Monday, January 03, 2011

Outliers: The Story Of Success [Book Review]

I am a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell. The first book of his I read was The Tipping Point and it was fantastic. I really like the way he tells stories to help explain a concept. So I was really excited when I got Outliers as an audiobook. Gladwell didn't disappoint either.

He starts off talking about Canadian hockey players and what it takes to become a pro player. Surprisingly, the most consistent factor has very little to do with actual talent. Instead, it has to do with something smilingly irrelevant: what month they're born in.

Because of when hockey league age cut-off dates occur (January), kids born in the beginning of the year tend to be a little bigger, strong, faster and smarter because they've had more time to develop. As a result, they seem like better players. It has very little to do with their actual talent. This sets them on a path of being on more competitive teams, which practice more often, and play longer seasons. By the time they become adults, due to all this extra practice, they are genuinely better players. If you were to look at the Canadian pro hockey player's birth dates, you would notice and most of them are born in January and February.

Gladwell then continues on to talk about the importance of practice and being at the right place at the right time. The big take-away is that hard work does matter, but you also need to be given the opportunity to shine. If you're given the right opportunity, and are willing to work hard, talent isn't nearly as important.

I don't want to give too much away because part of the fun of reading his books is slowly discovering each of his points. I will say this: I think it works as a business book, but I think it's even better suited as a parenting book. I know it'll definitely affect the way I raise my future children. It provides excellent general guidelines and principles to have as a parent.

I highly recommend this book. It's easy to read with all the stories and is very entertaining. If you do read it, make sure you have someone to talk to because you'll want to share the ideas with someone.

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