Outliers: The Story Of How People Become Successful

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer


“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell is a book containing multiple stories and studies on what makes people successful. The three main points to be successful are that a person has to be hardworking, driven and lucky. While it may seem simple Gladwell states that “…We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don’t matter at all” (Gladwell 33). Here Gladwell makes it clear that the process of being successful is much more complicated than it seems as there are multiple factors that we as humans cannot control and as a result, impact the chances of succeeding.


Gladwell’s “Outlier” mainly takes place in the modern era but takes events from the past that relate to or influence success stories. “Outliers” is meant for the many young adults in search of methods to become successful themselves and “Outliers” provides them with the foundations of success. Gladwell provides the necessities of success through various modern studies, statistical data and historical findings making “Outliers” a relevant and credible book.


Gladwell specifically targets young adults who have recently graduated high school and are seeking the best methods to be successful. This is implied when Gladwell wagers, “Slope…I’ll bet you don’t remember” (Gladwell 240). Slope as most of us should know, is a basic math function for a linear equation that is frequently used in high school math.


Gladwell’s purpose was to inform his readers on the realistic methods to achieve success, which is hard work, passion, and opportunity. Take Marita from the KIPP academy, Marita was a poor student that was lagging behind her more privileged classmates, but when offered the opportunity to attend the academy in exchange that she works hard and sacrificed time, Marita accepted. Fast forward into the future and Marita was doing high school level math in middle school. Gladwell also discredits the idea that the process of becoming successful was easy and simple by providing examples of successful people and what impacted them such as their intelligence, age, mentality, and ethnicity. For example, Christian Langan was a prodigy that excelled in everything he did but didn’t make much of an impact on the world. Gladwell writes that we like to think that the successful are prodigies, but in reality, the successful are just like you and me. Gladwell quotes Lewis Terman on ‘that intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated’ (Galwell qtd.in Terman 90), hinting that intellect does provide an advantage to a certain to a degree but personal effort if what leads to success.


Throughout “Outliers”, Gladwell integrates statistical data such as graphs and charts to explain what makes someone successful. For example, the stereotype of Asians being naturally good at math and successful in general is explained by Galwell when he states,” The regularity of [Asian] number system also means that Asian children can perform basic functions, such as addition, far more easily” ( Gladwell 229). He also states that Asia’s necessities shaped the hard-working mentality that the majority of Asians possess. It’s clear Gladwell is a logical person who doesn’t believe in “natural talent” and seeks to explain the seemingly “natural talent” with reasonings and evidence. He is also thoughtful throughout the book by making his explanations simple but interesting to keep readers engaged.

It is known that Gladwell was born to a Jamaican mother and British father, both parents helped shape his viewpoint as his father is a mathematician and his mother a psychological therapist. His father contributes to his logical/scientific approach to abnormal beliefs (obviously), while his mother influenced Gladwell to be more knowledgeable on how humans think, allowing him to grasp a reader’s attention and fascination.


Gladwell sets an informative and formal by providing credible statistical data and studies to support his ideas. He even provides counter-arguments to his theories and debunks them thoroughly. For example, when talking of successful people such as Bill Gates or Bill Joy, Gladwell’s counter-argument that both Joy and Gates were able to achieve success solely on luck (Gates was wealthy and Joy was near to Michigan University’s revolutionary time-sharing computers), was debunked since both had spent ten thousands of hours coding. Gladwell is professional in his writing as he doesn’t deny that both Joy and Gate’s luck gave them a significant advantage over others. He also makes the stories of success simple but detailed on the stories of success which are on serious topics such as plane crashes, history, and racial social systems.


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