Sunday, June 21, 2009

Abridgment of "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell - A review by Neeraj, member of Bangalore Book Club Meetup Group

I have just finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I am posting the abstract of it. If anybody has any comments on it, pl. feel free to reply back.
Member of Bangalore Book Club Meetup Group  

This is the 3rd of Galdwell's book I have read. Tipping point and Blink being the other two. Though all three of his books have been in NYTimes bestsellers list, 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.       
Key points  
* Individual alone cannot take credit for his success, there are many factors contributing to his success.  
* 10,000 hours of working on a skill is magic number. First to get there has distinct advantage AND  
* Successful people were often lucky to be in the right place at the right time.  

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 such as time of your birth is 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.
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Neeraj,

    It is very good writeup & review.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.