Book Review | Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Lord Egerton Castle, Nakuru
July 1, 2016
In The Drivers Seat.
July 8, 2016

Book Review | Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell


I took too long to write this review. I had talked about this book in my favourite february reads and figured that once I had gotten into some kind of groove I’d post it. I had also been reading Carmine Gallo’s TED Talks book which wasn’t as good as I had imagined it would be (it kinda sucked). With reviews, they have to analysed from your first impression or else most if not all is lost. So I read ‘Outliers’ again and sure enough the magic had faded a tiny bit but the same concepts I had admired and learnt still lingered on.

The book is divided into two broad sections. The author, Malcolm Gladwell, presents arguments based on research that shows success can be determined either by opportunity or legacy. I need to interject here and say I strongly believe that the measure of success is defined by an individual, though he does have some pretty solid ideas worth reading about. From these two sections he narrates ten tales that build on to what the core statement of the book is. The common thread is that ordinary people have in the past and will in the future accomplish extraordinary feats.

{ Outlier: 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. }

Of the ten, the most profound stories for me were those that had elements of consistency, routine and hard work which I have delved into;

The 10,000 Hour Rule: This rule states that to master a craft or skill and be really good you need to contribute many hours of your time to learning it. That’s approximately seven to ten years of your life. Think about Olympians and rock stars and who bask in the limelight for a short time after years working behind the scenes.

The Three Lessons of Joe Flom is about a community who raised young men who spotted opportunity where others didn’t see. They practised the bits of law that no other firm did and this unique skill set them up for good returns when the rest of the world caught up with them. The fact that they had specialised in the field for long meant they were the obvious choice in this kinds of litigation.

In Marita’s Bargain, Gladwell explores the education system in America and what extended periods of rest means to students in public learning facilities. They play catch up with their peers in private schools because for long periods of time they are out on holiday. This gap cannot be bridged as is and so a unique school called KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is born. The school places emphasis on growth, hard work and being the exception. Marita has to sacrifice the luxuries of chilling with friends to get that edge in school; I admired that kind of discipline.

The concept that did not resound with me was Rice Paddies and Math Tests because it barely scratched the surface and the intricate lives of the people. I kept skipping that chapter even as I read the book again. So I thought that maybe the time for me to consider that concept hasn’t come yet. Other than that I think this book will give you pause. I would recommend you read the book during a time when you have minimal distractions so that you can make some notes on it.

Bits and Pieces.

I tried reading it during my daily commute and it was so hectic because I’d have to re-read it at night and over the weekend.

I got my copy from Textbook Centre –TRM for the cost of Kes. 900/- ($10)

My current reads are Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (it has been a good month)



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