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Book Rec: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

“Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”

Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Outliers Discussion Guide

  1. In his book, Gladwell argues that there is no such thing as a self-made man and that super achievers are successful because of their circumstances, families and strong work ethic. How does this view differ from the way you have thought about success in the past?

  2. The “cultural languages” issue described in the Korean Air disasters is fascinating. What is your “cultural language” and how has that shaped your interaction and social structure?

  3. What is your opinion of the 10,000-hour rule? How does it shape your ideas of the American success story? Is it fatalistic or encouraging?

  4. Are there any outliers in your life? How has reading this book changed your idea of success?

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