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Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  46 reviews
The art and science of talent search: how to spot, assess, woo, and retain highly talented people.

How do you find talent with a creative spark? To what extent can you predict human creativity, or is human creativity something irreducible before our eyes, perhaps to be spotted or glimpsed by intuition, but unique each time it appears?

Obsessed with these questions, renowned
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 17th 2022 by St. Martin's Press
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Sebastian Gebski
Jun 25, 2022 rated it really liked it
Yet another book that is gaining a lot of publicity these days.

I have to admit my initial impression was positive - I haven't made that many notes (while reading a book) for quite a long time. But the problem with "Talent: How to ..." is that it's primarily supposed to inspire, so frequently the author gets a bit "detached from reality".

I understand the criticism of behavioral methods - regardless of many successful companies openly admitting it's a foundation of their method. But "what have you
Andrey Goder
May 19, 2022 rated it it was ok
To be honest this reads like it was generated via GPT-3 trained on Marginal Revolution posts.
Fin Moorhouse
May 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2022, audible
The thesis of this book is that the world can and should do better to find talent, and failing to identify talent has large but mostly silent costs (analogous to restrictions on immigration, or some kinds of discrimination). I found that really compelling.

I enjoyed the unusual interview question ideas. Paraphrasing some:

What is it you do to train that is comparable to a pianist practicing scales?

What browser tabs do you currently have open?

How hard do you work?

What mainstream belief do you think
Chris Boutté
Mar 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I was highly skeptical of this book, but after reading it, I legitimately think it needs to be mandatory reading for anyone involved in hiring. Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross wrote a book that is about as close to perfect as you can get destroying conventional wisdom about hiring. As someone who has been lower-middle-class my whole life, but I work my ass off, I’ve always hated the mindless process of how applications and interviews go. Too often employers won’t even consider you if you don’t chec ...more
bubble butt book lover
Jun 25, 2022 rated it did not like it
Shelves: giveaways
Talent was an excellent read in that it well outlined how to find and search for talent, where to search for talent, as well as strategies and techniques right down to possible interview questions to ask, which would likely be at least semi-useful for people involved in business or hiring if it weren't written in such a stereotypical venture capitalist #entrepeneur4life type of way. It also seems as though it pushes on the idea that you have to have some sort of creative or out-of-the-box way of ...more
Jun 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
How should we think about Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross's Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World?

At first glance, this is a book about finding and hiring talent aimed primarily at start up entrepreneurs. In this sense, entrepreneurs and people on hiring committees seem like a better audience for this book than I am.

More broadly, Cowen and Gross seek to chip away at the bureaucratized HR style search for workers. If everyone knows "tell me about a weakness of y
Jun 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book both for general audience (anyone who might have a job or hire for a job...) but also for startup founders specifically, as they're often very focused on organizational design. It's not perfect, but does inspire, and has some good ways to create your own processes and models for evaluating talent.

Tyler Cowen is one of my favorite mainstream-libertarian economists who also runs an investment/exploration fund. Daniel Gross is a former YC founder, then partner, Apple employee, and
Aaron Sabin
Jun 12, 2022 rated it liked it
This book presents different ways of thinking about professional talent, including understanding how different personality types match different roles, the importance of intelligence, interview techniques, and ways of spotting talent. I like the idea of thinking about identifying and recruiting talent as a "Moneyball" type of scheme. It was the first time I had thought about this topic in a structured way, so I appreciate the book for that alone. It was also very easy to read.

My complaints about
Hampus Jakobsson
Jun 17, 2022 rated it it was ok
Caveat: I like the authors’ previous work and had _very_ high expectations, so maybe my review is too harsh.

1. Finding the right people for the right problem doesn’t not only drive the world forward, but also it levels the playing field as a lot of talent isn’t discovered or in the “main field” (like at a prestigious institution).
2. Looking at the talent in new ways, in new places, or “new kinds of people” has a massive arbitrage as most institutions' value is priced in; everyone loves h
May 22, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: spring-2022
An important subject, and there are some interesting insights in here from two smart people. Much more venture capital / Silicon Valley tech startup oriented than the introductory material and marketing lets on. That preoccupation sharply limits how generalizable the findings are. Some interesting points but also a good bit of anecdotal fluff.
Russell Blickhan
May 21, 2022 rated it it was ok
in which tyler cowen writes a generic pop psych book. not sure I was the target audience for this, but then again I’m not sure who was 🤔
May 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book, and while it has some faults, it is an overwhelmingly positive addition to the underappreciated field of talent recognition.

That being said, it requires some disclaimers:

This is NOT a psychology book (not strictly at least). It does venture into the 5-factor personality and IQ literature as they pertain to job performance and income, but nothing beyond that.

Someone unfamiliar with basic statistics, and some science jargon, may struggle with portions of this book. The
Jun 18, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I'm not sure what to make of this book. It has many interesting ideas. Apparently it's the product of years of discussion between the two authors and it feels it. They've refined their ideas into a book, it's not a dialogue, but it's not as coherent or focused as I expected.

As a practical manual for hiring, they seem not to have a consistent sense of who their audience is, who they are trying to help. Sometimes they give advice that could be applied to hire a reasonably competent employee for an
May 25, 2022 rated it liked it
Very mixed feelings on this book. Big fan of Tyler Cowen's work (podcast, blog, etc) and always enjoy his wide-ranging, provocative, snappy intellect. But this book isn't great. It does include quite a bit of his entertaining and clever thinking, but it feels like a brainstorm, not a book; lists of hypothesis that aren't well worked out; jumping from conjecture to conjecture; making a point and then providing a caveat that invalidates that point. Further, it aspires to be a broad, general book o ...more
Brendan Giles
May 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
One of my great loves is reading, so I thought it might be fun to share a mini-review of some of the books I've been reading.

Talent is the result of a collaboration between economist Tyler Cowen and Venture Capitalist Daniel Gross and it reflects their careers with a focus on how they both go about finding talent in their respective careers. While a lot of the advice is still worthwhile for those hiring for their business, expect to be doing some selective application of the ideas in the book.

May 27, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Talent : How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World (2022) by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross describes how Cowen and Gross look for talent. The two have done this successfully, Cowen has hired economists that won economics Nobel prizes and Gross started a company that was acquired by Apple and has now joined Y Combinator. Gross has now established Pioneer, an early stage remote start up accelerator that is dedicated to finding and helping start ups around the world.

For any
Jun 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
Has some good things but I agree with others that this book seems more about finding a specific type of founder than about finding talent in general. E.g. I think the question “what tabs do you have open?” and meta-questions such as “which of your beliefs are you least rational about?” are great to identify certain types of people who might have good ideas, but less good for identifying which types of people might do a good job, say, working at a nonprofit to help the homeless. I don’t think Tyl ...more
Jul 03, 2022 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable, quick, and conversation-starting book. I would send it to someone who is new to Silicon Valley culture in the same way that Zero To One is a reasonable window into this world for an outsider -- but maybe not a lot of novel content for people already in the VC / startup scene.

Regardless, there were still many parts of Talent that I found insightful.

For instance I think there were some good tips of evaluating talent from cultures beyond one's own. (I think this is the stro
May 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but found some very useful insights and suggestions on how to assess talent for hiring. Although its subtitle is "How to Identify Energizers, Creatives and Winners Around the World" there are sample interview questions and techniques that could work for roles beyond the C-suite. I particularly appreciated the chapters on being open to hiring people with disabilities and understanding how our personal biases get in the way when we are interviewing and s ...more
May 29, 2022 rated it it was ok
From Chapter 8 — "There is evidence from economics, for instance, that the gender confidence gap comes mainly from male economists making proclamations about areas they don't know much about.”(pg 185)

If you combine such an economist with the pseudo-profound proclamations of a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, you end up with pages and pages of unsubstantiated 'advice’. And a helpful Appendix with apparently ‘good questions’ to ask during an interview, which include “Why do you want to work
Paul Johnson
May 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
A book largely of big ideas rather than practical advice. Nevertheless lots of interesting concepts. First the idea that intelligence is not terribly predictive, other personality traits, especially conscientiouness dominate. In founders, people who are simultaneously disagreable and open-minded tend to do well. The book had many suggestions for interview questions, encouraging the reader to engage in conversation and glean meta-information from the answers. For example, learning what people do ...more
Jun 23, 2022 rated it it was ok
Honest review in exchange for an ARC from St. Martin’s Press:

Tyler & Daniel sure think highly of themselves. I went into this unsure of what I could take from it since I no longer work in a position where I will ever hire people. I hoped that I could apply what I learned to discovering talent in the teenagers I teach so I could guide them into course choices that would support their futures.

Overall I did not learn that at all. I feel perhaps more prepared for future job interviews. This book fe
Mar 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Like much of Tyler's writing, it isn't so much a book as a collection of blog post ideas presented in a book format. I've followed him for a decade, so it isn't much of a surprise that I agree with what he says. That said, I wish he didn't reveal a secret that I've built my career on, namely, that because the acceptable bandwidth for female personal styles is so narrow, many exceptional women get pushed to the side. I've built my team full of incredibly talented people who, for various reasons T ...more
Laura Skladzinski
May 29, 2022 rated it really liked it
Economist Tyler Cowen and entrepreneur Daniel Gross take a combined approach in examining the art and science of hiring talent - and their two angles work well together, with theory balanced by practicality. I found myself highlighting so many sections of this book, with tips on good interview questions as well as what to actually look for, and there were a lot of surprises along the way. My only complaint would be that the book lost steam as it went - I found the earliest chapters the most comp ...more
Carolyn Selli
Apr 30, 2022 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul J
Jun 26, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked approach of seeking undervalued talent. Found sections on personality traits, disabilities, women, minorities most interesting.

Amused by question authors suggest people hiring from lower tier firms should ask themselves…if person is willing to work here, what is wrong with them.

Best stat: 1 in 20 terminated for being toxic (sexual harassment, workplace violence, fraud, falsifying documents, other egregious behaviors). Toxic workers encourage others to be toxic as well. Contagion effect ma
Jun 29, 2022 rated it liked it
Hiring is a part of my job where I don't feel particularly confident so I was interested in hearing from people who apparently do. While a lot of this advice is directed at looking more for entrepreneurs or founders, it still felt helpful at a general level. I can't say I would actually take a lot of the advice, some of it is just awkward - keep asking the same question 10 times to get passed the planned answers -, some of it was unpersuasive - I don't think people's open tabs are always reveali ...more
Jay Yeo
Jun 13, 2022 rated it liked it
The subtitle of the book may be a bit misleading - rather than a book on finding talent and its markers in general, it has a big focus on finding talents in relatively undiscovered or undervalued groups of people who may not present with more traditional markers of success or credentials, such as matching work to personality and types of neurodivergence (selecting for specific traits while overlooking negatives). It also covers networking, branding, empowerment and development as avenues of attr ...more
Aris Catsambas
Jun 19, 2022 rated it did not like it
Being a Marginal Revolution fan, I had high expectations for this book. I was disappointed. The TL;DR is that there is no person for whom this book is useful: either you have some sort of intuition for identifying 'talent', in which case you may find a few useful tips here, but nothing game-changing, or you don't, in which case following the advice of the book is not only useless, but dangerous (how do you evaluate a response to 'what's the longest distance you've ever been from another human be ...more
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Tyler Cowen (born January 21, 1962) occupies the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics as a professor at George Mason University and is co-author, with Alex Tabarrok, of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution. He currently writes the "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times and writes for such magazines as The New Republic and The Wilson Quarterly.

Cowen's primary research interest is

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