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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)

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  • Story

The five things that stuck out to me in the "The Talent Code"

Five things that really stuck out to me in "The Talent Code":

1. If you don't have passion don't even bother. That could mean in love, your career, friends, hobbies, life in general.

2. If you practice wrong you're wasting your time. How that applies to training is, are you lifting correctly? Feeding yourself
correctly? At the right
time? Are you putting yourself in a position to succeed?

3. Consistency is key. Years and years of consistency.

4. To break a bad habit or a bad practice you need to rewire or replace it with a good habit or good practice. And rewiring takes time, repetition, patience, diligence, and most of all, passion!

5. Be willing to live on the edge of failure. Get out of your comfort zone. Some failure is necessary for true mastery and success in any endeavor.

32 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 04-30-09

Neuroplasticity for the Novice

There has been a rapid growth in the field of neuroplasticity over the past few years. Much of that has not been available to the unintiated with a few exceptions. Now, Daniel Coyle has aptly filled that gap in "The Talent Code." This is a remarkable survey and application of the current research in the field. Don't let the topic keep you away from this valuable introduction to this field.

Individuals with children will find benefit for their offspring, adults trying to acquire new skills will find hope, and everyone will be informed by this wonderful book. The dynamic shift in neuro-theory and practice has dramatic implications for every area of our lives.

Otherwise, the book is well written and the reading is just excellent. A companion book which listeners might also enjoy covering tangential issues is "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell.

51 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Must Read for Talent Developers. You Can Skim It.

If you are a parent, teacher, coach, manager or leader then I endorse this book wholeheartedly.

The concepts taught in the book are practical and effective. I have already adopted them for my business, my kids little league teams and in my own personal development and found that they allow me to persist and lead others to greater levels of skill and achievement. It is a reliable framework for motivation, skill building and mastery. Using the skills in this book I have been able to make new college graduates adopt practical business and consulting skills that make them more billable for clients. I have enabled 1st and 2nd grade boys to play lacrosse effectively and with joy. Personally I adopted the skills to my own armature hobby - drawing - and seen a substantial improvement in my output.

Chapter 1 lays out the entire framework. If you only listened to chapter 1 and then stopped you'd get 60% of the value of the book. That's not a knock - I appreciated that. There is no reason for a business author to string out their ideas just to force us to get thorough all the material.

After chapter 1 the author expands on his three central ideas one at a time. As my wife and I read this book we both felt the points were getting emphasized over and over and it was a bit repetitive, but I forced myself to endure. I did get value from the repetition and got slightly different ideas from each example.

The narration is a bit cheesy and gimmicky. It's not entirely the narrators fault, the content can be a bit gimmicky from time to time. Again, I thought the underlying ideas were good enough to merit endurance.

I have not sampled lots of books on the general principals of building talent so I have no comparative alternatives for you, however, I am not sure I will seek alternatives right now as I felt this book as sufficient and effective.

I hope you get as much practical application as I did.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Maximizing my potential (a goal)

This book has the potential to transform the way you study and teach. There is no silver bullet when it comes to learning but this book has the potential to make you significantly more effective, like many of the people the author uses as examples.

Have you ever wondered what causes a bell curve in a classroom full of very intelligent pupils? The answer is so unexpected yet obvious at least for a group of students learning to play an instrument. I won???t spoil it for you by giving you the answer.

Whether you are instructing yourself or someone else the principles in this book apply. Understand why having a desire to learn and the passion to follow through are essential but only part of the equation. Learn what it takes to not just study or practice but truly use deep practice to its fullest. See how you can be more productive and reduce the time required to practice at the same time.

Happy reading!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Anecdotes presented as data

If you enjoyed the well supported and interesting concepts presented in such books as Predictably Irrational, Outlier, The Drunkard's Walk, you will find this book VERY unsatisfying. First, the author who is clearly quite talented writing in non scientific areas presents a series of anecdotes as if they were data and overly focuses on theory with little support. The writing does not present a strong case for any of his beliefs nor does he consider that success has many facets - not just the one he chooses to write about. His nonscientific background and thought process is clearly evident. Most annoying is his presentation of the concept that the production of myelin is the key to such things as memory, physical skills. This is an interesting theory but as he himstates, our knowledge of myelin is only a few percent of our knowledge of neurons - which we still don't completely understand. Yet, he raises the myelin issue throughout the book without support or evidence. He also thinks that certain methods of learning in select training center are what makes them extraordinary producers of successful atheletes. However, he does not address or acknowledge any other factors that may have played a role. The way he presents it, if you go to one of these training centers, you will become a world class athelete.

86 of 100 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Step Right Up

To attribute mastery of certain skills solely to myelin is reductionism to the point of absurdity and is not backed up by the research (much of which has yet to be been done). After giving a brief description of myelin and myelination, nothing different that I learned in high school biology 20 years ago, he jumps directly to unsubstantiated claims using only a few quotes from neuroscientists in the field, one of which is "wow", as the bridge.

You can tell this book is targeted less to readers of science popularization and more to the self-help crowd by Coyle's snappy selection of terms like "Ignition" and "Matrix". The music used in the audiobook between chapters provides further evidence.

At times Coyle talks about myelin as if he invented it and was making it available to you as a special offer on late night television for only 14 easy installments of $19.95.

This book is at its best when discussing talent "hotbeds" and the teaching strategies used by master coaches. I would have preferred it to be suplemented by an insightful overview of the current literature written for those with a basic education, as Stephen Pinker does for Linguistics. But instead, Coyle sells a worldview mostly of his own invention.

50 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Shannon
  • honolulu, HI, USA
  • 10-26-09

super interesting

I enjoyed listening to this very much.

Full of elucidating anecdotes that support the author's theory that talent (i.e. the talent code) is due to 3 facets of learning: deep practice, ignition/motivation, and master coaching. And a heavy handed dose of talk about myelin, the stuff that wraps around neural pathways.

I recommend this for anyone working with children or anyone interested in improving/honing skills.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • monte
  • United States
  • 09-25-12

starts slow

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

starts a little slow but has valuable real world advise toward the end

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

what seems like small issues to you can be large factors toward your employees

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Like Chinese dinner

I find Chinese food has a way of being great, bit by bit, but less than satisfying as a meal.

That's also how I would describe this book: a series of truly interesting anecdotes which fail to hold together when considered as a complete work, when examined through the lens of science.

The link between talent and myelin may or may not be solid, but here the case in favor of it feels like pseudoscience, with the same depth of examination you'd expect to see on the Discovery Channel, or some other outlet for science-as-entertainment.

Many people may find that this mode of presentation suits them. But those who demand a bit more rigor will probably be dissatisfied.

20 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Seems like insubstantial dribble

Sorry but I could not get into this book.
Interesting points, but poor support for his theseus.
Reads and sounds like a Phd Dissertation supported by a bunch of anecdotal examples but no true substance.
Throughout most of the first half of the book, the author POUNDS and REPEATS and noodles you to death repeatedly about Myelin. I wish he would have just mentioned this once or twice instead of repeating the same theme 20 times in essentially the same words. sorry but just plain lame. I have a science and medical background. What is says is true, but it sounds like a broken record stuck in the same groove. The anecdotal tales are mildly amusing. However, I would NOT recommend wasting your time with this one.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful