An outlier is an individual who behaves in an unusual manner, “a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.” This is the definition Malcolm Gladwell uses to describe a successful person. In this book, subtitled “The Story of Success,” Gladwell attempts to explain why some people are more successful than others. He does this by identifying cultural and social factors that contribute to opportunities in individual’s lives. Through a series of case studies he insists that society has fostered the mentality that successful people are self-made. Conversely, Gladwell claims that they “are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” These successful people are on top of the pyramid because of the combination of opportunity and time. The first part the book focuses partially on opportunities that arise as a result of the time that is dedicated to the activity in which one wants to succeed, a concept Gladwell refers to as “The Matthew Effect.” Part two emphasizes cultural advantages. Gladwell demonstrates the “The Mathew Effect” by utilizing The Beatles, which were not native musical geniuses who succeeded only after 10,000 hours of practice. This case reveals, not only how the amount of time dedicated to practicing an activity can lead to success, but also how timing can influence the likelihood of success. Similarly, Gladwell utilizes case studies, in the second part of the book, to exemplify his ideas regarding cultural advantages. He examines the cultural legacy of failure and how certain circumstances can transform failure into success. Overall, the viewpoint that Gladwell intends for his readers to understand is that success arises from a balance of accumulated benefits: “When and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of...
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