My heavens, Galileo!

My heavens, Galileo!

The "Father of Modern Science" took a broadly unconventional approach and generated the ire of his most trusted ally - the Catholic Church.

Scientist.  Scholar.  Father of modern physics. Heretic.

Galileo has been called many names.  Perhaps the most fitting is “unconventional.”

Galileo Galilei:   Guiseppe!  Ciao!

LOCC:   GG!  Come stai?  What’s up?

GG: I have developed a complete scientific argument proving Copernicus was right – the earth does indeed revolve around the sun.

LOCC: G, didn’t the Cardinal already tell you that you were on thin ice with this?  Look, the Roman Inquisition already questioned you.  You know what’s coming….

GG: I know.  I know.  But I have to publish – I need the cash.  Supporting my father, my brother, my kids is expensive.  Besides the science is solid.

LOCC: I read the manuscript.  You put all the Church’s arguments against heliocentrism into the mouth of a character you named “Simpilco.”  It’s like sticking the Pope in the eye….  You’ve already made a name for yourself with your inventions and the improvements on the telescope.  You could rest on that, but something tells me you cannot and will not – after all, talent does what it can; genius does what it must.

GG: True. This has to get out there….

LOCC: In spite of all the Biblical verses to the contrary, you present a good case. (

GG: Those verses were in books of poetry and song – not in history or instructional scriptures.  They are ideals, not facts.  We must question these beliefs in order to evolve our understanding.

LOCC: Okay – you know the risks.  It is a truly bold move. Whatever happens – you cannot stop evolving once you start.

Galileo was found guilty of heresy and his book was banned.  He spent the remainder of his life under house arrest.  During this time he observed more, proved more and wrote more, including Two New Sciences – widely regarded as his manifesto.  Pope Urban VIII’s recriminations notwithstanding, two subsequent Popes viewed Galileo like this:
“among the most audacious heroes of research, unafraid of stumbling blocks or risks on the way,” Pope Pius XII.  And Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled.
Perhaps history’s most flattering comments come from other bold, like-minded individuals: both Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein call him the father of modern science.

What can we learn from Galileo’s “unconventional” approach?  Even in the face of unparalleled opposition, sometimes the unconventional approach is the right one...even if it is not immediately appreciated. 

Consider these examples:

  • Everyone told Estee Lauder she was crazy to give away free samples – or small gifts to consumers of her brand.  She invented “Gift with Purchase” and ignited a new volley in the retail landscape.  The initial resistance she encountered was brutal but the results have endured, evolved and are now considered industry standard.
  • Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOM’S shoes, changed the BOGO concept of “Buy one GET one” to ‘Buy One GIVE One’ subtly but profoundly changing how Americans consume: from a selfish perspective to a selfless, global POV.  His idea caught fire with many CPG brands.  But imagine the bank’s reaction to his approach when we applied for a start-up loan!
  • Today Chanel has gone where no beauty brand has gone before.  Using a man to sell women’s perfume.  Seems at once logical and incendiary.  Not just any man, mind you, but a global icon of handsomeness: Brad Pitt.  Logically every woman’s dream guy.  And what is perfume but the hope to attract a man like that?  Brilliant.  Ballsy.  The internal struggle to get everyone on board was not easy.  But the result has brought more attention to No. 5 than just about anything else.  Now that’s “sharing the fantasy!”