Outliers: Book Review|Vamsi Karedla

Vamsi Karedla

Malcolm Gladwell explores a simple phenomenon in his third book; The phenomena of a few people reaching the zeniths of their chosen paths.

The ideal that we have been taught as a kid was. the harder you work, the luckier that you get. But Gladwell looks at this aspect through a different lens. He proposes that the lives of those who have achieved high levels of merit, have intertwined with certain events, or they have met the right people at the right time.

At the outset, the book might seem to take a ‘luck takes all’ didactic, but the author has been able to masterfully link the aspect of chance happenings to ideas such as ‘10,000-hour rule’ and the importance for one to build on his core strengths to succeed in this highly competitive world.

When we use luck in the context of “outliers”, it is not one single abstract concept which is used in the context of windfall gains or losses, but rather a multitude of factors which snowball into the phenomena of luck. The author breaks down the concept into, timing, upbringing, cultural factors and 10,000 hours of practice. As a case in point, he looks into the phenomena of  Microsoft; the story of a kid from Albuquerque,, and his supersonic rise to the upper echelons of the IT industry. He uses this example and makes his point very well.

He looks at the Bill gates’ upbringing, he outlines the fact that he was born in a household which was conducive to academic pursuits. The mother was a well-known corporate lawyer who had a way with the boards that governed the local companies of the area. Later in his life, Bill met Paul Allen at Harvard, who introduced him to the nitty gritty of computer coding and language, the rest they say is the history of the computer age.

What is striking about the book, is the quality of case studies that the author has chosen to illustrate his views, Sure, it may seem that he might have been biased in picking the examples to suit him, but we as readers must allow for some liberties, duly noting the sheer amount of research that has gone into the book.

The book is no doubt a modern day masterpiece, where conventional notions of what defines success are challenged. At the core of the book, the author is angling for a very simple agenda, a shift in what people think is the right answer when one asks the question, what is the secret to success ?

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