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Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else [Kindle Edition]

Geoffrey Colvin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $9.12
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller

Asked to explain why a few people truly excel, most people offer one of two answers. The first is hard work. Yet we all know plenty of hard workers who have been doing the same job for years or decades without becoming great. The other possibility is that the elite possess an innate talent for excelling in their field. We assume that Mozart was born with an astounding gift for music, and Warren Buffett carries a gene for brilliant investing. The trouble is, scientific evidence doesn't support the notion that specific natural talents make great performers.

According to distinguished journalist Geoff Colvin, both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. What really makes the difference is a highly specific kind of effort-"deliberate practice"-that few of us pursue when we're practicing golf or piano or stockpicking. Based on scientific research, Talent is Overrated shares the secrets of extraordinary performance and shows how to apply these principles. It features the stories of people who achieved world-class greatness through deliberate practice-including Benjamin Franklin, comedian Chris Rock, football star Jerry Rice, and top CEOs Jeffrey Immelt and Steven Ballmer.

Editorial Reviews


"Geoff Colvin has written a fascinating study of great achievers from Mozart to Tiger Woods.... Talent Is Overrated is not only inspiring but enlightening." ---Donald Trump

About the Author

Geoff Colvin, Fortune's senior editor at large, is one of America's most respected business journalists.

David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, and he received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em.

Product Details

  • File Size: 367 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591842247
  • Publisher: Portfolio (October 16, 2008)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001HD8NZ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
545 of 566 people found the following review helpful
I inhaled this book. The informal plan was to read it over a few short weeks. Instead I plowed through it in maybe three days.

For those teetering on the edge of greatness -- or thinking about really going for the gusto, in whatever field or endeavor that has captured their spirit -- this book is an invitation to walk among the gods.

For those who have soured on their dreams and bitterly written them off, however, this book will be painful. It might even read like a damning indictment, and thus incite a hostile emotional response.

And finally, this book also has the potential to be terrifying. For those who feel the pull of greatness but also wrestle with a deep-seated fear of failure, the starkness of the choice will be revealed to them in these pages.

Why? Because Colvin's deeper message, beyond the powerful insights into "Deliberate Practice" and what it can do, is that there is no excuse. Whatever it is you like (or love) to do, the fact that you don't hate it means you probably have the basic tools -- and so there's no reason you can't get better, maybe a lot better. And so, at the end of the day, there is simply no real excuse for not being great. Only the classic Bartleby the Scrivener response: "I prefer not to."

Greatness requires dedication and sacrifice, period. Being good at something requires a fair amount... being great requires a huge amount. If you truly desire greatness -- or simply to be great at what you do -- then much sacrifice is required.

But I fudge slightly. The book does leave room for one excuse of sorts, but not a very satisfying one.
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533 of 562 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliberate practice "hurts but it works." October 16, 2008
Colvin set out to answer this question: "What does great performance require?" In this volume, he shares several insights generated by hundreds of research studies whose major conclusions offer what seem to be several counterintuitive perspectives on what is frequently referred to as "talent." (See Pages 6-7.) In this context, I am reminded of Thomas Edison's observation that "vision without execution is hallucination." If Colvin were asked to paraphrase that to indicate his own purposes in this book, my guess (only a guess) is that his response would be, "Talent without deliberate practice is latent" and agrees with Darrell Royal that "potential" means "you ain't done it yet." In other words, there would be no great performances in any field (e.g. business, theatre, dance, symphonic music, athletics, science, mathematics, entertainment, exploration) without those who have, through deliberate practice developed the requisite abilities.

It occurs to me that, however different they may be in almost all other respects, athletes such as Cynthia Cooper, Roger Federer, Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Lorena Ochoa, Candace Parker, Michael Phelps, Vijay Singh, and Tiger Woods "make it look so easy" in competition because their preparation is so focused, rigorous, and thorough. Obviously, they do not win every game, match, tournament, etc. Colvin's point (and I agree) is that all great performers "make it look so easy" because of their commitment to deliberate practice, often for several years before their first victory. In fact, Colvin cites a "ten-year rule" widely endorsed in chess circles (attributed to Herbert Simon and William Chase) that "no one seemed to reach the top ranks of chess players without a decade or so of intensive study, and some required much more time.
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781 of 864 people found the following review helpful
This book is substantially a suspicious rehash of a major peer reviewed article. Colvin and Gladwell Outliers: The Story of Success are chasing the same topic, incredibly within the same few months and referencing the same research. Albeit with different titles and stories. Colvin does a good job giving credit to that author. The problems begin when Colvin starts to take parts of the research and explode the number of pages dedicated to one point -deliberate practice. And while that point, deliberate practice is important, it is one of several ingredients in the making of an expert. In the paper "Making of an expert" by K. Anders Ericsson and others, Harvard Business Review, July 2007 they detail three well accepted conditions:

1. Delibrate Practice - the author sites verbatim with strong emphasizes
2. World class coaching - Important but not emphasized well
3. Enthusiastic family support - Very important and not emphasized well

And obviously the expert-to-be needs to be motivated. What is disturbing is Covin doesn't give much credit (wrongly) in terms of pages, to the support environment namely families and coaches. Ok, there are passing paragraphs but no where near the emphasis it should be according to the original researchers. Intuitively, as well as deep in all parents hearts, they know those new champions/experts had to have great parents. Think of Tiger Woods (Golf), the Mannings (NFL) and Obama to name a few. The deliberate practice condition also encompasses the 10,000 hours requirement in becoming an expert whether that is business, music or sports to name a few endeavors.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Schwenk
This is a very thought provoking book that provides excellent insight into what is required to be a top performer. Very few people are willing to make the sacrifice.
Published 3 days ago by RICK SCHWENK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book!!
Published 5 days ago by Romo
5.0 out of 5 stars It has become one of my favourite books. No doubt. How to demistify...
It's an amazing book
Published 7 days ago by Jordi Valls Ribas
5.0 out of 5 stars Read It!
The road to success starts here. Great book and it's worth a read. I had for school and usually find books teachers like to be quite boring but this was so good that I finished it... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Steven Steel
5.0 out of 5 stars good read....truly value it
An awesome book must read! Always had a few questions about how people do what they do...all questions answered here
Published 1 month ago by Meenakshi
3.0 out of 5 stars If you have zero skills and need some inspiration I guess this could...
I got bored about half way. In my 30 years of life I have alot of experiences under my belt. This wasn't a thinking book, this was a "duhh" book.
Published 1 month ago by Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars review and critique
It's a really good book that points out the necessary hard work behind being good at anything. You need to do more than just repeating what you do, but push yourself to go just... Read more
Published 1 month ago by BaRoLA Man
5.0 out of 5 stars This is just incredible. The quantity of information, ...
This is just incredible.

The quantity of information, theories, examples and proofs in this book is just overwhelming.

A must-read in a life
Published 1 month ago by Nicolas Viens
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent. Easy read and applicable to so many areas of life. Parents of younger children will appreciate it.
Published 1 month ago by R. Harbaugh
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
How very true,,, every school boy (and girl) every parent . every coach everyone should read this book.
Published 2 months ago by electra
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More About the Author

Geoff Colvin, is Fortune's senior editor-at-large and has written hundred of articles for the magazine including its popular column Value Driven. He lectures widely and is the regular lead moderator for the Fortune Global Forum. Colvin graduated Harvard cum laude with a B.A. in economics, and received his M.B.A. from New York University's Stern School. His first book, Talent Is Overrated, earned global acclaim and was a Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and New York Times business bestseller.

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What is MP3 Una Edition?
This CD cannot be played on a regular CD player, such as the one I have in my car. It can only be played on a MP3 enabled CD player. So my purchase was a complete waste for me. Amazon said it is not produce in a regular CD format.
Jun 19, 2010 by Libba |  See all 5 posts
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