Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

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Published: 7 June 2011
About the Author: Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. — The Tipping Point, Blink,Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries. Gladwell has been included in the TIME 100 Most Influential People list and touted as one of Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers.

Often people concentrate on how high-achievers are like but hardly pay attention to where they come from. Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of success by giving us a different perspective from the orthodox “habits of successful people”.

We begin the book by the unacknowledged handicaps rooted in arbitrary cut-off dates where Gladwell notes that most professional hockey players are born between January-March; as a result they get a head start therefore more couching and hours in practice. This leads us to the success key point that Gladwell is famous for, The 10,000 Rule. This is the idea that everyone who is good at something has practiced that something for about 10,000 hours. As a result when an opportunity came their way, they already had the requisite skill.

Being born at the right time enables the timing of economic and technology change to permit outliers to take advantage. Here Gladwell looked at Tech entrepreneurs and concludes that their success was not just of their own making, it was a product of the world in which they grew up.

According to Gladwell, intelligence only gets you so far! This claim is based on a Terman study that looked at children with a genius IQ score who mostly turned out to be average as adults. Therefore concluding that you don’t have to be the most intelligent, you simply have to have enough intelligence. General intelligence and practical intelligence are orthogonal. Practical intelligence to a large extent draws from how a person was raised, this includes innate trait that allows people to successfully navigate complex social situations, systems and bureaucracies.

Part two of the book deals with legacy, where Gladwell questions whether the traditions and attitudes we inherit from our forebears has an impact on one’s level of success. It was surprising to learn how culture plays a role in plane crashes and the reason Asians are better at mathematics.

Gladwell drives the point that it is not the brightest who succeed nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

This book helped me understand and appreciate my life journey better, especially acknowledging my culture, family, generation, and personal experiences of my upbringing. Therefore I recommend this book to inspire those who seek clarity on their own journeys as well as those who seek in depth understanding into the lives of Outliers.

The book is available on Amazon…

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