Top 5 Takeaways from Gladwell’s Outliers

Top 5 Takeaways from Gladwell’s Outliers

In a bid to retain more of every book I read, I recently decided to start writing a quick little summary of some of the books I?ve recently been reading.

This article is about Malcom Gladwell?s third book, Outliers.

Here?s my structure:

  • quick book blurb
  • top 5 take-ways
  • fave quotes
  • end thoughts

Other reviews in my series:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


Image for postPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash

Book Blurb // Background of The Book

In this bold book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at society?s so called outliers, the high-achievers and biggest successes the world has to offer. Why is it that some people achieve so much more than others?

Gladwell believes the reasons behind success can really be boiled down to:

  • when you are born
  • your background and upbringing (incl. hertitage)
  • being in the right place at the right time
  • having the skills to take advantage of a good opportunity

The book discusses successes such as Bill Gates and the Beatles showing that being born in the right year, having access to the right tools and putting in the hard work were the reasons these guys achieved success.

(See related article on 10,000 hours to mastery)

The book was somewhat heartening since the underlying tone was that anyone could become successful, provided that you a) put in the hard work and b) recognized and took advantage of good opportunities.

Social standing didn?t matter all that much, but attitude did.

Less heartening was that many of the examples of successes became who they were because they worked hard and were dedicated to their craft at a really young age. Let?s just say my teenage years were quite a while ago.

Nevertheless, this book was great for turning my notion of success on its head and giving me a new viewpoint.

Take-Aways // Tessa?s Top 5

  1. Success is somewhat of a gift. ?Outliers are those who have been given opportunities ? and who have the strength and presence of mind to seize them.? There are many instances in the book of people being born at the right time. For example Hockey players born in the beginning months of the year tend to be more successful because they?re that much older and bigger than their classmates. The early success gets nurtured and the effects are cummulative.
  2. Culture plays a huge role in what we do and what we say. Gladwell talks about why many plane crashes were a result of communication trouble, due to culture differences. Sadly, many of these instances could have been avoided.
  3. Pronounciation of numbers in Chinese is relatively brief. Most numbers between 1 to 10 can be uttered in less than a quarter of a second in Chinese languages. In English it?s much longer. This is why Chinese people are able to more easily recite a 7 digit string of numbers than English-speakers. Gladwell argues that the increased speed of learning numbers for Chinese children allows them to excel faster and be better at subjects such as mathematics. A small difference like this can have a huge cummulative effect.
  4. Gladwell introduced to me the idea of ?practical intelligence?, i.e. knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect. Different to analytical intelligence (tested by IQ) it is a big component to becoming successful.
  5. The history of your ancestors plays a big role on who you are. Cultural legacy, whether you know it or not, persists through generations.

My Fav Quotes // One For the Wall

?Practice isn?t the thing you do once you?re good. It?s the thing you do that makes you good.?

?Who we are cannot be separated from where we?re from.?

?If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.

?Achievement is talent plus preparation?

Final Thoughts // Would I Recommend?

Yes, please read!

If I had to point out a negative it?s that the case studies in the book are rather few. The book talks about successes such as Bill Gates, Bill Joy, the Beatles and Mozart, but doesn?t really go into too much detail about others. Can we really draw a hyptothesis from so few?

I also felt that this book was more of a self-discovery journey for Gladwell himself ? the steps to why he became a succesful author, rather than looking at the whole of society.

It?s his book, I guess, so this isn?t a bad point.

Still, this book really was great. It?s very easy to digest and contains interesting anecdotes and stories that will hopefully leave you with a sense of hope, rather than despair.

Add it to yo? shelves.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Or have you read any other good books recently?

Here are some other reviews in my series:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

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