🏀 rangy

Our backbone for this week will be a conversation between Zach Lowe and David Epstein. Though Lowe covers basketball, the summer break allowed him to read more widely and one book he paged through was Epstein's Range.

Lowe loved it, and the book gave him a good answer to a prompt from Ron Adams, who Zach called the "dean of assistant coaches."

You see, whenever Lowe is in San Francisco to cover the Golden State Warriors (where Adams coaches), he's asked (after talking basketball) What are you reading?

For a long time Lowe had good answers but over time his answers diminished to the point he wasn't reading anything. "I'm just watching so-and-so run the pick-and-roll Ron."

That was no good. Adams would remind Lowe he was doing his work a disservice by not reading widely. In a way then, Epstein's book Range is a meta answer to Ron's regular questions. Range is all about balancing general and specialized skills.

NBA players can't not be good at basketball. That's their specialty 'floor'. However, to reach their 'ceiling' they might be better off doing more than just basketball.

It's difficult. Lowe says that he could spend all day, every day reading smart basketball analysis, talking to insightful basketball scouts, and watching excellent basketball schemes. We all could.

Kara Swisher has this problem too. She told Barry Ritholtz that for work she "reads the internet all day long" and "I read a lot of the books I have to do podcasts on." She also said "I wish I read more fiction." Ritholtz has asked hundreds of people what they're reading, and he tells Swisher that a lot of people say that, they want to read more fiction.

Fiction might be an excellent choice and here's why.Your job requires cooperating with other people and reading fiction gives you insights, empathy, and a temporary perspective you wouldn't have otherwise had. Plus, reading fiction aligns with Epstein's findings of when generalists succeed.

Ranginess works in what Epstein presents as 'wicked' environments. As he said in one interview, "the difference between cancer research and Jeopardy is that in Jeopardy we know the answers." Golf, piano, and chess are all fixed, tight, non-wicked environments and so repetition works there. Ranginess works everywhere else.

This week we'll focus on one room where we need ranginess but don't typically have it. We'll give some here's why answers too. Unlike Zach Lowe, it's not usually that we aren't reading something interesting but that we have to say here's why what I'm reading is interesting, helpful, and rangy.