What’s it about? In Outliers, 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. Through case studies ranging from hockey champions to Asian math whizzes, software entrepreneurs to famous rock bands to the rise of his own family in Jamaica, Gladwell tears down the cherished belief of the “self-made man” and instead explains how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success.
“It is not the brightest who succeed,” Gladwell says. “Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”
Is the narrator any good? When it comes to authors reading their own books, Malcolm Gladwell is up there with the best. Listening to Gladwell read Outliers is a pleasure and adds greatly to the experience.
The verdict? I’m a big fan of Gladwell – he has a remarkable gift for spotting an intriguing mystery, luring the reader or listener in with masterful storytelling, then gradually revealing his lessons. Of his four books this is probably my favorite. On one level Outliers can be enjoyed for its bits of trivia, such as why most pro hockey players were born in the first few months of the calendar year, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill, why the descendents of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York, how a pilots’ culture impacts their crash record, and how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math.
But there is more to this audio book than trivia– by the end Gladwell has a delivered a compelling argument for helping people succeed by using the factors that really foster success. “When we misunderstand or ignore the real lessons of success, we squander talent,” the author concludes. Another of my favorite takeaways from listening to this audio book was this: “Virtually every success story we’ve seen in this book so far involves someone or some group working harder than their peers.” There is a lot of ponder, and you may find yourself rethinking the nature of success in fields from education and music to sports and business. A must-listen. Enjoy!