Work Stuff

Outliers: The Story of Success

Book Review

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Wow, a must read for all: mothers, fathers, new immigrants,  third generation Canadians, wealthy, poor, academics, high school graduates, Muslims, Jews, Christians, African Canadian, outliers133x300Caucasians, Asians, and athletes . When I say for “all” I truly do mean everyone.

Gladwell, theorizes that success is not just the common perception of luck but one must look at the other factors that contribute to success: birthplace, culture, family, family traditions, societal changes. “Luck” is rather the coming together of all these pieces along with opportunities that come around.  I now see the quote, “ luck is when preparedness meets opportunity”, in a completely different light. The insight of Malcolm takes this to another level of understanding. It is not just the skills one develops but the environment that facilitates and clears the path.

Throughout, he gives tangible examples of well-known successful people. He explains that success is a result of hard work – at least 10 000 hours of hard work – through the  rise and success of the Beatles and Bill Gates.

In light of the recent win of Canada’s gold medal for hockey; and hockey being our country’s national sport, hockey moms will definitely be interested in the analysis of the commonalities of well-known hockey players.

I especially think this is a great resource for parents. He shows how summer vacation can affect a child’s learning. The class differences that affect success: the upper middle class tend to teach their children a sense of entitlement and the comfort that comes with it. Entitlement in it’s most positive form, not the negative connotation.

He breaks down the reason for Asian students’ extraordinary understanding and relative

ease with math. The explanation is rather quite simple and makes sense – without the air of racist stereotypes. It is primarily based on the difference in the constructs of Asian

languages compared to English and others.

He writes of new immigrants and the traditions they carry with them to new lands and the

cultural traditions and practices that are passed down. It’s explained how these can affect success.

Perhaps after reading this book you will have a new perspective on the various rags to riches stories you have heard many times.

I could not put his book down. I bought it Saturday evening and finished reading it by Sunday evening.

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