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

Parker Klein ✌️
Published in
3 min readMar 13, 2022


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Highly credentialed experts can become so narrow-minded that they actually get worse with experience, even while becoming more confident — a dangerous combination.

Learning is best done slowly to accumulate lasting knowledge.

In kind learning environments, patterns repeat over and over, feedback is extremely accurate and usually very rapid.

Focus on developing your long-term adaptive strategy. Tactics are what can be automated.

The bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution.

AI systems are like savants. They need stable structures and narrow worlds.

When we know the rules and answers, and they don’t change over time, an argument can be made for savant-like hyper-specialized practice from day one.

The successful adapters were excellent at taking knowledge from one pursuit and applying it creatively to another, and at avoiding cognitive entrenchment.

The more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example.

Learners become better at applying their knowledge to a situation they’ve never seen before, which is the essence of creativity.

Parents with creative children made their opinions known after their kids did something they didn’t like, they just did not prescribe it beforehand.

When you’re self-taught you experiment more, trying to find the same sound in different places, you learn how to solve problems.

A mind kept wide open will take something from every new experience.

The person you are now is fleeting, just like all the other people you’ve been.

We learn who we are only by living, and not before.

First act, and then think.

Don’t commit to anything in the future. Just look at the options available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterward.

“A person doesn’t know what he can do unless he tries. Trying things is the answer to find your talent.” — Katherine Jentleson

Big innovation happens when an outsider who may be far away from the surface of a problem reframed the problem in a way that unlocks the solution.

Knowledge is a double-edged sword. It allows you to do some things, but it also makes you blind to other things that you could do.

“Take your skills and apply them to a new problem, or take your problem and try completely new skills.” — Oliver Smithies

“Do we really need to go through courses with very specialized knowledge that often provide a huge amount of stuff that is very detailed, very specialized, very arcane, and will be totally forgotten in a couple of weeks? Especially now, when all the information is on your phone. You have people walking around with all the knowledge of humanity on their phone, but they have no idea how to integrate it. We don’t train people in thinking or reasoning.” — Arturo Casadevall

The more work eminent creators produced, the more duds they churned out, and the higher their chances of a supernova success.

Don’t feel behind.

Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you.

“It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Parker Klein ✌️

Former @Google @Qualcomm @PizzaNova. Building Twos: write, remember & share *things* (www.TwosApp.com?code=baller)