Malcolm Gladwell made both Time and Newsweek issues this week and was featured both for himself and his new book “Outliers“. Outliers, subtitled “The Story of Success” follows the the basic approach of his other bestsellers, The Tipping Point and Blink, which started the current best-selling genre termed as “pop economics”. Although his books go well beyond economics to encompass sociology, psychology, science and politics. He seeks to explain the story behind the story.
Outlier is a noun which refers to: 1) something which is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body and/or; 2) a statistical observation that is markedly different from the others of the sample. By this definition Gladwell is an outlier, and it makes sense for him to write about other outliers, or those people we usually consider as extraordinarily “successful”, whether they be lawyers, nuclear physicists, rock stars, Silcon Valley billionaires or best-selling authors.
Typically, his explanation for their success is counter-intuitive, or different from what conventional wisdom says. Exceptional achievement is less about intelligence, ambition and other personal qualities than environment, opportunity and, yes, plain dumb luck. Read the rest of this entry »