secret of “full-time” writers
  • Discovering a hidden energy in task switching
  • What the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have in common with a rich and influential family of bankers
  • A new area of skill I want to explore

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Give yourself permission to do more than one thing.
  • Complementary areas of interest can strengthen your existing skill set.
  • Follow what fascinates you within self-imposed limitations.
  • Forget about mastery. Widen your reach.
  • When you are unique, you give people something to talk about.


BONUS: Download the full transcript here.

What will the world miss out on if you stay stuck in your one area of interest? How are you a polymath? Share in the comments