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Outliers

The Story of Success
Written by: Malcolm Gladwell
Narrated by: Malcolm Gladwell
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (1,117 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

©2008 Malcom Gladwell (P)2008 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Outliers

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Puts in perspective the true reasons of success

Biggest lesson: those who are outliers need both to work hard, and the ability to work hard

2 people found this helpful

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Great book

I have listened first book from Malcolm but really do liked it it was somewhat boring in the start like just for a while but afterwards things started to get in perspective and everything got very interesting. The way he binded everything in the end by giving a personal example was exceptional and really great.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 2020-06-17

success should lead to gratitude, not pride

reminded me of the story of the husband who prepared a beautiful breakfast in bed for his wife on Mother's Day and brought it into the bedroom with his 3 year old who proudly announced that she had made her mother breakfast in bed. she had carried the orange juice after all. Gladwell shows how often our successes are often more due to the efforts of others, sometimes of generations before us. Books like his and Talking to strangers were written for these days as we confront racism, sexism and many other structures and begin to see our some social privileges are very real, just seldom if ever earned by their recipients

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Nothing like Malcolm Gladwell in your ears

Malcolm Gladwell is a fantastic story teller. He formats his arguments elegantly, and backs them up when he needs to. This book if anything, will give you something to think about. An advantage to this audiobook is that’s it’s read by the author, and he does a phenomenal job. I can listen to Gladwell all day, everyday

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Great message but read it cover to cover!

The book holds a great message about how we may have a cognitive bias to give hard work ethic more weight than it should truly be credited. It reminds us that we are but a sum of our experiences and timings; however for much of the book it goes so far in this direction that it discredits hard work ethic too much and may validate certain people on why they haven't achieved all they've wished (when it could be they are just lazy!). In that, I think the book is too slow to acknowledging the power of hard work and how important it is to have a good head on your shoulders to seize opportunity! It is far more valuable to be street smart and creative than one may think!

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ok basic concepts

basic after chapter 5 don't waste your time 10000 hrs + = mastery overall decent

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very interesting approach to an original subject

loved the various very different stories to make the point the author was bringing forward. thank you

1 person found this helpful

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Refreshing Analysis of the Top 0.1%

Unlike many books that looks at the lives of high achievers from a "here's how you do it" perspective, Gladwell presents the reality of success: the element of luck/opportunity. This novel approach makes these high achievers seem "more human", in that their superpower wasn't just about what they did right, but how their preparation + opportunity = success. But that's where this book could have gone a bit further to discuss that these "mere humans" also experience the downsides of achieving Top 0.1% success. It's lonely at the top; let's hear about the struggle to feel connected to humanity when there are very few who would understand what it's like at the top. What about, say, the depression that an Olympic medallist experiences when she's dedicated her young life to a sport, retires at age 17, then looks at the next 60 years of her life through an anti-climactic lens? What about Goliath syndrome, when an outlier feels so invincible that he falls asleep at the wheel, self-destructs, or fails to see when others are surpassing him? And what of the outliers who continue to succeed--who continues to rely on luck and who creates their own opportunities? A book about outliers should not only look at the beginnings of their success, but also look at their present state of mind and how they reflect on whether their success manifests as happiness too. Overall, though, a well-researched and thoughtful book. Good read/listen.

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"The outlier in the end is not an outlier at all."

This book articulated an explanation I've not been able to put into proper context. How the less privileged are seen as less than but not being able to explain how if these "less privileged" were put in a different environment, or given a different experience, that would make all the difference. From the detailed corroboration of birthdays of the hockey players and the Silicon Valley icons to the effects culture plays in shaping our lives, this book opened my mind to a new sense of understanding about what we humans are capable of. Good read, highly recommended.

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Gladwell's Thesis Transpires Throughout History

I loved it because it is very humbling to be reminded that people that have shaped the world needed help from outside of their control. I was reading the book "The Letters & Journals of Simon Fraser" while listening to this production & found Gladwell's thesis to be true for Simon Fraser who discovered the Pacific Northwest. It was a great listen and Gladwell is a very very good speaker. Thanks for the book!!

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Leah C. Day
  • 2009-09-14

Interesting

This was a pretty interesting book. I don't agree with all of the reasoning, but it's an interesting theory.

The one downside to this book is that if you're looking for motivation, it might work the opposite effect.

This book is about how luck and certain circumstances make you more likely to be successful such as your birthdate, ethnicity, and religion.

If you easily see your circumstances as beyond your control, you may read this book and feel disheartened that you're not lucky or have the right circumstances to be successful.

I believe luck is part of it, but drive and ambition are also important too. You DO have the power to alter your circumstances, even if you've not been given special advantages.

80 people found this helpful

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  • Scott T. Hards
  • 2008-12-13

Engaging, but overrated

Outliers has many interesting statistical anecdotes sprinkled throughout, to be sure. My interest was held. But at its core, the book's central theme is simply "successful people are aided in their success by their families, culture, education and other chance factors. They could not have done it alone." This is not exactly a particularly profound revelation. Gladwell repeatedly asserts that most people think Bill Gates-type successes are simply due to that person's raw talent and little else. But is that really the case? Does anybody really think Bill Gates could have achieved what he did had he been born in Botswana, for example? What's more, while crediting these outside factors with making these "outliers" possible, he fails to note that in almost every case, hundreds if not thousands or even more other people had virtually identical birth situations, yet failed to achieve greatness. Gladwell's goal seems to be an attempt to take the shine off of society's great success stories by, in effect, claiming they just got lucky. But I think the formula for producing an outlier is more complex than that. Too often in this book, Gladwell seems to be profoundly stating the obvious.
Gladwell's narration of his own work is generally skillful and an easy listen.


316 people found this helpful

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  • KevinH
  • 2008-11-21

Captivating (if not an outlier)

Regardless of what you ultimately think of the author's analysis, Gladwell is a masterful storyteller, weaving together interesting anecdotes from such diverse sources as plane crash research to hillbilly feuds to standardized math tests. That Gladwell narrates the audio book himself adds greatly to the listening experience. Critics will complain that his thesis is obvious (that opportunity, cultural inheritence and hard work play key roles in success), or that his examples are selective and ignore in turn outliers that don't illustrate his points -- or, somewhat inconsistently, both. But Gladwell's books are successful because he examines phenomena and topics of importance in an accessible and entertaining way. No one should mistake Malcolm Gladwell for a big thinker like, say, Stephen J. Gould, but Gladwell would be the first one to tell you that he's no outlier. Don't accept everything the author says as truth revealed, but do listen to this book -- it's one of the best non-fiction offerings available through Audible.

158 people found this helpful

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  • Sher from Provo
  • 2012-04-12

Very Interesting!

Gladwell sets out to explain how the top people in any field were able to get there. The explanations can be very surprising. I was very engaged throughout the whole book. He talked a lot about education, and having been a public school teacher for the last 27 years, I found it absorbing, hopeful, and found myself wishing that I had known some of these things 27 years ago.

Gladwell narrates his own book, which sometimes turns out well, and sometimes not so much. Although obviously not a professional, he has a pleasing way of reading. I wouldn't be choosing a book on account of him reading it however. Still, it was very "listenable" and I enjoyed it very much.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2010-08-23

This book should be called 'selective evidence'

Whilst a lot of the ideas in this book are not Gladwell's alone, he takes responsibility for presenting them as if they were fact. Some parts are fascinating - such as the investigation of pilot errors which lead to crashes - but much of it falls woefully short of sound argument. The main points in the book are either obvious or highly questionable: intelligence alone is no trigger for success; luck is big factor in all great achievements; 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve excellence at anything.

The examples he provides completely ignore the possibility that timing is not just luck, but actually a inherent quality of the thought process that goes into the idea of the business in the first place. Did Bill Gates really become so successful purely because he was: a) in the right place at the right time, and b) put in 10,000 hours of programming in an age when computers were hard to come by? By drawing these conclusions he overlooks the unprovable possibility that Gates may have become successful in another area had he not been born at the right time to start Microsoft.

Were the Beatles successful because of their 10,000 hours of practice in German nightclubs and the like before their 'breakthrough' US number one? Even if you ignore Gladwell's convenient use of their US breakthrough to mark his 10,000 hour cut-off (coming 18 months after their UK success), were they really successful because of the amount of practice they put in? Was it merely musical competence that raised them above their peers? What about inspiration, creative ideas, charisma, chemistry or pure unteachable songwriting genius? And what about the likes of Nick Drake, or Kurt Cobain, or Buddy Holly? They could not have possibly put in the 10,000 hours 'required' practice as prescribed by Gladwell. There must be hundreds or thousands more in the world of music, film, literature, or even business who do not conform to the 10,000 hour rule. Yet they are conveniently overlooked.

70 people found this helpful

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  • Robert W
  • 2009-05-09

Intriguing but the research is questionable

This book is quite intriguing, but often as I listened I began to wonder about his research methodology. His facts, while compelling seem to be only part of the picture and I began to wonder as to how much picking and choosing of facts was going on to support his points. His determination to support his rather deterministic view is clear throughout the piece.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Gaggleframpf
  • 2019-09-30

Not Really About Outliers.

This books title leads you to believe that it's going to talk about statistical outliers, but it only nominally does that. Gladwell ignores actual outliers in the teeth of the statistical cases he presents. One of the earliest examples he uses of "Outliers" are individuals in Canadian hockey teams. Because individuals are filtered into teams by their birthdates, the players with earlier birthdays, in January or February for example, have a year of growth ahead of those in the same league with birthdays in December or November, and therefore they are advantaged over those players every single year through school and on up into professional hockey. These players get more advantages because they continue to outperform the others, which causes them to get more advantages, which causes them to continue to outperform the others, ad infinitum. The result? There are a supermajority of professional Canadian hockey players with early birthdays, and a minority with late ones. So far, so good. He then goes on to say that those with the early birthdays are the outliers that go on to achieve Hockey success later in life. But these only seem like outliers if you consider them against the majority of humans that aren't professional hockey players and never would be. In reality, statistically, the minority of players with birthdays in October through December that nevertheless reach professional status in Hockey and succeed ARE the real Outliers in his sample! They represent a minority but must be truly outstanding individuals, or at least more outstanding than those who succeeded merely because of their fortunate position and nominally superior maturity. These people would be interesting to learn about. He ignores them in his analysis. It's not even clear whether he knows the problem of their existence presents a problem for his thesis. I wanted to read a book about statistical outliers -- truly outstanding people and what makes them up. Instead, Gladwell conveniently ignores many truly remarkable individuals in his quest to explain away accomplishments that have been reached through privileged position or status.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 2018-10-08

Should be named - Excuses

I'm 1 starring this book due to the authors opinion. In his closing statements of the Epilogue, he even states that outliers are not outliers. The author's opinion is the left-leaning idea of privilege, that some of us are dealt better cards than others and that's that. For example, he starts off the book by talking about the birthdays of professional hockey players in Canada and how league cut offs when growing up determine that. The "outliers" are pro hockey players and the majority of pro hockey players are born between January and April. The focus is on those "lucky" individuals born between January and April. He makes it sound like you should be defeated if you were born December 31st, because you will never be a pro hockey player by way of a rigged system against you. But, what about that pro hockey player who WAS born on December 31st? What about the outliers of outliers, who succeeded in despite of "adversity." The author is silent. When you look for privilege, we all have something. The author uses this as a cop-out for defining a "lucky" class and an "unfortunate" class. His solution is an idealistic dystopian future. I wish this book had been a book about true outliers, those rare people who overcame adversity and excelled with the odds against them. Instead, it was a liberal rant complaining like a small child that someone else got it a little bit better.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Luiz C Payne
  • 2009-03-07

Great audio book

The content was entertaining and fascinating. A lot of "oh wow" moments. What was really good was Malcolm's read. He is an excellent reader--right on point with his inflection and cadence. I thought it had to be a professional reader.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 2011-11-28

Not as revelatory as you'd think

It takes lots of actual practice to master something. It also takes opportunities that are not in our control. So basically, Gladwell is trying to prove Calvinism (hard work + predestination). Pinpointing the web of circumstances that leads to success is something that we obsess over as a culture and Gladwell provides a very interesting analysis of how this works. But I do not feel like I heard any revelations here that I did not learn from my father when he encouraged me to get internships as an undergraduate.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-02-27

Those who appear to be extraordinary are ordinary people

In this book, Malcolm does a study of many of the highly successful people we know to prove that it is not mostly what they were born with, that is having a higher IQ or having a special talent who got them where they got. They had to put a huge amount of work, they took advantage of their environment, the period where they were born, gifts from their past generations and more. The example of Bill Gates show it clearly that he was advantaged not only because he was born in a blessed period to get mature during the IT boom, but also, having access to an outfitted computer in 1968 when he was 13, during that same period, computers were so expensive that even professors in computer science barely had access to them, and programming was so complex, by the time he showed up at the Silicon Valley, he had more than 10 000 hours of programming in his fingers. Nearly all of us, if given same opportunities with the outliers, we will surely write the same stories, if not better. The Asians do not have higher IQ than the rest of us, the just have more school time and work harder than the others, this is why the will outperform the rest of the world in maths and other scientific complex subjects. The example of the KIPP schools brought to the USA is a demonstration that working harder and for longer period can yield impressive results.

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  • India nerjones
  • 2020-08-31

fantastic as always

I never want Gladwell's books to end, Outliers was no exception. so fascinating and enjoyable.

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  • Dvu
  • 2020-06-03

Fascinating book about success

This book gives a very interesting point of views about success by analyzing the stories behind successful people, schools, companies and even societies. It shows that success derives from a combination of many factors including the time, family, race, tradition, etc. Having a high IQ is just not enough to guarantee a successful career. You also have to be born in a right time at a right place in a right family, to be given a chance at a right moment... but maybe the most important message is that all outliers put a lot of time and effort into what they do. There is no exception, no shortcut for success.

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  • DG
  • 2019-09-18

A different view on success.

Read by the author this book unwinds the perceived notion of success into what circumstances allowed them to be successful. It is one one my favorite books

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2018-03-20

clear and easy to listen

clear and easy to listen to while you are walking. enjoy his narration of success. insightful but not pretentious usual American bestseller. I think gladwell has improved a lot from Blink