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Outliers: The Story of Success

by Malcolm Gladwell

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How does Malcolm Gladwell define success in Outliers: The Story of Success?

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In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell defines success as the result of timing, hard work, and cultural milieu. Gladwell believes that talent and intelligence, while helpful, are not the true determinants of success.

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Gladwell defines success as the outcome of timing, hard work, and cultural milieu. According to Gladwell, talent and intelligence, while helpful, are not the keys to success.

Many of the people Gladwell uses as examples of success had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time. For instance, he discusses Jewish lawyers like Joe Flom. Discriminated against for being Jewish and thus excluded from many law firms, this, ironically, put Flom in the position to be hungry for work at a time in the 1970s when mergers and acquisitions, which traditional law firms did not like to take on, were becoming much more frequent and much more profitable. Likewise, most of those who became wealthy titans in the computer industry were born in the mid-1950s, coming of age just as the computer revolution was taking off.

Successful people also follow what Gladwell calls the 10,000-hour rule: they have put in 10,000 hours or more of work in their field. The Beatles, Bill Gates, and Bill Joy, for example, all worked obsessively at improving their skills.

Such seemingly small things as being chosen for a gifted and talented program or going to a private high school can put individuals into a cultural milieu that increases their chance for success by offering access to materials ordinary people might not have. Bill Gates's private school, for example, had one of the earliest computers to offer real-time programming.

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