Quite a while ago, I heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success*. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time; to me, the title suggested that this would probably be some kind of self-help book of the kind that has supposedly already “changed the lives of millions”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Last week, while I was hanging around the airport, waiting for my flight to depart, I noticed the whole bibliography of Malcolm Gladwell on display: Tipping Point, Blink, What the Dog Saw and… Outliers. I decided to pick up the latter to take it with me on my flight and I simply couldn’t put it away anymore. I devoured the first half on the flight to Barcelona and the second half on the way back. If you know it’s only a two hours’ flight to Barcelona, that is saying much.
Outliers is not about becoming successful. It is about the myriad quirky things that explain how one person became successful, while someone of equal capabilities was not. From the how the relative age effect predicts the success of professional hockey players to the relevance of Hofstede’s dimensions for air travel safety, the book is filled with engaging anecdotes and elaborate explanations. All of this is done in a lighthearted tone that balances scientific basis with common sense. It will not make you successful, but it will change the way you look those who are.
* Full disclosure: this link has my Amazon ID in it. This means that if you buy the book through this link, Amazon gives me some money. This won’t cost you anything extra, but will be good for me ;)