Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell Review

26 December 2016

book title

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell Review

What is an outlier?

  • an observation that is well outside of the expected range of values in a study or experiment
  • a person whose abilities, achievements, etc., lie outside the range of statistical probability

outlier graph

What’s the book about?

In this book, Gladwell presents us different stories about the true nature of success. The main point is that success has nothing to do with being a genius or natural talent, but rather successful people are a product of hidden influences such as culture, timing, demographics, and luck that helped them become masters in their fields.

Key Ideas

Opportunity & Timing are critical to success

Where and when you are born in the course of history makes a big difference. Success arises out of a predictable set of circumstances and opportunities. Extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunities.

Upbringing leads to opportunity

The quality of upbringing a child has been shown to be a key determinant on future success.

IQ is overrated. You need to be just intelligent enough

“The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point. Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.”

Practical Intelligence

When IQ becomes irrelevant, practical intelligence shines. Practical intelligence is knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it and knowing how to say it. It’s that intelligence that helps you read situations correctly and act appropriately. It is a kind of intelligence separate from the sort of analytical ability measured by IQ.

10,000 Hour Rule

Opportunities with hard work can get you far. It takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill

Cultural Legacy

Your culture and family history has a strong influence on your behavior. Our values are often unconsciously handed down to us from generation to generation and strongly influence current behavior.


The chapter on cultural legacy impacted me the most and helped me be to be more aware of it. I enjoyed Malcolm’s storytelling. He constantly adds unexpected twists and turns. If you don’t read non-fiction, this could be a good starter book.

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