Malcolm Gladwell does an exceptional job of delivering this book.
The author does a terrific job a challenging the traditional thinking that some people are successful ONLY because of hard work/determination. The section about education and why some cultures and countries perform at higher levels is very insightful.
This book will, at times, make you think that success is all about timing and has less to do with personal behavior. But continue listening and you will find out, through a variety of stories, that success does depend on timing, but also on the hard work needed to to take advantage of that timing. It is also an enlightening on the subject of education and why culture plays a large part in the success (or failure) of students across the globe. I walked away from this book looking at many aspects of my life and career differently. I no longer just label someone or an organization as an Outlier, but now look for the reasons why.
A lot of the research Gladwell did was interesting and there are things to be learned from it. But the conclusions he comes to make huge assumptions and ignore the facts that don't fit his views. It was a very frustrating listen, like arguing with someone making terrible points but not being able to respond.
If 90% of Canadian hockey players are born in Jan-May, isn't that remaining 10% an outlier? Didn't they have to overcome enormous odds and could there be a triumphant success story there? He claims that's what the book was intended to be about but instead that 10% is dismissed as an anomaly. And the accomplishments of the 90% are diminished because they were at the right place at the right time.
We're all at the right place at the right time for SOMETHING. Seize your opportunity. Be the outlier.
A terrific combination of storytelling and research. Gladwell explains how to level the playing field through individual opportunity. Being given a chance and then working hard at that chance, is what everyone needs to improve their social standing. Luck and timing are the primary ingredients required to create outliers.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell shows the intriguing correlation between culture (many generations back), opportunity, and chance and the achievement of successful people. The author discusses Scottish herdsmen from the borderlands and the legacy that leaves with the (often mistakenly derided) honor among Southerners. He discusses generations of hard work by Chinese rice farmers and how that, plus basic constructs of their language, profoundly impact the math abilities of Asians today. As an individual, I appreciate more my (Scottish/Irish) tenant farmer heritage and the role that the ethos of hard work played in my own personal success. I also see how my early math geek experiences (mental math competitions) gave me an advantage in engineering school.
The second time I read this book, it was as a single parent. My oldest child was assigned this as summer reading for his high school English class. The author could have used the book, as I will, as a way to guide children through some reflection on their heritage and motivation to determine their own destiny, especially through hard work (the variable that they can control). Instead, the last chapter and epilogue threw water on the embers of hope. He displays a contemptuous view of individualism, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Now my job as parent as doubled: inspire my kids work hard and double their efforts to watch out for subtle poison assigned by their teachers that says "it takes a village."
Kids: Success is not outside of your control You really can be anything that you want to be. Just work hard.
A must read for anyone wondering what sets the "lucky" apart. You learn why, and how people have become more "successful" than yourself, and discover ways to close the gap and create outliers yourself.
Gladwell is a great storyteller, and Outliers is both provocative and personal. If the book was read by anyone but the author (given its personal nature), it would have been less impactful.