Outliers Book Cover


The Story of Success
Publishing Year: 2008
Reading time: Key takeways: Quotes:

What’s inside

In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell analyses several individuals who have achieved extraordinary success in order to explain the various factors that lead to mastery and renown. His research spans over several cultures, different time periods, people from different ethnicities belonging to different parts of the world. From his study, he concludes that success does not depend only on greater IQ or personality but on a combination of various factors that he lists out in this 2008 book which received international acclaim.

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Lesson 1. The Matthew Effect.


The Medicine Hat Tigers and the Vancouver Giants are two Canadian junior hockey teams. This is an area of meritocracy as family name and wealth cannot play too big a role in a person’s athletic skills. It is to be developed with hard work and practice. However, in a research conducted by Canadian psychologist Roger Barnsley and his wife, they found out that all the good hockey players were born in the same few months – January, February or March. The reason was simple. The recruitment date for Canadian Hockey was January 1, and therefore in a given group of players, the ones born in January will be more mature than one born in December. This can also be observed in a class of students with respect to their academic year and aptitude. 

“The Matthew Effect” takes its name from the Gospel of Matthew and was developed by sociologist Robert Merton. The Gospel of Matthew says that those of us that are born with an advantage continue to reap the benefits of it, while those with a disadvantage continue to lose. To this problem, Gladwell proposes a solution: sports and academic years should be segmented and split into a few monthly divisions. Things like birth date and relative age should not hinder the success of a perfectly capable person.

Lesson 2. The 10,000-Hour Rule


Bill Joy was a student who benefitted from the resources of the University of Michigan Computer Centre in the early 1970s. He was a brilliant software programmer and went on to become the co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Nonetheless, Gladwell argues that his success was not born completely out of exceptional talent. The secret was 10,000 hours of practice. Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson conducted a study on music students and stated that mastery in any field can be achieved through 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. Bill Joy had the advantage of a computer centre that was open and accessible twenty-four hours a day and had no trouble practicing for 10,000 hours. He had admitted it himself. 

Similarly, The Beatles are known for practising for long hours in Hamburg strip clubs in the 1960s. Practise is the key to success. Gladwell also presents to us, another similarity between 75 richest individuals in World History. 20% of them were born between 1830 and 1840. Because of their birth years, they were able to take advantage of the economic transition of the 1860s and 1870s. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Bill Joy were all born during this time. 

Lesson 3. The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 1


Chris Langan was

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About the author

Malcolm Gladwell Image

Malcolm Gladwell, a renowned author and journalist, explores societal patterns and human behaviour in bestselling books like “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers.” Known for insightful storytelling, Gladwell weaves research into captiva...

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Outliers Book Cover
Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. The Matthew Effect.
  • Lesson 2. The 10,000-Hour Rule
  • Lesson 3. The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 1
  • Lesson 4. The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 2
  • Lesson 5. The Three Lessons of Joe Flom
  • Lesson 6. Harlan, Kentucky
  • Lesson 7. The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
  • Lesson 8. Rice Paddies and Math Tests
  • Lesson 9. Marita's Bargain
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In the summary of Outliers book, there are 9 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. The Matthew Effect.
  2. Lesson 2. The 10,000-Hour Rule
  3. Lesson 3. The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 1
  4. Lesson 4. The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 2
  5. Lesson 5. The Three Lessons of Joe Flom
  6. Lesson 6. Harlan, Kentucky
  7. Lesson 7. The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
  8. Lesson 8. Rice Paddies and Math Tests
  9. Lesson 9. Marita's Bargain

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell was published in 2008.

Once you've completed Outliers book, We suggest reading out Getting Things Done as a great follow-up read.

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