Cannarf Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Book Name: Outliers: The Story of Success

I’m Glad it Wasn’t Called: Become and Expert in 10,000 Hours or Your Money Back!!!

Book Synopsis in Twitteresque 140 characters or less: Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

Where I Bought It: (If you’ve never heard of them before, they are a tiny online company who sells books and a few other things. I hope they can make it in this tough economy, but I doubt they will).

Paid for With: My Visa card, which makes me wonder: what’s your preferred credit/debit card of choice? For some reason I’ve always been a Visa guy. I just like Visa more than Mastercard. And I never was into Discover or AmEx. I have no good reason for this, but hey, that’s never stopped me before.

How Long it Took Me to Read: about a month. The first half of the book had me riveted. I was definitely making time to read it. But things slowed a bit in the second half.

Who I WOULD NOT recommend this book to: People who are obsessed with marbles and ball bearings. Just because they are pictured on the cover of the book, doesn’t mean there will be anything in the manuscript about them. You will be sadly disappointed.

Who I WOULD recommend this book to: Anyone who is interested in the phenomenon of success. What makes certain people successful and others not so much?

What I used for a bookmark: A reminder postcard from the Dermatology and Skin Care Center in Exton. I was supposed to schedule an appointment for January. I should probably get on that.

What were some interesting stories from the book: As Gladwell breaks down how successes are made he uses a bunch of great stories. One of my favorites is the story of Bill Gates, who benefited from having access to a computer in the late 60s as an eighth-grader when few colleges even had a computer lab. This happened because he happened to go to a good school, and the mothers of his class put their rummage sale money towards a $3,000 computer terminal. Bill Gates is a smart dude, but it was breaks like this (that he took advantage of) that have made him the success he is today.

What were some interesting stories NOT from the book: Consider the stories of Parker and Kylie Allain. Had a 16-year old Erica Fisher not been allowed to go to the Creation Music Festival in 1997, and had Bryan Allain not traveled to the same music festival, and had their campsites not have been placed close to each other, and had Bryan not had been going to the port-a-potty right as Erica was parking her car, Kylie and Parker might not exist. This story is not in the book. (But if you’re one of the few who have never read the story of how Erica and I met, you can read it here.)

What was the 1 thing I’ll take from the book: The notion that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. Gladwell applies this principle to violinists, hockey players, computer programmers, and even the Beatles. While we like to anoint certain people as having special innate abilities, Gladwell argues that more often than not it is the special opportunities those people have been given, and the work they put in to take advantage of them that makes them successful.

What I learned from this book that I will apply to my next book: I will never be as good a writer as Malcolm Gladwell. Not sure how that applies to my next book. I guess I will make sure not to call it, Eat Crap, Gladwell!

Expectations Going In: I loved Gladwell’s first two books, The Tipping Point and Blink, so I went in to this book expecting to enjoy it. I was expecting to be taught to look at something common in an uncommon way.

Cannarf Rating: It was going to be tough for Gladwell to score a high Cannarf rating with me because of how high my expectations were, but he did exceed them on the strength of the first half of the book alone. If you’re looking for an fascinating read, it’s tough to go wrong with this one. The Rating: +1 cannarfs. (what’s a cannarf?)

Have any of you read Outliers? If so, what’s your cannarf rating?