Podcast Guest! OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

I was tickled to be included as one of the first few guests on Mickey Mellen’s new podcast. You can hear our short discussion by clicking this link: Stacking Knowledge.

Mickey and I “met” through an altMBA class during Covid. Since that early 2021 leadership training, we have traded ideas about and from books we’ve read and enjoyed. Outliers was one among many.

Why we chose Outliers

Outliers was published in 2008. That’s FIFTEEN years ago. But as with all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, it is as relevant today as it was then. I think we both agreed to talk about it because the book’s goal is to change how we think about success. Did it? I think so.

Gladwell defines outliers on page 17 as  “…Men and women who do things that are out of the ordinary.”

And he says,  “. . .the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle, and hard work.”

But perhaps my favorite quote from the book is on page 19.

“Outliers…may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact, 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.” [Italics, mine.]

What Mickey Thought

Mickey loved the hockey player example. Kids born in the beginning months of the year (Jan-Mar) invariably do better in hockey because they are bigger in stature and have more time being coached than kids born in the second half of the year. The statistics are there for everyone to see, but Gladwell shows how paying attention to the numbers can draw out the mystery of success and bring it down to earth so we “normies” can see it.

What I Thought

I still like the 10,000-hour example. The minimum of practicing/doing/engaging/struggling in one’s field is 10,000 hours. That’s the “grit” (Angela Duckworth)  part of his book, which Gladwell calls “stamina” and which comes later in Outliers. But 100,000 hours would not make up for the luck part of Gladwell’s formula. Whether it’s Bill Gates or the Beatles, they admit to putting in the time, but they also know they had opportunities in their chosen fields that made them successful.

Let us know what YOU think…