Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Think You’ve Got Talent? Think Again.

We’ve all met someone at one point or another who displays a tremendous ability for a particular skill. Maybe you had a friend in school who could draw incredible pictures. You may currently work with someone who can add huge sums or produce an immediate answer to any math problem. The word we generally use to describe the person’s ability is “talent.” Are we accurate in our description of exceptional skill as a natural ability with which the person was likely born? At times, we’ll hear a story about someone’s success, particularly in the career sense, and describe that person’s path as one of hard work.

Geoff Colvin, author of Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, argues that the highest levels of performance are more than a combination of ability and hard work. There is a specific type of hard work done by the individuals that achieve the unthinkable. Colvin discusses researcher Anders Ericsson’s theory of “deliberate practice,” a concentrated regiment of intense focus on specific skills sets, and concludes that this is what we’re really describing when we refer to someone’s talent.

Colvin, whose book won this year’s Harold Longman Award as Best Business Book of the Year, is our guest tomorrow on Soundview Live. The interactive Web event will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at Noon (Eastern). Be sure to visit for more information on how you can be a part of the conversation.


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