Tag: Talent

The Important Difference Between Talent & Skill

Many insights but to me, the most important aspect is the fundamental difference between Talent and Skill. The understanding that whatever you have it is nothing without work and ethic!

Talent vs. Hard Work

If you had to bet on Talent vs. Hard Work. Choose hard work. It will beat the crap out of Talent!


Pete Docter joined Pixar 22 years ago, and since then he’s had a major hand in hits including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Up.

Middle school teacher Martin Kelsey wrote to Docter in 2009, asking for some advice to pass on to his students.

Docter’s reply was all encouragement:

What would I tell a class of Middle School students?

When I was in Middle School, I liked to make cartoons. I was not the best artist in my class — Chad Prins was way better — but I liked making comic strips and animated films, so after High school it was no surprise that I got into The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a school that taught animation.

CalArts only accepts 25 students a year, and it attracts some of the best artists in the country. Suddenly I went from being one of the top artists in my class to being one of the absolute worst. Looking at the talented folks around me, I knew there was no way I would make it as a professional. Everyone else drew way better than I did. And I assumed the people who were the best artists would become the top animators.

But I loved animation, so I kept doing it. I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends’ films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.

Meanwhile, many of the people who could draw really well kind of rested around and didn’t do a whole lot. It made me angry, because if I had their talent, man, the things I would do with it!

Years later, a lot of those guys who probably still draw really well don’t actually work in animation at all. I don’t know what happened to them. As for me, I got hired at Pixar Animation Studios, where I got to work on Toy Story 1 and 2, direct Monsters, Inc., and Up (due out May 29th this year).

So, Middle School Student, whatever you like doing, do it! And keep doing it. Work hard! In the end, passion and hard work beats out natural talent. (And anyway, if you love what you do, it’s not really “work” anyway.)

Good luck,

Pete Docter

Don’t be LIN-blinded: Why you need to SIFT through your talent (Jeremy Lin Style)

All of us know the story of a guy named Tim Tebow. The deemed to be “not so talented” most surprisingly winning quarterback for the NFL’s Denver Broncos. This is a guy who has been considered an average player. An average player in college. An average over-hyped player in the league. But for some strange reason all the preconceived notions that people had didn’t matter. Baffled, everyone in the league, from sports commentators to fans, couldn’t stop this guy and his team from winning. Well until… but anyway.

Now let’s move from the NFL to the NBA. From a guy (Tim Tebow) that many knew about but felt was definitely was no stand-out, to a guy (Jeremy Lin) who essentially no one knew existed. Here is a synopsis from various stories on the recent rise of Jeremy Lin (if you know the story skip to the end!).

Jeremy Lin, after receiving no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and being undrafted out of college, was a 2010 Harvard University graduate that reached a partially guaranteed contract deal later that year with his hometown Golden State Warriors. After his first year, he was waived by the Warriors and the Houston Rockets in the preseason before joining the Knicks early in the 2011–12 season. Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American player in the league to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.

Lin said he was “competing for a backup spot, and people see me as the 12th to 15th guy on the roster…”  New York considered releasing Lin before his contract became guaranteed on February 10 so they could sign a new player.  However, after the Knicks squandered a fourth quarter lead in a February 3 loss to the Boston Celtics, coach Mike D’Antoni decided to give Lin a chance to play. D’Antonti said “He got lucky because we were playing so bad.” Lin had played only 55 minutes through the Knicks’ first 23 games.

“Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere. It seems like they come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. It probably just went unnoticed.” -Kobe Bryant

On February 4, 2012, Lin had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists—all career-highs—in a 99–92 Knicks victory over the New Jersey Nets. Teammate Carmelo Anthony suggested to coach Mike D’Antoni at halftime that Lin should play more in the second half. After the game, D’Antoni said Lin has a point-guard mentality and “a rhyme and a reason for what he is doing out there.”

In the subsequent game against the Utah Jazz, Lin made his first career start. He had 28 points and eight assists.In a game against the Washington Wizards, Lin had 23 points and 10 assists. It was his first double-double. On February 10, Lin scored a new career-high 38 points and had seven assists, leading the Knicks in their 92–85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He outscored the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who had 34 points. On February 11, Lin scored 20 points and had 8 assists in a narrow 100–98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lin scored 89, 109, and 136 points in his first three, four, and five career starts, respectively, all three of which are the most by any player since the merger between the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the NBA in 1976–77.

He is the first NBA player with at least 20 points and seven assists in his first four starts. Lin was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals in those four starts with the Knicks going undefeated. On February 14, Lin scored a game-winning three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors with less than a second remaining in a game.  In the following game, Lin recorded career-high 13 assists and led the Knicks back to .500.

The feel-good story of  Jeremy Lin is a perfect example of overlooked talent and how the world of work should try it’s best to evaluate and effectively SIFT through the people we have. Find out what makes them tick and how we could better allow them to use their previously unrealized abilities.

In the case of Jeremy Lin it was a draw of the cards. A lucky circumstance caused from most of the players in the Knicks organization being hurt, forcing the team to allow a player, they would sooner let go, play on the court.

Here are a few things you should do to sift through the talent you already have to build on your best potential performance and not miss out on your best players!

  1. Meet with each member of your team regularly: While seemingly simple too many executives and managers rarely have one on ones with their teams. They don’t have regular team meetings. This is a shame because the simple act of meeting collectively once a month or with each individual periodically will help you follow and know the pulse of each individual. Think about it this way: If you never kept stats of your players than how would you ever know how well they were doing from game to game?
  2. Evaluate their performance: This goes along with performance reviews but is much deeper. The performance review is simply a tool to help you monitor and keep track of the health of each member of your team. Only a tool, not the solution or the action. When you monitor someones performance you are paying attention to their behaviors, their strengths and challenges. The paying attention part is essential! This means that you also need to develop goals for you and them to adjust periodically and appropriately!
  3. Coach and prepare each player on the team! It is great when you have a few top picks from the draft that will be your stars. However, what happens when your version of Carmelo Anthony gets hurt. All you have left is but a prayer and, what you view as, an average scorer and guard going against some of the best in the league. If you only spend your time on the talent that is already good, then the talent you believe to be average will only degrade and become sub-par. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!
  4. Ask that individual where they feel they fit: We will always have a preconceived belief of someone else regarding their individual performance. However, if we give them a chance to voice their thoughts on their own strengths then there could be an opportunity to place them in a better position to score or support the rest of the team.
  5. and ultimately you have to just GIVE THEM THE CHANCE TO EXCEL! You never know what will happen. Sure it could be scary. However, just think if you give them the chance to fail… they might just succeed!

Don’t miss out on your own potential Jeremy Lin (oh and enjoy the no-longer-sleeping-on-your-friends-couch Jeremy)!

So what do you do to SIFT through and find the talented folks that are already working in your organization?


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