Goodreads – Outliers

Author – Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. – Goodreads Synopsis 

Outliers was a fantastic read that has changed the way we have perceived success. I had this sitting on my shelf for a while, and I only just recently decided that I should pick it up and see what it is all about. Why? Because I want to be more successful. So when reading through Outliers, I was trying my hardest to extrapolate the meanings behind the stories that Gladwell tells and apply them to my own life.

After the intro, Malcolm get’s into studying what sets apart the successful hockey players, from the ones who didn’t make it. This is where he immediately hooked me and pulled me further into the book and had me question myself on why I do not read more non-fiction. The statistics, research, and conclusions found in Outliers had me enthralled. Below I’ve put in one of the charts that he uses to show the patterns he found –

What separates the vast majority of successful hockey players is their birth date. The closer their birthday is to the beginning of year, the better off they are. They have the advantage of making the cutoff for that age group early on, but being physically much bigger. Now I was thinking to myself at this point, fuck, how do I make myself successful because of this? He makes it sound like it is all luck at this point.  It is not just because of their birthday though, it is the opportunities that followed afterwards. They were on better teams ,with better equipment, and they were getting much more practice. This is what outliers is about, it is looking for those opportunities and making the best out of them. 

By now, everyone has heard of the 10,000 hour rule. I’ve heard about it long before I finally got to reading Outliers. (I can’t believe this came out in 2008. Where the hell does time go?!) This is what set aside people like Bill Gates and The Beatles according to Gladwell. They had these opportunities that were so unique, and those opportunities allowed them to practice, and get those hours in. It is important to note that out of every story in this book, no one skipped the work. Even if they had opportunities and privileges that others did not have, they still put in the work.

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” 

Gladwell goes on to point out that the opportunities don’t only come in the form of being able to work harder. It could be that you have a higher IQ (Which does not correlate to being successful as much as you think it would), it could be from your cultural heritage (which matters more that I would have though, or from just the sheer timing of where you were. Some of the research and the examples he used to back them that he did was just incredible.

This is the next set of charts that amazed me. It shows the culmination of reading points from throughout the school year. Now you can see that obviously during the school year, everyone is having the same opportunity to learn. (With middle class students learning a bit more.)



This next chart here shows the points during the first month back in school, or in other words, what happened over summer vacation.


This is what separates the classes when it comes to knowledge. It is that the more privileged children do so much more during their summer vacations that they keep getting the advantage. The schools are proven to work fine, it is what is happening during the long summer vacation. The question that also arises is whether or not the US should have such long vacation times? Sure we all love them, but when the scores are compared to the other countries that do not have the vacations, it is apparent that it setting us back in the knowledge department.

I could keep going on and on about the all of the examples that Gladwell masterfully put into Outliers, but you will just have to pick it up yourself. It is very worth the time.

My Takeaway

What is my takeaway to Outliers? I need to find the opportunity that I have been given that might not be apparent right now. What gives my that outlier advantage like the other successful people in this story? More importantly is: how do I make that work for me? What do I need to put my 10k hours into?

I was telling my good friend about this book while I was in the middle of reading it, and I was telling him “Man, I need to find where my opportunity is. What can I abuse to become successful like these other guys?” The day after I was talking about that, I got a great opportunity in the form of a big promotion job relocation offer. Weird how things work out like that.

I also want to leave you all with a quote that has stuck with me from Outliers –

No one who can rise before dawn, 360 days a year, fails to make his family rich.

Now get back to work!!



  1. Although I am a voracious reader,I tend to avoid non fiction.
    But after reading this review I am inspired to read this book and non fiction in general.
    I didn’t know that outliers was a word.
    I also did not know about the 10,000 hour rule.
    Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That sounds like a book I’d read. I like to mix a non-fiction book into my reading pile. I’ve been thinking along these lines myself, but through some of Tim Ferris’s books/blog posts. I think perhaps we ALL have the potential, but we have to WORK for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I honestly tried reading this and I DNF’d. I’m not sure why I couldn’t even get into it but I love reading reviews about it and how it impacts those who enjoyed it. Thank you for your review I really enjoyed how everything worked with that positive thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just read this book too and LOVED it! You are right that there are so many lessons that can be applied to our lives. Another great non-fiction book in a similar vein that I loved is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I would check it out if you haven’t read it already!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review of this book which i read some years ago. I read very little fiction and so Gladwell is a good one for me. I loved David and Goliath. My son ( age 32, an economist and project manager in a marketing consultancy firm and a contrarian!) does not like Gladwell and we have fabulous discussions about his work.


  6. Nailed it in that first paragraph. I have made a concentrated effort to read at least one nonfiction book a month over the past few years and have been successful for the most part,. From personal finance to self help they’ve been fascinating and had me thinking about things in a much different light than I did previously.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. For me, the pressure comes from sticking with a non-fiction book. So many read like textbooks, and I NEVER enjoyed reading textbooks until I started teaching and liked to read other textbooks in my teaching field to steal ideas to use. LOL

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hon, this is an excellent post and an excellent review. It was worthy of one of Gladwell’s best books. I rarely read non-fiction (unless I am consciously trying to read in that genre, so I won’t miss out of something important/good), but once I discovered Gladwell, I realized that when the writing is good, I ENJOY non-fiction and learning facts as well. I think his secret is the interesting anecdotes and examples he gives to make his point. Both BLINK and THE TIPPING POINT were equally as readable and equally as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No one who can rise before dawn, 360 days a year, fails to make his family rich.

    I like the saying. I wonder if the author of it know that every practicing Muslim does exactly this every single day of their life!


  9. Good take! I particularly like the rise before dawn 360 days a year not to make my family rich but in order to write my novels, ’cause I’m running out of hours in the day and early am feels like the only and best means to achieve this and continue my love of writing, whether my books become widely read or not!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Can’t wait to read this book, I’m always fascinated by this kind of non-fiction. I was born on September 27th, played travel and competitive hockey as a kid and young adult. I’ve always struggled academically and had to work to keep up. I started my own business and became a multimillionaire. I was indicted, lost everything but my family, wrote a book, and am still trying to figure out what I want to do next. The funny thing is that here I sit writing at 5:30am in the morning, I’ve been getting up before dawn my entire life, back to hockey practice before school. Thanks for the review and insight into this book.


  11. I’m not a New Age, spiritual, mystical, crystal-carrying, aura-seeing personality. But, sometimes the traits of people seem to fit their horoscope sign. Or their Chinese animal sign. For instance, being born in January might make you a Capricorn, and they apply their intelligence and logic, taking into account all the facts before making any decisions, are ambitious, wise, disciplined, patient, cautious, pessimistic and stubborn. Which is someone wise who wants to succeed, wisely considers all things then makes a plan, is disciplined and patient enough to make it work while stubbornly sticking it out. Which spells success!


  12. Not sure about that quote. It’s not hard work, full stop that makes you successful. It’s hard work with direction and purpose / time and effort wisely spent.
    I work in a strange industry in a strange culture and sad/scary to say I’ve seen talented, wonderful people who bust their butts for decades for employers who don’t appreciate (or even respect!) them, and it truly yields no results.


  13. Statistics can be fascinating. I have always wondered though if it is more just an oddity that numbers can show a trend, luck of odds, or if they really mean something. You did a great break down of the material. Actually made me want to read this book. Good job.


  14. I enjoyed reading this book, most especially because I read “The Tipping Point” before it. If you have not read the other one, you need to, because “The Outliers” is like a continuation of it (in my own opinion). I took so much out of it!

    Thank you for your interesting review Chaz. Congrats on the new job. I believe you are on your way to achieving the Outlier status!


  15. It’s funny…I also just read this book after having it on my shelf for years, and my takeaway was the same as yours: where should I spend my 10k hours? At the moment, I’m spinning uselessly between writing and becoming a guitar genius. No idea where I’ll land.


  16. Getting something beyond enjoyment out of reading fiction or non-fiction is a matter of intention. There’s nothing wrong from reading for enjoyment, but given the complexity of today’s world, it’s important to read for knowledge and understanding as well. I write a review of every book I read. Sometimes it’s a long review, which I post on my website (; sometimes I just write a paragraph, which I upload to Goodreads. Since I know I’m going to need to write something about every book, I look for things as I read that make that book stand out. Try it and let me know whether it helps you.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. If you enjoyed Outliers, I have a few non-fiction recommendations I think you would also enjoy. Check out The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, Grit by Angela Duckworth, Peak by Anders Ericsson, and Mastery by Robert Greene. These relate to developing skills, getting better at your craft, etc. Check one out and let me know what you think.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Hey Chaz! Have you read Mindset, The New Psychology of Success (Carol S. Dweck Ph.D.)? I found a thought-provoking overlap of information between it and Outliers. While Gladwell describes what circumstances (and at some level, what choices) create Outliers, Dweck goes into some of the same information with the added bonus of discussing more about the mindset that supports success and how to build it. I won’t give it all way. Just some more nonfiction to consider! Thanks for this thoughtful post!

    Liked by 1 person

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