The Story of Success

Outliers is the second book I’ve read by Malcolm Gladwell. The summary of “Talking to Strangers” can be found here.

A question Malcolm Gladwell explores in his book Outliers is what makes high-achievers different? The stories of the self-made man are nothing more than myths. Successful people tend to ignore the fact that there is much more right-place-right-time luck than they realize. People don’t rise from nothing…

The book discusses the role cultural influences play on individual success. We pay too much attention to successful people’s characteristics and not enough to where they come from: their culture, family, generation, and personal experiences. People do not succeed solely on the basis of hard work and self-discipline; chance, opportunities, and cultural legacies play a significant role as well.

Some quotes from the book:

No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.

Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.

Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.

Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.

When and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were make a significant difference in how well you do in the world.

Although I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s books, it doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. There is no doubt that he is an amazing storyteller, and the talks listed below are no exception.

Leyla Nunez
Leyla Nunez
Senior Biostatistician