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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm…

Outliers: The Story of Success (edition 2008)

by Malcolm Gladwell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,311367326 (3.96)1 / 254
The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.… (more)
Title:Outliers: The Story of Success
Authors:Malcolm Gladwell
Info:Allen Lane (2008), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (Author)

  1. 70
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (dste)
    dste: Another interesting book that looks at some ideas we think are right and turns them upside down.
  2. 40
    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Anonymous user)
  3. 30
    The Drunkard's Walk : How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (infiniteletters)
  4. 10
    The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation by Frans Johansson (edwinbcn)
  5. 10
    Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (peter_vandenbrande)
    peter_vandenbrande: Beide auteurs benadrukken dat je talent moet ontwikkelen om succesvol te worden. Ze ondergraven allebei de mythe dat alleen geniale mensen de top kunnen bereiken. Carol Dweck werkt het hoe en waarom van deze "growth mindset" uit, Malcolm Gladwell nuanceert tegelijk de invloed van deze individuele inspanningen door "toeval" in het verhaal te brengen: hoe omstandigheden en toevallige kansen van invloed zijn op uiteindelijk succes.… (more)
  6. 10
    Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton (peter_vandenbrande)
  7. 10
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle (infiniteletters)
  8. 00
    Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin (infiniteletters)
  9. 00
    Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed (ANeumann)
  10. 04
    Young Nietzsche by Carl Pletsch (galacticus)
    galacticus: Both books deal with genius. Gladwell touches on genius as a study in success, what it takes generally; Pletsch as a study of one mans desire to be a genius.
  11. 04
    De HR-ballon tien populaire praktijken doorprikt by Patrick Vermeren (peter_vandenbrande)

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English (357)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (364)
Showing 1-5 of 357 (next | show all)
Some very interesting facts. really makde me think ( )
  RunsOnEspresso | Mar 25, 2020 |
Outliers is, as the subtitle suggests, a book about success. Specifically, it is about the factors that contribute to the success of particular people, as well as the myths that surround that same success. The primary theme of the book is that the markers that guide the way to success are often opaque to most observers due to our cultural prejudices, but for those who know where to look, they are obvious and apparent.

The dominant cultural prejudice about "success", at least in modern American society, is that the successful are responsible for their own success. That is one just works hard and makes good choices, one will be a success. In short, the only thing that stands between a young boy or girl and becoming the next Jeff Bezos is diligence and cleverness. As Gladwell points out early in the book, this myth is so powerful that Jeb Bush, the son of a former President, the brother of another former President, and the grandson of a Senator and oil magnate, described himself on the campaign trail as being a "self-made man". In Jeb Bush's case, it is obvious that this description is entirely inapt, that the myth he is telling about himself is, quite simply, bullshit, but in many other cases it seems that we are perfectly willing to buy into these myths. In Outliers, Gladwell methodically demonstrates that the myths we tell about success are usually bullshit.

Nothing in this book discounts the importance of work as a factor of success. Two entire chapters are devoted to the value of work. Gladwell lays out in substantial detail that hard work is required to master a skill - a sustained and consistent level of practice sometimes summarized as the "10,000 hour" rule. The basic thrust of this claim is that 10,000 hours of practice are required to master a skill. Using music students as an example, he shows that the real difference between those musicians who are destined to become concert soloists and those who are destined to become high school music teachers boils down to little more than how much practice time they have put into their craft. Based on studies related to intelligence tests, Gladwell surmises that once someone meets a modest level of ability in an area, that the true differentiator between people who are just ordinary at something and people who are experts is nothing more than practice. In short, you don't need to be a genius to earn a PhD, just a lot of hard work.

Much of the book is spent illustrating that the difference between people who are successful and those who are not is whether they have the opportunity to obtain those 10,000 hours of practice. The first example given in the book, and the one that seems to resonate the most, relates to Canadian youth hockey and birthdays. Gladwell highlights how a disproportionate number of players in the elite Canadian youth hockey leagues have birthdays in the first three months of the year - and lays out how this is related to the January 1 cut off date for participating in Canadian youth hockey. If you are child who is born in January, February, or March, you are among the oldest kids in your "age group", which is a huge advantage when players are eight or nine years old. This leads to the older children having an advantage in being selected for placement on travel teams, and placement in elite leagues. Once there, they practice more and play more games than the younger kids they left behind. By the time they are fifteen or sixteen, they have had thousands of hours of extra experience in hockey that other kids simply have not. Kids born earlier in the year aren't naturally better at hockey, they just have more access to the 10,000 hours of practice needed to excel at the sport.

Gladwell goes on to suggest that while getting 10,000 hours of practice is critical to success, the timing of your 10,000 hours of practice is just as important.

[More forthcoming] ( )
1 vote StormRaven | Feb 26, 2020 |
Being an outlier means being a non-conformist. One hears this kind of advice all the time. So many people buy into conventions that they forget the reasons behind the conventions.

Gladwell seeks to critique the standard story of an outlier’s success. As normally told, outliers start doing there own thing; they work really hard and persevere; then in the end, they end up successful while all the world is envious of them; their story is one of individualism. Gladwell seeks to bring to light that while this may be true, there are social structures at work helping the person along.

“No man [or woman] is an island,” wrote John Donne in the sixteenth century. Such is still true today, Gladwell admonishes us. We are the products of how our environments shape us. In order to succeed, we do not need to be different; instead, we need to grasp to make the most of the opportunities presented to us. He illustrates his point through telling interesting stories about topics as varied as hockey players’ birthdays, computer technology, slavery in Jamaica, and the interaction of ethnicity and plane crashes. These stories show what he means by the fact that we are all dependent on social supports to some degree. Success is not just a choice of the will; it is the product of a society.

Some, particularly in America, might be defensive about their own individualism while reading Malcolm’s writing. We must be clear that Malcolm is not saying that individual choices and personality play no role. What he is saying is that society plays a role, too. We must pay attention to one’s culture and to plain luck as well.

This book is an interesting read for leaders. It is not a sociological study and does not contain a depth of academic rigor. It seeks to inspire mainly by story and anecdote. It’s a good reminder to get our minds off of ourselves and our personalities and onto things that really help out the people next door, in the next cubicle, or in the next suburb or town. ( )
1 vote scottjpearson | Jan 25, 2020 |
I learned that if i'm not born at the exact right time to a rich family early in the year, i'm probably just going to end up normal. ( )
1 vote nmorse | Dec 3, 2019 |
Pretty interesting. In the middle I felt like he kept telling me the same thing again and again just using a different example, but then the last few chapters picked up. All in all, an interesting read. ( )
  rlsova | Oct 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 357 (next | show all)
“Outliers” has much in common with Gladwell’s earlier work. It is a pleasure to read and leaves you mulling over its inventive theories for days afterward. It also, unfortunately, avoids grappling in a few instances with research that casts doubt on those theories. This is a particular shame, because it would be a delight to watch someone of his intellect and clarity make sense of seemingly conflicting claims.
The world for Gladwell is a text that he reads as closely as he can in seeking to decode and interpret it. He is adept at identifying underlying trends from which he extrapolates to form hypotheses, presenting them as if they were general laws of social behaviour. But his work has little philosophical rigour. He's not an epistemologist; his interest is in what we think, rather than in the how and why of knowledge itself.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Jason Cowley (Nov 23, 2008)
The book, which purports to explain the real reason some people — like Bill Gates and the Beatles — are successful, is peppy, brightly written and provocative in a buzzy sort of way. It is also glib, poorly reasoned and thoroughly unconvincing.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gladwell, MalcolmAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gladwell, MalcolmNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Roseto Valfortore lies one hundred miles southeast of Rome in the Apennine foothills of the Italian province of Foggia.
out•li•er\-,lī(-ə)r\ noun
1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body.
2: a statistical observation that is marked different in value from the others of the sample.
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Pretty good book to discuss some interesting phenomena in real life, and tries to find a reasonable explanation for them. It is good to read a book life this to discuss the success, by uncovering not so well-known facts like for Bill Gates, and some other people in computer science, which I have been learning by self-study for a long time.
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