By: Malcom Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers" - the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Auuster's Takeaway

This is a great set of chapters pointing out how people become ‘outliers’. Malcom Gladwell define outliers as people who are very successful: a professional athlete, a wealthy tech mogul, etc. He suggests that these people are, in fact, a combination of hard work and luck.

One example are hockey athletes, hockey players used to be selected by the age they will be turning this gives children born during the earlier months an advantage. This small advantage is significantly magnified when the slightly more developed children get accepted into training camps. Now obviously these kids need to put in a lot of effort, but children born earlier will gain an advantage.

Gladwell’s second example is none other than Bill Gates. He doesn’t deny that Bill Gates worked hard to understand and build his first version of Microsoft, but he also says it’s a succession of lucky events. Firstly, his high school acquired one of the earliest computers and had given Gates access to it. Due to his ability and interest in programming, he was accepted into a first class university giving him access to the most powerful computers at that time. There is no doubt Gates worked night and day, but Gladwell poses the question where would Gates be if the high school did not have an early computer to provoke his interest?

Of course all this is based on perspective, but the book is rather convincing. From reading this book, I do believe we should taking a look at what we have taken for granted. We have been given some small opportunities, and we sometimes overlook them. Instead we should take these opportunities and build on them, look for and capitalize on opportunities. As the expression goes: ‘Rome was not built in a day’, neither is your success.