Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Luck of being born around 1955 Outliers – The story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell ( Book Review)

Poptech @008 - Camden Maine

Malcolm Galdwell writes very well. His books Tipping Point, Blink really changed the way people think of making a difference in business. Outliers is about success, what contributes to the success of “Outliers”. Outliers are defined by Malcolm Gladwell as “outside everyday experience where the normal rules did not apply. Gladwell himself is a outlier. Jay Goldman writes on in his blog

Things you probably don’t know about Malcolm:

· Was once the Canadian record holder in 1500m run but is not the fastest Gladwell in his family

· 10,000 hour rule: takes 10k hours to be expert at something. He’s an expert at playing Risk.

· Was a student activist of an odd sort. Organized a march to prevent principal being transferred to another school.

· Was in Reach for the Top. His aspiration was to be a pastry chef (though he doesn’t remember it)

· First major assignment was for Ad Hominem, a high school newspaper

The mention of the Italian community of Roseto in Bangor Pennsylvania which defied all scientific theories for remaining healthy and built a community carrying over all the advantages of community resources from their original Italian countryside.

The waste of human capital that results our of sports teams choosing kids from school who were born between January and August. Being born in the perfect age 1955ish and being around 20 years of age in 1975 the dawn of the personal Computer Age– examples

Bill Gates : Oct 28 1955

Paul Allen Jan 21 1953

Steve Ballmer March 24 1956

Steve Jobs Feb 24 1955

Eric Schmidt April 27 1955

Bill Joy Nov 8 1954

Scott McNealy Nov 13 1954

Vinod Khosla Jan 28 1955

Andy Bechtolsheim Sept 30 1955

Bill Gates was lucky to be in a school Lakeside where the mothers banded together to buy a computer for the school in 1968 . I was a 5 year old J then. I chose to move to a school district that had a good record of parents contributing to school efforts and I have to wait for my kids to flourish to completely agree with Malcolm Gladwell as he does make a good case.

The 10,000 hour rule. Again studying people who succeeded in life Malcolm Gladwell says each of them spent 10k hours practicing their speciality. The Beatles Playing for 7 days a week in Hamburg, Bill Gates non-stop programming and getting a place in Seattle to program for free, Bill Joy who wrote UNIX give me a message that perseverance is also a factor for success.

I love the statement “the only measure that a law school really ought to care about – How well its graduates do in the real world “. The story of genius Chris Lagan compared to Alex Williams in the book is an example that intelligence and genius matters to an extent after which your access to resources and the timing plays a part.

This is a topic that most parents of India origin debate over – the school cut off date. When I arrived in the United States in 1997 I chose to live in Maryland rather than Virginia due to the fact that Maryland had a cut off date of Dec 31st for school then versus Virginia which had a Sep31st cut-off date. Why does this matter? Did I d the right thing? All these answers I found in this book by Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers – The story of Success.

I was surprised by the chapter on Harlan Kentucky, the battles for honor in the Southern States and attributing it to the Scottish-Irish origin. I did not know that the South has higher murder rates but property crimes and muggings are lower. South is to me is always the gentle culture and I guess that can all change with Honor being slighted. While it may be a very stark case study I look at my own Indian roots and see the differences in regions of India where honor means a different kind of action and the idea does have a meaning. If I was writing this book I would research Kadapa in the State of Andhra Pradesh In the Wikipedia article there is no mention of what Cuddapah is known for but go to this website and you will find it descried as the “second most troublesome district in India”.

I got a preview of what was coming in the book at Pop!Tech where Malcolm Gladwell spoke about Human capitalization and lost opportunities

Others who have reviewed this book: ( Buy the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell from Amazon )

New York Times : Michiko Kakutani

New York Magazine Jason Zengerle

Jay GoldMan

Entertainment Weekly:,,20239689,00.html

Guardian :

Cross posted from where I posted this initially by mistake.

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