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Range

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Narrated by: Will Damron
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: Business, Leadership
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,512 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The number-one New York Times best seller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

“The most important business - and parenting - book of the year.” (Forbes)

“Urgent and important...an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” (Daniel H. Pink)

“So much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education.” (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)

“As David Epstein shows us, cultivating range prepares us for the wickedly unanticipated…a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts.” (Wall Street Journal)

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. 

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters, and scientists. He discovered that in most fields - especially those that are complex and unpredictable - generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

©2019 David Epstein (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Will Damron narrates this fast-paced and highly engaging work of nonfiction - essentially a love letter to liberal education.... Damron connects well with listeners.... Teachers, students, parents, managers, and CEOs will all benefit from listening." (AudioFile Magazine)

“For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong. I loved Range.” (Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point

“In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with specialization, star science writer David Epstein is here to convince you that the future may belong to generalists. It’s a captivating read that will leave you questioning the next steps in your career - and the way you raise your children.” (Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and Originals

“An assiduously researched and accessible argument for being a jack of all trades.” (O Magazine, Best Nonfiction Books Coming in 2019) 

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If you're highly curious, read this

Who will like this book
* If your friends would describe you as highly curious, you’ll like this book
* If you’re an investor, a business owner, a researcher, a scientist, a musician, a writer, a director, an athlete, or really anyone dealing with complex questions or seeking world-class achievement, you’ll like this book
* If you care about doing the most good for the world and maximizing your positive impact on the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about how to increase innovation and problem solving in the world, you’ll like this book
* If you’ve thought about what makes great inventors or innovators great, and how to identify and encourage world-class talent, you’ll like this book
* If you like books like “Sapiens,” “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” “Elephant in the Brain,” “Principles,” you’ll like this book
* If you have ADHD, you’ll like this book
* If your job or passion involves trying to accurately forecast the future, you’ll like this book

The benefits you’ll get from this book
* You’ll see how to achieve more, professionally
* You’ll understand the ways your understanding of the 10,000 Hour rule has been wrong
* You’ll better understand the path to world-class achievement
* You’ll better understand how to spot potential world-class achievers
* You’ll better understand how to forecast the future
* You’ll better understand how to solve complex challenges where the answers aren’t obvious, both in your work and personal life

Conclusion
If you think that you'll benefit from it based on my above notes, I recommend buying it. If you're on the fence, listen to interviews with the author either on the "Invest Like The Best" or the "Econtalk" podcasts to get a better sense.

After you read it
Search YouTube and watch the talk called “Greatness Cannot Be Planned.” It extends the ideas from this book in a brilliant way.
If you like the Greatness Cannot Be Planned, then you’ll also enjoy the following books: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” “Where Good Ideas Come From,” and the chapter on the evolution of technology from “The Evolution of Everything.”
Also search google for the blog post “Focus May Be Your Worst Enemy in Biotech R&D” — it also resonates with the ideas from this book.

P.S. If you’re a curious person, and you probably are because you’re looking at books and reading the reviews, definitely get this book!
P.P.S. This book is the next “Sapiens.”

72 of 75 people found this review helpful

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Generally Speaking…

As someone who has a vast amount of hobbies and interests I found Range to be a very well informed look at the idealized nature of success based on having a wealth of experience to draw upon. Epstein is a wonderful writer whom I have enjoyed since his time at Sports Illustrated and Will Damron did a great job narrating the book. If you are someone in a field where innovation is the order of the day this book is for you. If you work in HR, Management, or College admissions, this is the book for you. Understanding how to look at all the salient data points to see the full story of a problem, product, or most importantly a person is broken down in Range to help you find the most successful teams in the last place you'd think to look.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Good premise but poor support for it

The point of this book is that specialists do well in a 'kind' world, where rules are clear and feedback is immediate (like playing golf or chess). Generalists do well in a 'wicked' world, where rules are unclear or unknown and feedback is not immediate (like practicing medicine). Therefore, a cardiologist with a wider range of knowledge (like nutrition and physiology) would make a better doctor than one who is focused only on acquiring more technical knowledge about the heart. Unfortunately, the author does a poor job of supporting this premise. The stories and studies in the book really support the idea of being exposed to a wide range of activities and experiences instead of any specialization at a young age. This would give a person a better foundation so that later in life, that person can find an area of expertise that is a fit and can draw on that varied, past experiences for innovative solutions in their area of expertise (instead of a myopic view of the world through the perspective of their specialization).

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • 06-05-19

I wish I had this book 10 years ago

Having been raised, and currently living, in an environment dominated by the philosophy of “Grit” and the “10,000 hour rule”, this book is a refreshing look at those who have thrived on the other end of that spectrum. I wish this book was written 10 years ago; it would have saved me a lot of time and grief.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Gladwell-Esque Supplement to Fuzzy and the Techie

3.5 — I can't help but think of this in relation to The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World. Both address a similar idea, but with with slightly different focuses. Range was more personal, sharing case studies of individuals who got late starts or hopped across industries/careers/specializations. Stylistically, it's one of those Gladwell-esque books that follows the case-study-illustrating-a-broader-lesson formula. What has stuck with me from The Fuzzy and the Techie, in contrast, was the more societal stuff: how some of the jobs we think of as most secure (STEM, coding, etc.) may actually be vulnerable as AI and automation advance, whereas cross-disciplinary, expansive, critical thinking-oriented skill sets will be in demand (because those functions simply can't be replicated by computers). On that front, I thought Fuzzy was stronger, but Range was a great supplement, particularly in its explanation of "kind" vs. "wicked" learning environments and those implications. The case studies were interesting, too, running the gamut from Roger Federer to musically virtuousic brothel orphans.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent read for 50 somethings like myself who has peaked in one field but is far from done in contributing to this world.

I am 50 something and her and CEO and people keep asking me what do I do now that I’ve peaked. I am nowhere close to being done and my contributing to my country, people of Guam or family. This book is in inspiration to all of us who have meandered our way through our lives to relative success but still feel like Caesar that our life has just begun!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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We all could use some range

This is a must read for anyone in any field. Some controversial schools of thought but certainly many valid points.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A gem worth 6 out of 5 stars

Wow. The book description does not come close to justifying the depth, importance, knowledge value, quality of writing AND narration, breadth of life and career applicability, insight, credibility, and even the level of entertainment contained herein. Epstein did a stellar job of painting a complete picture of how we think, problem solve, interact, learn, grow, and progress in life. Showing the necessity of continuous analytical curiosity and critical thinking development.

This book contains mountains of important lessons, perfectly curated to provide a complete, deep understanding of our skill sets in the world. I have a top five reading list in psychology, critical thinking, statistics, and philosophy.. this book thoroughly competes with the entire combination of my essential reads.

I could go on and on. But I’ll end with this, if you have any interest in deep learning and critical thinking, this book is my #1 recommendation for most important work of the decade.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

Interesting content, but falls short of proving the case that one is better off embracing being a generalist today to "triumph" (present tense) as the subtitle suggests. It rather makes an interesting case as to why generalists should be more valued than they currently are.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Really, really good, but...

Really, really good, but... it was just OK for me, when I have to rate and review it. I really liked Epstein's thoughts on RANGE but for me the book lacked range, in that it spent 10 hours supporting the one concept of the importance of RANGE. As I said, I really, really liked the book, and I'm glad I listened to it, but... I would definitely recommend books like Sapiens or Brief Answers to the Big Questions if you are looking for more range ;)