Outliers: The Story of Success Summary

Key points

  • Hard work is critical to success, but,
  • Successful people were often lucky to be in the right place at the right time, AND
  • 10,000 hours of working on skills seems to be a rule of thumb

How to sell ideas

The truth is that the stories expressed in Malcolm Gladwell’s books, while compelling and mildly entertaining, are far from revolutionary. The genius of Malcolm Gladwell is his style.

A book by Malcolm Gladwell is unlikely to :

  • require analytical thinking
  • tell you something you don’t already know
  • or make a statement that you might disagree with.

In this they are highly accessible. (like a drug without any side effects). Outliers is no different - the key concepts of the book are that yes, it takes a lot of hard work to be successful, but that there’s some luck involved in getting to be in a place where that work counts for something, or is even possible. The rest of the book is anecdotes and interesting digressions that make for pleasant reading, but are essentially filler.

Outliers is not so much The Story of Success so much as it is A New Way of Thinking About Success. This spin of title points to the true value of Malcolm’s body of works. For just as each of Malcolm’s case studies is really only a conjured aberration to serve as prototypal concept in the formulation of a conceptual illustration of success, so too is the subject of each of his books merely an embodiment of a common yearning.

To be an Outlier, to reach a Tipping point and to create in a Blink, each is an undeniably accessible human longing. Each in itself a fabled silver bullet to success. Each an aberration, a mirage, masking the valley of success of its obstacles and challenges.

To the man on the ground, the path to success may seem treacherous and vast. Malcolm’s works represent a collection of bird’s eye views, bringing the solitary soldier above the canopy for a glimpse of hope. A new way to think about his plight.

These frames of reference, these new ways of thinking about success are made of lovingly crafted analogies and honest speculation.

Scientific? No. Profitable? Very.

The artificial experience orchestrated by Malcolm will probably not help you technically in scaling whatever obstacle you now face.

But when you’re deep in the trenches fighting with all your strength losing sight of the goal on an empty tank, Malcolm’s words may help you just when it matters most. A glimmer of hope to refresh your directive before you have a chance to throw in the shovel.

This Malcolm Gladwell delivers in spades.

Recommended Resources

For a more in-depth, comprehensive summary of Outliers, check out GetAbstract.com

Comments (4)

Said this on 2-4-2012 At 12:06 pm

I bought this one the other day, and have nearly finished reading it. Like Gladwell’s other books, it’s smooth, entertaining reading. The concepts presented make sense, but there is an awful lot of filler material. I read a description of Gladwell’s books as “intellectual comfort food” somewhere, and that’s not a bad way of putting it. They’re not challenging, and the ideas presented could be written up in a page, but they’re entertaining to read, as he has a pleasant writing style that bounces along quite cheerfully.

Said this on 2-4-2012 At 12:07 pm

grade 11 assignment, review outliers, :(

Gladwell Re-writes History, Again…

A review by Rachel Turner 

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success is a book that can simultaneously evoke deep thought while becoming somewhat tiresome during reading. Outliers is a book about why people are so successful, and why people aren’t and why they are so disciplined and how to achieve success; but no, this is no self help book. While reading this book for a school assignment, I found what many people have built to be a revolutionary new way of thinking is just compiling other people’s theories into one format that makes them seem fluid. As you may have been able to detect by now, I am not a big fan of the book. I cannot say there were no interesting facts in the book, there were, but none were really his findings. If I were to sum up the entire piece of work in a few words it would be interesting statistics and stories compiled into one. The actual content was decent, yet the constantly looming fact that this Gladwell is made to be very original was a little bothersome to say the least. The books main goal is to describe why people are so successful and share interesting stories about successful and not so successful people. The book discusses people are successful mostly because of luck, like when your birthday was can make you a great hockey player and lucky breaks are the only way you can be successful. However, he then continues to mention that it is NOT just luck that makes you successful, it is also hard work. Funny, who would have thought? Gladwell claims you need to practice something for 10,000 hours to be successful at it. Another point he makes which I liked because I did not find it to be contradictable is why Asians seem to be better at math. Malcolm Gladwell says that their number system is far more efficient than our when it comes to calculating problems. In the last few chapters Gladwell talks about people who make rice patties being very disciplined, not very exciting if you ask me. So, this book did not entertain me at all. I feel it did not live up to the hype. At first was actually excited to read it as it looked interesting to me. Sadly, it fell short, very short. The main reason I did not like it is because even if an author uses someone else’s theories, they should add something fresh to it and I do not feel in the slightest that Gladwell did so. I did like how Gladwell defined the term outlier; I surely did not know what it was before, but again by the end I felt everyone is an outlier. I like how he thought of pointing out some facts people may overlook, but again, nothing new. The final issue I have with the book is its purpose, it claims not to be a self help book (and it is not) and it is not a revolutionary piece of literature, so what is it? I am going to say a time waster and I good doctor’s office read. Simply, this book had a lot of content with very little meaning. My opinion in a nutshell? I encourage you to read this; yes, you heard me. I may sound hypocritical here, but I am sort of a Debbie downer, so I say go for it, read it, do not devote your time to it however. Just skim through it, pick up some interesting tidbits. What you shouldn’t do with this book? Buy it. It does not have enough staying power to entertain anyone over and over again, trust me. If you’re looking for a self help book, try Mark Hyman or Wayne W. Dwyer. If you’re looking for revolutionary, try Ian Rankin. Just do not expect too much from Mr. Gladwell. In conclusion, Outliers just was not my type of book, period. For others, I can see where the entertainment would be present, if you’re a Gladwell fan even more so. Having read his previous works I can say they follow a sort of dull pattern, not too appealing to the masses, but give it a go if you would like!


Said this on 2-4-2012 At 12:07 pm

Our life mission is to be happy. But how can we get it? There is the dilemma, we are happy just if in our happiness we include others. Some people believe that being successful is the way to achieve long-awaited happiness. But what means to be successful? How can we get it?

To understand the meaning of success is important to understand first the process involved in achieving it. Gladwell, talks in his book about the Key Points: working hard is the first point, he clearly exemplifies it, in one of the first chapters when he mentions the rule of 10,00 hours of work, as the minimum time to be the best, the persistence is an important feature as well as natural talent of the person.

Gladwell, in his book outliers presents key features of a successful person, thereby achieving inspire many, and also disappoint many others who do not identify with their theories. Some people think that he’s talking about something unattainable, but Gladwell really wants to make us feel like a man with lots of limitations?

The intention of the writer in outliers is to identify those people who have the requirements as it is: born at the right time, with the right family and in the right place. I think he´s just telling some stories of successful people, true anecdotes, which we should take as an example and motivation for each day be better and achieve our goals.

Outliers is specially made for active reader, is a book that depends on the reader, on his critical and perceptive eye. Gladwell shows one of the interesting secrets of life, as the success, but in an anecdotal way. What makes the work a pleasant reading, as well as at the same time leave a message of personal growth.

Outliers book could be considered a manual for life. The author made brilliants speculations of achievements, through eloquent anecdotes that give us important messages for living, which may be use daily in our lifes.

Said this on 2-4-2012 At 12:08 pm

What Gladwell misses is the power and reach of the networks or connections we accidentally or deliberately build, and the processes we use to search out “success memes” so that we can take advantage of rising trends. None of that depends upon birth or life circumstances, or upon emotional or cognitive intelligence. Great book and definitely worth the money, but just google “success meme, outliers” and you’ll see there’s a whole new world out there.

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