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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No wonder I'm under-fullfilled!!
I read "Outliers" first and enjoyed it so much that I ordered Gladwell's previous books, "Blink" and "Tipping Point," and devoured them right away.
A whirlwind ride or facts, stats, psychology and history about the origins or success, Outliers confirmed what I'd suspected for years about super-achievers.
I'm no genius, but I come from a blue collar family where...
Published on May 9 2009 by Matthew J. K. Ellis

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heard it was good, found it disjointed and didn't agree with many of his conclusions
Enjoyed the first few chapters but lost all interest half way through. Seemed fairly disjointed with not much organization. I disagree with some of his conclusions, and feel he has found cases that fit his theory, but thrown out others that do not.

Overall I was disappointed.
Published 21 months ago by Goliath553

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No wonder I'm under-fullfilled!!, May 9 2009
Matthew J. K. Ellis (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
I read "Outliers" first and enjoyed it so much that I ordered Gladwell's previous books, "Blink" and "Tipping Point," and devoured them right away.
A whirlwind ride or facts, stats, psychology and history about the origins or success, Outliers confirmed what I'd suspected for years about super-achievers.
I'm no genius, but I come from a blue collar family where little or no "concerted cultivation" occured. Where an unlikely combination of: absent positive parental and peer influence, limited socio-economic advantage and non existant sheer, fortuitous opportunity, clearly contributed to my early stagnation, despite above average intelligence and good health. I didn't begin to realize my potential until I entered addiction recovery and came out of the closet at the age of 23(So being Gay and prone to chemical abuse got in the way as well). Certainly, Gladwell's premise that even genius requires oportunity and nurturing is valid. No one is born with ability, opportunity, confidence and motivation. I'm sure there are more than a few children of above average intelligence picking through garbage dumps in South America, who would thrive given the chance. Anyway, whether the book stands the test of time aside, it certainly was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who wonders about the subject and enjoys non-fiction, pop-cultural studies.
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76 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another horizon-broadening book by Malcolm Gladwell, Dec 3 2008
Curio (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
In short, Mr. Gladwell's writing--his earnestness, optimism, and persuasiveness--never ceases to impress me.

He broke down trends like no one else in The Tipping Point, and was single-handedly the most convincing voice for trusting your gut reactions (in an age of numbers, facts, and analysis no less) in Blink; this guy knows how to research, and better yet, put the nuggets of wisdom he's found in psychology and science into terrifically engaging and palatable text.

And the most amazing thing is, I don't think he's doing anything new--it's the way he presents it. Where most people could do similar research into his topics and write up their own findings and support already existing and accepted thought, Malcolm succeeds because he looks at it from outside the box. He's not doing much, but he does it so well--he turns things on their head, or reveals things that sit in plain view to us, because we mostly can't see the forest for the trees.

He puts this to high form again in his latest book, and the premise is as provocative and unconventional as his previous efforts, if not more so: he argues that a person's success has much to do with such things as luck (circumstance, fortuitous or unlikely events), culture, environment growing up, and of course, practice. The last point is not terribly groundbreaking, but the rest flies in the face of what we typically credit a successful individual for. Because let's be frank, in today's era, we all strive very hard for equality and to look past a person's background or upbringing (and don't get me wrong, I support that fully), emphasizing the fact that it doesn't matter who you are or where you came from, we can all achieve great things. Turning things on their head as he does, the author takes a step back and argues that these things DO matter.

Influential people today are sometimes paid extravagant sums to tour and speak of leadership, and we see them as charismatic, pioneering folks. Nothing wrong with that, but Mr. Gladwell digs deeper, and presents convincing cases where simply what happened to someone in their lives could almost be said to predispose them to success. Bill Gates is a fascinating example he explores--the world's richest man, he's a successful figure most will not attribute a great deal of charisma to, but he got there somehow. The how of it is eye-opening stuff.

It may please many fellow Canadians when I mention the part where he looks at an NHLer's success in the league; call me biased, but it was another favourite anecdote in a book full of insights. As a prime example of what I think he does so well--revealing what's staring at us in the face all along by looking at things another way--he attributes the great successes to something as simple as birth months. He found a disproportionally large number of elite players born in January, February, and March--why is that so? You'll have to read it to find out, and it elicits one of those reactions commonly encountered in all his books: a slapped forehead, an exclamation of, "Why didn't I think of that??", and then rushing off to tell the nearest person this newest, coolest tidbit of information.

And you'll do that with this book just like with his previous two. You'll read a section of it, and feel the urge and need to share it with others because of how honestly interesting it is. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates again why he is one of today's most celebrated and influential voices in non-fiction; already, I eagerly await his next book!
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Less Visible Sides of Success with Some Detailed Examples, Feb. 4 2009
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
Early advantages plus talent plus lots of practice plus a good social heritage plus a large opportunity help people succeed. That's this book in a nutshell as described in a series of New Yorker style articles. As told, the story is much more entertaining than that, but I want you to get the essence. Mr. Gladwell knows how to pick and spin a story to make it appealing and intriguing, and he has done well on those dimensions here.

The book will inspire people to want to help others accomplish more. Any parent, any teacher, any coach, or anyone interested in improving society will find something stimulating here.

Let me give you a quick overview:

1. Mr. Gladwell draws his inspiration for this book from the studies of Roseto, Pennsylvania by Dr. Stewart Wolf and sociologist John Bruhn that established how social factors can improve or harm health. Mr. Gladwell wants to similarly expand our vision of what affects success beyond the sense that "raw talent" and "privilege" help.

2. Mr. Gladwell uses the birth dates of athletes to establish that annual cutoff dates for teams benefit those born closer to the cutoff date. This principle also affects school children. As a result, the older children in a cohort do better and get more attention. Mr. Gladwell proposes having more anniversary dates so that more youngsters will get early access to help and attention.

3. Mr. Gladwell tells us the background of Bill Joy, one of the great computer programming geniuses of all time. In the story, he points out that mastery of most disciplines requires 10,000 hours of practice. Mr. Joy got that practice at a young age because he had access to time sharing on a mainframe when most programmers didn't. The practice point is buttressed by a study of violinists that correlates how much they practiced to their ultimate success. Then, Mr. Gladwell pulls in the Beatles and Bill Gates as examples to support his point. He also looks at the frequency of accumulating large wealth to notice it is concentrated in one time period in one country.

4. From there, he gives us the sad story of a genius who hasn't been able to use his life for very much other than to win on a television game show, Christopher Langan. Mr. Gladwell goes on to argue that you have to be talented enough to succeed, but that talent level falls far below the genius level.

5. Mr. Gladwell next points out that parenting matters. Mr. Langan had little help there, but many privileged youngsters get enormous assistance which provides direct help and makes them more assertive.

6. Joe Flom is profiled next to describe his background before becoming the head of a major New York Law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. Great emphasis is placed on his being Jewish, so he couldn't work in the "white shoe" firms that didn't want to get their hands dirty with hostile takeovers; being born when takeover lawyers could do well; and being born into a family with a social heritage of prospering in the garment trade (a very exacting business that rewarded hard work and attention to detail).

7. Mr. Gladwell expands on the idea of a sociological legacy in part two, beginning with the apparent roots of Southern family feuds (think of the Hatfields and the McCoys). He next takes a look at how such social patterns appear to have affected airline safety (with a close look at Korean Air and an Avianca plane that crashed when it ran out of fuel). He then jumps across the globe to argue that the Chinese language's structure of words that involve numbers and the work involved in cultivating rice explain the advantages that many Southern Chinese students have in math over students in other parts of the world.

8. The story moves into its prescriptive stage in describing the results of an experimental public school in the South Bronx that helped youngsters get the structure and discipline they need to succeed . . . with very good results.

9. The book concludes with a look at Mr. Gladwell's Jamaican roots and how those contributed to his success.

Mr. Gladwell is such a provocative and intriguing writer that it seems rude to make any suggestions for possible improvement. However, I will be so bold as to comment on the ideas and the evidence.

1. Mr. Gladwell doesn't seem to take liking the task into account as a success factor. Most of us could eat chocolate candy until 10,000 hours had occurred. But how many of us like any other task that much that can be turned into a valuable form of human achievement? Without such liking, I suspect that much success won't occur. Self-discipline in the absence of liking will just lead to early burnout.

2. Mr. Gladwell seems a little confused about the contribution Bill Gates has made to software. Mr. Gladwell tells the Gates story as though Gates is another Bill Joy. Gates is more of a corporate strategist than a programming success. The famous programs on which Microsoft's success was based were drawn primarily from the work of programmers who weren't even at Microsoft.

3. In the airline crash examples, there is also a lot of research about how crews in all countries defer too much to the captains. Although that research is mentioned in passing, I felt like Mr. Gladwell was overstating his point. The issue in the Avianca crash was strongly related to not speaking American-style English with comfort. I think the book would have been stronger without the airline crash examples.

4. When you are writing about success (even as "outliers"), it makes sense to spend a little more time thinking about what you want to focus on. This book jumps from looking at geniuses who do things that benefit everyone (like Bill Joy) to people who just happen to make a lot of money (Joe Flom). If Mr. Gladwell had stuck with Bill Joy-type examples, I think this book would have been a lot more helpful.

5. If these points are so important, wouldn't it make sense to have the bulk of the book prescribe what to do differently? Mr. Gladwell doesn't take that part very seriously. As a result, the book is more entertainment than call to action.

6. By stringing together a series of article-style chapters, the book ends up being a bit choppy to read and follow.

I do recommend you read the book, and I hope that Mr. Gladwell will write a follow-up book that is prescriptive.

Thank you for much food for thought, Mr. Gladwell!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, but incomplete study of super-achievers, Dec 17 2011
Laura De Giorgio "hypnotherapist" (Canada) - See all my reviews
In Outliers, Malcolm explores the information he has gathered on what makes people excel. It goes back to the age-old question from psychology - what makes people the way they are - their genetic or the environment - and the answer is both and much more.

I couldn't help but remember a study mentioned once by Tonny Robbins, in which motivational researchers asked two brothers, one of whom has become a successful business man, and the other man alcoholic - both had a father who was an alcoholic, and both man gave the same answer "What else could I become with a father like that." This too may be simplistic, because we really don't have information about how they were individually treated, or any other events in their lives that influenced them to think and act in ways that shaped their life path.

Malcolm begins with a story about a specific group of early Italian settlers in America, who despite of being overweight and eating unhealthy food, lack of exercise, smoking and other unhealthy habits, had much longer lives and better health than average Americans. Apparently the key element that made their bodies and immune system resilient is that they lived with a sense of belonging to the close-knit community where they deeply cared for each other.

Malcolm then proceeds with the study cases of people involved in music, sports, computers and other areas of human achievement and the conclusion is that while talent is most-certainly helpful, regardless of what talent one may have, nothing beats good old hard work. Frankly speaking, this is no groundbreaking revelation, and if you're looking for any self-help tips that you may get from this book related to what you can do to make the most out of your life, just remember the old adage - "follow your passion and be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your fingers dirty". If you want to know how many hours you need to put into your work to become a world class expert in anything - the magic number is 10,000 hours, which roughly translates into about 10 years if you're working on developing your skills 20 hours a week, 5 years if you're investing 40 hours a week, and perhaps 2.5 years if you are truly madly and deeply passionate about what you're doing and work at it 80 hours a week.

Malcolm then continues that just because you're following your willing to follow your passion and work hard, that doesn't guarantee you'll succeed unless you have an opportunity. Here though he brings up the element of upbringing, where the super-achievers he picked grew up in supportive environments that enabled them to put them into what they were passionate about. This is true up to a point - it was true for Bill Gates or for Mozart, and for all practical intents or purposes, none of us will become either Bill Gates or Mozart, but each of us do have our own talents and abilities, our passions which we can develop if we are willing to put in the hours to develop them, and more importantly, from my experience, whether the opportunity is there or not - successful people create the opportunities even if they had none. I like to think of North America as a "land of opportunity" and when I compare the opportunities for success here to those in let's say Eastern Europe and never mind other impoverished countries in the world - everyone in North America should be wildly successful, but they are not. And there are many of those who grew up in environments where they didn't have much opportunity to follow their passions and talents who came to North America and created more successful lives than those who grew up in the "land of opportunity". Thomas Stanley explores countless stories of self-made millionaire in his book "The Millionaire next door". These guys started from scratch. They adopted habits, a lifestyle that enabled them to make something out of their lives.

And then there's a famous Viktor Frankl's, a Holocaust survivor, who escaped from a concentration camp, and who described his experience in the book "In Search of meaning". It's not that the opportunity landed in his lap - he created it. And on that note, I would like to mention another characteristic of exceptional people that is not mentioned in the book Outliers. The characteristic may be an offshoot of passions, but it's having the guts to follow your heart, to do what you feel driven to do even if everyone else in the world thinks that you're crazy or that what you want may be impossible.

It may be very interesting to read stories about the upbringing of people who had something you didn't have, but it doesn't really have any practical value - unless, perhaps you were to work with your subconscious and re-imprint your mind with all those experiences and with all that nurturing and support that would've made a dramatic change in your life, but was missing from your life while you were growing up. Dr. Milton Erickson describes one case at great length in his book "The February Man". Then again, hypnosis and NLP techniques for boosting one's potential and filling the gaps, are not the topic covered in this book, and may or may not be your cup of tea.

If you are interested in modeling excellence, a more practical book would be Robert Dilts' "Strategies of Genius." Actually, there are 3 volumes.

The next topic covered in this book is the influence of one's IQ upon the success. While the information provided points in the direction that one's IQ is important up to a certain point and it makes no more difference in terms of one's success in life - this issue brings to my mind the question of different kinds of IQ, of different kinds of intelligences required to excel in different areas of life, which then leads me back to the basic question of what is Malcolm's definition of "success" - since his book is a book about "success". For some people it may be excelling in one particular area of life, while for others it may be living a fulfilling and purposeful life, and perhaps excelling in the experience of inner peace, love, joy and happiness. Or is success here measured more by how many hearts, minds or lives you manage to stir and influence with your life ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outliers, Feb. 15 2009
Burkhard Lepka "bergy" (bc canada) - See all my reviews
Interesting Book as whole but a little bit on the simplistic side in its conclusion how people become sucessful. Being at the right time at the right place with the right backgroung is an important step in the direction of success but it still depends on the genic make-up of that person to take advantage of the circumstances.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heard it was good, found it disjointed and didn't agree with many of his conclusions, April 23 2013
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Enjoyed the first few chapters but lost all interest half way through. Seemed fairly disjointed with not much organization. I disagree with some of his conclusions, and feel he has found cases that fit his theory, but thrown out others that do not.

Overall I was disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Extraordinary Book by Gladwell, Aug. 23 2010
In another extraordinary book by Malcolm Gladwell, he examines what makes extremely successful people so successful. As his title alludes, Outliers: The Story of Success are those top 1% of people that excel in a given area. They are the difference between making it to the Olympics and winning a gold medal. They are the difference between a medical graduate and an award-winning Harvard Medical Graduate.

Gladwell interprets and analyses common everyday scenarios in our society to uncover the situations in which Outliers may be born. The results may amaze you (or anger you if you have a late birthday!). The moral of his story though, is that you can create a life for your children that will increase the probability of excelling if you take heed of some of Gladwell's findings.

The research in the Outliers: The Story of Success identifies several simple factors that lead to extraordinary greatness for any individual:
1. Be Born Between January ' April
2. Practice Your Craft for 10,000 Hours
3. Access Unique Opportunities
4. Time Your Moves Strategically

While Gladwell's findings are certainly intriguing, I must admit that reading the book was a little bit like a chore at times. Since he is examining and interpreting various statistics there are parts of the writing that are a bit slow and cumbersome, but he certainly tries to make up for that with the insertion of interesting stories and examples. Overall it is definitely a book you need to read if you want to go from good to great or have aspirations for your children's lives to be more successful than yours.

Greatest Lesson
The most intriguing part of Outliers: The Story of Success for me was the factor that you need to spend more than 10,000 hours practicing your craft to become a world-class expert or leader. Gladwell points out several examples including Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems, Mozart, The Beatles, Bill Gates and more by describing their history and path to greatness. In each case, these individuals had an opportunity to gain more than 10,000 hours practicing in their field at a young age. Prior to those crucial hours they were all relatively unknown and it was until they crossed over that peak that their fame started to hit.

You are probably wondering the same thing I was when I learned about this factor ' how long does it take to reach 10,000 hours? Unfortunately that is equivalent to approximately 10 years in one's life. So, if you're mid to late career you may want to start adding a few practice hours to the beginning or end of your day if you're not there yet!

'Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.' (page 42)

There are so many great examples and tidbits of knowledge in this book that is a worthwhile read for anyone looking to advance their own career or the success of their family. I have left out many of the stories discussed in the book so I don't ruin it for you! But I have to leave this one little teaser ' if you travel a lot you have to read the section where Gladwell explains plane crashes! I highly recommend Outliers: The Story of Success for those of you who enjoy understanding the world through the statistics. If you prefer a light story-like read, this book might not be for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I've looked at clouds from both sides now, July 28 2010
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Outliers: The Story of Success (Paperback)
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

Malcolm Gladwell points out the obvious. Or what should have been the obvious. Using statistics and a type of insight, he finds that to be successful there is a minimum of natural ability and downright luck. Even them it does not guarantee want Malcolm supposed success is.

This book is a fun and easy to read book. But do not let it fool you into thinking that this is light reading or just the popular science of the day. There is a dead serious theory that appears to really apply (split infinitives allowed here.) Knowing this theory will help you to make the requirements for success instead of just guessing at them.

At least I came away with a different paradigm, and now see everything in the world differently.

It has been suggested that regardless of the factors in this book that one may be content with a job that fits his/her value-system.

I must have been schizophrenic in a job sense. In the U.S. Army and Reserves, I well enjoyed being a mechanic and power systems maintenance sergeant. While at the same time, I was a business/engineering systems analyst in the civilian world. So this book helps me look back to see how I found myself in the situation.

With a little bit of blooming luck.

How to Lie with Statistics
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at success, Nov. 5 2009
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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Gladwell exposes something I've long held to be true myself: great success requires great luck. It also requires great talent and effort to capitalize on that luck, but luck is just as necessary. For example, if you're not born in the first few months of the year, your chances of being a pro-hockey player are dramatically reduced. Based on your astrological sign! That's not because of astrology, its because kids are ranked by year of birth, and those born earlier in the year are bigger, faster, and more coordinated on average because they're just older. And that means they're more likely to be chosen on special teams, where they get special coaching, further emphasizing their initial difference. That continues over the years until there's a tremendous gap between them and other, later-born children. Is that fair? No. It's just luck and the way the system is currently set up. Intriguingly, Gladwell suggests that these kinds of systems essentially miss 50% of a population's talent because they shunt out all those born in the later part of the year. That's a really interesting idea- a population could increase its pool of elite athletes (or students) by breaking them into 6-month groups, rather than 1-year groups.

For other kinds of success, especially financial, its often a matter of being at the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, to catch and ride an emerging trend in the financial world (e.g., railroads in 1850, clothing in 1930, software 1970, hostile take-overs 1980, etc.). Gladwell is clear that the leaders in these areas were all talented, driven people. But that doesn't change the fact that born five years earlier or later, they'd probably be nowhere near as successful as they are today. While he doesn't mention him, I like Darwin as an example. He was brilliant and hard working, but Alfred Wallace came up with (virtually) the same idea of evolution as he did. And Darwin was big enough at that time that Wallace sent him a draft copy to review. If Darwin had come along later, he would have been scooped. If he hadn't been as big as he was in biology then (thanks to non-evolutionary work), he would never have seen the manuscript. As it turned out, he gave Wallace co-credit, but that's another story. The point is that coincidental circumstance played as big a role in who published the theory of evolution by natural selection, and when it was published, as the characteristics of Darwin himself.

For me, the bottom line is that hard work and talent are very important, but so is looking out for those unique trends that might allow you to catch a wave and do something extraordinary with your life. Whether or not that will happen is a function of luck, but it's certainly important to be prepared should you ever get the chance. Overall, the book is very easy to read, and full of really good ideas. I found the last couple of chapters on math to be the weakest, but it's still a great book to read. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and a fun read, Sept. 3 2009
William Shaw (Toronto, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
Gladwell is a journalist with a knack for finding topics that offer interesting twists on conventional wisdom and modern myths of everyday life. Outliers is a fun (and quick) read that brings new perspective to the archetype of the overnight hero. I found that it started to drag as the book progressed: Gladwell seems to have provided far more detail than required to substantiate his thesis about the role of opportunity and preparation in becoming successful. One of the main attractions for me and probably for many readers is the People-magazine-like insight into the lives of some famous modern heroes. One would hope that his lessons will be taken seriously by the sports establishment and educators, and that those lessons will help to dispel unrealistic expectations of success by opportunistic exploitation rather than hard work. Just keep in mind that Gladwell is a journalist with insight who does his research. For me, this book didn't live up to the standard he established with The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference or even in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
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Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (Paperback - June 7 2011)
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