Outliers

outliersOutliers: The Story of Success

by Malcolm Gladwell | 307 Pages | Genre: Non Fiction | Publisher: Allen Lane | Year: 2008 | My Rating: 7/10

out-li-er \ noun

1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main of related body

2: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

“Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success, be it for Bill Gates, Bill Joy, The Beatles, or Joe Flom – seems to stem as much from context as from personal attributes. Intrinsic ability appears to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for exceptional achievement, and what’s essential is hard work (practicing a skill for at least 10,000 hours) along with being born at the ‘right time’. Interestingly the cohort of computer giants were all born in 1950s. Though I think that Gladwell’s claims are used more as a means of getting the reader to think about patterns in general, rather than a pursuit of verifiable statistical fact.

Outliers is divided into two parts. In Part One, called “Opportunity,” Gladwell attempts to debunk several notions, viz., that geniuses are born not made, and that individuals succeed largely through their own initiative. In Part Two, called “Legacy”, he tries to show how important history and culture are in promoting success of one kind or another.

This book about complex sociological phenomenon and full of inventive theories (with gaps) is my Read of the Week.

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