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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller

For fans of Atomic Habits, Deep Work, and Peak comes a game-changing approach to mastering new skills and succeeding faster.

For generations, we’ve been taught there are two ways to succeed - either from talent or practice. In Decoding Greatness, award-winning social psychologist Ron Friedman illuminates a powerful third path - one that has quietly launched icons in a wide range of fields, from artists, writers, and chefs, to athletes, inventors, and entrepreneurs: reverse engineering.

To reverse engineer is to look beyond what is evident on the surface and find a hidden structure. It’s the ability to taste an intoxicating dish and deduce its recipe, to listen to a beautiful song and discern its chord progression, to watch a horror film and grasp its narrative arc. 

Using eye-opening examples of top performers - from Agatha Christie to Andy Warhol, Barack Obama to Serena Williams - and groundbreaking research on pattern recognition, skill acquisition, and creative genius, Friedman reveals the staggering power of reverse engineering and teaches you how to harness this vital skill for yourself.

You’ll learn how to take apart models you admire, pinpoint precisely what makes them work, and apply that knowledge to develop novel ideas, methods, and products that are uniquely your own. Along the way, you’ll meet the culinary detective who exposes top-secret recipes, the burglar who can visit a bank and recreate its blueprints, and the celebrated artist who reverse engineered his way to the top of his profession without any formal education.

You don’t have to be a genius to achieve greatness, but you do need a method for getting there. Bursting with unforgettable stories and actionable strategies, Decoding Greatness is an indispensable guide to learning from the best, improving your skills, and sparking breakthrough ideas.

©2021 Ron Friedman. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What listeners say about Decoding Greatness

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  • Overall
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Pattern recognition and unpacking great ideas are super powers

Admittedly I read this with others who found it dry and hard to get into. The concept of pattern recognition and living between ability and vision spoke to me powerfully. The author is passionate about the topic and his enthusiasm shines through. This is a brilliant how to book when it comes to personal growth and those who are driven to deep dive into ideas. It was a delicious and fascinating read.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent book for anyone who wants to be great

As a full time performance neurology coach, I really appreciated this book...I got so hooked on it that I started the book a few nights ago and ended up buying the audiobook so I could keep “reading” while driving for a few hours the next day.

There are very few books that have taken this approach of reverse engineering greatness and simplifying the neurology, psychology, and physiology to where anyone can appreciate, digest, and immediately apply the lessons.

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Enjoyable and Insightful

Its rare to come across such a brilliantly simple gem, but here we are. It's really well researched and portrayed well. The examples are fun and cover a wide variety of genres. I will be recommending this book to many others.

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Good book, but needed better research

Russia did not have “its own nuclear arsenal” in 1944, as the author states. The Russians had ZERO nukes in 1944. Their first became operational around 1949.

This was an easily refuted fact that took me completely out of the book, leading me to question many more of the author’s claims. Authors, PLEASE do your diligence before releasing your nonfiction work.