Tesla and Edison: Two Paths to Success

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• Edison’s genius traits included diverse interests, non-conventional thinking, hard work and self-discipline.

• Tesla’s genius traits included curiosity, non-conventional thinking, and intellectual honesty.

• Edison and Tesla were two inventors engaged in the so-called current wars of the late 1800s. Tesla was an employee of Edison’s, but became his rival when he took new ideas to a competitor, George Westinghouse, and found success there. While Edison had dominated the market with his DC-powered systems, eventually the war was won by Tesla and the new AC electricity.

• Edison was a prolific and productive inventor who also manufactured and marketed his products across the country. His approach was to make gradual improvements to things that already existed, and he eventually amassed over 1000 patents to his name.

• Tesla’s approach was slightly different, in that he was less prolific but more innovative, and able to seize the AC technology wave where Edison could not. Tesla was said to have had his greatest insights away from work, when he was relaxing or out walking.

• Both men were enormously successful individuals, and both possessed many genius traits, including determination, self-discipline, and the willingness to pursue their own interest even when it bucked conventions. Both men were also willing to keep pushing and challenging themselves to be better, rather than settling for mediocrity.

• We can cultivate both Edison’s and Tesla’s approaches into our own lives: firstly we can make sure we have a wide range of interests to switch between, and take regular breaks to refresh our minds and change our perspectives. Secondly, we can use the SCAMPER technique to manipulate our subject and arrive at new ideas and solutions step by step.

• SCAMPER stands for substitute, combine, adapt, magnify or modify, put to other use, eliminate, and rearrange or reverse.

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