Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell

If I have to credit one person for reading books for entertainment then it has to be Malcolm Gladwell. His books ( 4 in all) is generally on the bestsellers list and if you haven’t picked up one of those then you are surely not a book enthusiast!!. This book is certainly an outlier among various other books that I have read.

He talks about success in a very different way – a perspective that we have never thought about while we were pursuing our goals independently. Why tallest tree grew tall enough? while this tree was still a sapling why there was no other tree blocking sunlight to it? why no goat/cow ate its leaves while it was a sapling? Basically, all stories and chapters are related to luck ,a kind of ovarian lottery, in which – where, to whom and what era you were born in will ultimately influence your success.

1) He gives examples of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sun founders who were all born in 1955. He talks about their early years – how they had tech geeks as neighbours and went to schools which had access to computers. This was way back in 1970 when people hadn’t heard anything about computers. How they achieved success by putting in efforts through years of hard work, building up teams and networking for businesses to become billionaires. Ultimately, they were lucky to be born in the years that lead up to the computer revolution and they had first mover advantage when no one understand computers really well.

2) He describes how airlines crashes, one after the other, happen only in South Korea. Authority is considered of prime importance and any first officer who dares to confront his superior has lost a lifelong chance of getting promoted to captain. Due to this non confrontational attitude, accidents happen which turn into deadly accidents and innocent passengers lose their lives. Just by changing culture of Korean airlines and bringing more foreigners, as captains and first officers, the problem was solved. Again in this case (as in earlier cases), failures didn’t happen because first officers were not aware of the correct levers but they fail to alert their captains of imminent danger.

3) Any Jew who landed up as a poor immigrant on American shores in early 1900s ended up rich. Their family tree , entailing future generations, contained only doctors and lawyers – one of the highest paid professionals in United states. The story goes that by the time original immigrants  became rich, it was early 1920s. They had their first kid in and around 1930. People born in this period would graduate for a job in early to late 1950s. This period was the boom time for lawyers. Corporates were suing each other for copyright infringement, corporate espionage and many other issues. Legal issues galore !! This was the time when lawyers were laughing all the way to their bank. Eventually, any top-shot lawyer in New york ( or owner of a legal firm) in late 1990s to early 2000s would be a man born in 1930s and he would be a son of jewish immigrant. Jewish community took pride in making their sons and daughters lawyers and doctors so that they do not have to go through hardships of street selling ( like they did). Again, Malcolm Gladwell takes home the point of success for a top-shot new york city lawyer – he would be from a jewish family and born in and around 1930.

Many stories like the ones mentioned above are truly enriching. First, they talk about the circumstances in which these individuals were born. Second, in what kind of circumstances these people were raised. Third, what kind of opportunities they struck. Outliers, as he calls it, are the greatest beneficiaries of these fantastic opportunities that they meet.

One of my personal takeaways from this book is that if you are good at something, you have to keep doing it over and over. It will take you 10,000 hours to get there, to be called a professional – like Bill Gates, Rolling stones and many others who toiled hard through their struggling years to make that magic number of 10,000 hours.

This book is honest and author is par excellence. It gets a full 5/5


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