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Outliers: The Story of Success

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

80 out of 84 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 April 20, 2010

    What Price Success?

    All of Gladwell's books have been fascinating reads! This book is making me think about my own growing up years/culture/class background, and the impact on my life decisions. It makes me think about decisions I've made regarding my children, and how my husband and I bring our different life stories to bear on this. Gladwell has a way of presenting social psychology through a very engaging format. The main thesis of this book is that success is an accumulation of advantages, coupled with the "10,000 hour rule." The book does get to be repetitive, but is entertaining enough to make it feel worth it. I didn't alway agree with his perspective, however. An example is in presenting the KIPP schools, and the role of the extensive hours devoted to studies as a meaure of the success of the students. What bothered me about this is that it does not take into consideration the cultural context of the students, and whether this success comes at too great a cost. I would have liked to see the "you can be successful if you put in 10,000 hours" tempered by also raising the question of whether the "success" is really worth it and what such success means in terms of one's identity, value system, or other lost opportunities.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2009

    Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers

    An outlier is one who has reached achievement in a way that was given as only a chance for them to take. Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, is a captivating written work by involving many real life situations. Not only does it involve Gladwell's own inferences on the success of life, but with the aid of real scenarios that help prove his point. The initial reaction to the word, outlier is not that of Gladwell's. Throughout the book, the meaning of the word outlier to Gladwell, is expressed as people who are those who have been given opportunities, and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.
    The book is a guideline and proof of how success is reached. The theme guides Gladwell into motivating subject. He starts with the point that professional athletes are where they are at because of when their birthday falls in the year. The ones with birthdays at the beginning of the year have an advantage with size and therefore more practice times and better teams are given to them from the initiation. Gladwell believes that, "Success is the result of what sociologists like to call accumulative advantage" (30 Gladwell). With charts of the professional athletes birthdates, he proves his point.
    Gladwell continues the idea by explaining that success is not just handed to individuals. A computer programmer doesn't just already have the knowledge of how to create life long used software from the day they were born. The practice and hard work, is requisite to acquire the skill. From this Gladwell, comes up with the ten thousand hours rule. After questioning many of today's profitable people, one being Bill Gates, Gladwell finds out that all of those people practiced what had made them who they are today for at least ten thousand hours, "The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything" (40 Gladwell).
    This book wasn't just loaded with interesting facts. With encouraging advice the book, provided examples and research of ways that accomplishments can be reached. By starting out in life with the highest IQ, isn't always the lead way to getting ahead. Gladwell talked about studies done on those who started life with the higher intelligence and ended up nowhere.
    Gladwell almost gives a sense of hope for those who are average in intelligence. That is why I recommend this book; because of Gladwell's reasoning that success comes from opportunity, excess of hard work, some start of intelligence not necessarily the highest, and lastly support. "Successful people don't do it alone. Where they come from matters. They're products of particular places and environments" (119 Gladwell). By reading this, it made me enjoy the book, and words from Gladwell. I agreed with his theories at all times. The matters that he had brought up, I had never thought about before. From this it gave me a new view of success and was encouragement for myself to work for it in my own life. With the sense of what it takes for an accomplishment, it makes the reader want to learn more of how to do it and that they aren't as far away from it as they might have thought. For that reason, is why all readers should read this book, because it puts a true meaning on life and where one can lead their own path into the future.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    This isn't a new story for scholars, but it is a great presentation of it.

    There is plenty of research in the field of resiliency that tells us that children who survive and thrive despite extraordinary difficulties do so because of some element in their external environment that worked in their favor. The disappointment: super heroes they are not. The good news: average people can step in and make a difference. Very good news indeed. While scholars might not find much meat to chew on here, anyone outside the field will love it. And it reinforces my belief that all scholarly topics should be edited by a top journalist - hate to say it (sorry to my people!) but for enjoyment's sake, I much prefer reading a journalist's book on a scholarly topic than a academic's book. Gladwell's a great writer, and unless this is your field, you're not only going to enjoy reading the book, you'll learn a lot too!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

    Malcolm Gladwell continues to impress

    I waited a long time for this book to come out -- all summer, in fact. I had the date circled on my calendar and felt euphoric when I finally had it in my hands. Gladwell did not disappoint me! Why?<BR/><BR/>First, of course, there's the intriguing subject matter: wouldn't we all like to know the formula for success a la Bill Gates? Second, it's the expert handling of this subject matter. Malcolm Gladwell always manages to take some pretty heady topics -- like cultural communications and their effects on plane crashes -- and through his masterful handling and style, make them not only understandable but compelling. Gladwell takes you by the hand and leads you through places like the rice fields of China, schools of South Africa, and riots of Jamaica, and explains step-by-step the relevance and poignancy of seemingly insigificant facts that all add up to one profound truth. I simply could not put this fascinating book down. <BR/><BR/>I mentioned the content of this book to my high school students, and they were very interested to hear about how communication styles (assertiveness, entitlement, etc.) could affect their success in college and beyond. That's something they might not learn implicitly, but is completely teachable. Today, I will be passing this book onto an 11th grader, in hopes that she'll be able to find something she'll dedicate 10,000 hours to.<BR/><BR/>My only criticism is that I want more. How long until his next book comes out?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Good Read

    If you're a thinker like me you'll like this book as well as his other work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Different perspective on the factors the lead to extreme success or becoming an outlier

    An outlier needs a good dose of God given talent and they need to work hard. But there are too many people who fit this description that don't become outliers. Gladwell looks at the factors that have led to the development of outliers and makes some conclusions that the circumstances surrounding their lives were more important than talent and hard work.

    It is an interesting read because his examples include familiar people like Bill Gates and the Beatles. It does get a little tedious as the author goes into great detail making his case that pilots sometimes need to overcome their cultural backgrounds to become successful pilots. But overall, his writing is thought provoking and applicable to us all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining, motivating - an easy read

    I have always liked Malcolm Gladwell's books, and this book is no exception. I have recommended this book to my teenage children, and both of them have enjoyed the book.

    The book derives from many resources, and draws on many interesting anedotal evidences. While the anecdotes definitely make the book very easy to read and often very entertaining, they are nonetheless sometimes over-extended to 'prove' a point. Although I was very interested in the innovative rice-paddy hypothesis that Malcolm Gladwell proposes to explain the high success rate of Chinese children in Mathematics, I had a hard time to believe in this theory as the root cause. I say this, despite the fact that I was a good math student and graduated from an engineering school, and am of Chinese descent. Nonetheless, the many anecdotes used often substantiate the main theme of the book very well. However, compared to Geoff Colvin's "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else", this book is more entertaining than authoritative.

    Despite these shortcomings, I still highly recommend the book, because of its motivational value and its highly readable style and content. The theme is clear. As long as we are average or slightly above average in IQ (110 or above), what differentiates between success and failure is lots of hard work and practices, and being there at the right time and right place. By definition, nearly half of all of us possess the intellect to excel. Whether we eventually are successful depend partially on luck, but also much on our motivation and how much we want to succeed.

    Other than this book, I would recommend interested readers to also read Geoff Colvin's "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else".

    Enjoy and succeed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2009

    The Avant-Garde View of Success

    "No one-not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses-ever makes it alone." That, at least, is the view of renowned sociologist and writer Malcolm Gladwell. In his latest book, "Outliers: The Story of Success," he questions common assumptions about achievement. For example, he argues that there is no such thing as the "self-made" man. His conclusions, though rooted in common sense and sociological studies, are often unconventional. You may be surprised to discover that your upbringing and even your birthday have just as much of an influence on success as your IQ or work ethic.

    Outliers is not a self-help book. It offers very little practical advice on "how to succeed." Rather, it takes an impersonal and sociological (though no less entertaining) approach to success. You will, however, be surprised at how much you can get out of Gladwell's writings. Although it does not give the reader a significantly greater knowledge about how to succeed, Outliers will definitely put into perspective the excessive emphasis that our society places on "success."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2009

    Outliers written by Malcolm Gladwell

    Finding a way to success can be achieved from reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers. Throughout the book, the theme of achievement drives the reader to want to learn more about how to obtain it. From this, Gladwell then proves his point of the meaning of an outlier, someone who has been given an opportunity and uses it to their full advantage. Tips of how to gain success are then given which motivate the reader, "The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything"(40 Gladwell). Real situations are given with proven research, which leads Gladwell to making inferences on the true meaning of accomplishment, "Successful people don't do it alone. Where they come from matters. They're products of particular places and environments" (119 Gladwell). The highest intelligence is not required to be successful; it is all based on opportunity, hard work, and support. Along with many other facts, this proposal is expanded even more throughout the book.
    After reading the book I felt like I had gained something from it. I recommend this book for the reason that it kept me interested the whole time. The context was inspiring and very informative. Everyone can relate to the theme of this book being success. However, I recommend this book for teenagers and adults, who might be making decisive life or career decisions. Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers is a superior resource to guiding one's own future.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2014

    Malcolm Gladwell¿s novel Outliers shows the hidden connections b

    Malcolm Gladwell’s novel Outliers shows the hidden connections between
     people and there environment. I really enjoyed this book. It showed me that
    successful people are as much a product of their environment as their hard
    work. The hidden connections really peaked my interest. I think people who
    have a more analytical thought process would really enjoy this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2014

    I especially enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell's interpretation o

    I especially enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell's interpretation of how society's &quot;outliers&quot; came to be who they are because he focused not only on the problems of our social structure (for example, that the Canadian youth hockey program provides fewer opportunities to younger hockey players) but also on solutions (in that case, by creating more youth hockey league divisions). His book shows us both what it takes to become an outlier and what we can do to create a world where more people are able to achieve &quot;outlier&quot; status.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    The book Outliers is a perfect book for those who want to be suc

    The book Outliers is a perfect book for those who want to be successful because it takes you through a journey to your success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2014

    Vagina

    Vagina flaps

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  • Posted February 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Outliers is a look at what author Malcolm Gladwell thinks ma

    The Outliers is a look at what author Malcolm Gladwell thinks make a person successful. Gladwell talks about family, location and time of being born.  These are all subjects that define us to the point whether we struggle getting the success or stuck at the bottom.




    I thought the first half of Outliers was interesting as Gladwell talks about months and years people are born that may factor into a person success.  




    I was more or less bored reading the second half which discussed families, and locations that define how hard you are going to work to be successful.  I also did not agree some of the facts discussed in the second half.




    Outliers is an interesting read.  I picked it because some of the other books I had been reading mentioned it.   I would be interested in some of Gladwell’s other books.    

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Outliers

    Interesting theory on how to view success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    Insightful read!

    It is a jam packed book dealing with dispeling the misconceptions of success we have in mind. Readers alike will be enthralled with a "new" definition of what it means to be a successful achiever. Moreover, the author uses data and evdence to corroborate the theories behind what makes a person reach the pinnacle of the ladder. It is a definite fresh take on many misleading theories we have. A brilliant and excellent read!

    Happy reading viee

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Excellent read

    I bought this book originally as a result of the Asian airlines accident in San Francisco. I found the cultural insight as to what went on in the cockpit fascinating. As a pilot, I know that two pilot operations are inherently more safe than a single pilot. I will not be flying any Asian airlines anytime in the future! This book appears to be well researched and thought out, I learned quite a bit having read this. The book became drawn out at the end. It unnecessarily went over same material discussed earlier in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Provocative, but disjointed

    I really like Gladwell's overarching query, but there is something missing that makes it hard to fully buy the argument. It's a great read, regardless!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    A little dry in some places, but overall very interesting! A di

    A little dry in some places, but overall very interesting! A different perspective to be considered!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Malcolm Gladwell has a way of writing that almost feels like a m

    Malcolm Gladwell has a way of writing that almost feels like a magic trick.
    He pulls you in with intricate stories and then spins out the complicated web of how they came to be, leaving you in awe at both
    his ability to spread the information and at the actual findings. I had to read Outliers for my English class and at first I thought it was
    going to be extremely tedious, but I ended up liking the book more than I thought I would.
    In this book, Gladwell digs into the strange stories of unique opportunities, cultural legacies, and the importance of a birthdate that
    lead to success. It is a fascinating ride that had me gobbling up chapter after chapter and left me wondering about the successes of
    my own generation and what is yet to come.

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