The Story of Success from a thought-provoking writer like Malcolm Gladwell is always something to watch out for. His previous books, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, both captured important aspects of the online world. His latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success, is a reflection on the more tangible world of human society. Again he is pointing out what should have been obvious, but what you may have missed.
You can read more about the book’s content on Gladwell’s own website. In particular he summarizes what you may get from the book:
What do you want people to take away from Outliers?
I think this is the way in which Outliers is a lot like Blink and Tipping Point. They are all attempts to make us think about the world a little differently. The hope with Tipping Point was it would help the reader understand that real change was possible. With Blink, I wanted to get people to take the enormous power of their intuition seriously.
My wish with Outliers is that it makes us understand how much of a group project success is. When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It’s because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances— and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds—and how many of us succeed—than we think. That’s an amazingly hopeful and uplifting idea.
If you are wondering whether Outliers has something to do with Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, then you’re on the wrong track. Anderson was pointing out that we are all different in so many ways. Gladwell on the other hand is focusing on the really far out extremes. What can we learn from those who are successful and who seem to be very different from the rest of us. Think of someone like Bill Gates for example.
If Gladwell’s latest book is not for you, there are two others that seem very popular at the moment. If you want to drop a hint to your significant other on what might please you, here they are:
- Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini