“Outliers” – Bookcast #43

Outliers: The Story of Success (2008) by Malcolm Gladwell

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Overview of “Outliers: The Story of Success”

  • A very brief description of “Outliers”
    • Journalist and researcher Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers” – the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful – from software billionaires to soccer players to Asian math prodigies. His goal is to find the answer to the question: What makes high-achievers different from regular people?
  • What Gladwell sets out to do / Purpose of the book
    • The real meat of the book is Gladwell’s discussion of our misunderstanding of how highly successful people achieve their greatness. The modern media pays too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
  • The intended audience of the book / Who will benefit most
    • People who love biographies
    • People who want to understand how to become successful
    • People who want to know that unspoken truth about great success – that it often requires great luck as well as great work
    • People who want to become world famous
    • People who like reality TV shows 
  • Who probably WON’T like this book?
    • People who need deep, scientific analyses of case studies
    • People who believe in overnight success
    • People who aren’t willing to commit 10,000 hours to their thing
  • How does this book specifically benefit Men? 
    • All Men aspire to greatness but most men do not understand everything that is required to achieve it. Outliers will help to fill in the gaps in a man’s education so he can realize the skills, the work, the creativity – and the serendipity that is required to rise to the highest level of achievement.
  • Is this book Easy, Average or Difficult to read? / How long is it?
    • The book is easy reading although it may be difficult to accept how much work is required to achieve greatness
    • 336 pages, Audiobook is 7 hours and 18 minutes
  • What are the overall book reviews? Is the book well-known? Popular? Significant?
    • Kindle: 22,667 ratings, 4.7 stars
      • #5 in Business Decision-Making
      • #5 in Social Psychology & Interactions
      • #8 in Personal Success in Business
    • Audible: 47,305 ratings, 4.8 stars
      • #2 in Anthropology 
      • #4 in Medical Social Psychology & Interactions
      • #5 in Social Psychology
  • Book-To-Movie Translation 
    • N/A

Bio of Malcolm Gladwell

  • Malcolm Gladwell is an English-born Canadian journalist, writer and speaker.
  • Gladwell was born Sept 3, 1963 in Fareham. His mother is Joyce Gladwell, a Jamaican psychotherapist. His father, Graham Gladwell, was a mathematics professor from Kent, England.
  • When he was six his family moved from Southampton to the Mennonite community of Elmira in Ontario, Canada.
  • Gladwell’s father noted Malcolm was an unusually single-minded and ambitious boy. When Malcolm was 11, his father, who was a professor of mathematics and engineering at the University of Waterloo, allowed him to wander around the offices at his university, which stoked the boy’s interest in reading and libraries. The University of Waterloo granted Gladwell an honorary doctorate in 2007.
  • He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College of the University of Toronto, in 1984 but although he wanted to attend graduate school his grades weren’t high enough so he decided to pursue advertising.
  • After being rejected by every advertising agency he applied to, he accepted a journalism position at American Spectator and has spent almost 40 years to date writing and working in investigative journalism
  • Gladwell was a national class runner and an Ontario High School champion. He was among Canada’s fastest teenagers at 1500 meters, running 4:14 at the age of 13 and 4:05 when aged 14. In 2014 he ran a 4:54 mile – when he was 51 years old!
  • He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has published five NYT bestsellers (and seven books overall): The Tipping Point (2000); Blink (2005); Outliers (2008); What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009); David and Goliath (2013); Talking To Strangers (2019) and The Bomber Mafia (2021).  

Breakdown of Themes in “Outliers”

  • Our culture celebrates the myth of the “self-made man.”
  • Once you reach a certain threshold, increased abilities no longer help you succeed.
  •  World-class mastery of anything demands around 10,000 hours of practice – no easy feat.
  • The month you’re born in can have a huge effect on what you achieve.
  • How you’re brought up can radically impact how successful you become.
  • The year you’re born in can make or break you.

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"Outliers" - Bookcast #43 1

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