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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell challenges the notion of how success is achieved. Gladwell’s thesis states that there is logic behind why certain people are more successful than others, and this logic has more to do with opportunity and legacy than a person’s measured IQ. Success, Gladwell argues, is a result of multiple factors, including the time and place of a child’s birth and the income level of a child’s parents. Additionally, according to Gladwell, luck and opportunity play crucial roles in determining success. Through numerous anecdotes, Gladwell illustrates examples of “outliers”, or people whose achievements are different from those of the norm. The book’s basic idea, that success is based on many variables, rings true, but Outliers is not free of fault. Some of Gladwell’s conclusions have gaping holes. Outliers is a book, albeit not flawless, that compels the reader to think deeply about the cause of success.
According to Gladwell, the idea of a “self made man” is nonexistent. Ability and hard work alone do not result in greatness. Extraordinary success is differentiated from moderate success due to uncontrollable factors such as being “in the right place at the right time”. Gladwell argues that without opportunity, there is no way to capitalize on talent. His ideas are thought provoking and interesting. Reading Gladwell’s book is helpful in grasping how many factors are present in the shaping of an eminent person.
However interesting the book may be, it also contains inconsistencies. Gladwell’s conclusions are built entirely on the findings of others, and he is able to easily cherry-pick examples that fit to his thesis. Gladwell takes undisputable results (for example, the successes of Bill Gate and the Beatles) and works backward looking for evidence to support his hypothesis. This is easy for him to do, because “evidence” is definable only in terms of ensuing success. One is left wondering about the data that he rejected because it didn’t fit with his arguments. Gladwell’s supporting examples seem too self-selected to make his ideas absolute.
Malcolm Gladwell outlines why certain people find great prosperity in Outliers. The compelling book shows how the path to greatness is far more complex than it seems, depending on factors including one’s birth month, birth year, culture, and luck. The nuggets of information hidden within the stark white cover of Outliers have the power to alter the means by which the path to success is viewed.



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