Outliers The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Best examples of Outliers are Gladwell’s very own books, which defies all logic to be the best sellers. They hardly tell anything but yet they are so engaging that you end up reading them from front to back. Individual chapters are independent entities that you would have to struggle to find the common link. And all of them are so heavily inclined in America that you wonder is he selling high on the mania that the rest of the world has for that country. People in our part of the world typically will not associate with the cases mentioned in the book. And the data may actually make us laugh. For we are hardly used to looking at situations with so much of data. But then Gladwell thrives in the analysis of disjointed data, in finding patterns where others see none.
In this book, the author has set out to explore success – or successful men to be precise, more often than not in America. In each chapter, he takes a different field and drives home a point on the secret behind successful people. That is a strange combination of the time of their birth, their ethnicity, their education, their attitude, their skills gave that they all have talent and they all work hard to be successful. Basically what he is trying to say is that of the many people who are talented and hard working, the few who succeed are the ones who are supported by the environment around them. And who are lucky enough to be born at the right time and at the right place.
In the first chapter of Outliers, he analyzes the birth dates of successful football players. And indicates a skew towards those who were born just after the cut-off date that gave them an age advantage in early years. That got compounded with training. In the second chapter, he talks about the software success stories Bill Gates and Bill Joy amongst others who were all born in the mid-50s. And got some advantage in terms of access to computers in their early days. And that is what made the difference in their stories. He calls it the 10,000-hour rule. I kind of agree with this rule. Once you have put that much effort in anything, you start getting recognized in that space.
Next two chapters talk about the trouble with geniuses and what goes wrong with them. Takes the case of a genius who could not go ahead in life vis-à-vis another who is good with people along with being a genius.
He then moves on to the look at successful law firms in New York. And takes you through their stories. He then moves on to link the mathematical abilities with paddy fields. His analysis of how paddy fields are different from all other fields. And how they require much more effort and skill than say wheat fields are interesting. He then talks about the special schools that make the kids of poor families come at par with elite kids by making them work harder during the day and during breaks by providing them the same learning opportunities.
The author of Outliers ends the book with his own story. Of his Jamaican mother and her family history in Jamaica. How she got the privilege of education, that led her to marry his father. And how the genes that came from there made him what he is today. I loved his own story, I think I always like it when the author makes himself the part of the story he is telling.
To my very Indian mind, he is saying you do your karma that is hard work. Be grateful for the opportunities that come your way. Take them and acknowledge the role of the divine that comes in the form of where and when you are born. And then meets you at every step when you take a step. As always, the book is extremely engaging to read and holds your attention with its diverse and revealing stories.
If you have liked his earlier works, you would like this one too.
You may buy this book Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell at Amazon.
Recommend you read following reviews by the author of this book Outliers the Malcolm Gladwell.
- The Tipping Point, How little things can make a big difference.
- Blink, The power of thinking without thinking.