Book Review | The Talent War: How Special Ops Win on Talent

The most successful businesses are the ones that can effectively navigate unforeseen challenges. Nobody predicted a pandemic would cause a global economic shutdown in 2020, but every company has been forced to adapt. Some succeeded and others folded, but this year’s challenges have underscored the importance of building a talented team.

Of course, identifying talent is the tricky part.

The Talent War solves this critical problem. Topping Amazon best-selling charts in multiple categories, this highly-anticipated book makes a convincing argument that the business world needs to rethink how they recruit talent. More specifically, it provides a fascinating analysis of how the U.S. Special Operations Forces have developed the most successful recruitment strategy in the world.

Written by former U.S. Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille, along with co-authors George Randle and Josh Cotton, PhD, The Talent War lays out a comprehensive plan for companies to not only recruit the right people, but more importantly, adopt the mindset needed to survive in today’s hyper-competitive business world––the talent mindset.

The concept behind this idea is simple: hire for character, train for skill.


Drawing parallels from the battlefield to the business world, The Talent War makes clear that a company’s secret weapon is their people. Laying out an incriminating case against traditional hiring practices, the authors explain why industry experience is an overvalued metric and true talent is what really matters.

This concept is best summed up in the following excerpt from The Talent War:

The five Special Operation Forces (SOF) truths have led to a foundational talent mindset that drives the success of Special Operations. These truths directly translate to business truths:

    1. Human capital is your most critical resource, your only true competitive advantage in any industry.
    2. It’s not about a head count; it’s about talent.
    3. Hard skills can be taught and thus mass-produced, but talent cannot. Talent is innate and hard to create where it does not exist.
    4. Successful talent acquisition requires well-thought-out, forward-thinking planning. It takes time to develop a world-class talent pool.
    5. It’s a team effort. All supporting business functions, all departments, are crucial to your business’s success.

By adopting and living by these truths, you can begin to build the talent needed to achieve Special Operations levels of victory.

The Talent War expertly decodes the U.S. Special Operations Forces’ recruitment strategy and provides real-world hiring tips for managers and executives at all levels. This includes valuable lessons on how to assess, select, and develop talent––a process that starts with identifying the character attributes of talented people.

Hiring the right people is an incredibly important and difficult decision for a company––no matter the industry. And while old-school hiring techniques may still be prevalent, updating your hiring strategy could give your company the advantage it needs to succeed during these uncertain times.

The Talent War arms readers with the necessary tools and strategy needed to adopt the “talent mindset” and incorporate it into a business model––a must-read for anyone involved in business management.

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