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Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 16, 2008

345 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Geoff Colvin has written a fascinating study of great achievers from Mozart to Tiger Woods, and he has brilliantly highlighted the fact that great effort equals great success.I agree, and Talent Is Overrated is not only inspiring but enlightening. It's a terrific read all the way through."-Donald Trump

"Talent Is Overrated is a profoundly important book. With clarity and precision, Geoff Colvin exposes one of the fundamental misconceptions of modern life-that our ability to excel depends on innate qualities. Then, drawing on an array of compelling stories and stacks of research, he reveals the true path to high performance-deliberate practice fueled by intrinsic motivation. This is the rare business book that will both prompt you to think and inspire you to act."-Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Geoff Colvin, Fortune’s senior editor at large, is one of America’s most respected business journalists. He lectures widely and is the regular lead moderator for the Fortune Global Business Forum. A frequent guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box and other TV programs, Colvin appears daily on the CBS Radio Network, reaching seven million listeners each week. He also co-anchored Wall Street Week with Fortune on PBS for three years.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (October 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842247
  • ASIN: B0040RMEGM
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,442,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

629 of 653 people found the following review helpful By Mercenary Trader on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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551 of 581 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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880 of 973 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Rowntree on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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