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Malcolm Gladwell examines patterns in the lives of extraordinary achievers.

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Malcolm Gladwell is an outlier – someone whose achievements fall outside the boundaries of the norm.

He is an extraordinarily successful author and public speaker who has made a name for himself by making people think about the world a little differently with his unconventional, counterintuitive takes on research in the social sciences.

In “The Tipping Point” (2000), Gladwell explored how social epidemics work – what makes an idea or trend take hold – while in “Blink” (2005) his focus was on snap decisions, “the power of thinking without thinking.”

In his latest book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell presents some surprising observations about factors he believes separate hyper-achievers from the rest of us.
Like most highly successful people, Gladwell is skilled, talented, and driven. His particular gift is the ability to see common social phenomena from an unexpected angle and to convey his insights in enormously engaging anecdotes and analysis.

But, according to the argument he makes in “Outliers,” these personal traits only go so far in explaining his impressive achievements.

Successful people, he avows, are “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. It makes a difference where and when we grew up.... It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

Put differently, “Success is the result of what sociologists like to call ‘accumulative advantage.’ ”


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