In July I stepped away from my typical business/self-improvement type books to try one out that got nothing but great reviews from everyone I know, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
In this book, Gladwell discusses the world’s most significant outliers and how they came to be. The book goes in depth on various topics, such as the tech giants that exist today, Apple and Microsoft, Jewish lawyers in New York City and why Korean pilots crashed the most planes.
All of these examples are outliers in their own way and Gladwell gives the reasons why. Most of these people were brought up in success or failure due to their environment, timing of existence or their ethnicity. It truly is interesting to see how certain people are put in better or worse situations just because of their living conditions.
For example (without spoiling too much), a majority of the world’s richest tech giants today were born from 1955-1957. Why is this? According to Gladwell, it all had to do with timing. Technology started to boom in the mid 70’s, which is when the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started launching their pretty successful businesses.
Gladwell argues that Jobs and Gates were born in the perfect time to take full advantage of the tech opportunity. They were a few years out of college with no responsibilities, ready to take risks and start companies.
People who were born in 1940 or so, were already 30, settled down in their careers and having children. On the other hand, being born in 1960 was too late, you were only 15 years old!
There were other factors as well that played into their success, but their timing was perfect for the situation. Sure, other big tech names have been built since then, but this was a sweet spot for Gates and Jobs.
Overall, I thought this book was a little over-rated. I got the feeling that at some points, Gladwell was discrediting the tremendous amount of work it took for guys like Gates and Jobs to start those companies. He tended to put more emphasis on the luck aspect than the working your butt off aspect.
If you’re a reader of this blog, you know that I am a hard-work first kind of guy. I like to believe you create your own luck, and with that, your own success.
But, I also can’t deny that the world aligned perfectly with their lives. The ability to build a company in tech was there in the 1970s. The only thing that separated Gates and Jobs from everyone else, is they took action.
I must say, even though this book wasn’t my favorite, it is a good read. Some of the stories are super interesting. Like why Korean pilots crashed the most planes or why the Ozark’s have bad blood within their borders.
If you want to see what else I am up to, read the previous month’s book lists!