Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

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My rating: 5 Stars

Outliers: The Story of Success Review:

We are all bombarded daily by ads that try to sell us books, courses on how we can become successful; what kind of habits we need to acquire in order do become successful; how we need to work hard and we will become our own success story. We are constantly presented by people who claim that they are “self-made success” – and if you’re like me who like to question things and think that maybe there’s more to that story and that something is missing, then you are at a good place to find out more about what is behind the curtains of those stories such as Bill Gates and others.

I was looking for book that will explain me in depth on how to some people who try hard and succeed, and there are plenty of other who work hard as well, have intelligence and knowledge – but still struggle to create successful careers, start their own companies and grow them, become wealthy and financially independent. And this book is something that explains all that in a sense that will make you question everything that you try to achieve, especially if you already went through many failures in life (I know I did.)

There are so many factors included that can make us or break us, on which we have absolutely no control what so ever. Let me name a few, we can’t choose the time when we are born because some of the rich and successful people such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are born in the right time and in the right place. We can’t choose that, neither we can control current economy in our town, country, globally – but it does make a huge importance whether we have a good chance succeeding or failing. Our background also matters a lot, our parents and even grandparents – who they are, what they are working, how wealthy and how educated they are. There’s research presented in this book that shows how we can have much more chance to succeed if we are from middle class or wealthy background.

We all like stories where people go from broke to riches by just working hard; but study in this book shows that that’s not the case. There are so many factors involved in this, and being born the right time, and being placed in the right place at the right time can make a huge different; and luck is something that is so much important as well. So, when you hear these stories again, have in mind that it’s not all about those who succeeded – there are many factors that helped them, but many of them will never admit that.

Of course there is a part in this book where it talks how we can succeed if we practice enough, it’s the chapter about 10,000 hours. This is somehow encouraging for everyone not the get depressed and just give up everything in life. I personally have been motivated by this book to continue on my journey and continue working on my plans, even though I was kinda terrified with facts that maybe I’m born in the wrong place, at the wrong time and that all of my plans for future can be flushed down the toilet. Luckily that wasn’t the case after I continued to read this book and get better understanding of it. It did helped me a lot on changing my view on many things and start to questioning everything even more now.

If you truly want to understand success and what’s behind the curtains of it, it’s best that you read this book and it will help you to get better understanding of life and places in which we live in; it will make you start questioning everything around you and you’ll start to look more about your background. Definitely it will help you not to trust those books and courses who promises you that you’ll become successful and rich if you just buy their habits books (you’ll only make the author rich.)

Also, check out my Best Business Books List

Outliers: The Story of Success Summary:


The Roseto Mystery


out·li·er \-,l ( )r\ noun
1: something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body
2: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

Roseto Valfortore lies one hundred miles south-east of Rome in the Apennine foothills of the Italian province of Foggia. In the style of medieval villages, the town is organized around a large central square.

The towns-folk were barely literate and desperately poor and without much hope for economic betterment until word reached Roseto at the end of the nineteenth century of the land of opportunity across the ocean.

In January of 1882, a group of eleven Rosetans—ten men and one boy—set sail for New York. They spent their first night in America sleeping on the floor of a tavern on Mulberry Street, in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Then they ventured west, eventually finding jobs in a slate quarry ninety miles west of the city near the town of Bangor, Pennsylvania. The following year, fifteen Rosetans left Italy for America, and several members of that group ended up in Bangor as well, joining their compatriots in the slate quarry.

“I remember going to Roseto for the first time, and you’d see three-generational family meals, all the bakeries, the people walking up and down the street, sitting on their porches talking to each other, the blouse mills where the women worked during the day, while the men worked in the slate quarries,” Bruhn said. “It was magical.”


CHAPTER ONE – The Matthew Effect

One warm, spring day in May of 2007, the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Vancouver Giants met for the Memorial Cup hockey championships in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Tigers and the Giants were the two finest teams in the Canadian Hockey League, which in turn is the finest junior hockey league in the world. These were the future stars of the sport—seventeen-, eighteen-, and nineteen-year-olds who had been skating and shooting pucks since they were barely more than toddlers.

This is a book about outliers, about men and women who do things that are out of the ordinary. Over the course of the chapters ahead, I’m going to introduce you to one kind of outlier after an- other: to geniuses, business tycoons, rock stars, and software programmers. We’re going to un- cover the secrets of a remarkable lawyer, look at what separates the very best pilots from pilots who have crashed planes, and try to figure out why Asians are so good at math. And in examining the lives of the remarkable among us—the skilled, the talented, and the driven—I will argue that there is something profoundly wrong with the way we make sense of success.

We make rules that frustrate achievement. We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And, most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play—and by “we” I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.

CHAPTER TWO – The 10,000-Hour Rule

If we put the stories of hockey players and the Beatles and Bill Joy and Bill Gates together, I think we get a more complete picture of the path to success. Joy and Gates and the Beatles are all undeniably talented. Lennon and McCartney had a musical gift of the sort that comes along once in a generation, and Bill Joy, let us not forget, had a mind so quick that he was able to make up a complicated algorithm on the fly that left his professors in awe. That much is obvious.

But what truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities. The Beatles, for the most random of reasons, got invited to go to Hamburg. Without Hamburg, the Beatles might well have taken a different path. “I was very lucky,” Bill Gates said at the beginning of our interview. That doesn’t mean he isn’t brilliant or an extraordinary entrepreneur. It just means that he understands what incredible good fortune it was to be at Lakeside in 1968.

All the outliers we’ve looked at so far were the beneficiaries of some kind of unusual opportunity. Lucky breaks don’t seem like the exception with software billionaires and rock bands and star athletes. They seem like the rule.

CHAPTER THREE – The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 1

In the fifth episode of the 2008 season, the American television quiz show 1 vs. 100 had as its special guest a man named Christopher Langan. The television show 1 vs. 100 is one of many that sprang up in the wake of the phenomenal success of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It features a permanent gallery of one hundred ordinary people who serve as what is called the “mob.” Each week they match wits with a special invited guest. At stake is a million dollars. The guest has to be smart enough to answer more questions correctly than his or her one hundred adversaries—and by that standard, few have ever seemed as superbly qualified as Christopher Langan.

So far in Outliers, we’ve seen that extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity. In this chapter, I want to try to dig deeper into why that’s the case by looking at the outlier in its purest and most distilled form—the genius. For years, we’ve taken our cues from people like Terman when it comes to understanding the significance of high intelligence. But, as we shall see, Terman made an error. He was wrong about his Termites, and had he happened on the young Chris Langan working his way through Principia Mathematica at the age of sixteen, he would have been wrong about him for the same reason. Terman didn’t understand what a real outlier was, and that’s a mistake we continue to make to this day.

CHAPTER FOUR – The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 2

Chris Langan’s mother was from San Francisco and was estranged from her family. She had four sons, each with a different father. Chris was the el- dest. His father disappeared before Chris was born; he was said to have died in Mexico. His mother’s second husband was murdered. Her third committed suicide. Her fourth was a failed journalist named Jack Langan.

In the end, only one thing mattered: family background.

But that’s because those others had had help along the way, and Chris Langan never had. It wasn’t an excuse. It was a fact. He’d had to make his way alone, and no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone.

CHAPTER FIVE – The Three Lessons of Joe Flom

Joe Flom is the last living “named” partner of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. He has a corner office high atop the Condé Nast tower in Manhattan. He is short and slightly hunched. His head is large, framed by long prominent ears, and his narrow blue eyes are hidden by oversize aviator-style glasses. He is slender now, but during his heyday, Flom was extremely over- weight. He waddles when he walks. He doodles when he thinks. He mumbles when he talks, and when he makes his way down the halls of Skadden, Arps, conversations drop to a hush.

  • Lesson Number One: The Importance of Being Jewish
  • Lesson Number Two: Demographic Luck
  • Lesson Number Three: The Garment Industry and Meaningful Work


CHAPTER SIX – Harlan, Kentucky

In the southeastern corner of Kentucky, in the stretch of the Appalachian Mountains known as the Cumberland Plateau, lies a small town called Harlan.

Harlan County was founded in 1819 by eight immigrant families from the northern regions of the British Isles. They had come to Virginia in the eighteenth century and then moved west into the Appalachians in search of land. The county was never wealthy. For its first one hundred years, it was thinly populated, rarely numbering more than ten thousand people.

So far in Outliers we’ve seen that 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. The question for the second part of Outliers is whether the traditions and attitudes we inherit from our forebears can play the same role. Can we learn something about why people succeed and how to make people better at what they do by taking cultural legacies seriously? I think we can.

CHAPTER SEVEN – The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes

In this chapter, we’re going to conduct a crash investigation: listen to the “black box” cockpit recorder; examine the flight records; look at the weather and the terrain and the airport conditions; and compare the Guam crash with other very similar plane crashes, all in an attempt to understand precisely how the company transformed itself from the worst kind of outlier into one of the world’s best airlines. It is a complex and sometimes strange story. But it turns on a very simple fact, the same fact that runs through the tangled history of Harlan and the Michigan students. Korean Air did not succeed—it did not right itself— until it acknowledged the importance of its cultural legacy.

CHAPTER EIGHT – Rice Paddies and Math Tests

The gateway to the industrial heartland of Southern China runs up through the wide, verdant swath of the Pearl River Delta. The land is covered by a thick, smoggy haze. The freeways are crammed with tractor trailers. Power lines crisscross the landscape. Factories making cameras, computers, watches, umbrellas, and T-shirts stand cheek by jowl with densely packed blocks of apartment buildings and fields of banana and mango trees, sugarcane, papaya, and pineapple destined for the export market. Few landscapes in the world have changed so much in so short a time. A generation ago, the skies would have been clear and the road would have been a two-lane highway. And a generation before that, all you would have seen were rice paddies.

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.

“No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”

CHAPTER NINE – Marita’s Bargain

In the mid-1990s, an experimental public school called the KIPP Academy opened on the fourth floor of Lou Gehrig Junior High School in New York City.* Lou Gehrig is in the seventh school district, otherwise known as the South Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. It is a squat, gray 1960s-era building across the street from a bleak-looking group of high-rises. A few blocks over is Grand Concourse, the borough’s main thoroughfare. These are not streets that you’d happily walk down, alone, after dark.

The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth.

To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advan- tages that today determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history— with a society that provides opportunities for all.

EPILOGUE – A Jamaican Story

On September 9, 1931, a young woman named Daisy Nation gave birth to twin girls. She and her husband, Donald, were schoolteachers in a tiny village called Harewood, in the central Jamaican parish of Saint Catherine’s. They named their daughters Faith and Joyce. When Donald was told that he had fathered twins, he sank down on his knees and surrendered responsibility for their lives over to God.

It is not easy to be so honest about where we’re from. It would be simpler for my mother to portray her success as a straightforward triumph over victimhood, just as it would be simpler to look at Joe Flom and call him the greatest lawyer ever—even though his individual achievements are so impossibly intertwined with his ethnicity, his generation, the particulars of the garment industry, and the peculiar biases of the downtown law firms. Bill Gates could accept the title of genius, and leave it at that. It takes no small degree of humility for him to look back on his life and say, “I was very lucky.” And he was. The Mothers’ Club of Lakeside Academy bought him a computer in 1968. It is impossible for a hockey player, or Bill Joy, or Robert Oppenheimer, or any other outlier for that matter, to look down from their lofty perch and say with truthfulness, “I did this, all by myself.” Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don’t. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky—but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.

Product details

  • File Size: 1255 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316017922
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 18, 2008)
  • Publication Date: November 18, 2008
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
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