work journal

Book recommendation: Range by David Epstein

February 28, 2022

If you’re a curious person with wide-ranging interests and a “jungle gym” of a career (Heather Smith, the chief credit officer at American Bank once described it to me, David Epstein’s phenomenal book Range is one you don’t want to miss. In a series of hard-to-put down narratives, Epstein makes a clear, research-backed argument for refusing to hyperspecialize — or at least, doing it later in life.

With a breadth of knowledge, you’ll repurpose frameworks and see connections others don’t see.

As I read, I began seeing the advantage of range as sort of a metaphorical extension of the time I went on ski patrol exchange to Snowbird, bringing ideas back to implement at Moonlight Basin, where I patrolled for five seasons starting in January of 2005.

As Epstein writes, quoting sociologist Brian Uzzi of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, “New collaborations allow creators to take ideas that are conventions in one area and bring them into a new area, where they’re suddenly seen as invention. Human creativity is basically an import-export business of ideas.”

For clear, simple problems, specialize. In the uncertain world most of us walk through daily, it’s range you want.

Shout out to Kate Williams, CEO of 1% For the Planet, for sharing this book on LinkedIn. It’s been invaluable.

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