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The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else Hardcover – October 18, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“George Anders is himself a rare find. A superb writer, he brings piercing intellect and persistent curiosity to examine the single most important leadership skill: finding and picking the right people. By turning his own talent upon this vital and elusive question, Anders has done a great service.”

—Jim Collins, author of How the Mighty Fall and Good to Great


“How do you find brilliant performers? The first step is to read this remarkable, groundbreaking, profoundly useful book—which is not so much a book as a detailed map of the newly revealed landscape of modern talent hunting. Quite simply, the best book on the subject I’ve ever read.”

—Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code


“George Anders combines deep reporting, vivid storytelling, and keen analysis to help unravel the mysteries of talent. Whether you’re running a large organization or managing a small team, The Rare Find is that rare book—a must-read.”

—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind


“George Anders finds the deep truth about choosing people right. You’ll never make these supremely important decisions the same way again.”

—Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated


“Resilience, curiosity, and self-reliance are strengths that don’t show up in HR hiring manuals. In The Rare Find, George Anders shows that they lead to fresh ways to hunt for talent. More power to him for daring to advocate that which is not obvious.”

—Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation and author of Only the Paranoid Survive


“Well researched, useful, and entertaining . . . The book not only shows how to find and hire top talent, it also provides valuable advice for anyone looking to enhance his or her own performance.”

—Steven N. Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

About the Author

George Anders is a contributing writer at Forbes, where he writes about management, talent and innovation. He spent two decades as a top feature writer for The Wall Street Journal, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also has written for Fast Company, Bloomberg View, Parade, and Harvard Business Review. He is the author of three previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Perfect Enough, an account of upheaval at Hewlett-Packard. He lives in northern California with his wife and two children.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; 1 edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781591844259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844259
  • ASIN: 1591844258
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #843,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been writing about dreamers, idealists and rascals since 1981. Look for my articles and essays these days at Forbes magazine, forbes.com, quora.com and the LinkedIn/Influencers program. Other writing homes over the years have included The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg View and Fast Company magazine. I've also launched a travel blog, written five books and spun out several hundred bedtime stories for our kids.

In 1997, I shared in the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. As an adult, I spent time in New York City, London, Cambridge MA and Washington DC before settling in northern California. I'm a slow but stubborn hiker. Adventures over the years have included trekking in Nepal, Peru and New Zealand, as well as making it to the top of Mt. Whitney, Mt. Fuji and Cerro Chirripo. Some of my favorite writers include Thomas Boswell for sports; William Manchester for biographies; Caroline Baum for financial commentary and Michael Craig for poker.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've hired a bunch of people in my time, and I've learned this: Hiring a "B" player is easy; hiring an "A" is much tougher. So, I'm always looking to understand how to find that haystack needle -- the person who's going to help lead my little organization into places I hadn't even considered. After all, most of us aren't making widgets any more, but we're paid to think and create.

Frankly, that's why I love this book. Anders, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, takes us into hiring environments we never would see -- the U.S. Army's Special Forces, Facebook's puzzlers, a casting director. There's fun story-telling here (I love how the hiring director of the Special Forces provides exhausted soldiers with too few pieces of chicken at the end of the day to see how they will work together).

More importantly, with a palette that colorful, Anders teaches us critical ways of viewing potential hires. While some of the info he gleans isn't all that new (i.e. appreciating failures), most of The Rare Find is filled with smart, fresh tips. My favorite is the "jagged resume," which takes us to the heart of the modern, thinking economy. Anders shows how smart managers recognize the elements a potential hire has garnered from detours, missteps, even vacations. Each of those nuggets contributes to how the best, most thoughtful hires will bring critical skills to a new job.

My copy of this book is filled with underlines and dog-ears. Don't ask to borrow it -- I'm keeping this one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
3 stars for a good book. Well worth a read.

First of all, the book is well written and easy to read. So why only 3 stars? Well, to me, the second half of the book (chapter 9 onwards) is much better than the first half. While the anecdotes that fills up much of the front half of the book were interesting, I found it difficult to draw any solid conclusions from them. To me those stories only reinforced that there are rare talents but not how to identify them. My feeling is most readers, like me, would have known that already else they wouldn't be reading the book. Fortunately, the author does draw everything together in the final chapter of the book, distilling all the evidence and research into several clear and concise insights that fulfill the promise of the book. I would suggests new readers read the last chapter first; that way all the anecdotes will serve to reinforce the conclusions and I think you will get more out of the book. (as a reader of non-fiction, I'm not looking for a big payoff at the end of the book, so I'm not sure why the author felt he needed to withhold all the conclusion until the end like a fiction writer. I just want to get all the useful info out of the book as efficiently as possible.)

Also worth mentioning is that the book also provide ideas on how to KEEP the rare talents; talented people needs to be challenged. So in that sense, i hope this review can help the author improve on his next book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure I would enjoy reading "The Rare Find." Yes, the subject matter--finding remarkably talented people overlooked by others--interested me, but I was concerned the book might present a one-size-fits-all recipe for success. I also wondered just how interesting author George Anders could make the topic. Well, to get to the point, my concerns proved to be unfounded. I not only discovered this book to be very useful and informative, but quite interesting, too. It's a real page-turner.

I suppose I should have known better. Having read Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" (which I recommend) about the use of innovative approaches in finding exceptional baseball players overlooked by most major league teams, I should have realized that the topic can be made compelling. Like Lewis, Anders has woven the real-life stories of people and organizations into his discussions of what works in finding rare talent.

For example, when the U.S. Army's elite Special Forces look for those soldiers who will become effective Green Berets, they don't simply look for the most exceptional cases of physical strength and endurance. Physical capabilities are essential, of course, but they aren't necessarily enough. It turns out that watching small teams of Special Forces candidates try to move an old, rusted trailer a few miles can be very revealing about the leadership, persistence and flexibility components of the job. As the reader of this book becomes engrossed in the descriptions of the soldiers' efforts, through their stories the reader learns something about finding the key components of success.

This book is literally one seemingly unique (yet pattern-forming) story after another.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides excellent and eye-opening insights into what really makes people successful in many fields, and thus how to identify, recruit, and retain people with the potential to become top performers. Based on my own experiences over the years (at least a hundred interviews and many employees), I agree with the author's conclusions. At an intuitive level, I suppose I already knew much of what he tells us, but the book makes things explicit, to the extent that I had quite a few 'why didn't I think of that?' moments, and I'll be changing the way I do some things in the future.

Here's a summary of the key points from the book:

(1) The top performers in a field tend to FAR outperform everyone else, so it's worth the extra effort to try to find, recruit, and retain them.

(2) A key step (often overlooked) in searching for top candidates is to clearly understand the real requirements of the job, then match people to the job and the organizational culture. Simplify the search process by focusing on these real requirements, rather than trying to apply universal/general evaluation criteria, or just evaluating what's easy to evaluate.

(3) To find top candidates, consider looking in unusual places overlooked by others. This includes considering people with atypical 'jagged resumes'.

(4) In many fields, where high levels of performance are sought, future performance is correlated more strongly with character than experience and academic test scores, assuming that test scores at least reach a 'good enough' threshold. Character traits to look for include perseverance, resilience, adaptability, self-reliance, creativity, curiosity, motivation, emotional stability, ability to work in teams, and leadership ability.
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