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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

David Epstein · 7 HN comments
HN Books has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" by David Epstein.
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The #1 New York Times bestseller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more. “Fascinating. . . . If you’re a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you.” —Bill Gates “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 Shortlisted for the Financial Times /McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 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.
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
Specialisation is the exception, not the rule.

> Everyone should read "Range By David Epstein"

> In most fields, especially those that are complex and unpredictable. Generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel.

Epstein goes through many other examples of learning environments in the book, most of which I found to be very entertaining and informative. To be clear, Range is not an academic article, and is very much in the 'pop-psych' genre like Gladwell or Talib. That said, it's well worth a Christmas vacation to read through. Gates had it on his best books in 2020 list for a reason (though it was published in 2019). Pick up a copy yourself from the local library (if open/online) or you can buy it yourself:

Have a look at "T shaped" skills and see where that takes you. I know Microsoft looks at this when team building so they have wide breadth in addition to specific depth.

Also, if you have time, there is a fantastic book on this subject "Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World", by David Epstein.


"Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst"

"The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator"

"The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution"

"Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity"

"Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do"

"Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World"

"The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War"

"Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion"

"Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know"

"Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence"

Excellent counterpoint resource on Tiger-styled learning
> There's a growing body of evidence that early specialization produces less champions. Kids are encouraged to participate in other sports well into their teen years.

This is the subject matter of the book "Range":

I suggest you read David Epstein's recent book Range:

His basic point is that our culture highly values the Tiger-Woods-style success story, where a person just beavers away at one thing their whole life. But there are a lot of successful people who specialize later or not at all. It definitely made me feel better about my similarly diverse resume, and has given me some good ways to think about what I want to pursue next.

Thanks! Will read.
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