Tyler Cowen on Talent (1): Talent Spotting as Art, and Overrated / Underrated

Gregory Washington: How can society get better at finding talent and why is it so difficult?

Tyler Cowen: I think it’s so difficult because it’s not about fixed rules, it’s not about “Always hire the person from this school,” or “Hire the person who wears this kind of shoes.” I think it’s closest to music or art appreciation – so you can’t boil that down to fixed rules either, but if you spend a lot of time studying music or art, or some other areas, you can become much better at it. But there are never fixed rules for what’s a great symphony or what’s a good pop song.

GW: Is that really true?

TC: Yes.

GW: But there are some rules…

TC: There are… they’re not rules. There are principles. They all have exceptions, but I think that when it comes to talent, for most jobs we actually overrate the importance of intelligence, we underrate the importance of values, and we underrate the importance of what I call durability: the dedication to mission, to one’s self, and the ability to keep on going… It depends on the job you’re hiring for, but some of the lessons that I try to teach people are to look for those qualities…

Tyler Cowen interviewed by Gregory Washington on Access to Excellence ep.24

See Also:
The Mundanity of Excellence
TC on Talent (2): Prejudice and Diversity
TC on Talent (3): The Eye of the Tiger
TC on Talent (4): The Global Talent Pool

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