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A Review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success

What makes some people stand out from the crowd?

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Genre: Non-fiction

Word Count: 63,510

Number of Pages: 304 (A5)

Publication Year: 2008


Outliers tells the story of successful people with the intent of uncovering the untold stories about their success.

Is it talent? Is it luck? Or is it sheer preparation that makes these successful people in our generation?

Malcolm Gladwell breaks the answers down with easily communicated ideas to reinforce that indeed, success is more than talent and the things we’ve always thought it was.

Main Points
  • Passion, talent, and hard work are just a few of the many variables in the success equation.
  • Outliers are beneficiaries of extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies.
  • No genius ever makes it alone.
  • 10,000 hours is just about the time it takes to become an authority in any field.
  • Location and culture affect who we eventually grow up to become.

Full Review (Spoilers beyond this point)

Malcolm Gladwell, known for his deep and thoughtful writing, challenges yet another facet of our human ideologies in his book, Outliers. He asks a very simple question: What makes some people stand out from other people?

He began the journey by telling a Roseto story about the mysteries of long life that had its roots beyond health factors. While every other person in surrounding towns in Italy was dying of heart attacks, the Rosetans lived a long peaceful life because of their social interactions.

Malcolm revealed that other factors beyond our diet affect our health. Could it be the same technicalities apply to success? That other seemingly unrelated factors beyond intellect are what determines who makes it and who does not?

Malcolm Gladwell, through a series of other stories, began to open our eyes to some of the other variables involved: chance, time, opportunities, location, effort, practice, where we come from.

For instance, certain traits make black immigrants more successful: the fact that they work harder than most of their counterparts- to make a living and sometimes, to get decent jobs.

If that culture of hard work is passed on to their kids, we see a generation of people naturally rising above the competition in whatever fields they choose. It’s all cause and effect.

The same way, Malcolm pointed out why Asians are naturally prolific in maths and calculations, a culture he tied to years of concentration that was involved in working on rice paddies.

He also mentioned how 10,000 hours is perhaps the magic number for success. ‘Practice for that long and you’ll be nothing short of a professional at what you do.’

What I loved about Outliers

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Malcolm Gladwell used beautiful storytelling to make the home run on his points. Malcolm doesn’t try to force his opinions down your throat, but rather, he opens your eyes to these important things.

All in all, it’s a good book, one that I’d recommend for everyone.

Check out three important lessons you can pick up from Outliers.

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