Outliers: The Story of Success

It’s not often I pick up sociological books. Or philosophy books. This is a little bit of both and with a little bit of scientific method thrown in. Gladwell takes a large question, why are some people successful, and simply and entertainingly gives you some answers.

Gladwell’s theory is not just that successful people are incredibly hard working (which they are, he labors to point out) but that they are extremely lucky. Early in the novel Gladwell shows that an overly large percentage of Canadian youth hockey stars are born within the first three months of the year. Why? I’ll have you read the book to find out.

Or men like Bill Gates. Who work off the 10,000 hours rule. Through a seemingly impossible series of lucky breaks, Gates had almost 10,000 hours of coding time by his early twenties, in an era when access to computers was very limited.

It sounds right, but there are no alternative theories presented so who knows? Also, even if it’s super interesting, the book veers away from success to discussing how different populations of people, based on how willing they are to confront authority, lead to more plane crashes. Again, super interesting, but seemingly unrelated to the overall thesis?

A decent, diverting read. Success is what you make of it, unless you’re really really lucky.

3 out of 4 stars

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