Book Review – Outliers (Week 2 of 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge)

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

So this review is a little late, but last week was Week 2 of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge! For Week 2 we look at the widely acclaimed best seller by Malcolm Gladwell.

Have you ever wondered why certain people are more successful than others? Why aren’t the smartest people always, without fail, the most successful? What made Bill Gates so successful? Was it just sheer grit and determination?

Why is it that you’ve probably never heard of Chris Langan, a man many consider to be the smartest man in the United States, with an IQ of over 190 (that’s 40 points north of Einstein).

And is there a certain threshold we should push for to truly reach greatness? Is there some kind of measure that we can use to separate the great from the truly remarkable? Something like say, 10,000 hours?

Gladwell delves into these questions with surprising observations and clear and concise reasoning.

Gladwell explores various seemingly random accounts of extreme success, and denotes that they have strikingly similar experiences and correlations that suggest otherwise. Gladwell ultimately suggests that those he deems Outliers aren’t just smarter than everyone, they’re also a bit lucky, part in due to circumstance and part in due to upbringing.

For example, the majority of professional canadian hockey players are overwhelmingly born in the first three months of the calendar year. Those who are the most successful in the computer industry and fueled the digital age were born around the same time. The same can be said for other industrial booms. They were also given particular opportunities that others were not. Bill Gates was lucky to have access to a large scale computer for thousands of hours when everyone else was stuck with a few hours a week…if they were lucky.

Do you believe that your parents involvement in your upbringing plays a role in your success? Many times there are two forms of thought when it comes to raising children. 1) Their spare time should be filled with activities, clubs, teams, and further learning. 2) Children should spend their free time outside, playing games and climbing trees, riding bicycles. etc.

Gladwell’s evidence suggests that when it comes to being successful in their future careers, method #1 is overwhelmingly more effective. Gladwell isn’t suggesting it’s a better method of raising children. He’s just pointing out that when it comes time to raise children, parents have to decide whether they feel their kids should be spending their time having fun and “being kids” or continuously learning and taking part in sports teams and other clubs so that they have a better shot at college and ultimately being very successful in their careers.

I highly recommend Outliers to everyone. If nothing else, it provides a fascinating read. Just when you feel like Gladwell is becoming repetitive, he takes it in a new direction that leaves you refusing to put the book down. I also recommend Gladwell’s other works, some of which may find themselves on this list in the coming weeks.

Next Up? Week 3: The Checklist Mainfesto.

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About Jason Willis
Jason graduated from the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2011 with a B.S.B.A. in Finance. He currently works at The Newport Group as an Investment Analyst on the Asset & Liability Management Team working with Non Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans. In his spare time he continues to give back to AKPsi by assisting with the CFAC and NX Chapter at UCF. He also currently operates his own blog entitled Professional Hedging, and is also preparing to acquire his Series 7 and 66 Certifications.

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