Book Review: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell takes you an intellectual journey through awe-striking, sometimes heartbreaking stories. It shows you what being Outliers is really about.

Money Habit Muse 5 Star

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most frequently recommended non-fiction books. 

The famous quotes about becoming a world-class expert and putting in 10,000 hours’ practice came from the book. 

With what appears to be a core message quoted everywhere, I thought why I should bother to read the book. 

It must be about successful people. What’s new, right?


The book shows you what being Outliers is really about in a fascinating and intelligent way.

Why did I Decide to Read the Book?

As a big fan of the Joe Rogan podcast, I came across his interview with Malcolm Gladwell.

It was the moment of putting a name to the face: “oh, he’s the guy who wrote about 10,000 hours’ practice”.

(You can watch a YouTube clip on the bottom of the post.)

He was promoting the latest book, Talking To Strangers.

He was articulate (a big thing for me!), interesting and intelligent, all of which had compelled me to borrow Outliers from the library (Libby app) on a whim.

Ended up finishing it in 2.5 days.

I’ve since watched his other interviews, listening to his podcast, Revisionist History and currently reading his other book, Blink.

I’m also in the waiting list of my local library for his other books, Talking To Strangers, The Tipping Point and David and Goliath.

Yep, I’m hooked.

What is Malcolm Gladwell Outliers about?

The book was engaging and enlightening, and I was excited about what was coming in every chapter. 

There are stories after stories—sometimes awe-striking, sometimes heartbreaking.

I was partially right about Outliers: you’ll read about successful people. 

Not the way you would think, though.

The moral of Outliers?

The outliers are not the product of the personal merit, but the product of essentially being born at the right place and at the right time

By the time you finish the book, you’ll have taken a delightful journey of connecting dots, seeing things differently, and discovering new insights

You’ll no longer put outliers on a pedestal. 

I’ve taken the below from the last chapter in the book. 

The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all

If you’re interested in psychology—as perhaps everyone in the personal development realm—you’ll enjoy this book. 

(I’ve also learned something I always suspected about myself but couldn’t put a finger on—I’ll blog about it some other time.)

Below are my highlights and notes from the book.

If you want to enjoy the delightful intellectual journey, I recommend you read the book.

Money Habit Muse 5 Star

Highlights from The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

(Credit: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell)

Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing that makes you good.


We’re too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And, most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play – by “we” I mean society in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.


… we cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don’t matter at all.


… the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.


… what truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities.


We pretend that success is exclusively a matter of individual merit.


Their success was not just of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up.


The sense of possibility so necesary for success comes not just from inside us or from our parents. It comes from our time: from the particular opportunities that our particular place in history presents us with.


Those thress things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and rewards – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.


Work that fulfils those three criteria is meaningful.


Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.


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 behaviour that we cannot make sense of our world without them.


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.

(Credit: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell)

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