Outliers book

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers book best buy here


  • Book: Outliers – The story of success
  • Author: Malcolm Gladwell
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Genre: Pop – Sociology, Psychology
  • Other Malcolm Gladwell books: Tipping Point, Blink, What the dog saw
  • Non – fiction

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book is an entertaining read that tries to reveal the real secret of success. An outlier definition in statistics is an observation that deviates markedly from the sample it is drawn. Similarly outliers as defined in this book are men and women who do things out of the ordinary.

How to become an Outlier?

Gladwell asserts that outliers don’t start by being out of the ordinary, they only have a slight advantage however from there outliers  “…in a particular field reached their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly advantage.”

Outliers Malcolm Gladwell Summary

In Gladwells view, the success of outliers simply depends on a couple of crucial twists in their life histories, particularly the culture they grew up in and how they spend their time. He wants to convince you that personal explanations of success like “self-made man” do not work.

  • When and where you are born matters – for example,Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and several computer mogul were born between 1952 and 1958 in technology enriched areas
  • To gain mastery, you need 10,000 hours of practice, approximately 3 hours per day for 10 years. People who we think are prodigies just started young, think Tiger Woods or Mozart.

Cleverness is needed but only up to a certain point but then a fertile mind and practical intelligence is crucial. Gladwell also looks closely at chance, cultural influence, class influences and access intense coaching (summer vacation effect).

In summary: “It is not the brightest who succeed,” Malcolm Gladwell writes in Outliers. “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.”

Positives Negatives
  • Entertaining anecdotes
  • Intelligently combines research from a number of field to provide evidence for his proposal
  • Writing style, easy to read and accessible to a 12 year old
  • Great pointers to follow if you want to nurture success for yourself or your child – why you should never let your child blob on a summer vacation again
  • No empirical proof
  • Downplays the gene effect of talent too an extreme, putting it all down to practice – ignoring the fact that talented individuals like Tiger Woods or Pablo Picasso make rapid progress from one lesson to the next which spurs them on
  • Survivor bias? – can be overly optimistic because focuses on those who have succeeded and ignores failures


Reader comments:

“But in the case of Outliers the “huh…” factor has little to do with the ideas found in the book, and are almost exclusively the result of Gladwell’s keen sense of how to make the ordinary and mundane sound exciting and new.” – Nick Tasler

“…But as any Gladwell fan knows, you don’t read his writings just for the “holy cow” moments, you read them for the journey he takes you on in delivering those moments…” – Harun Ar-rashid,

“…There is also a certain one-dimensional Americanness at work: many of his examples and case studies are American…” – Jason Cowley, Guardian.co.uk

“After a decade — and, really, a generation — in which this country has done fairly little to build up the institutions that can foster success, Gladwell is urging us to rethink. Once again, his timing may prove to be pretty good” David Leonhardt

“..For a fun read which introduces some interesting ideas, Gladwell’s “Outliers” is a decent book…” – Kevin Currie-Knight “Education Grad Student”

Outliers book best buy here

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