On Sunday, my 16-year-old son reminded me on the court ⛹🏻‍♂️, “You play like a robot 🤖. It’s all about talent Dad!” as he buried another three-point shot and flew past me to his next dunk. Whether in basketball or business, each new generation seems to be more talented than the one before. As a species, we evolve. Yet individually, if we stop learning, our talents wither and lose their relevance. On the basketball court this week, I asked another young player, who had just finished high school what was next. He said, “Robotics and Autonomous Systems” or “Electrical and Aerospace.” 🚀“Why?”, I asked. “Because that’s where the money is!”  Twenty years ago, most young people aspired to be lawyers or doctors. But today, artificial intelligence is claiming jobs in medicine 👨🏼‍⚕️and the law, as machine learning and big data redefine the meaning of talent. Twenty years back my favorite UCLA Business Professor, Bill Yost, said, “Success = Talent + Preparation + Timing”. Twenty years ago basketball legend Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Jordan showed us that part of being talented involves being able to learn well in changing circumstances. One can be born with talent, but success is contextual and an individual’s ability to learn continuously and adapt quickly is key. Talented people have the potential to break new ground in terms of performance and keep learning until they do. Jordan, despite not being recruited by his preferred college, UCLA, kept learning and eventually broke new ground, becoming a triple MVP and winning six NBA Championships 


Reflect on your talents. What can you do better than most people? On a blank page write a list of your talents. Beside each talent, write the number of years of learning each talent took to develop. Which talents have lapsed? Which talents have lost relevance due to changing circumstances? Some researchers suggest that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to master something and become truly dynamic. Which specific talents in you, your people or your business need to be nurtured with learning and practice?

Which talents win?  The ones (that are relevant) that you feed the most.