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Outliers: The Story of Success | [Malcolm Gladwell]

Outliers: The Story of Success

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
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Publisher's Summary

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

©2008 Malcom Gladwell; (P)2008 Hachette Audio

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  •  
    Chris bristol, United Kingdom 08-23-10
    Chris bristol, United Kingdom 08-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book should be called 'selective evidence'"

    Whilst a lot of the ideas in this book are not Gladwell's alone, he takes responsibility for presenting them as if they were fact. Some parts are fascinating - such as the investigation of pilot errors which lead to crashes - but much of it falls woefully short of sound argument. The main points in the book are either obvious or highly questionable: intelligence alone is no trigger for success; luck is big factor in all great achievements; 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve excellence at anything.

    The examples he provides completely ignore the possibility that timing is not just luck, but actually a inherent quality of the thought process that goes into the idea of the business in the first place. Did Bill Gates really become so successful purely because he was: a) in the right place at the right time, and b) put in 10,000 hours of programming in an age when computers were hard to come by? By drawing these conclusions he overlooks the unprovable possibility that Gates may have become successful in another area had he not been born at the right time to start Microsoft.

    Were the Beatles successful because of their 10,000 hours of practice in German nightclubs and the like before their 'breakthrough' US number one? Even if you ignore Gladwell's convenient use of their US breakthrough to mark his 10,000 hour cut-off (coming 18 months after their UK success), were they really successful because of the amount of practice they put in? Was it merely musical competence that raised them above their peers? What about inspiration, creative ideas, charisma, chemistry or pure unteachable songwriting genius? And what about the likes of Nick Drake, or Kurt Cobain, or Buddy Holly? They could not have possibly put in the 10,000 hours 'required' practice as prescribed by Gladwell. There must be hundreds or thousands more in the world of music, film, literature, or even business who do not conform to the 10,000 hour rule. Yet they are conveniently overlooked.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katy Crumpton 01-25-10 Member Since 2013
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    "Very thought provoking."

    This book caused me to re-evaluate my perceptions of success and how it is achieved. It is a great listen for parents of young children since parents can have a major influence on many of the contributing factors of success that are mentioned in this book. Enjoyable on many levels.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Nedreberg Eureka, Utah 11-09-09
    Thomas Nedreberg Eureka, Utah 11-09-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Taking the mystery out of Outliers"

    I've seen Malcom Gladwell speak twice and read both "Tipping Point" and "Blink," which I really enjoyed but "Outliers" is his crowning work. The book is written in an organized way yet displays profound out the box thinking. Many of us like to think of our heros as truely exceptional people but Mr. Gladwell shows us in his book that many times it's taking what's been given to us, practicing, and being in the right place at the right time. I enjoyed the entire book but what most impressed me was his personal tale about himself, his mother, and grandmother and how being an Outlier has more to do with what went before us then what we actually were able to do ourselves. I liked how the book made me think about how even if I wasn't an Outlier that by me providing opportunities as a teacher or a parent that I may help a future Outlier.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah C. Day 09-14-09
    Leah C. Day 09-14-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting"

    This was a pretty interesting book. I don't agree with all of the reasoning, but it's an interesting theory.

    The one downside to this book is that if you're looking for motivation, it might work the opposite effect.

    This book is about how luck and certain circumstances make you more likely to be successful such as your birthdate, ethnicity, and religion.

    If you easily see your circumstances as beyond your control, you may read this book and feel disheartened that you're not lucky or have the right circumstances to be successful.

    I believe luck is part of it, but drive and ambition are also important too. You DO have the power to alter your circumstances, even if you've not been given special advantages.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sierra Bravo 06-24-09 Member Since 2002

    Semi retired small business person/ college professor/ investor.

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    "Some interesting thoughts to ponder"

    This is a well-written book that brings up some important things to think about. Gladwell's conclusion that you need to be lucky as well smart and hardworking to be hugely successful is probably true. To get really far out on the bell curve you need for everything to go right, or wrong, depending on which side of the curve. Still it is dangerous to draw too many conclusions from extreme outliers, at least when dealing with a standard bell curve. If you are interested in what makes rich people rich read "The Millionaire Next Door", it deals with the more applicable part of the curve for most of us. Drawing conclusions from relatively few data points is always risky but Gladwell shows clearly the a small head start can get you far ahead.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gohar Issaquah, WA 05-19-09
    Gohar Issaquah, WA 05-19-09 Member Since 2014

    I Like scifi-fantasy,non-fiction, historical fiction genres. Liked Stormlight Archive, GoT, Ken Follett's work. Last read: Words of Radiance

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A new perspective to success"

    This book talks about successful people and how everything around them helped them get there. There were a few chapters that were stretched just to make a point. Certain chapters like the first one where the author keeps on talking about hockey players born in January was very slow and boring. but the latter ones with software entrepreneurs was very interesting. Malcolm Gladwell doesn't say anything new here except for the fact that every individual needs to work hard and practice makes perfect. The only difference here is the amount of research the author has gathered is remarkable and many of his facts and researches prove a point. The epilogue chapter was completely unrequired. I gave a 4 rating beacuse of those certain unrequired chapters. Great research and a good book to read once.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Ewing Clayton, CA, United States 05-15-09
    David Ewing Clayton, CA, United States 05-15-09 Member Since 2013
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    "First rate soft science"

    I've read Gladwell's prior books and this one lives up to the other two. Read by Gladwell himself, he adds a clarity and a richness to the text.

    As for the ideas presented in the book, Gladwell makes a strong and compelling case for the power of our environment/culture to shape us. However, I find his observations more of a curiosity as his analysis is anecdotal, personal and always entertaining.

    To really complete his destruction of the heroic individual he'd need to explain those that squander lucky opportunity and the inevitability of chance encounters seized by enterprising individuals. Western individualism will survive Gladwell and yet it can be enhanced by his observation.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 03-18-09
    Stephen 03-18-09
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    "Are you and outlier? How did you become one?"

    The outliers in this book are people who have either succeeded or failed beyond expectation. Besides intelligence, what other factors make people extremely successful? Some of the questions that are posed and answered are:

    Why are most professional hockey players born Jan-
    Mar?
    Why were 9 of the top wealthiest men of ALL time (cleopatra to present) born in the 1830's?

    Why are many of the key people in computer technology born between 1953 and 1955? W

    hy did some immigrant groups do better than others?

    Why do asians do better in math?

    These are interesting questions and interesting observations are provided. It is not clear if even the author has an overall opinion of if you can control your own destiny. He swings from chapters where when you were born is the largest factor, to other cases where simply working hard and smarts gets you ahead. Perhaps the answer is you need both to become a Bill Gates or a Rockefeller. However, he makes an excellent case of how external factors often set you up for success.

    The other concept that is presented is the idea of working hard enough and long enough at something to become expert at something. Those that were wildly successful were experts at the right time in history.

    The audio book is not referenced so if you want to read the studies cited for yourself, you will need to get the book.

    If you have read Drunkard's Walk and Supercrunchers, this is an interesting and important addition to the factors that govern success.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 02-20-09
    Sarah 02-20-09 Member Since 2012
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    "Good book but information not overly surprising"

    I liked this book because it gave a different view on success that underplayed the role of genetics. It won't tell you the secret to success but a running theme was hard work and practice practice practice is what makes you an expert and thus, successful according to today's standards. There were also some interesting points about parenting and about the American school system which I'll have to keep in mind if I have kids sometime down the road...

    The only negative comments I have is that it was a bit repetitive within each chapter and even from chapter to chapter the message was the same. Also, some of the studies he mentions and assumptions he makes from the studies are a bit questionable but I kept an open mind and I think his conclusions were for the most part acceptable.

    All in all, I recommend this book, perhaps in the abridged format though.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Lexington, IL, United States 02-20-09
    Jennifer Lexington, IL, United States 02-20-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Great listen"

    This book was a great listen with interesting stories interwoven with facts and all at a great pace. This book really got me thinking about the interconnectivity of the timing of events in my own life, in my family's, and in my culture.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 487 results PREVIOUS123449NEXT
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  • Dawn
    Worcester Park, United Kingdom
    5/20/10
    Overall
    "Riveting - enjoyed it much more than the paperback"

    Malcolm Gladwell is a terrific writer; he's also an experienced and effective presenter. So when he's reading his own material it's a compelling package and I was totally hooked.
    He's dug up some fascinating statistics to back up his overall hypothesis: when someone is exceptional at something it's not just a case of luck or hard work.
    IT millionaires all born in the same 3-year period; high performers who all put in more than 10,000 hours of practice; entrepreneurs whose experience of being immigrants influenced who they knew and what they did - and many more fascinating examples.
    I'll definitely be listening to this again.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • judith
    canary wharf, United Kingdom
    8/4/12
    Overall
    "Just so stories"

    Mr Gladwell has a nice voice and is a natural storyteller, but unfortunately he cannot think straight for an extended period (such as a book). He contradicts himself: at one point, to succeed you need the 'right', well connected, parents (high IQ elementary kids) at another point the key to success (for New York lawyers in the 1970s) is to be born on the wrong side of the tracks (jewish immigrant). He has extraordinarily low standards of 'proof': having demonstrated that certain successes (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc.) got lucky breaks, he then breezily states, 'Now we have shown that circumstances are actually more important than raw talent'. I find this very irritating. The main thesis seems to be 'you need luck as well as talent'. Duh?? Is that a thesis or a statement of the bloody obvious? The three stars is because, despite all this, Outliers is quite listenable. It is so low powered and well read that you never need to hit the repeat button, which is handy if your hands are muddy (as mine usually are when I'm audioing).

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Enfield, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "I never thought about it that way..."

    As a teacher I have spent years praising kids for being smart, then, however,they rely on that to wing the exams. now I praise them for the amount of hard work they do to achieve their goals and they do better.

    Inspiring book, well read, and it has application outside its covers.

    Mark from Enfield

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Walter Rothon
    London , United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Interesting, engaging and very informative"

    If you've read Freakonomics, then you'll love this. Malcolm Gladwell delves deep into the reasons and circumstances around what makes some people more successful than others. The people and groups he highlights will surprise you - but more so you'll be amazed at what things had to align for them to reach that point of success. Easy to listen to, simply stated but very engaging it was hard to pause while listening on my commute to work.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    GlasgowUnited Kingdom
    11/3/09
    Overall
    "Great listen"

    Fascinating book with lovely insights into the development of so-called Outliers. Well read by the author. If the subject matter piques your interest, it is worth the time listening.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. O. Fatona
    Kent ,UK
    11/3/12
    Overall
    "Fantastic!"

    I am really pleased I read this book. My mindset is changing & my vision has no limits.



    Thanks to Sam Adeyemi (I hope to meet one day soon) for recommending this book.



    A GOOD READ!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alexander
    Great Dunham, United Kingdom
    2/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "round in circle"
    What did you like best about Outliers? What did you like least?

    Never seem to get to the real point of the book in any concise way.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Never seem to get to the real point and title of the book in any concise way.


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Gladwell’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    no


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    no it would not work.. good documentary thou


    Any additional comments?

    seem like self centred philosophy for his life rather than a completely thought through work. Some very interesting sections about how chance plays so much of a role in life, and why some people do better in certain fields, but can't real say that as well rounded Englishman I feel any way enlightened by this book. If I lived in a bubble, may be...

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Chad
    Warrington, Cheshire, United Kingdom
    9/3/09
    Overall
    "Almost right on the money"

    So far the best Audiobook I have read. As an entreprenuer myself, I was interested to hear this take on success. Very interesting but doesn't recognise that successful people "don't let opportunities pass" and that this is just as important as his other points. Read it though, it is good.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • A. Nasri
    1/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "some interesting stories but..."

    the book is more about being a product of your environment than being an outlet as such..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Charlott
    Halmstad, Sweden
    1/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding"
    Where does Outliers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I rank it among the top 15 of the books that I've read the past 3 years.


    What other book might you compare Outliers to, and why?

    Most of the books that I listen to/ read have a holistic approach. And nothing is really just black and white. This goes for this book too.


    What about Malcolm Gladwell’s performance did you like?

    He has a fantastic narrating voice. It is very easy to listen to. It sort of drags you in to all the fantastic stories.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Nothing is what it seems to be!


    Any additional comments?

    Read, reflect and appreciate!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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