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Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

“Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had strength and presence of mind to seize them.”

Malcolm Gladwell has a genius for storytelling. In his book Outliers, he engagingly tells stories of successful people from all kinds of fields. He points out important findings, backs them up with research and presents interesting theories to help us understand how these people achieved their success.

Subtitle of the book is The story of success which, at first, might evoke that it will give away the blueprint to follow to achieve a grand success. But life doesn’t work like that. There is no blueprint for success. There are no shortcuts, no easy ways, and no cheats.

The book Outliers belongs to motivational literature and it surely motivates, amazes and entertains. In the book Malcolm Gladwell brilliantly tells the stories of successful people. But not just shallow stories which recite the achievements and milestones the successful people reached on their way to the top. Malcolm Gladwell provides deeper stories, full of details and explanations. He tells more complex stories of lives and careers of the outliers.

All the stories are engaging, written so, that you can see them unfold as movies in your head. They kindle your curiosity and your desire to learn more about that person, the outlier, and his life. And the common themes the author finds in success stories of these outliers, make you think about your own life. Did you have similar kinds of advantages and opportunities in your life as the described outliers. Did you utilize them or did you overlook them? The book will make you think about your environment, your parents and peers, opportunities and advantages you have, about your culture and traditions and how they shaped you as a person and as a professional. And how you can all these influences in an effort to develop, progress, learn and succeed.

While I was reading the book I couldn’t stop talking about it. I was amazed by the book and stories it tells, intrigued by them and eager to read more. And I was retelling the stories I read to my friends. This is the book I would highly recommend to all of my friends and it’s very likely that some of them will get it as a gift at some point. It is that good!

Thoughts I liked in the book

“…the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.” (p. 11)

“What truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities.” (p.55)

“[Practical intelligence] is about knowing how to do something.” (p. 101)

“Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.” (p.149)

“Success arises out of the steady accumulation of advantages: when and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were all make a significant difference in how well you do in the world.” (p.175)

“They [outliers] are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy.” (p.285)

Who is Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist, writer and speaker. He is the author of five books, all of which were the New York Times best-sellers. He has been a journalist at The New Yorker. And he recently started a podcast called Revisionist History.

If you would like to know more about his work check out his website. And if you are interested in his TED talks check out TED website. I like especially this one.