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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best-selling author explores cutting-edge brain science to learn where talent comes from, how it grows, and how we can make ourselves smarter.

How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

Where does talent come from, and how does it grow?

New research has revealed that myelin, once considered an inert form of insulation for brain cells, may be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Journalist Daniel Coyle spent years investigating talent hotbeds, interviewing world-class practitioners (top soccer players, violinists, fighter, pilots, artists, and bank robbers) and neuroscientists. In clear, accessible language, he presents a solid strategy for skill acquisition - in athletics, fine arts, languages, science or math - that can be successfully applied through a person's entire lifespan.

©2009 Daniel Coyle (P)2009 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"I only wish I'd never before used the words 'breakthrough' or 'breathtaking' or 'magisterial' or 'stunning achievement' or 'your world will never be the same after you read this book.' Then I could be using them for the first and only time as I describe my reaction to Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code." (Tom Peters)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Well read, interesting, unique, and worthwhile

The title is not sexy enough to capture the value of this book. The first thing I should say is it was well read. I never tired of the narrator. Aside from the narration it is well written and chalk full of information, written in a compelling way. Ultimately it made me think a little differently about the process of learning. I think it's an essential read for those who teach, coach or parent. Its entirely worthwhile for those that don't fit in the above categories too. So if you are debating it, pick it up. You can't regret this selection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Pass.

If you've read Outliers, Talent is Overrated, etc., there's nothing new for you here. If you haven't read those books, they're better than the Talent Code.

This book in a nutshell: Deliberate practice + motivation + coaching = the Talent Code.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • sarah
  • san francisco, CA, United States
  • 06-03-11

Meh

If you consider yourself a lay reader and are just looking for a little motivation to start taking those piano lessons again, this is a great book; something you might find in Readers Digest. If you are a brain science geek, this is a pretty light book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What's all the fuss with myelin?

I just don't get why the author wasted a sizeable chunk of his book on the topic myelin. "We are myelin beings," he said. To which I would say, "What??!!" It's like saying "We are water beings." We're made up of 75% water, right? I really find it inane.

However, I appreciate the research that he did. Old stuff, really. I also appreciate the three components of talent he mentioned: deep practice, ignition, master coaching. However, I find deep practice (which is actually based on Anders Eriksson's "deliberate and effortful" practice) and master coaching more useful than ignition and all that stuff about myelin.

The book is not supposed to be a scientific treatise on myelin. Just mentioning the importance of myelin is enough.

The real gems of this book are those parts where he describes his visits to the talent hotbeds. The information he presented is practical and solid examples are indeed more useful. Readers can glean their own insights from them.

I would still recommend buying this book because of the information and the anecdotes from the talent hotbeds. This book, however, could have been written better.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book on developing talent

This book explains the science of how skills are built -- in the brain, myelin wraps around nerves and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy. The more you practice, more myelin is built. The brain is like any other muscle -- it gets better and stronger with continued practice. The key is that the practice be purposeful and deep. A student studying a topic shouldn't just read the chapters a few times. The student needs to do practice exams. Identify the wrong answers and keep working on those problems until she can get 100% on them. Developing talent is about "knowing" what you're doing (like why is something right, not just memorizing equations or why does a swing cause the ball to go in certain direction, not just perform exactly the same swing over and over). By "knowing," you can feel a move is wrong or hear a musical note is off immediately.

There are also plenty of stories of how people "became" talented. People don't become world-class athletes and musicians overnight. They weren't prodigies who created classical pieces on their first try. They were usually exposed to the field at a young age, they were motivated to continually develop their skills, and there were coaches and mentors in their lives who knew the right encouragement to give to get them to do better. This is valuable book for anyone who wants to be an expert in a field or who is a parent/teacher/coach. An interesting observation was that many of the world-class people didn't have professional teachers/coaches in the early years of their learning. They had the right teachers/coaches who kept them committed to deep practices.

I think this book could have included specific techniques for improving skills. I noticed the author has another book "The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills." I haven't read it but it probably complements this book.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Tyler
  • HARTFORD, MI, United States
  • 11-05-11

Daddy...Where does talent come from?

In essence this is what Coyle seeks to answer. In our day talent is a sort of frustrating "catch all" phrase. Why are people good at certain activities? Talent. Why do some excel and others fail? Talent. What determines what I do with my life? Talent. Maybe you're like me and deep inside you never felt this answer was really right.

Does it seem right that the genetic lottery determines my whole life? If I'm good at something I will be rich and famous and if I'm not (have no talent) then I will be a meaningless plebeian with no purpose or mark on the world? I never accepted this reasoning and so reading this book was like fresh air for my thinking.

First off the author shows how many people who we would consider talent-less outperform others who have all of the talent. Second, he shows the process whereby this ability and skill is formed and how you can have it too.

As a teacher of guitar, as well as other things light bulbs were going off in my head as I read of how people around the world are turning normal people into major talents.

If you are a coach you will love this book, it has great example throughout much evidence and science to back up each careful conclusion and much to say about how to achieve skill at any kind of task.

The only drawback is the reader. Not the best, but the material so interesting you won't even notice.

Bottom Line: EVERYONE should listen to this book!

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Albert
  • Manchester, NH, United States
  • 02-22-18

Not for people over 50

What disappointed you about The Talent Code?

Finding out that if you were over 50, nothing in this book applied to you.

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A must read for all parents

We know intuitively tgat perfect practice makes perfect performance. understanding the Mylan science inspires us to do everything we care about with more deliberate focus and attention to chunking things down

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Your Brain, A Concise Manual

The most valuable tool we possess is our brain. this is the manual on how to best employ and continuously improve it.

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Simple approach to a complicated subject

Enjoyed the book. Oversimplified at times, but worth the read. Not worthy of a scientific resource, but easy to relate to stories.