David Epstein
Reading Order: Book 18
Categories: 2020, Erik Rostad
Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Pages: 352
Suggested By: Russ Roberts / EconTalk Podcast Host
Date Started: June 17, 2020
Date Finished: June 22, 2020
7h 56m 48s
Reason Book was Chosen: I heard David Epstein discuss this book on a few podcast episodes. The thing I liked about it and the reason I chose it for this year's reading list is that it seems to collect a number of ideas from many of the books that have been a part of this Books of Titans reading project. I also feel bad sometimes for not focusing on one thing career wise and need some encouragement that being a generalist is ok :).
My Thoughts

Here is the question David Epstein sought to answer with this book:

The question I set out to explore was how to capture and cultivate the power of breadth, diverse experience, and interdisciplinary exploration, within systems that increasingly demand hyper specialization, and would have you decide what you should be before first figuring out who you are.

Basically, is it ok to go broad in a narrow world?

We live in a wicked world. Epstein says “wicked” is a lack of data. So, we live in a world without 100% certainty. Will you individually be better equipped to take on these wicked situations, be they personal, corporate, or career-related, as a specialist or a generalist?

Epstein shares tips and anecdotes across a wide range (see what I did there) of fields.

This is a book helpful at both the individual and leadership levels. There are ideas you can implement immediately in your own life and others applicable to leading others well.

Here are a few of my favorite things from this book:

  • If you aren’t struggling, you aren’t learning
  • Chunking knowledge leads to better recall
  • How to solicit answers from outside an organization
  • The idea of early experimentation and later specialization. Deliberate practice should not begin at an early age.


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