January 11, 2009

Some books seriously challenge the conventional wisdom and put forth a new way of looking at things. Outliners by Malcolm Gladwell is one such book and it challenges the conventional understanding of what makes a person extraordinarily successful.

Till now, everyone told us that to succeed and reach the riches you need to work hard with conviction and persistence. This was the established principle of success that was fed to us by our parents and teachers. Outliners challenges this principle and successfully argues that success is cocktail brewed with a number of ingredients, many of which are beyond our control and influence. And hard work is just one ingredient!

By using case studies of Canadian hockey league super stars and super achievers like Bill Gates, Beetles, Mozart, and Bill Joy (founder of Internet), Outliers shows that extraordinary success depends on factors as wide and uncontrollable as the community and circumstances you were born into, cultural legacies, the time period when you were born, availability of opportunities, and luck. These factors are apart from hard work, conviction, and talent.

As you delve into the arguments, you are forced to think and relate with your own life and the lives of people you know, both successful and not so successful. Then the shock comes as you start looking beyond the obvious to understand the multitude of factors that shaped up their lives.

On its journey to understand success, Outliners takes us from the paddy fields of China, to the hockey fields of Canada, to the legal world of New York, to the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, to the Korean plane crashes and in the process throws open a vibrant perspective to look at success.

Outliners is a page turner that shocks with its findings, enlightens with its revelations, and entertains with its trivia.