Batten Institute

Michael J. Gelb



Bio: Michael Gelb is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. A retired professional juggler who once performed with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Mr. Gelb is the creator of the Juggling Metaphor Method and the author of Lessons from the Art of Juggling: How to Achieve Your Full Potential in Business, Learning and Life. He is also the originator of the concept of synvergent thinking, expressed in his book, Thinking for a Change: Discovering the Power to Create, Communicate, and Lead.

A third-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, Mr. Gelb is co-author with International Grandmaster Raymond Keene, OBE, of Samurai Chess: Mastering Strategic Thinking through the Martial Art of the Mind. A passionate student of the Renaissance and the nature of genius, Mr. Gelb is also author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, which has been translated into 18 languages and has appeared on the Washington Post,, and the New York Times bestseller lists. His latest book is Discover Your Genius: How to Think Like History’s Ten Most Revolutionary Minds.

Through his New York metro-area based High Performance Learning Center, Mr. Gelb leads seminars for organizations such as BP, Compaq, Dow Jones, DuPont, and KPMG. He brings more than 20 years of experience as a professional speaker, seminar leader, and organizational consultant to his diverse international clientele. He graduated from Clark University with a double major in philosophy and psychology.

Expertise: Discover Your Genius 


Fellowship Focus: This Batten Fellowship was established with several goals in mind. During his first visit, Michael Gelb introduced the community to his Renaissance talents and insights through a series of five presentations and a studio interview. The first presentation focused on the five secrets of making unforgettable presentations. The purpose of the second, entitled “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci,” was to expound on the seven “daVincian” principles of curiosity, demonstration, sensation, smoke, physicality, art and science, and connections.

The goal of the third session, “Sensazione,” was for Mr. Gelb to transmit his ideas via a “sensory feast” to Darden faculty through wine tasting, Renaissance music, prints of da Vinci’s famous paintings, a poetry contest, and a marvelous spirit of sensory enlightenment.

Mr. Gelb’s focus for the fourth session was the daVincian principle of Corporalita through introduction of the concepts of the Alexander Technique. This session included leading the group through a 20-minute experiential exercise tracing the evolutionary history of mankind. The goal of Mr. Gelb’s fifth presentation was to introduce the key points in his book Discover Your Genius: How to Think like History’s Ten Most Revolutionary Minds, where he led the audience through a search for mankind’s ten greatest revolutionary thinkers.

Another output of his Fellowship was a studio interview with Mr. Gelb’s faculty host, Jim Clawson, Darden Professors Lili Powell and Phil Pfeifer, and Curry School Professor and Jefferson Scholar Jennings Wagoner, in which they further explored the principles in his book. This interview culminated in a piece for the Batten Institute’s Transformation & Leadership Series.

Contact Info

Appointment: 2002

Publications & News

Books include:

Lessons from the Art of Juggling: How to Achieve Your Full Potential in Business, Learning, and Life

Samurai Chess: Mastering Strategic Thinking through the Martial Art of the Mind (with co-author Raymond Keene)

How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

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