David Epstein || Where Does Greatness Come From?

January 5, 2023

Today we welcome David Epstein, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the bestseller The Sports Gene, both of which have been translated in more than 20 languages. His TED Talks on performance science have been viewed more than 11 million times. He has master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism and has worked as an investigative reporter for ProPublica and a senior writer for Sports Illustrated

In this episode, I talked to David Epstein about greatness. If there’s one thing we know for sure about greatness, it’s that there is no linear path to it. David and I discuss the complex relationship of talent and hard work in specific domains. Although there is no formula, we can both agree that persistent effort and fierce determination are necessary ingredients—but so is talent. We have a nuanced discussion of the dance between nature and nurture on the path to talent. It’s a very delicate dance. We also touch on the topics of self-actualization, creativity, fulfillment and moral greatness. 

Website: davidepstein.com

Twitter: @DavidEpstein


  • Talent: Is it nature or nurture?
  • Does the 10,000 hour rule apply to creativity?
  • Genetics and the rage to master
  • Immediate feedback for growth
  • Progress is not linear
  • Self-actualization is where you “fit”
  • The equal odds rule
  • Restriction of range
  • Creativity and mental illness
  • Incentivizing good vs great scientists
  • Moral greatness
  • The constraints of creativity
  • The criteria of genius 

2 Responses to “David Epstein || Where Does Greatness Come From?”

  1. Lesley says:

    Hi Barry,
    At approx 1:11:23 David Epstein referenced the name of an author which the closed caption bafflingly interpreted as “Mihai Chicks Mihai” [???]. David then said, “whose work, I’m sure, you know way better than I”. Please tell me the name of this author/writer as I would like to investigate further.
    Thank you Barry – and I do love your podcasts!
    Excellent podcast as always!

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