Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!
Seeing as Friday is his 159th birthday and this was on my list of entries to write about “Inspirational Mentors” in my life, I decided who better to kick it off with. (This series of posts will highlight people who have had huge influences on my life and what I learned from them. I use the term ‘mentor’ loosely here, because obviously I couldn’t have had a close mentor relationship with him, but I’ve read several books including his and watched documentaries and just about everything I can find on the internet about him.)
Tesla is probably one of the most brilliant, but unacknowledged scientists and inventors of our age (and not like Apple patenting a rectangle with rounded corners — I’m talking real, unique patents and inventions). Besides his creations, he was also a prolific writer and had some genius philosophies (check out this list of some of his best quotes/thoughts). It wasn’t until the past few years that his contributions to the world have been really elevated with The Oatmeal’s “The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived” information campaign and museum erection and Tesla Motors (using many technologies he invented). Here are the core reasons I really admire and what I’ve learned from Tesla:
#1 – His amazing story reminds me of the miracle that is our live in modern society: One exceptional, focused, humble and hard working person can truly change the world and make it a better place.
#2 – If you want to make exponential change in the world on many levels, you can’t own/exploit/ride every single idea you create. Sometimes you have to birth them and see if they take flight. Sometimes you have to give the ideas to others to let them own them. Many modern inventors or non-workaholic people in Tesla’s shoes would have likely take one of his brilliant inventions and just rode the profits out of it, but he was so focused on creating he didn’t have time for that (and ended up getting exploited by Thomas Edison because of it).
#3 – Nikola lived the #AlwaysBeShipping work life. Hustlers are the best.
#4 – The importance of having some nerd swagger. While nerdiness is becoming en vogue in pop culture right now, it wasn’t always and probably won’t always. He was evidently kind of a ladies man in the NY scene when we came to America. Being a nerd doesn’t mean you have to be a diminutive or socially awkward person. Own your nerdiness and live the dream.
Learn more about Tesla’s live and impact on the world:
- Nikola Tesla’s Life (Documentary)
- Tesla Master of Lightning (Documentary)
- Nicola Tesla Secrets (Film)
- Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius (Book)
- My Inventions (Book by Tesla)
- The Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla (Collection of Tesla’s writing)
- The Oatmeal’s “The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived” (Illustrations and commentary on Tesla’s life — and how Thomas Edison totally screwed him)
- Drunk History: Nicola Tesla (Humorous recount of Tesla and how Edison exploited him)