What Makes a Genius?

History’s greatest thinkers continue to impact our lives today through their legacies—a new law, a revolution, a scientific breakthrough. But these individuals did not have great ideas because they were geniuses. They were geniuses because they had great ideas.

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  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Bill Gates
  • Charles Darwin
  • Confucius
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Hedy Lamarr
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Ludwig Von Beethoven
  • Maya Angelou
  • Mohandas Gandhi
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Plato
  • Queen Victoria
  • Rosa Parks
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • William Shakespeare

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person ever to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. During a flight to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, Earhart disappeared over the Pacific, but her legacy has continued through the advancement of women in aviation.

Charles Darwin

An English naturalist and scientist, Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution and natural selection.


Confucius was a Chinese philosopher whose teachings centered on the values of integrity, self-discipline and loving others, and would later inform the official imperial philosophy of China.

Ludwig Von Beethoven

A German composer, Beethoven wrote some of his greatest works in 1820, when he was completely deaf. These include Symphony No. 9 (“Ode to Joy”) and Für Elise.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was an American writer, lecturer and abolitionist who founded the National American Woman Suffrage Association for women’s voting rights.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American author, actress, screenwriter, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, a German-born physicist, developed the theory of special and general relativity. He is best known for the equation E=mc2, demonstrating that energy and mass are interchangeable.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and is also famous for his investigations into electricity.

Mohandas Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, fought for Indian independence from British rule and for the rights of the Indian poor, all through his legacy of non-violent protest.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates founded the world’s largest software business, and is known for his technological innovations and generous charity work throughout the world.