Outliers Book Summary - Outliers Book explained in key points
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Outliers summary

Malcolm Gladwell

The Story of Success

4.2 (1099 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell explores the factors that contribute to high levels of success, such as opportunity, cultural background, and practice. It challenges the idea that success is purely based on individual talent or merit and provides insights into how to create a culture of success.

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    Our culture celebrates the myth of the “self-made man.”

    If we meet an excellent mathematician, we tend to assume his talent for logical thinking is, at its core, something he was born with. The same goes for professional athletes’ agility, musicians’ sense of rhythm, or computer programmers’ problem-solving skills.

    This is because we naturally tend to attribute an individual’s success or achievement to his or her own efforts and innate abilities.

    When Jeb Bush ran for the governorship of Florida, he called himself a “self-made man” as part of his campaign strategy. This is, frankly, ridiculous; he had two American Presidents, a wealthy Wall Street banker, and a United States senator in his immediate family. Nevertheless, as individualism is so important in our culture, he tried this angle anyway.

    Jeb Bush’s achievements make him an outlier – a person who has achieved something statistically extraordinary. But just as Bush’s advantageous background helped him achieve success, so too do less external factors help other outliers rise above the average. 

    We place such a high value on individuals and their “self-made” achievements that we often willfully ignore other factors.

    The “self-made man” is a myth – a very, very popular myth.

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    What is Outliers about?

    Outliers is an examination of individuals who achieve a level of success – in math, sports, law, or any pursuit, really – so extraordinary that it lies outside the realm of normal experience.

    We often think these outliers possess some mysterious innate ability that helps them rise to the top of their fields, but other factors, like family, culture or even birthdates, can have a huge effect on success, too.

    Outliers Review

    Outliers (2008) by Malcolm Gladwell is a compelling exploration of the factors that contribute to exceptional success. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through fascinating case studies and meticulous research, Gladwell uncovers the hidden patterns and opportunities that set outliers apart.
    • Packed with thought-provoking insights, the book challenges conventional wisdom and offers a fresh perspective on how outstanding achievements are attained.
    • Gladwell's engaging storytelling captivates readers, ensuring that the exploration of success is anything but boring.

    Best quote from Outliers

    Practice isnt the thing you do once youre good. Its the thing you do that makes you good.

    —Malcolm Gladwell
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    Who should read Outliers?

    • Anyone who wants to deepen his or her understanding of success and of how to achieve it
    • Teachers, coaches and others in training professions
    • Consulting professionals and others interested in policy reform

    About the Author

    Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer at the New Yorker magazine. He began his career in journalism as a reporter covering business and science for the Washington Post. In 2005, he was on Time Magazine’s list the 100 Most Influential People.

    In addition to Outliers, Gladwell has written several other bestsellers, including The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.

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    Outliers FAQs 

    What is the main message of Outliers?

    The main message of Outliers is that success is influenced by factors beyond individual talent and effort.

    How long does it take to read Outliers?

    The reading time for Outliers varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Outliers a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Outliers is worth reading as it challenges conventional beliefs about success and provides valuable insights into the factors that contribute to achieving extraordinary outcomes.

    Who is the author of Outliers?

    The author of Outliers is Malcolm Gladwell.

    What to read after Outliers?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Outliers, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
    • How Big Things Get Done by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner
    • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    • David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
    • Big Potential by Shawn Achor
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
    • Outlive by Peter Attia
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck