My Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Ehhhh. Finally plodded through the last 20 pages just so I can say it’s read. Highly anecdotal, presents scientific conclusions without a hint of scientific method.  Basically, success = hard work + recognizing opportunities + luck. This is shocking, obviously.

Still Gladwell manages to provoke some thought—like how long do you try to do something you find difficult before giving up? Exhorting this work-hard mindset is in direct contrast to the popular StrengthsFinder manifesto, which makes the argument that the American way of well-roundedness teaches kids to focus on their weaknesses—like getting a Math tutor if you’re no good at Math—when really we should all be focusing on our strengths to maximize our personal happiness and our contribution to society.

Gladwell also brings up luck as a factor to success based on the time of the year we are born, the decade we are born, the culture we are born into, etc. Basically, success is not fully within our control. Again, shocking.

Gladwell‘s answers to the big questions:

What makes someone successful?
• Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.
• The miracle of meaningful work

Who are outliers?
• Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

Where do we all go from here?
• To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all.