I really love topics that explain possible reasons for behavioral/social outcomes. I've always been interested in psychology but sometimes it's interesting to hear about non-abnormal psych topics. This covers topics that can be considered abnormal but mostly abnormal in the good way - extraordinary people.
I also love that the data supports the idea that "it takes a village" because I've always had an aversion to people who say "I've done everything on my own, no one ever helped me, I only owe my success to my own hard work." That idea has seemed self-centered to me even when I was young and couldn't express why. I like to think that it's okay you aren't the best at something even though you feel you have worked hard on it because there are other factors that make someone successful. Not to improperly suggest hard work doesn't pay off but timing, social support and culture can play a large role in success too. Gladwell gives great examples of the exceptional successes using people we all know and keeps it interesting.
Even though I am not yet a parent this book encourages me to educate myself about ways to help a child succeed at hobbies they are interested in. Also it shows that it might not be possible to be truly gifted at many different activities because mastering an activity takes up much more time than is left after practicing several sports, several instruments and advanced classes, as is common in current youth culture.
Overall interesting book and gives me information to apply in many areas of my life.
Audio performance was pretty good.
It was based on facts and had a new perspective on success.
An easy to listen to story of greatness that comes from the blend of adequate skill, culture, and exceptional opportunity!
I think the author is over emphasizing the role of luck. While he makes a compelling case with great anecdotal evidence, I think classifying people like Bill Gates our Steve Jobs as ordinary people presented with extraordinary opportunities is not giving due credit to what makes these outliers such super achievers.
I will start with the good, to which there is plenty. One, the author is a great narrator and added value by reading himself. He is a great story teller and the listening experience is quite enjoyable. Plus it gets the reader thinking about what causes success and makes an argument that is not often expressed outright - basically no man is an island and no one is a truly self-made man. Lots of great examples throughout the book to support the argument.
I especially enjoyed the idea that outliers don't overcome adversity so much as it turns out that what they thought was adversity really turned out to be opportunity. This was the most compelling argument.
The stuff about cultural legacy was interesting and the anecdotes about Korean Airlines were especially interesting and entertaining. Some of the history of rice farming and modern day attitudes with regards to math skills were also interesting - I enjoy authors making connections between things that appear to be unrelated. Reminded me somewhat of Freakonomics - I suspect if you enjoyed that you will enjoy this. At one point the author reviews how the very words used for numbers can influence how well the speaker does in mathematical skills due to differences in length and composition. I had never heard this before and would love to explore this idea more (I would love suggestions!).
For the bad...The author makes a compelling argument but he makes it too softly. If he wants to go to war against the notion of the self-made man he should use more direct language when doing so. For most of the book I felt like he was just making the argument that in order to be successful the potential outlier has to have an opportunity - a pretty reasonable argument I would say. I had no idea just how far the author's line of thinking went until an interview after the end of the book (it changed my perception of the book and made me rethink some of the conclusions). The author also never seems to address an obvious critique of his main argument - if outliers are "just" products of their society why do some succeed and others don't? Bill Gates was not the only student at his High School with access to what the author seems to think was the best computer in the world at that time after all. So what makes Bill Gates special? The author seems to think he isn't special at all (based on the interview, not how I read the actual book), just a product of having unique opportunities, but they just didn't seem that special to this reader - how many students were in his class after all?
Good listen, interesting premise, wish the author had been more direct in his intention.