Best-Selling Author on the Science of High Performance
Best-selling author and science writer David Epstein has made it his mission to uncover the keys to achieving high performance in any domain, and to debunk popular myths along the way. His top 10 New York Times best-seller, The Sports Gene, took readers inside the surprising science of extraordinary athletic performance. (It has been translated in 21 languages, and was read by both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.) In his latest book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, he examines the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and Nobel laureates. Named as one of Wharton professor Adam Grant’s “New Leadership Books to Read in 2019,” and by the Washington Post as one of the “10 Leadership Books to Watch For,” Range has received rave reviews from the likes of Daniel Pink (“Range is an urgent and important book, an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.”) and Malcolm Gladwell (“For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong.”) Read More >
TEDTalk: Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, Stronger?
Juggling Through Implicit Learning
Epstein and Gladwell discuss “Range” at MIT
CLSA Investors' Forum 2014
Appearance on Good Morning America
2014 Sports Summit with Tony Hawk
Epstein Versus Gladwell: The Sports Gene Versus 10,000 Hours
What’s the most effective path to success in any domain? It’s not what you think. Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. Best-selling author on the science of performance David Epstein has examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex, unpredictable, and difficult to automate—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see. Read More >
Drawing from his new book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, which has attracted praise from thought leaders like Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Susan Cain; Epstein shares how individuals, teams and organizations of all kinds can harness this under-recognized superpower. As Gladwell put it: “For reasons I cannot explain, David Epstein manages to make me thoroughly enjoy the experience of being told that everything I thought about something was wrong.” Read Less ^
As sports have become high stakes, global competitions, the performance margins that differentiate good, great and legendary have shrunk dramatically. Fortunately, cutting edge science has shone a light on the best path to peak performance, and it contradicts the most popular notions about skill acquisition, like the famed “10,000-hours Rule.” That argument says that only accumulated hours of practice matter to success. In fact, though, future experts start off practicing less in their eventual discipline than their peers. David Epstein explains just what it is that future elites are doing during that time that primes them for later (and greater) success. He also dissects how — once at the top competitive level — athletes are using “small data” to find what factors most matters for performance, and which of those they can change in the pursuit of the final 0.5% of performance. The conclusions from elite sports can guide any individual or team in the search to find their personal 0.5%.
Business: No matter the industry, every business thrives or dies on educated guessing about what the future holds. In a tour of fascinatingly counterintuitive research, David explains how specialists often develop worse judgment about the future as they gain knowledge and credentials in a particular domain, and how interdisciplinary thinkers can reverse that troubling trend. Read More >
Human Resources/Management: Employing studies of “serial innovators,” David explains how HR policies at mature companies often accidentally screen out employees with the highest potential for creative contributions, and what recruiters and hiring managers can do to counter that. But the power of range doesn't stop with recruiting; David shares research on how employees with diverse work experience can make an organization more competitive, more agile, and better prepared for the unexpected.
Healthcare: Increasing specialization in healthcare has been necessary, but also means that individual providers now see a smaller piece of the total health puzzle than ever before—a trend that has led to some eyebrow-raising outcomes. David discusses how generalists can enhance specialized environments, and how healthcare organizations can hire, develop, and cross-train to improve performance and the patient experience.
Investment/Financial Services: As information becomes more rapidly disseminated, it is increasingly difficult (read: expensive, in time and money) to gain an information advantage. However, more information means more opportunity to take advantage of analytical inefficiencies in a market. Who is best suited to analyze the same information that everyone else has? People with range. David shares surprising research on the habits of mind that can lead to an analytical competitive advantage in an information-rich market.
Educators: Drawing on the latest research, David shares how learners of all ages, and their educators, can thrive in an increasingly complex world — not by picking a single specialty and mastering it, but by sampling many areas, changing (and failing) often, and focusing on the kind of analytical thinking skills that transfer between domains. His talk explains how to learn, teach, and create educational institutions primed for the 21st century.
Technology Innovators: In an age of rapid technological change, it can feel like hyperspecialization is a necessity for reaching the cutting edge, never mind pushing it. But in fact, there has never been more opportunity for “lateral thinking” generalists to drive technological progress. David discusses the habits of mind that lead generalists to make connections that their more specialized peers miss, and how organizations can be structured so that specialists and generalists enhance one another's performance.
Students & Parents: As any graduation speech will tell you, the key to success is knowing where you want to be years from now and determining the steps to get there. Except, research shows that’s precisely the opposite of how most successful and fulfilled people develop their lives and careers. David discusses work showing that top performers assiduously avoid rigid long-term planning and premature specialization. Along the way, he shares how anyone can adopt habits that will help them work toward an optimal fit between who they are and what they do. Read Less ^
"What an awakening and powerful commencement address to the UPJ class of 2019...I raised my children on the Gallup Philosophy and not only did you expand on it as it relates to today, you confirmed to them I’m an awesome mother!"
"Your message was perfect. Interestingly, the feedback has been as overwhelmingly positive about the science that you provided in addition to the message. Our group thought you had hand designed the presentation for us as sports scientists, and it resonated deeply. The way you approached the book as well as how you presented what you found, combines imagination with well-grounded data and makes your message beyond entertaining...exactly what we were looking for. Thanks again, and look forward to seeing what you get us into next!"
"We were fortunate to have David Epstein, our presidential keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. He was phenomenal. He was very accommodating and gave an outstanding, informed and entertaining lecture. A few examples of the overwhelmingly positive comments from the audience follow: 'One of the best speakers we've ever had;' 'Best session of the day;' 'Certainly enjoyed this discussion.' 'Best talk of the conference, hands down;' 'One of the best lectures I have ever heard. Fascinating, well researched, and funny.'"
"David's presentation made a huge impact at our annual leadership summit. His flawless, enthralling presentation on late specialization was a complete package of fascinating data and illustrations. Speaking to an audience of elite military veterans studying medicine, business, public policy, mental health, law, and the arts, his message was universally applicable to those with unique skill sets who may feel momentarily 'behind' in a new career. He was the highest rated speaker for the second year in a row by our attendees!"
"David Epstein's keynote address was a huge hit with the Strata audience. Through the combination of humor and skillful storytelling, David was able to make sports science come alive for our diverse crowd of data enthusiasts. The most successful keynotes require excellent pacing, great content, and the ability to draw people in and keep them engaged. David did all three successfully at Strata Santa Clara. Based on the comments we've received, his presentations were definitely crowd favorites at this year's conference."
"I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your presentation. Not only were you engaging and the presentation itself visually appealing, but your conclusions and your passion fit seamlessly into the theme of our program. I think our participants were very receptive to your message. Thanks for joining us. You were a highlight of the conference."
"It was great to meet you today. You gave an outstanding presentation. Your talk was extremely generative, not only in terms of understanding sports performance, but also pure science. I found your storytelling and science communication skills to be off the charts. I have worked with a lot of scientists, many among the top in their fields, and while I know you identify yourself as a journalist, your talk was the best science presentation I have ever seen. You are at the top of your game."
"Everyone LOVED David Epstein! We are so looking forward to having him back some day. I can’t tell you how many times I heard 'this was the best talk ever.' Thank you again for you and your team helping with the organization and being so patient with my response time. You all are wonderful. I hope we work together again soon."
"His speech was well received by the audience at the forum…everything worked perfectly. Many of the participants were impressed by the amount of preparation he put into his presentations and visual/audio aids. It made the speech more engaging for the non-English speaking audience."
"The event went great! Everything went very smoothly and his presentation was amazing. Everyone had a great time at the event and so many people were extremely engaged."
"David's keynote speech was very well received! His comments hit the mark and resonated very well with the audience. He gave an engaging message, and I am quite impressed with him. Thank you very much for your support through the whole selection process. I will certainly be using your service again!"