Book review: Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Oops, I did it again. This is not a book review in the purest sense of the written word. It is more of an audiobook review to be more exact.

I had to read, I mean listen, to this book. My brother was raving about it, it was being mentioned everywhere, I saw a presentation by Malcom Gladwell at an AIGA conference . .  I had no choice.

The big idea in this book is that really successful people, like really successful, are not products of chance but of systems that are selectively biased to favour certain individuals over others. The best example, given at the start, is that of hockey and football (soccer, hello Americans 🙂 ) players. By setting eligibility dates for admission the scales are tipped to favour those who are the most mature by those cut-off dates.

Another noteworthy example is Bill Gates who was fortunate enough to go to a high school that happened to have mothers who raised money to invest in the science department, who happened to have a pupil whose father donated advanced computing equipment, and also happened to go to a college with some more computing facilities . . etc. etc. etc. And now we have one of the richest men in the world.

Now instead of crying over all the opportunities I didn’t know I didn’t have till I read this book, I want to try something out. A point Gladwell makes is that if we identify areas in which we are disadvantaged we are able to systematically overcome them. If it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, then I better start counting those 10,000 hours, shouldn’t you?

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