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by Giuseppe TovarNovember 11, 2013


Why do some people succeed and lead a significantly productive life while the majority of us can never develop to our full potential? Is it perhaps that some people are smarter or more talented than others?

The answer to these questions is that the “superstars” have always thrived on hidden benefits, on extraordinary opportunities which the rest of us don’t have, and on cultural legacies that have enabled them to learn and work unlike any other person.

In Outliers: The Story of Success:

Malcolm Gladwell, the author examines the lives of characters as diverse as Mozart and Bill Gates. Gladwell concludes that in order to be successful you need to have more than just intelligence.

The term “outlier” is commonly used to describe something atypical or a value that comes from out of the norm. For example, imagine that in the middle of December in New York or London we have a sunny day, clear and bright. That would be an “outlier”, that is to say it is absolutely out of the ordinary, it is “atypical”.  It would be normal to have snow, sleet, rain, moisture, clouds at least, but nothing about a clear, sunny day would be considered normal for either of these two locations during that time of the year.

In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell takes the term “outliers” to the people and discusses why there are individuals that stand out more than others. What’s even more interesting is that the approach that he gives in the analysis is not the traditional approach that focuses on the characteristics, habits and personality traits of the individuals that have been most successful around the world, which are so often found in the typical self-help, or management genre.  The approach that Gladwell takes focuses on looking at the environment, the community in which the successful person lived, their culture, their family and the generation to which they belong.

The conclusions he reaches are staggering. In one of the reviews I had a chance to read it made reference to a chapter in the book where his analysis on the subject he found a surprising number of the most powerful and successful corporate lawyers in New York City, all have almost the same biography: most of them are all, Jewish, males, born in the Bronx or Brooklyn in the mid-1930s and most of them have immigrant parents who worked in the garment industry.

In my opinion, I do in fact consider it undeniable that the people who achieve success are talented and work hard to achieve their goals, but, I agree with Gladwell in that they also have benefited (and at the same time are influenced) by the environment in which they are reared, benefited from their parents, and even more so because of the peculiar way and uniqueness in that their world is organized and structured. The question then is if success can be achieved by a group whose experiences are similar, and not only by the hard work and talent they inherited. It would be interesting to find out, wouldn’t you agree?


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About The Author
Giuseppe Tovar
  • Erik
    November 11, 2013 at 1:45 am

    I do not quite understand why some books are called self-help. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell is a book that can help you to understand why you still have a small ways to go in order to achieve success. I liked the first part of the book better than the second. As almost always in this type of book, it is sufficient to take 2-3 ideas for immediate implementation rather than to try to make a carbon copy to your own professional life. Gladwell opens us to a world full of perspective and shows new ways of seeing our environment. I would recommend this and other books from this author. Gladwell has a capacity to bring to light things that we easily take for granted, but in reality change everything.

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