At eSwapp, we’re all about recognising the hidden talents that so many of us have. We are inspired by the accountant with a passion for floristry, the nurse with a penchant for writing short stories, and the multilingual marketer who teaches yoga after work. Although we are very much focused on how we can help people to learn new things and develop their skills as we move into the future, we thought it would be a good idea to look to the past for some inspirational figures, who had several nifty skills under their belts.
Starting way back with the Ancient Greeks, our first historical multi-skiller is Aristotle. In addition to being the most influential man in Western philosophy for well over a thousand years after his death, Aristotle’s intellectual reach spread to almost all areas of science and the humanities. His groundbreaking concepts in the natural sciences, such as the ‘four causes’ that bring about existence and change, and his classifications of living organisms, sit alongside his influential work in political and literary theory. We’re sure that if Aristotle could join us on eSwapp today he’d be a highly sought after swapper!
2) Marie Curie
One of the most inspiring and pioneering scientists of the 20th century, Marie Curie is an obvious choice for a list of historical figures with several skills. Though her talents were perhaps not very well hidden (she won 2 Nobel Prizes for her work!), they were certainly diverse. Curie’s work on radiation and her discovery of the element Radium won her two Nobel Prizes, in physics and chemistry respectively. She remains the only person to have ever won Nobel Prizes in two different fields and the only woman to ever win two prizes. Alongside her academic work, Curie also helped to save many lives by fitting out ambulances and hospitals with x-ray machines during the First World War. Her work teaching young women how to operate the machines and driving one of the x-ray ambulances herself further mark her out as a woman of exceptionally diverse skills.
3) Leonardo da Vinci
Possibly the most famous polymath of all time, there was very little that the quintessential ‘Renaissance man’ could not do. Da Vinci achieved great renown in almost everything he tried his hand at. Though he is best known for his career as a painter, he was also a highly skilled architect, designer, inventor and technologist, who made many contributions to both the arts and sciences. We can only speculate about the electric atmosphere that must have existed in his workshop, as he and his students made great discoveries in anatomy and engineering, while at the same time he was producing some of the most refined and influential art in human history!
4) Abraham Lincoln
Best known for leading his country through the American Civil War, preserving the Union of the northern states and abolishing slavery, Abraham Lincoln had a few other tricks up his sleeve. Before he was elected president in 1861, Lincoln worked as a bartender in the state of Illinois. He owned a general store there with a friend and due to strict alcohol laws, he had to become a licensed bartender to sell liquor in the store. Maybe the hours he spent pouring drinks and chatting with the townsfolk honed his skills in public speaking that he became so renowned for?!
5) Maya Angelou
Bringing things back to the modern era, Maya Angelou was one of the most talented and influential Americans of the 20th Century. Her diverse skills in the arts, having worked as a poet, autobiographer, actor, director, screenwriter, producer and dancer, have earned her a place in the history books. This is not to mention her prominent work as a civil rights activist, challenging racism and advocating for the rights of oppressed peoples. In addition to these huge achievements, Angelou was also able to speak 6 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Fante), and in her earlier life she worked as a cable car conductor in San Francisco! The epitome of a multi-skiller, Angelou sets a shining example for those of us looking to diversify our skillsets.