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Generalists Win in A Specialized World

David Epstein, Author of “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in A Specialized World” spoke with Pablo Torre on ESPN in March 2021, to discuss the science, history, and habits behind the world’s top athletes.

Epstein claims that the cult of the head-start often results in the hyper-specialization of children’s sporting activities. Although well-meaning parents believe that specialization can lead to better performance, Epstein states that is not the case. In fact, some of world’s highest performing athletes participated in a broad range of activities growing up rather than specializing in one specific sport.

Serena Williams says that her dad was ahead of her time because he had her involved in all kinds of sports and activities – ballet, taekwondo, track and field, and football to learn the overhand motion for a serve.

According to Epstein, exposure to a variety of experiences enables individuals to match their interests and abilities with the work that they do, apply the knowledge and skills they have gained to other situations, and make creative connections that their specialized peers are unable to see.

Eric Jackson is a Generalist. He did not begin a career sitting in front of a computer screen as a specialist in Hedge Fund management. His rich and varied background as a scholar, a tech start-up operator, management consultant, and activist investor has resulted in a 20-year proprietary network, a unique research framework, and an innovative perspective that has led to success for EMJ Capital.

Click to listen to the ESPN podcast.

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