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Outliers: The Story of Success

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

81 out of 85 people found this review helpful.

Hard work and emotional intelligence

I've always been curious about the archetypal "overachieving" type; the person with a 4.0 GPA, supplemented with a vast resume of extracurriculars and seemingly guaranteed placement at some selective, elite institution. They seem to effortlessly master their studies, cr...
I've always been curious about the archetypal "overachieving" type; the person with a 4.0 GPA, supplemented with a vast resume of extracurriculars and seemingly guaranteed placement at some selective, elite institution. They seem to effortlessly master their studies, creating a very bothersome imposition in the back of my mind that made me feel inadequate. For awhile, I felt that there was something innate these certain individuals possessed, hardening my fatalistic perspective about the world and making me question my own self-worth.

Gladwell essentially put everything into perspective for me. People aren't just born "with it." The typical stories describing the ascent to success by prominent individuals oftentimes, if not always, obscure the social, cultural, economic, institutional and fortuitous elements that allow that person to rise in the first place. This book, replete with credible substantiations, investigates the lives of many successful people, like Bill Gates and Joe Flom, and show how particular environmental factors and fortunate circumstances led to the realization of these individuals' potential. The story of success is always more complex than the simple tales of "rags to riches." This book comprehensively examines not just individuals, but systems (like public education), and stereotypes (such as Asians being good at math) to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of what provides the proper foundation for high achievement.

Though, let me be clear: this book does *NOT* suggest that sheer hard work is somehow irrelevant, or weakly relevant (i.e. "it's all luck"), in one's pursuit of success. To the contrary, this book emphatically illustrates how crucial hard work is to the fulfillment of success. The book, however, indicates that hard work goes hand-in-hand with opportunity. Your intellectual potential might have you be a great computer programmer, mathematician, or businessman. Unfortunately, it might very well go to waste without the resources needed to foster the development of such potential. There's no point in having a warehouse of hardy seeds without the fertile soil to plant them in.

This book has inspired me to push onward with my studies, to work incredibly hard towards mastery of subject material and to seek opportunity and claim it upon arrival. Highly recommended book!

Another on the subject I tore through recently and recommend strongly in addition to Gladwell's book, because it's great and it includes an online test of your emotional intelligence is, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

posted by Oscar_Aguilar on June 19, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

21 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

His weakest book yet...

I like Malcolm Gladwell BUT I think this is his weekest book yet. I thought his previous books were thought provoking, but this one just didn't do it for me. The more I read his work, the more he tries to peg people in a particular hole to fit his theories. If you are n...
I like Malcolm Gladwell BUT I think this is his weekest book yet. I thought his previous books were thought provoking, but this one just didn't do it for me. The more I read his work, the more he tries to peg people in a particular hole to fit his theories. If you are not one to think for yourself this maybe the book for you.

posted by 180177 on November 20, 2008

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  • Posted October 30, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Outliers, a success

    This was a great insight into the world of success and the myth of the "rags to riches, I did it all by myself story." Gladwell explains that opportunities, timing, luck, & cultural legacies all play a chief role determining if a person will be successful or not. He examines the opportunities presented to Bill Joy, Bill Gates etc and shows how the most successful people in the world would not have made it if certain events didn't happen the way they did. There are so many more ppl in the world with the capability of being successful who just don't succeed due to circumstances. The story at points was a bit scattered, but the overall message of success makes it worth it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2009

    Forced

    I loved "Blink" and "Tipping Point", but "Outliers" fell short of what I expect from Gladwell. Not only did the book ramble along seemingly without much thought given to organization, but I felt like Gladwell was forcing data to fit his ideas rather than researching with an open mind. Some of the information was interesting and thought-provoking and some of the book was close to boring. I found myself having to re-read passages because I had blanked out as I lost interest. The best part of reading "Outliers" is in comparing Gladwell's earlier writings with this effort and realizing one success does not guarantee another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Nice

    Book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    It was a pretty good book. I just wish that the author should ha

    It was a pretty good book. I just wish that the author should have discussed members of our society that have achieved success that are not famous like people he discussed. For example, Sam Walton, the creator of Wal-Mart, was a very successful man.Wal-Mart has affected the lives of many people. Has Wayne Gretzyk affected the lives of millions? Maybe...but not at the extent of Walton. In addition, Gretzyk wished he had the financial fortune of Walton. As a result, I believe this would have a very good book if the author did not just discuss many stream people.

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  • Posted June 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This fascinating work of non-fiction discusses interesting theor

    This fascinating work of non-fiction discusses interesting theories about what makes a person successful in what they do. It is suggested that much of success is a product of simple (and not so simple) luck. Circumstances and coincidences play a huge role in what makes someone succeed, especially in cases of extraordinary levels of achievement. Another major factor analyzed is practice. It has been found that anyone committing to 10,000 hours (which takes about 10 years out of a lifetime) of practice or dedicated work/study is most likely to excel in that field. While these facts and notions are daunting, it is also promising to think that with enough dedication and time a person might be able to accomplish almost anything.
    Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    This book is a fairly interesting read. The many theories that h

    This book is a fairly interesting read. The many theories that he presents are thought-provoking, and he explains them in a easy to understand, yet sometimes oversimplified manner. Sad to say, certain pieces of evidence that he provides are highly inaccurate or presumptuous. He also tends to commit to fallacies at times.

    One example he gave was that Asians do better in mathematics due to linguistic advantages. However in certain countries mentioned, like Singapore for instance, English is the only language of administration. In essence, it means that mathematics, and practically every other subject except for mother tongue, is taught in English, rendering his argument void.

    Overall, its a fairly engaging book, but take what he says with a pinch of salt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Outliers

    Outliers – Book Review
    The book, Outliers, is a very fascinating book written by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is about success and how some people succeed in certain areas and some just don’t. The success of these individuals goes way beyond individual merit. The factors of success are opportunities given, hidden advantages, and the ten thousand hour rule. These factors help people who are ordinary people become a billionaire or very successful in their profession. Gladwell explains how professional hockey players, lawyers, people with high IQ’s, Microsoft creators, etc. came to be so famous. Again, these factors are opportunities, hidden advantages, and the ten thousand hour rule. Opportunities given include factors such as wealth, the schools people went to, who their parents are, where they live, and also luck. Hidden advantages are something other people don’t see in these outliers just by looking at them. Such as the month they were born and their IQ score. And lastly did these certain individuals have enough time to practice their skills, the willingness to practice, or the motivation to work hard in order to reach their goals. I think everybody should read this book at some point in their life. It is an extremely book. It explains how some people succeed from factors other than individual merit. On the other hand, a lot of people who are very intelligent or skilled don’t succeed like they are supposed to, or lack of a better word, like they could have. Everybody believes that the smartest, most talented, best ideas are the ones who are the successful people in this world. That isn’t always the case.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    Mediocre

    Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers was a very interesting read. I did not know what to expect when I first picked it up. I saw that that it said it was the "story of success" and was very intrigued in how Gladwell would approach this topic. The first chapter really made my head spin and convinced me that Gladwell knew what he was talking about. It truly made me retrace my steps growing up and thinking about how I was raised and how I could have been raised differently (not that I would want to be at all). Gladwell harks on the idea that when you were born is most important to your success but there were flaws right away in that this was not consistent with things outside of sports or in America. I do not believe that his philosophy on who were the faces of the Industrial Revolution of America was valid at all. Throughout the book Gladwell seems to continually look past the hard work of many and instead replace it with fate and environment which is not fair to those who worked hard for what they have. Gladwell also dismisses those who are successful in their lives that have not gone through the "10,000 Hour Rule". In that chapter Gladwell describes only people who have experienced financial success therefore it is very opinionated to what success is in Gladwell's mind. An example of success that is not financial is Mother Theresa who helped thousands throughout her life and devoted her life to the success of others. She may have worked at what she did for 10,000 hours but experienced an entirely different type of success. Altogether, there are far too many loopholes in Gladwell's work and he is too quick to dismiss success of people who do not fit into his pigeonhole. I would give this book three stars out of five because although it is biased, Gladwell still makes points about stories that are true and interesting to think about but most, such as Bill Gates, are one in a million and a special case.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    Dear Malcome Gladwell

    Dear Malcome Gladwell,

    I am currently a senior at Hatboro Horsham High School, and for English class we were assigned to read your book, it was actually our first assignment. See this course is structured around one essential question: In what ways do place and time impact a person? So the theme of your book fit in quite well. Our class discusses a bit more then just what impacts success, but the examples in the book were intriguing.
    Personally my favorite chapter was chapter nine, Maritas Bargain. This story really inspired me. I think it's safe to say that everyone in the world has the desire to be successful at something; it could be big or small. But not everyone is willing to work hard in order to achieve success. The level of commitment and hard work this little girl puts in on a day to day basis is magnificent. It made me reevaluate how much effort I put into my daily activities, and made me want to work harder.
    Chapter two was another one of my favorites. Before I even read the book I'd heard about the 10,000 hour rule and the idea made a lot of sense to me. I believe that practice really does make perfect. I don't think anyone can get truly good at something without putting in hours of hard work. Sometimes when I look back I wish that I had spent a little more time practicing things, like soccer or drawling. Who knows how good I might be right now if I had spent 10,000 hours practicing. But then again maybe I'm accumulating hours for something that is not quite as ordinary, and I don't even realize.
    Lastly there was chapter three, the trouble with geniuses. This wasn't one of my favorite chapters, but I do think many of the points you made were fascinating. When I think of the stereotypical vision in my head for someone who is successful I automatically think of someone who is incredibly smart. But being smart isn't everything, and I agree with the fact that there are different kinds of smart. I believe creativity is also important to becoming successful. And for that reason I am thankful that I have a creative side. Even though I'm only in high school I have seen this in action. A lot of the things we do in school require a basic knowledge, but what really makes one students work stand out from another's is their creativity. And frankly sometimes the smartest person in the group isn't the one who ends up doing well.
    I hope one day I will be an outlier; that my success will make me standout from the crowd. And when I look back and remember reading your book I can apply some of the points you made to my own success. So thank you for writing such a fascinating book and if you read this thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to my opinions, and I hope to read some of your other books in my future because I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

    Outliers Review

    Dear Malcolm Gladwell,
    My name is Becca Purtell and I think that the ideas in your book Outliers, relate to the main question that is essential to my English course; to what extent do time and place define a person? In my class, we have a central question that we focus on throughout the course while reading literature to help us draw connections with what we learn. The chapters regarding " the Roseto Mystery", "the 10,000 Hour Rule", and "The Three Lessons of Joe Flom" relate specifically to the central question of my course.
    The Roseto Mystery chapter explains how the Rosetans moved from their homeland and settled in a small city that consisted of people only pertaining to their specific ethnicity. The chapter clarifies that the Rosetans tended to have a longer life rate than other people in the cities surrounding them. These Rosetans were not in shape and they smoked & drank, but they showed signs of excellent health. Even Rosetans in other cities were not as healthy as them. Research later showed that the reason these Rosetans had such a life rate was because of their lifestyle. They were friendly and visited each other often. As many as up to three generations lived in one house and grandparents were received with great esteem. They lived in a carefree environment. In relation to my essential question, the Rosetans are a perfect example of how place defines a person. The atmosphere and lifestyle of this particular Rosetan culture enabled many people to live longer than they normally would had they been living in another city or country.
    The 10,000 Hour Rule also relates well to how time and place ultimately define a person. In this chapter, you claim that one must have 10,000 hours of practice in their trade in order to be successful and make it big. For example, due to Bill Gates' talent, chance, and opportunity to have free programming time from 3 am- 6 am, he was able to found Microsoft, a computer system used by millions of people daily. For him, time and place played an extreme role in his success. Had Bill Gates not lived near the University of Washington, he would not have been able to use the computer labs at 3 am in the morning; hence he would not have been able to achieve his 10,000 hours of experience. Also, if Gates had not been able to access the free programming at 3 am, he would not have been able to practice his programming.
    The Three Lessons of Joe Flom is very similar to my essential question regarding time and place. Specifically, the setting of Joe Flom's life shapes the ways of his actions. Since he was a Jewish man in New York, he was turned away from many of the New York firms, forcing him to create his own white shoe firm. The fact that he was Jewish and living in New York during a time when Jewish people were not hired often in big New York firms shows the extent that time and place played on his opportunities. Also, being born in the right generation was crucial for success. If you were born during the Great Depression, you had many more opportunities for success because class sizes were smaller, there was less competition for jobs, and it was easier to get into better schools. This example and statement show how large an impact time and place define someone's opportunity for success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

    "Success" seen in a new light

    In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, various stories of individuals who achieved success in several different ways are highlighted. In the "10,000 hours" chapter, Gladwell expresses the mantra "practice equals perfect." If you work, you will achieve success. I, too, believe in this concept. However, one of Gladwell's implications within the chapter is that if one does not start pursuing a talent or goal at a young age, one will not be successful. He also says if an inadequate amount of hours are put into one's pursuit, achieving success will, too, be.unsuccessful. I personally believe if one works hard, and truly wants to attain success, they will. If they start at 30 or do not put 10,000+ hours into their endeavor, it isn't the end of the world. There is still hope and great probability that they will be successful. Another chapter that sparked my interest was "The Matthew Effect." In this chapter, Gladwell uses statistics to express one's age greatly affects their success. He does so by analyzing hockey players. The children, who are the older ones in the cut-off, seem to show a greater amount of skill than those who are younger. Yes, this may be a coincidence, but I personally think this is only due to the fact that they have had more time to develop physically and mentally. Here, the older children are given special opportunities. This then accumulates to bring greater success. "Rice Paddies and Math Tests" was another chapter that significantly interested me. Gladwell, in this section, explains because of Asians' language and cultural background, they are better at math and work extremely hard overall. For instance, he mentions that Asian languages are shorter and more commonsensical than Western languages. Therefore, Asian children learn how to count at an earlier age than those of the American descent. Another argument behind his theory has to do with the significant amount of labor and strength farming rice entailed for Asians. Gladwell says that the Asian culture is overall more hardworking because of the immense amount of work had to be put in to producing rice paddies, and have consequently been shaped by their ancestors to work hard. I do see validity in Gladwell's points, but I can also easily pose arguments that go against what he says. As a student who has been in honors classes all her life, I have seen the broad spectrum of students who enroll in these higher-level classes. Yes, there are Asians present in the majority of these classes, but there are many Whites and Blacks as well. I firmly believe that all students, regardless of ethnicity, have to put in the same amount of work; The Asian culture and background does not give Asian students a predisposition to the importance of endurance and perseverance. When all is said and done though, Outliers was a very interesting read. Some chapters interested me more than others, but the book as a whole forced me to see the concept of "success," as well as its make-up, in a new light. Growing up in the US, we are always told that "as long as we work hard, we will be successful." However, Gladwell presents his case for hard work as being not the only determinant of success.

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  • Posted August 29, 2010

    Practice makes perfect!

    I always thought that certain people posses traits which make them better at somethings than most. But this book does a great job dispelling this type of thinking. The stats are striking and make sense. A good read in my opinion for all readers. I still think that some people are just naturally better at things, especially sight or peripheral vision which make them better at sports than most, but practice could account for that as well. This books goes into the background of why people are better at things. It makes sense.

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  • Posted December 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Read my review here

    http://bookjacketreviews.blogspot.com/2009_12_01_archive.html

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  • Posted November 17, 2009

    Statistics can be made to prove anything

    Although some of the ideas in this book are interesting to consider, my general feeling was that the author bent the information to fit his personal viewpoint.

    It did not come as a surprise to learn that being in the right place at the right time is a great advantage in life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    Delivery

    Despite paying extra for shipping, the book still took forever to arrive.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    Very Interesting

    Gladwell's thesis of hard work, and LUCKY conditions creating the basis of success (Gates, Jobs, NY Lawyers, etc.) is undermined by his final chapter advocating KIPP schools for poor kids. Schools that drill and kill are the opposite of what creates affluent children's success. And advocating hard work without the other ancilliary opportunities available to affluent kids is much more likely to create "hard working drones" than it is to create outliers, the way Gladwell discusses them in the beginning of the book.

    The book started well, and then mysteriously undercut itself at the end. Weird.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting

    The book had some interesting topics but throughout most of it I asked myself, "how does this apply to me? To my life?" And, I answered, it doesn't really. It felt like the author was proposing that success is much about the luck of the draw. . .kind of a depressing and unhelpful hypothesis if you ask me. Some of it, however, was useful for possible policy change.

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  • Posted May 15, 2009

    Outliers: The Story of Success

    "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting account of the life paths of several very special people - "outliers", as Gladwell calls them. He focuses on the reasons for their success, keying in on the factors that are usually overlooked when we examine their lives. While he does not deny that a lot of people's success comes from their own hard work and their personality, Gladwell adds that his "outliers" should be most thankful for two main elements: opportunity and legacy. He splits his book into two parts accordingly.

    Opportunity, Gladwell says, is really all about luck and how you seize your chances. Citing such famous outliers as Bill Gates, The Beatles, and J Robert Oppenheimer, the author shows just how these men were able to seize their opportunities on their way to success. A lot of it was luck, where the men were just at the right place at the right time. But the main idea was that these men worked at everything they did. Gladwell introduces his "10,000 hour rule" as the true key to being world-class in your field.

    The second part of the book focuses on legacy, and how specific groups, based on where their ancestors came from and what they did, are best suited for different jobs. Gladwell writes about the early struggles of Korean pilots, and why Asians are so good at math because of working on rice paddies. Our legacies have a great impact on the way we think and act.

    Gladwell's book is an interesting tale of the circumstances needed for success in the world. Its discussions of the important values we must hold and the reasons behind them can surely help out anyone looking for inspiration, and teaches us to seize our opportunities and understand our legacies.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    Luck Not Strategy

    This is a fascinating read, although not what I expected.
    Mr. Gladwell throws a lot of facts and figures, only to be told that luck may be more common than not, toward success. This was a disappointment to me and may be to others as I was hoping to find new strategies regarding success as an entrepreneur.
    In a nutshell, if I am in the right place at the right time, through no necessary knowledge on my part, I will get pay dirt.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Theory

    OUTLIERS is an interesting book but I don't feel it is especially enlightening or in most cases practical. We have no choice who our parents are, where or when we are born, and much of the material in the book is based on these circumstances.<BR/><BR/>Warren Buffett in his book, THE SNOWBALL, speaks of the Ovarian Lottery and it is hard to challenge this. It may be that with the information we are given in OUTLINERS, assuming it is factual, that we might want to make some decisions about when our children enter school. Certainly being in the right place at the right time has always been advantageous in life.<BR/><BR/>Children born to good loving parents with positive parenting skills will always have a definite advantage in life no matter where in the world they are born. It doesn't hurt to have a little luck but in most cases luck is the result of preparation. As Gladwell states: "Luck is winning the lottery". Though many parents would like to blame others for their children's misgivings all should feel a responsiblity for our children's successes and failures. <BR/><BR/>Everyone will have many opportunities in life. The key is to be aware of them and take advantage of them as no one knows when the last one will arrive.

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