Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: Book Review, Summary & Analysis

Discover the secrets of success in 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell. Challenge conventional wisdom in this thought-provoking book review and summary.
Introduction of Book Review & Summary: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

In this wide-ranging third installment of Malcolm Gladwell's exploration of how people and social phenomena work, the New Yorker journalist takes a close look at what constitutes high levels of success. 

That is, what makes people at the top of their respective fields get there? As we've come to expect from Gladwell's previous books, the answer to the question is a bit complicated.

He says that upbringing, culture, and even random luck have something to do with success, but there is another important quality that anyone can control. 

Two chapters are dedicated to the "revelation" that IQ is only a baseline quality and success has little to nothing to do with having a high IQ or a low IQ. 

Rather, success is substantially a product of cultivating a high degree of what Robert Sternberg calls "practical intelligence" or what most refer to as "emotional intelligence."

Gladwell uses the example of Nobel laureates coming from unknown schools as often as Ivy League schools. 

At this level of mastery, IQ is no longer a factor. Success has little to do with where you were educated and everything to do with your level of practical/ emotional intelligence and willingness to put in the 10,000 hours of practice required to reach mastery of your field.

All in all, it's an interesting read that isn't too heavy and goes by pretty quickly, as the interesting anecdotes are what you would expect from Gladwell.

About the Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is known as "Peter Drucker of the 21st Century" by "Fast Company", was a business science columnist for the "Washington Post" and is currently a "New Yorker" magazine Full-time writer.

Malcolm was born in England and is a descendant of Jamaicans. He grew up in Canada and now lives in New York City. 

He has worked as a reporter on health policy and science journalism, and his articles like to see the bigger picture. 

Malcolm is a very creative writer. He believes that his style of writing belongs to a style of the adventure of ideas. 

Although most of his works are not fictional and do not revolve around a character or a story, the storyline is not Generally more tortuous, reading his articles has the charm of adventure ups and downs.

Book: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success is a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell and published by Little, Brown, and Company on November 18, 2008. In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. Wikipedia
    • Originally published: November 18, 2008
    • Author: Malcolm Gladwell
    • Genre: A self-help book
    • Title: Outliers: The Story of Success amazon.com
    • Cover artist: Allison J. Warner
    • Dewey Decimal: 302 22

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell 

Excerpts from the original text

Lario refers to the upbringing style of middle-class parents for their children as "coordinated training". 

This model tends to "explore children's talents and cultivate children's propositions and skills." 

As a comparison, the educational strategy of low-income families for children is "natural growth". 

These parents regard the upbringing of their children as their own responsibility and the growth and development of their children as their own business. 

The children's activity table of wealthy families is always arranged full, and they often shuttle back and forth in various experiences. 

Children learn to collaborate with others to complete tasks and learn to cope with complex organizational structures. 

They also learn how to comfortably deal with adults and express their opinions clearly when necessary.——Quoted from the chapter: An ordinary truth 

Book Analysis: Outliers: The Story of Success

This is a book that studies how to be successful, analyzing the factors behind success that are often overlooked, and specifically analyzing how these factors work.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part talks about opportunities, explaining the decisive role that opportunities play in people's success. 

These opportunities include the times, social transformation, and family environment. 

The second part talks about the impact of cultural inheritance on people, analyzing the huge differences in different cultural backgrounds and their impact on people.
Part One, Opportunities:
Matthew Effect

Some originally small, accidental, potential advantages benefit them, and this advantage is regarded as personal Ability and talent, and continue to receive more care, opportunities, and resources during the growth process, so that the advantages are continuously strengthened.

This "Matthew Effect" of the strong and the strong ultimately enables those with slight advantages and opportunities to grow into extraordinary people.

10,000 hours

Professional skills require 10,000 hours of repeated practice to become a master. 

The special environment and timing provided him with the opportunity to persist for 10,000 hours, and this special environment ultimately created a special hero.

High IQ vs Practical IQ

As long as the IQ reaches 120, no matter how high it is, it will not increase the probability of success. 

Therefore, once you know that a child is smart enough, you don't need to know his IQ value.

What plays a greater role is "practical IQ" (similar to what we often call emotional intelligence), which is the ability of a person to work as a team, communicate with and persuade authority figures, and use their own advantages to fight for greater rights and interests as they grow up. 

A large part of the acquisition of practical IQ comes from the family environment.

Opportunities of the times

What kind of opportunities you face from the times depends on when you were born. 

Whichever era you are from, you should seize the opportunities of that era.

In the end, the opportunities of the times, IQ + practical IQ, and the growth environment together constitute the elements of success.

Part 2, cultural inheritance:
The power distance index refers to the degree to which authority is valued and respected in a specific culture. 

For example, the index is high in South Korea and low in the United States. Cultures with different power distance indices profoundly affect a person's behavior pattern.

Rice field culture

The workload of people growing rice is much greater than the work methods of other ethnic groups, which has created the characteristics of diligence and perseverance of the people. 

They believe that "no pain, no gain". This trait will have significant advantages in future competition.


Through the analysis of many of the above factors, the author comes to the conclusion that success is by no means just a person’s What is accomplished by one's own talent and hard work is by no means a "personal act". 

Success is affected by luck, opportunity, cultural inheritance, family background, and other aspects.

Recognizing these factors will help us understand the nature of success, adjust the direction of progress, and seize the opportunities before us

Book Summary: Outliers: The Story of Success

Recently I read two books that made me feel bad. One of them was "Alien" (the other was "My Life at the Bottom"). When I read this book, I was on an emotional roller coaster. 

It started from "a little depressed", turned to "very depressed", then turned to "done, finished", and finally miraculously turned to "well~since life It’s already like this, so be it”—healed in a darkly humorous way.

I don’t know what kind of people are recommending this book. Anyway, I don’t know when the name of this book was flying all over the sky, and it was basically classified as “inspirational”. 

As a pessimist, inspirational things are the most annoying thing; the thought of letting an irrelevant person tell me what kind of life I should live is really intolerable just thinking about it. 

So I put this book in the "not to be read in the short term" category and kept it for a year. When I finally started reading it, I also complained in my head while reading:

Chapter 1: Birth dates of famous people. When the author started to list the birth dates of famous people, his strong civilian style made the alarm in my head almost overturn my brain. 

Fortunately, the author quickly broke away from the purely statistical trick and revealed the logical relationship that seemed to really exist. At least the logic seems to hold.

Chapter 2: Ten Thousand Hours of Theory. It feels like "an outdated topic that has been talked about badly". 

The logic is not very strict, but it seems to have a certain degree of credibility, just like "TCM can hardly find modern scientific support but there are (unverified) successful cases."

Chapter 3+4: Different modes of educating children from different classes. This is the part that makes me feel bad. As a pessimist, the biggest trouble with reading books related to psychology is that you keep imagining it. (When I read Adler, I felt that I must be a criminal in the future.) 

Of course, in this book, it is obvious that I am a child of poor parents, and I am near the bottom of the class hierarchy, so my entire mental state is "This is why The frustration of "My life is all gloomy", the despair of "First fate, second luck, and third feng shui, personal efforts come last; there is also a recent paper proving that genes also have an impact", and "This kind of thinking is really sorry for my parents who have been raising me for a lifetime." Switching back and forth between feelings of guilt.

Chapter 5: Unique advantages brought by background and times create heroes. This chapter is the continuation of "one fate, two fortunes, three feng shui, personal efforts come last"/"do your best and obey fate". 

If you use Guo Degang's words, it is "but do good things and don't ask about the future." I like this sentence very much and think it is the secret of life. In a sense, isn't life like this? Many things are really just a coincidence. 

If you meet the right person, then it will be you; if you are not there, there will be someone else who is suitable for you. The earth rotates normally without anyone else, the universe simply doesn't care. 

The existence of the so-called "you" is only important to you and to the people who have interests and emotional relationships with you; without this layer, You, me, and him are nothing more than a temporarily stable arrangement of atoms. 

Only by truly recognizing the emptiness of "self" can we gain peace of life; although gaining this knowledge is not simple and requires years of practice.

Chapter Six: Violence Cases and Regional Culture. It was nice to get the names of two books I wanted to read in this chapter. 

I have seen several Romeo and Juliet-style cases in American dramas before, and it seems that I can go and learn more about this aspect.

Chapter 7: Cultural differences behind plane crashes. This chapter is a chapter that I have been "hahaha" gloating about because the case in the article happens to be a friend's company. 

So I ran to complain to my friends, and at the same time, I was able to verify from another aspect whether the cultural differences in the article really existed. 

In addition, because I have read a popular science book before that introduced knowledge about airplanes and flying, this chapter became particularly interesting.

The last chapter: Differences in mathematics between Chinese and American students. This is content that has been examined many times in IELTS, and it often appears in elders’ discussions about foreign education systems. 

Through this chapter, I gained some discussion materials, so it is still worth spending time on.

When I finished reading this book, it was almost time to get home from get off work. 

So I happily went home for dinner with the idea "Well~ life is like this anyway, so just do good things and don't worry about the future."

Book Review: Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell is a good book writer and journalist. I think he has written three books in total: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. The common feature of these three books is that one is more popular than one, and it becomes a hot topic as soon as it comes out.

In the book Outliers, the public library in our small town (with a population of less than 100,000) bought 8 copies at a time. Because it was too popular, I only allowed one week to borrow it once (the average book is three weeks). 

There are still twenty or thirty people waiting in line for two months. The book reviews of this book are overwhelming. Even Amazon launched the Kindle 2 a few days ago and used it as a background photo.

Like every book written by a reporter, the views in this book are not new, not scientific breakthroughs or academic progress. 

The strength of reporters is that they have new ideas for ordinary people who don't read and think often. 

Having said these words, what I want to say next is that this book is very valuable. Its greatest value is to get rid of ordinary people's superstition of "successful people".

The so-called "outliers" are those individuals in the statistical sample who deviate too far from the average, that is, those who are not a little bit stronger than the average person, but are so strong that you feel that they are not the same as you.

Why are they so awesome? Superstitious thinking is that they are "The ONE". We can see this kind of thinking repeatedly in Hollywood movies: they may have been bitten by weird spiders and changed their DNA, they are more likely to be born with talents, or are the destiny of the prophecy. In short, their success is because they are different. People.

The point of Outlier's book is that successful people are actually ordinary people, heroes created by the times. 

Let me summarize the content of this book:

- If you want to do a special job, for example, you want to be an ice hockey player, the timing of your birth is very important. 

Canadian ice hockey players and many other athletes have birthdays in January, February, and March.

Because the Canadian selection of ice hockey players is based on the age of birth on January 1, children born in January have a small advantage because they grow older small advantage is gradually amplified by the Matthew effect: they get more because of this. 

Training opportunities, such as entering a good team, so you become better, so enter a better team.

Even ordinary people pay attention to the date of birth when they go to school. Children born in September are actually the oldest in class when they enter school because it happens to be the beginning of the school year. 

Therefore, they learn better, and are more confident, after the Matthew effect is amplified, they have performed well all the way to university. Statistics show that there is a score advantage of more than 10%!

- After investigating Bill Joy of Sun, Gates of Microsoft, and The Beatles, the conclusion is that success comes from 10,000 hours of practice. 

Here the author does not describe the practice itself, what he is concerned about is the conditions of the practice. Bill Joy's opportunity was when he was 17 years old, just in time for the University of Michigan to have a computer laboratory, and he gained endless hours through system bugs. 

Gates’ example is very similar. In high school, I got computer time thanks to the sponsorship of a wealthy classmate’s mother, and then I got a chance at the University of Washington.

How many young people were able to obtain such conditions on the machine in that era? almost none. At that time, many professors who practiced university computers did not have the opportunity to have unlimited time!

During the computer revolution, the best time to start a business was 1975. At that time, the spread of personal computers became possible. 

And 20-year-olds are best suited to do this at this time, and from this, computer heroes are best born around 1955. 

In fact, this is exactly the case: Gates 1955, Bill Joy 1954,...how many heroes for a while. [I further deduced: For a person to truly become a computer expert, apart from passing through his youth when programming began to become popular, there is another condition that video games were not yet popular at that time!]

- IQ is to success what height is to basketball. Within a certain height, the higher the better, but after a certain line, no matter how high it is, it may not be good.

- The biggest advantage of children from wealthy and middle-class families is their strong practical intelligence: from elementary school, how can they have equal conversations with authorities, take the initiative to ask questions, make jokes, and control the situation. 

This is why Oppenheimer's crisis (gossip: this person tried to murder his mentor when he was a graduate student) can be resolved through negotiation. Family origin is so important.

- One of the major discoveries of this book is that the year and date of birth determine the destiny of a person, and the phenomenon of crowd theory is discovered. 

To become a successful New York lawyer, the best route is to be born into a Jewish immigrant family in New York in 1930. 

The first generation of these Jewish immigrants are often tailors and other handicraftsmen 

The second generation has their own small business, and 

The third generation is all doctors and lawyers. Born at that time, you will catch up with the best time for New York public schools, get the best education, and then just catch up with starting a new lawyer business.

- The second part of this book talks about the impact of environment and culture on a person. 

For example, mountain culture is a culture of honor, where grievances must be repaid, Korean culture absolutely obeys authority, and rice culture in southern China believes that hard work is a fruit.

The most interesting point is that these cultures are originally caused by the geographical environment, but when the people of these cultures are separated from their geographical environment, such as how many generations and hundreds of years have passed after immigrating to the United States, their descendants still inherit this cultural tradition.

At the end of the audiobook, I listened to, an interview with the author is attached. 

He mentioned how he succeeded: He is a Canadian, and his own success comes from the help of two friends he has known since the first grade of elementary school. These two friends later became characters in the New York Times and Harvard University respectively.

After listening to this book, I feel that people are like charged particles in an electromagnetic field. 

In scientific research, we are often interested in those electrons or protons that have obtained extremely high energies. They account for a small proportion and can be called outliers among charged particles.

Could it be that these electrons themselves are special? In fact, all electrons are identical. They just appeared in the right place in the electromagnetic field at the right time!

Successful people are influenced by the environment, and at the same time, their high energy can also influence the environment these high-speed particles will also affect the surrounding electromagnetic field... Everything is physics :)

Finally, I think if one wants to study how to make "Own" successful, this book is of little significance. On the contrary, people in government departments should read this book and study how to create an environment that allows children in their own country to have "computer-based" conditions that are not available to professors in other countries. So although this book does not have more technical content, it is very "high-end". 

Reading notes:

Ten thousand hours of genius is not just hard work.
In the second chapter of Outliers, Gladwell proposed the famous 10,000-hour genius theory, the core of which is that with a skill practice time of 10,000 hours (ten years), you can become a genius using this skill as a master. 

This chapter uses Bill Joy, the Beatles, and Bill Gates as examples to illustrate how they achieved 10,000 hours of practice time at a very young age. 

This is a sentence I like very much: (pp. 59-60) Practice isn’t the thing you do once you are good. It is the thing you do that makes you good.
The author further pointed out that such a huge amount of practice time cannot be completed by him alone (as a teenager). 

This requires not only family support but also special training. Ten thousand hours is an enormous amount of time. It is all but impossible to reach that number all by yourself by the time you are a young adult. 

You have to have parents who encourage and support you. You cannot be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there will not be time left in the day to practice enough. 

In fact, most people can reach that number only if they get into some kind of special program —Like a hock all-star squad—or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours.
Taking Bill Gates' completion of 10,000 hours of practice as an example, the author believes that Gates has nine opportunities that no one else has, and it is these opportunities that allowed him to reach 10,000 hours of programming in seven years.
  • Opportunity number one was that Gates got set to Lakeside. How many high schools in the world had access to a time-sharing terminal in 1968? 
  • Opportunity number two was that the mothers of Lakeside had enough money to pay for the school's computer fees. 
  • Number three was that, when that money ran out, one of the parents happened to work at C-Cubed, which happened to need someone to check its code on the weekends, and also happened not to care if weekends turned into weeknights. 
  • Number four was that Gates just happened to find out about ISI, and ISI just happened to need someone to work on its payroll software. 
  • Number five was that Gates happened to live within walking distance of the University of Washington. 
  • Number six was that the university happened to have free computer time between three and six in the morning. 
  • Number seven was that REW happened to call Bud Pembroke. 
  • Number eight was that the best programmers Pembroke knew for that particular problem happened to be two high school kids. and
  • Number nine was that Lakeside was willing to let those kids spend their spring term miles away, writing code.
And what did virtually all of those opportunities have in common? They gave Bill Gates extra time to practice. 

By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year to try his hand at his own software company, he'd been programming practically nonstop for seven consecutive years. 

He was way past ten thousand hours. How many teenagers in the world had the kind of experience Gates had? “If there were fifty in the world, I'd be stunned,' 

he says. 

“There was C-Cubed and the payroll stuff we did. The TRW—all those things came together. I had a better exposure to software development at a young age than I think anyone did in that period of time, and all because of an incredibly lucky series of events."

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