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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 2012 Book Review: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell
"Outliers: The Story of Success"
by Malcolm Gladwell
Reviewed by Kathleen Buchanan

"I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don't work. People don't rise from nothing. . .It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."

Most commonly, people are more or less convinced that success is self-made; that blood, sweat and tears are the keys to success. Malcolm Gladwell suggests otherwise, "[successful people] are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up."

Through a series of case studies, Gladwell describes "outliers" as successful people who possess qualities out of their control and are beneficiaries of time, place and culture. For example, aspiring professional hockey players have a better chance of success the closer they are born to the magic date of January 1. Gladwell attempts to prove many more examples in 296 pages of theories and charts due to skepticism of popular belief. Gladwell tries to convey to the reader that if you are lucky enough to possess these special demographics, you will only become successful after you put in your 10,000th hour.

"Outliers" is a difficult read for those who do not tend to think analytically. If you are like myself, and think that successful people can be self-made, be prepared to disagree with Gladwell's statistics and studies. However, this book is thought provoking. Maybe after reading "Outliers" you will find that you are that person who has benefited from special demographics out of your control. This book is for the skeptic that lives in all of us that's curious to explore options otherwise not spoken about. You may begin to question everything you have been taught about success; consequently, you may even begin to question your own success and what demographics allowed you to get there.