Scott Griffiths (right) stands with Frank Nuovo (middle) and David Stewart (left), two of the men featured in his new book “Beyond Genius: The 12 Essential Traits of Today’s Renaissance Men.”
Scott Griffiths has published best-selling books on art and beer, started a craft beer brand called Rhino Chasers, worked on branding for Fortune 500 companies, lectured in business classes at universities like UCLA and Pepperdine and most recently wrote a book detailing Renaissance men and the characteristics that defined them.
“Renaissance men represent man at his best and there is nothing more aspirational,” Griffiths said. “I hope my book serves as a beacon because we need more Renaissance men.”
Griffiths, an alumnus of the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, said he strives to be a Renaissance man, someone with a wide range of expertise in many different areas. He describes the path to becoming one in his new book “Beyond Genius: The 12 Essential Traits of Today’s Renaissance Men,” published recently and co-authored by Eric Elfman.
“Beyond Genius” presents the culmination of Griffiths’ ideas on reaching the epitome of man’s greatness, drawing examples from the lives of figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs.
“(Griffiths) is an idea-man, brainstorming ideas and propelling them forward, ultimately trying to push the envelope,” said Dale Griffiths Stamos, Griffiths’ editor.
The concept for “Beyond Genius” originated during Griffiths’ studies at the Art Center College of Design. He said he was fascinated by the depth of character and capability of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who invented technologies and techniques in contrasting fields.
He said he realized his book, which advocates traits such as having the courage to take risks and challenging the status quo, was a necessary reminder for a modern world where intellectual curiosity has become stigmatized.
“We are all born as Renaissance men and naturally have the capacity to manifest these traits,” Griffith said. “Throughout our lives, though, we are molded by teachers and parents to focus on getting a job, making it hard to maintain creativity.”
During research delving into the lives of these Renaissance men, Griffith said he began to see constant traits showing up throughout history. Eventually, he was able to narrow the focus of the book down to 12 essential traits that were present in every Renaissance man he studied.
“Beyond Genius” is not Griffiths’ first book, having previously published a book on airbrush art during his studies at the Art Center.
Griffiths said when he walked by a bookstore and saw his first book on display, he felt ecstatic. He decided he wanted to try and build upon that experience with further writing.
Although he already wrote a successful book and had been CEO of two companies, Griffiths decided to go back to school and pursue an MBA at UCLA because investors at his microbrewery Rhino Chasers wanted a CEO with more business expertise.
At Anderson, Griffiths said he was forced to develop analytical thinking skills, which allowed his passion for multi-faceted Renaissance men to resurface. Not until the startup of his 18|8 salons, upscale barber shops advertised for men interested in self-improvement, did he have an opportunity to fully explore his passion for Renaissance men. Elfman said Griffiths had already thought extensively about this topic and knew what he wanted in the final product from the beginning.
“We would talk about his ideas and you could tell he sees the future clearly and has to work backward to bring his vision back to the present,” Elfman said.
As he delved deeper into the lives of Renaissance men and saw how much they contributed to the world, Griffiths said he realized just how important these types of men are in a modern world that focuses so much on specialization.
“The complexity of problems in our world is getting bigger and we need somebody who can look at the big picture and connect the dots,” Griffiths said. “Specialization is necessary but will not lead to greatness.”
While striving to uphold the virtues extolled in his new book, Griffith said he believes that although the path to being a Renaissance man can be arduous, it is ultimately worth it.
“You always have to keep setting the bar higher and have a vision of who you are,” Griffith said. “Renaissance men must swim against the current to survive, but once you get to the top you’re bound to be great.”