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The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  21,316 ratings  ·  1,561 reviews
What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople—and everyone else—with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.

Whether you're coaching soccer or teaching a child to play the piano, writing a novel or tr
Audio CD, 288 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by HighBridge Company (first published 2009)
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Melissa Coyle is an excellent writer and superior story-teller. His book reminds me of Dweck's "Mindset" and Gladwell's "Outliers." If you read Ericsson and P…moreCoyle is an excellent writer and superior story-teller. His book reminds me of Dweck's "Mindset" and Gladwell's "Outliers." If you read Ericsson and Pool's book, you're probably interested in this topic enough to read another book on the topic. It does look as though Ericsson and Pool's book is more recently published than Coyle's book, so the neuroscience research would be more up to date in the book you mentioned.(less)

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This book is first and foremost a cultural myth-buster. There are so many dangerous collectively held beliefs about human potential and its limits. One of the greatest insults that we can say to someone who is talented is that they came by it naturally. When we label people as naturally talented, or smart it is a back-handed compliment that tries to downplay their efforts while excusing our own laziness. Everyone who is talented or gifted came by it the hard way, through dedicated hard-work. Tha ...more
Amir Tesla
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There exist a zone of accelerated learning, in which you learn super fast, and retain a lot more. Prodigies like Mozart, Davinci, etc., were only lucky enough to know how to enter that zone deliberately. In other words, they had cracked the talent code. In this review, I will share with you this life-altering secret.

What you will learn in this book:
-What really is talent, and how it is grown?
-How you can drastically speed up acquiring a talent using deep practice
-How you can create the motivatio
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the most often-quoted facts regarding talent, which I first heard in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", is that becoming an expert in a given field takes on average about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. However, that term 'deliberate practice' can seem somewhat vague: what exactly is supposed to happen during those 10,000 hours? Coyle's book is the definitive answer to that question.

In his book, Coyle explores this notion of deliberate practice from all angles. To begin, he starts out w
Jim Razinha
Coyle asks, "...why does it take people so long to learn complex tasks?" Um...because they're complex?

Any time someone opens up with how they'll reveal "revolutionary scientific discoveries", the best advice is to run away. I didn't take my own advice and stubbornly slogged through this collection of anecdotes about "hotbeds" (he loves that term) in which he reaches far, contradicts himself, incredibly co-opts the Tom Sawyer fence whitewashing story to his means (really...guy tosses thousands o
I'm on the fence about this book. The subject matter is riveting, but it's the writing that throw it all off for me. It's too catchy, to commercial. The author has a penchant for grand claims which I don't think sits well when trying to write a book rooted in science. He is passionate, I'll give him that. I always feel I am being actively sold something, and talked down to as if I were a child, his little riddle about myelin production got on my nerves pretty quickly, as did all the endless case ...more
Isaac Yuen
Sep 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I checked this out based on a recommendation from my professor, a lifelong educator who’s deeply immersed in the field of leadership and organizational development. He stated, on no uncertain terms, that this was one of the best reads out there on talent development. Not just talent in one area, ALL talent.

The central premise, which is repeated for effect throughout the book, is that “skill is insulation that wraps neural circuits and grows according to certain signals.” That insulation is a sub
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is so much to be gained from what this book teaches. This is one of my favorite books so far from 2012.

What makes talent? Is is born or made? The theory behind this book is that talent is made. The way this is done is by "deep practice". Deep practice isn't just about practicing something over and over again--it is about practicing in a certain system of doing, messing up, and doing over again until you get it right. What I love about this theory is that to be talented you must fail and le
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Talent Code is a book about talent and skill, and how they are developed. It explains why we see bursts of talented people, Russian tennis players, Brazilian football players, Italian artists, and others. It is based on a simple but powerful idea once you truly understand it. It's not very different from "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, but it is more researched, more accurate, and simply more entertaining than Gladwell's book. Plus, Gladwell ends his book by trying (and failing) to explain w ...more
The Talent Code is a fascinating study of success, the success of groups or clusters of people in widely separated parts of the globe and in many different fields of endeavour. Contrary to common thought talent is not born it is gained through deep focused practice. This is the current revelation discovered by Daniel Coyle and other social scientists. What he discovered are talent hot beds. These are specific towns where the winners, the most successful in a skill, are coming from. The myelin wh ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book about talent and how to nurture, ignite, coach and essentially spot it in individuals. As the father of 2 little boys who I coach in both boxing and football (sock-her) there were about 5/6 really interesting leadership / coaching techniques that I picked up from the book that I have already started to implement into their training and my own. One of the differentiators of this book was the introduction, into my vernacular at least, of this substance called myelin. Myelin sounds l ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for teachers, particularly those who believe all students can learn. Daniel Coyle speaks to the value of hard work, appropriate mentors, and effective motivation (which he calls ignition) in developing talent. I particularly like Coyle's acknowledgment that experience and expertise matter. In fact, he claims that it takes one ten years and/or 10,000 hours of "deep practice" to become an expert in one's chosen profession or avocation. Take that, Bill Gates. Coyle also pays hom ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
The thesis of this excellent book is that talent is developed by the right kind of practice. This practice repeatedly fires the correct neurons, which develops the myelin sheaths that surround these neurons; a positive feedback ensues, further strengthening the neuron connections.

Brute repetition is not the type of practice that the author recommends; he discusses a "deep" practice that breaks down a complex skill into component parts, and repeats the parts until they become perfect and ingrain
I like that Coyle actually went out and visited "talent hotbeds" and tried to synthesize ways they practice, motivate and coach rather than just citing other studies and books. I'd never heard of myelin so that was interesting, though his miracle drug description of it is ridiculous.

The thirty second takeaway: practice in chunks, breaking up music to measures, bringing sports to a smaller scale--practice in a way that lets you fail and correct often. Stay motivated by taking a genuine interest i
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Totally forgettable and just like every other book in this genre. Coyle is a better writer than most so that's a bonus. I really liked his culture code book, but this one is just a rehash of books I've already read about deliberative practice, grit (eye roll), growth mindset (eye roll), etc. ...more
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Talent de-coded*

Now, if this book isn't a display of remarkable talent, I don't know what is!

Not only does Daniel Coyle de-code talent, but he uses his own to brilliantly weave the story behind greatness. Clearly, he's honed his writing talent. (And, after reading this book, you'll understand the neurological processes enabling that growth!)

The book tells the story of the three components of the talent-code: deep practice, ignition, and master coaching. The protagonist of the talent story is my
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
There are some good tips in here, but much of it is pseudoscience psychobabble decorating cute anecdotes.
This idea that anybody can be good at anything with enough practice is so obviously wrong that I marvel at its persistence. The part that has some kind of link to reality is Flow: match your skills to your challenges.
Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Jurgen Appelo
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: learning
Somewhat simplistic principles offered with entertaining stories.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars and absolutely fascinating
Rick Davis
The premise of this book is interesting, and I enjoyed learning about myelin. I think that there are some good ideas about techniques for practicing and perfecting skills as well. However, the writing is kind of all over the place. (I can only take so many mixed metaphors.) Also the application in the last couple of chapters and the epilogue shows the tendency to favor skill building as an end in itself in opposition to theory. This sort of results-oriented, pragmatic approach generally rubs me ...more
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating read! Daniel Coyle spent two years visiting talent "hotbeds," like Brazil with it's soccer factory, Russia's tennis training ground, and the Z-Boys in California. He studied the practicing, the coaches, and the environmental factors that contribute to these bundles of genius or greatness. He connects what he finds to the latest research and conclusions about how skills and talent grow at the brain level. His conclusions about growing talent are widely applicable, and the many ...more
AJ Nolan
Interesting and fast read. Touches on some of the same studies as other books of this type, and is a bit extroverted biased, but takes an interesting look at the role of myelin in creating talent, i.e. how forming the myelin coating on our neurons, we develop our talents, and thus the oft cited 10,000 hours mark to reach mastery at something - it takes 10,000 hours to fully develop a thick coating of myelin, and the thicker the coating, the faster the synapses fire, and the more ingrained a skil ...more
Greg Albrecht
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very entertaining and informative. Fantastic language - vivid and precise. Good storytelling delivered in a concise manner. This book brings useful insights and new concepts even to those who are experienced coaches and have read many books on behavior and psychology before.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by Bianca's viola teacher. It's a great book that makes you rethink the way we perceive "naturals" or people born with "talent." I learned so much about "deep practice" and the way that's best to encourage kids with our words ("I can tell you're working so hard" as opposed to "sounds good"). I really think every parent should read this book. It's not that a person has a knack for something to be good at it. It opens up the world to anyone willing to work hard, pai ...more
Joshua Key
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned about myelin a few years ago, this book really "myelinates" the concept of myelin.

You'll understand very clearly what makes a brain good at something, and how to replicate it.

Three other books I recommend to supplement this one: "A Mind For Numbers", "Peak Performance", and "The Art of Learning"
Richard Zhu
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Filled with familiar tropes (if you've any familiarity with pop-psych literature and all), but I think there's value in going through the case studies and the breakdowns of how skill in any area is really cultivated:
1. Ignition (the spark that lights a fire)
2. Coaching (starts with motivation + transitions to "how to do this")
3. Immense repetition and practice.

This book is obviously useful for anyone doing any sort of coaching or training of other people, particularly in those competitive fields
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's all about myelin ...more
Nathan Moore
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coyle's premise is that the notion that people are born with natural talents is a myth. Talents are developed by hard work and deep practice. Coyle argues that the development of skills can be traced to the development of myelin, a wrapping of insulation around our neurons. The thicker the myelin, the more efficient the circuit.

“All skills, all language, all music, all movements, are made of living circuits, and all circuits grow according to certain rules.” (The Talent Code, pg 6)

To develop sk
Dan Connors
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
Imagine yourself locked in a small room with millions of buttons sitting in front of you, each one firing impulses that could make the difference between success and failure. How would you know which button to push? This, in a nutshell, is the dilemma that the brain faces every day when it needs to learn something new.
Coyle uses brain science to decode the processes that need to happen for great skill and expertise to emerge. It all starts with individual nerve fibers and myelin. As we fire an
Brad Revell
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wealth, how-tos
We all have various definitions and theories on what talent really is. Coyle sees talent as the combination of deep practice, ignition and master coaching; this builds myelin which is the major focus of this book. In most articles or books I have read, the nervous system focuses on the synapse. Think of a synapse as the connection between the nerves and myelin as the insulation around the nerve. The greater the insulation around the nerve the more effective you can fire it and the faster it will ...more
Dan Wedin
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, in the face of conventional opinion, Daniel Coyle researched, studied and presented how talent isn't inherent and can be cultivated and grown. This gives us all hope and a formula on how to get really good at something, to put it simply.

I love the quote below, and how it applies to The Talent Code.

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”― Phaedrus
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Daniel Coyle is the author of the upcoming book The Culture Code (January 2018). He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code, The Little Book of Talent, The Secret Race (with Tyler Hamilton), and other books. Winner (with Hamilton) of the 2012 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Prize, he is a contributing editor for Outside magazine, and also works a special advisor to the Cle ...more

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