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Customer Review

684 of 745 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where do you lie?, July 14, 2009
This review is from: Outliers: The Story of Success (Hardcover)
The main tenet of Outliers is that there is a logic behind why some people become successful, and it has more to do with legacy and opportunity than high IQ. In his latest book, New Yorker contributor Gladwell casts his inquisitive eye on those who have risen meteorically to the top of their fields, analyzing developmental patterns and searching for a common thread. The author asserts that there is no such thing as a self-made man, that "the true origins of high achievement" lie instead in the circumstances and influences of one's upbringing, combined with excellent timing. The Beatles had Hamburg in 1960-62; Bill Gates had access to an ASR-33 Teletype in 1968. Both put in thousands of hours-Gladwell posits that 10,000 is the magic number-on their craft at a young age, resulting in an above-average head start.

Gladwell makes sure to note that to begin with, these individuals possessed once-in-a-generation talent in their fields. He simply makes the point that both encountered the kind of "right place at the right time" opportunity that allowed them to capitalize on their talent, a delineation that often separates moderate from extraordinary success. This is also why Asians excel at mathematics-their culture demands it. If other countries schooled their children as rigorously, the author argues, scores would even out.

Gladwell also looks at "demographic luck," the effect of one's birth date. He demonstrates how being born in the decades of the 1830s or 1930s proved an enormous advantage for any future entrepreneur, as both saw economic booms and demographic troughs, meaning that class sizes were small, teachers were overqualified, universities were looking to enroll and companies were looking for employees.

In short, possibility comes "from the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with." This theme appears throughout the varied anecdotes, but is it groundbreaking information? At times it seems an exercise in repackaged carpe diem, especially from a mind as attuned as Gladwell's. Nonetheless, the author's lively storytelling and infectious enthusiasm make it an engaging, perhaps even inspiring, read.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is another of my favorites in this genre. I recommend it strongly because, unlike Gladwell's book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 shows you how to become an outlier...
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Showing 1-10 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 18, 2009 10:59:27 AM PDT
D. McGrath says:
Do you agree that it takes 10,000 hours?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2009 9:02:55 AM PDT
Alex Pronove says:
No. It's probably in that vicinity and the quantity will depend upon variables such as the nature of the activity, the sophistication of that activity (e.g., computing technology was still in its infancy), etc. However, the more important point is the implication that mastery requires practice and lots of it. And that makes sense.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 2:42:39 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Nov 1, 2009 4:10:54 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 3, 2009 8:55:06 AM PST]

Posted on Dec 14, 2009 7:30:34 PM PST
Is this book only aimed at "the young"? There are quite a few people out there who didn't shine until their old age. What are they considered? Freak accidents?

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 9:55:58 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 16, 2010 10:12:32 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 16, 2010 10:14:44 AM PDT
D. Liston says:
Interesting book. Something I have been dwelling on in my personal life. I'm 45 years old and enjoyed a successful life. I'm am not rich by any means but for most of my life bettered my self in my life,job finances but in last 8 years have had nothing but what for lack of a better word can be called just bad luck. I haven't changed. I'm pretty intelligent,a good person and responsible and make good decisions. I wonder why some people, even with same kind of parents, background, social class, schooling etc...why some having nothing but "good luck" while others don't ever seem to catch a break and others like me can go from having "success" to crap constantly blowing up in their face? LOL..
BTW I do not totally agree there is logic or rationality behind it all. It seems to me there is some "chaos" or "luck" as well. Being in the right place at the right time...etc.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2010 6:45:27 AM PDT
I believe Grandma Moses was in her 80's when she got her start.

Posted on May 12, 2010 1:39:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2011 5:47:12 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2010 8:46:34 AM PDT
McGrath, "10,000 hours" may have been just a figure to illustrate that it takes "countless" non-stop hours. At least that's what it means to me. I always say it took me "thousands" of hours to do something that turned out really great. It's actually an obsessive-compulsive part of the creative process. Not sure it's easy on those around the person doing the "creating" but once certain people (me included) get hold of an idea they just can't quit until it works.

That part might be left out of the discussion, but OCD is useful sometimes. Sometimes this is hard on the person and the people who know them, but a necessary part of trying different things until one of them finally works. Sucess! Music is the same way. I know, as I write computer programs and am a musician / composer and only recently realized that this "never give up" (keep going, keep writing, working, whatever until it's "right" over and over again, OCD in part) is part of my own makeup, and many others I know in the fields.
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