Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

On page 19-20, Gladwell explains how Biologists frequently talk about ‘ecology’ referring to the structure of ‘the tallest oak in the forest’, Gladwell clarifies that he uses the analogy to indicate that opportunity is what grants success, comparing successful people to the tallest oak tree. He explains that his book is not about tall trees, but rather about forests using the example of the hockey world.

Gladwell explains the age bias that exists in education describing how parents that have a child born at the end of the year frequently think about holding them back before beginning kindergarten because it’s inevitably hard for a 5-year-old born at the end of the year to keep up with kids that were born months earlier.

On page 29 Gladwell says, ‘in kindergarten and first grade, teachers confuse maturity with ability’ indicating that older kids are prioritized and are placed in advancements that help them for the following year and so it goes on leaving behind younger kids to catch up.

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Gladwell’s argument is supported by the research Dhuey and Bedard made in college asserting that younger students were belittled in four-year colleges by 11.6% making it difficult for them to have an opportunity to actually be someone.

‘Accumulative advantage’ is a term used by sociologist to describe what the result of success is, on page 31 Gladwell argues that, ‘the second implication of the hockey example is that systems we set up to determined who gets ahead aren’t particularly efficient’ connecting his argument to his main point about success and opportunity how can you be seen if rules and regulations cut you off based on days, weeks, and months of your birthdate.

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Gladwell states that it is a misfortune to be born in the last part of the year, stating that all odds are against those born later in the year and they are categorized as soon as their birthdate is exposed.

Gladwell’s perspective in regards to ‘The Story of Success’ explains how opportunity has a major effect to success, in reference to the favorable circumstances that allows to continue succeeding. In the first chapter Gladwell analyzes age to be defined as abiding by rules and regulations it is stated more than once that age groups are distinguished by opportunity, Gladwell states ‘opportunity played a critical role in their success’ on page 30 speaking of the notion that opportunity is what helped succeed expressing the hockey players as receiving a ‘head start’ for falling into category but he argues that it was an opportunity not deserved or earned.  The consequence of ‘prematurely writing people off as failures’ is explained on page 32-33 Gladwell voices how society has much more impact to those who fail not allowing them to succeed, stating ‘rules frustrate achievement’ because opportunities are overlooked to those categorized as a result of age groups.

Chapter 2 

The 10,000-hour rule is referred as the length of time that needs to be spent in order to master and succeed. Three hours a day or 20 hours a week of practice for over 10 years is what made up the 10,000-hour rule, it is an example of effort and input time you give to become an expertise. On page 38-39 Gladwell explains the number of hours students spent by age group beginning by age nine up to age twenty and on to be the best, Gladwell says, ‘by contrast, the merely good students had totaled eight thousand hours, and the future music teachers had over four thousand hours’.

Gladwell chooses to illustrate the 10,000-hour rule with the examples of Bill Gates and the Beatles because both began practicing at an early age and not once stopped and choose another field but rather continued practicing. The Beatles practiced early on in gigs that later turned into concerts in the U.S., and Bill Gates gave up sleep many times to study what he believed in he began practicing since an early age as well, nonetheless Gladwell says, ‘what truly distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunity’ If The Beatles wouldn’t have been invited to the Hamburg would they have been as fortunate, and if Bill Gates wouldn’t have dropped out of Harvard University after his sophomore year would he have invented his own software company? Gladwell goes into detail about the age circumstances explaining how those born later in the year don’t get to be all-star therefore enough practice is not implemented, he then states on page 41, ‘without that extra practice … no chance at hitting ten thousand hours … there is no way he can ever master the skill necessary’ a perfect example of why Gladwell blames society and its rules for failure.

The information provided on pages 56-61 is a list of the seventy-five richest people in human history it includes, number one being highest, name, wealth in billions, origin, and company or source. The function for the list is to demonstrate how American economy took its flight during the 1860’s and 1870’s among other sources include age group states that fourteen of the richest were American that were all born within nine years from each other in the mid nineteenth century (Gladwell 61). Gladwell added an observation made by sociologist C. Wright Mills demonstrating that notably a vast amount of those born in ‘modest circumstances’ had a better chance at being rich. The function of the addition to the footnote was to present the idea that another person had pointed out how age group defines success.

Chapter 3

Divergence testing requires imagination to be able to think about different situations and answers, while convergence testing allows to place in order list and categorize for the right answer. Convergence testing is more significant than divergence testing because the act of converge allows to concentrate and divergence commonly mean to move apart and often are more difficult to find answers.

Gladwell signals that he is skeptical about the idea that intelligence clearly indicates that someone will make great accomplishments he believes achievement isn’t always about talent rather than opportunity on page 76. Gladwell uses graphics to articulate his point about IQ tests implementing on page 78-79 that an IQ of below 70 is categorized as mentally disabled, an IQ of 100 is known to be average, an IQ of 115 at least to get into a competitive graduate program, therefore an IQ of 170 compared to 70 makes a reasonably difference in knowledge.

Gladwell demonstrates on pages 81-83 the different universities of the last twenty-five noble prize winners in medicine and the last twenty-five noble laurates in chemistry clarifying that only the best universities in the nation are listed, he then states; ‘we are leaning about intelligence the idea that schools can be ranked like runner in a race makes no sense'(83) showing that not only the most prestigious universities have the smartest students given the chance that Harvard had noble prize winners as well as Georgetown. Manhole covers are round because no matter how many times you twist or turn it cannot fall, rather than a rectangular that can tilt sideways. (76).

Chapter 4

The first part of chapter 4 affects the readers point of view because in the beginning it was illustrated that first generation and wealthy home kids are more likely to be more successful and have more opportunities. Gladwell allows Langan to detail his college experience instead of summarizing it himself because it allows the reader to use divergence to help picture and understand Langans story more accurately.  Gladwell pin points how Robert Oppenheimer had special treatment in the university for a trying to poison his tutor which is a crime, and then there was Langan whose mother missed a deadline and his scholarship was taken away.

Gladwell defines ‘practical intelligence’ on page 101 as a skill, ‘allows you to talk your way out of a murder rap or convince your professor to move you from morning to afternoon section’ knowing what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who to say it at the convenience of a manipulator to get their way. Gladwell’s reason for ending the section with Tremans geniuses is to set a bar standard of financial status as Treman refers to two groups A and C, A being the richest and C being the poorest they weren’t the same financially but it amazed him how group A was smart because of their family inheritance which included their father and or mother having a diploma and group C in poverty but the eagerness to learn was much more greater as explained on page 112.

Chapter 5

Gladwell considers Joe Flom’s rise to partner at ‘one of the largest and most powerful law firms in the world’ remarkable because of his eagerness to continue growing in fact since Flom took over Skadden’s managing partner the firm was known by the tremendous growth Flom made. Gladwell compares his view with most people’s opinions of Flom’s achievements on page 118 Gladwell express, ‘Joe Flom is an outlier’ he overcame the toughest situations growing through the Depression, being Jewish and extremely poor, nonetheless they were not a factor for Flom to not succeed. The purpose for Alexander Bickel’s story is because he had things in common alike Flom he was also the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Bickel was also a smart law student. Bickel carried the same characteristics as Flom though he stumbled across a law firm that rejected him because of his ‘antecedents’. (122)

Gladwell compares Flom to Bill Joy and Bill Gates, the effect of this comparison is that Gladwell wants to demonstrate that you cannot rise to the top without, ‘smartness and ambition’ (155) and again a successful person came from the public schools of New York, furthermore than that success is not an act of randomly chosen. Gladwell’s re-analysis of the Terman study be at the heart of a good deal of the criticism his book has received because the different cases that were explained on chapter 5 all fell through Group C which in Terman’s perspective was the poorest category, kids with the poorest childhood history became some of the wealthiest men in the industry. Three qualities of meaningful work according to Gladwell are, autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward, it’s not the amount of money being paid that will allow you to do meaningful work but rather your passion to the job.

Cite this page

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. (2022, Feb 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/outliers-by-malcolm-gladwell-essay

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