Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

In 2019, I subconsciously passed over reading Range primarily because of my belief that those who deeply specialize do indeed end up delivering significant accomplishments. How can this book make a claim that generalists triumph? After updating my LinkedIn profile summary in December 2019, it was a reminder that I was more of a polymath with deep skill in one technical discipline and knowledge across other disciplines. I was inspired to read Range to gain perspective and I am glad I did. It freed me of the idea that gaining experiences in different fields and jobs were inefficient in my career progression or how it may appear to hiring managers. David Epstein’s content on maximizing “match quality” throughout life with jobs and careers resonated with what I have believed for many years. Highly recommended.

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My Notes

“Match quality” is a term economists use to describe the degree of fit between the work someone does and who they are – their abilities and proclivities.

Learning stuff was less important than learning about oneself. Exploration is not just a whimsical luxury of education; it is a central benefit.

Miller showed that the process for match quality is the same. An individual starts with no knowledge, tests various possible paths in a manner that provides information as quickly as possible, and increasingly refines decisions about where to allocate energy.

Godin argued that “winners” – he generally meant individuals who reach the apex of their domain – quit fast and often when they detect that a plan is not the best fit, and do not feel bad about it.