I enjoyed Outliers when I read it a while ago, but have since realised it's just a bunch of anecdotes.
After reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, I offered it as a gift to most of my friends. It's an exhilarating read, one that I would recommend to anyone
I thought Outliers was pretty good (the only one of his I've read). I'd be happy to have you disabuse me of that notion.
If you read Outliers you'll see Bill Gates was also "very lucky".
if you put in the 10,000 hours :) (alluding to Outliers by Gladwell)
I have read Outliers by him and kind of liked it at the time. But later on I realized that Outliers book, along with much of his work, is some kind of scam. I didn't how to express that feeling until I read OP comment mentioning Amazon review.
For more on the effect of hereditary privilege, read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
I read Outliers and got a similar impression. It's definitely indisputable that the vast majority of successes come from an established platform of advantage, but it shouldn't totally demerit their accomplishments.
I'll recommend you the book Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell.
It will open your mind about how people like Nick Caldwell(author of the article) or Bill Gates got to the top.
It is very, very hard for people on the lower class get up, even with IQ particularly high.
While the book is not perfect, reading Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell could hint on some not so obvious conditions that could make getting rich not so random.
The ride is often more enjoyable than the destination. I'm not talking specifically about Outliers but in general, I think the essence of any good book could probably be distilled down to a paragraph.
1. Thinking fast and slow - Kahneman
2. Outliers - Malcom Gladwell
3. How to read and do proofs - Daniel Solow
All of these were packed with great insights and are books I'm sure I will return to in the future for multiple re-reads.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell as I'm sure many folks on HN have read really digs into how external factors (time, school registration dates, etc) have a significant impact of the success of individuals. Having just completed reading it, I thought this was an interesting article.
Gladwell had a chapter in his book Outliers called "Rice Paddies and Math Tests" where he claims that "Asians are good at math" because rice is hard to grow. The man is obviously an intellectual sham.
Interestingly, if you multiply 15 years by 365 days and the two hours a day mentioned at some point in the article, you get 10,950 hours, which is remarkably close to Malcolm Gladwell's claim from the book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become a superstar at something.
If you believe the premise and results of the '10000 hours to expert' research cited by Gladwell's "Outliers", then the obvious conclusion is that time invested is highly correlated with learning.
In Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers he has a section where he discusses Bill Gates’ early life and the lives of a few other software luminaries. Having read that it is not surprising at all to see him taking such advanced classes as only a freshman in college.
Some recent engaging reads:
* Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational
* Christopher McDougall, Born to Run
* Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
* Jeb Brugman, Welcome to the Urban Revolution
* Richard Florida, Who's Your City?
by Malcolm Gladwell (a fun read. Pretty insightful. One of the best books about success, I think.)
- The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil (opened my mind to what the world could be)
is a good read that correctly represents a lot of new research about its subject.
After edit: I say this because I had read many of the primary and secondary sources cited in Gladwell's notes before his book came out. I still learned new facts from his book.
Is it only me, or the first half feels like a copy of one of chapters of Outliers by Gladwell?
You are correct. In fact, I just drove x-country and Outliers was one of the books I listened to on the way. I haven't had the time to cross-check much of the information, as I just took most of what Gladwell wrote as fact (even if this was just an opinion).
I hope most people know by now that "natural talent" isn't real.
See books: Outliers, The Talent Code
I've been listening to Galdwell's audiobook Outliers and he talks about the NYC garment industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. There's a lot of parallels with today. You might find it interesting.
This is exactly what Malcom Gladwell talks about in Outliers: The Story of Success. He starts off by mentioning how hockey players have this age advantage since they are more physically mature than people born in other months and cut off by our artificially created system.
There is a whole chapter in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers dedicated to this.
Bounce by Matthew Syed. Highly recommended read in the same vein as Outliers without the need to find continuously interesting anecdotes every 5 pages and with some science.
Books on interacting with people.
How to Win Friends and Influence People. - Dale Carnegie
Influence - Robert Cialdini
Books on understanding how to push through adversity
The Obstacle Is The Way - Ryan Holiday
Man's Search For Meaning - Victor Frankly
Books on process improvement
The Phoenix Project
The Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss (ignore the outsourcing bit, listen to his podcast)
Books on breaking out of your thought bubble.
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
Ishmael - David Quinn
Books for understanding how sales works
Ultimate Sales Machine - Chet Holmes
Negotiate As If Your Life Depended on It - Chris Voss
Any of these books are great starts. If the leadership big bites you there's way more I can suggest. Most of these are a mix of classics and new stuff. I've read them all and they want have their own style and provide their own insight. The trick is to find out what parts work with how you do and incorporate them into your flow. The learning process never ends.
You're thinking of the story from a Malcolm Gladwell book, either Blink or Outliers, I don't remember which. It analyzed the countries with the most airline accidents. South Korea followed by some South American countries was the worst, for the cultural customs of deference that you describe.
2010 - Outliers
, Malcom Gladwell
2011 - In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan
2012 - Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
2013 - Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
2014 - Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
2015 - Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins
2016 - Black Swan, Nicolas Taleb
2017 - Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman, Richard Feynman
2018 - The Prophet, Khalil Gibran
2019 - Three Body Problem (series), Liu Cixin
These aren’t publishing years, just the year these books transformed me.
Rework by 37Signals ^ is good.
Personal favorite are:
1) As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
2) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
3) 2nd half of Steve Jobs Bio
4) Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy
5) The Big Short by Michael Lewis
6) The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
After reading Outliers I think of 10000 hours as approximately five years of full-time work, which is a much easier quantity to think about.
Gladwell's works Blink and Outliers both paraphrase important scientific works, in the simplified style the references are largely glossed over. In place of Blink, read Antonio Damasio's Descartes Error, the seminal book on emotional reasoning. Instead of Outliers read Anders Ericsson's The Road To Excellence. Both of these more formal books cite sources meticulously.
is a good read on how time (timing) and chance (opportunity) have far more effect on success than innate ability.
He may even have had that passage in mind when he wrote:
"The biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work".
'Success' is the core topic behind Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers: The Story of Success". If you read the book, you will see that the word "success" is used in a capitalist context which in most cases should be interpreted as 'financial success' - That is the most common interpretation.
This article is kind of amusing, but it's clear the author didn't actually read Gladwell's newest book. While in general I think it'd be fair to describe Gladwell's writing as intellectual comfort food, Outliers is pretty good. The last chapter on KIPP was pretty dubious, but not in a way that detracted from the thesis.
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown - discussion of shame culture, its effects on people, and how to combat it - pretty good book about a topic that doesn't get raised often enough, even if I don't agree with everything the author says.
The Sports Gene by David Epstein - how genetics may affect sport performance (and not only that); a bit of a counterpoint to Gladwell's Outliers - probably my favorite book this year.
The Martian by Andy Weir - a guy tries to survive on Mars - found this one rather bland. I would have liked to see more psychology and less calculations, and I am not sure how I feel about its presentation of the scientific community.
Interested in this article, take up a book
"Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
Agreed. So 10'000 hours of practice isn't just doing it, it's actually becoming obsessed with doing it BETTER. I can make sandwiches all day long, but only if I focus on how precise I am in the dose of mayonnaise, how seamless my spreading it over the bread, and how exact is the time the sandwich spends on which part of the refrigerator, then I'll improve.
Sorry I'm tremendously eager to eat a sandwich right now. A good follow up book after reading Outliers is James P Catse's "Finite and Infinite Games": https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476731713/ref=as_li_tl?ie...
@drewcoo I hear you, I did get this concept from the article too, with the example of a young child that is happy to try new things and just enjoy it. I think the improvement and learning or getting good at things is a side effect. Beyond just having fun doing new things, mastering new things can be an entirely different pursuit with it's own rewards but perhaps takes a lot longer (the "10,000 hour rule" concept that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in his book Outliers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_%28book%29
10,000 hours is taken from the book Outliers
, but it's not even true mastery. It's said to be the level where Bill Gates entered Harvard. 10,000 hours is more journeyman level than mastery.
The book Mastery goes into much more detail, where it repeats that 10,000 hours is necessary, but there are other components to mastery. Among them is mentorship and creating some form of masterwork.
The pro athletes have gone far past the 10,000 hours mark, but chances are they also had mentors and they've also taken some risks and invented their own styles. Keep practicing.
Some of the lighter business books are great to listen to as audiobooks while you are travelling - while walking through airports, waiting in line, on a plane. If the book is too complex, then you are better off reading the book yourself.
Outliers, Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Lean Startup, How to win friends and influence people.....
What a heartwarming story. Just what I needed to read right now. Thanks for sharing.
BTW, I couldn't help but be reminded of Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers and his 10,000-Hour Rule (where success or expertise in a field requires about 10,000 hours).
Read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers for a mind opening perspective on how much "luck" and timing plays into individual "success".
Your post summarizes Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers
on extremely successful people quite well -
it's mostly being born to a) rich parents who can afford to pay for extra-curricular activity, good schools or who have the time to "improve" their kids or b) being around schools or universities that can recognise the talent and give talented kids the input and resources they need. Both a) and b) are based on pure luck.
For an example, check out Bill Gates' early life: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates#Early_life
Rich parents, exclusive school (with their own computer! unheard of at the time) and local companies that let Gates and other kids screw around on their computers. Luck!
This faintly reminded me of the opening few chapter(s) of Gladwell's Outliers that I'd read a few years ago.
I am not drawing any conclusions whatsoever. I am referring to an established literature of considerable volume. For a good popular take on all of this there is a big and very well cited section of Outliers
by Malcom Gladwell that outlines all of this in a conversational manner. The problem is that you are pretending to be interested in this material without bothering to spend the effort to seek out and read existing findings.
If Hispanic people eating far more fruits and vegetables is a key detail as you suggest then why is it that Hispanic peoples in the US are so much more likely to be obese? You really would do yourself a favor by consulting some of the existing literature about this rather than leaning on oversimplifications or attacking me for having dared to refer to studies I have read that may be relevant to this material.
More insight from Malcolm Gladwell. Check out his discussion of Outliers
] too. Software entrepreneurs may find this interesting: "I actually have a lot of fun with birthdates in Outliers. Did you know that there's a magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur? And another magic year to be born if you want to be really rich? In fact, one nine year stretch turns out to have produced more Outliers than any other period in history. It's remarkable how many patterns you can find in the lives of successful people, when you look closely."
I think you are taking it too far. I read his book Outliers and enjoyed it. And while he may have used the word expert, the overall message of the book that o got was that practice and experience is more important than talent. And there are very few cases I think where that doesn't hold up. And the "outliers" tend to be those that not only practiced a lot, but also had raw talent and lucked out to be in a position to be able to practice a lot.
The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg (highly recommended)
Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson (recommended)
Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari (audiobook recommended)
Boomerang - Michael Lewis (great if you have a light interest in macroeconomics)
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (recommended)
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell (recommended)
Joyland - Stephen King (great, short read)
Creativity, Inc. - Ed Catmull (Parts on the history of Pixar were interesting)
> I haven't read Gladwell's books, but read most of his New Yorker articles.
A significant part of what people (myself included) condemn about Gladwell is that you aren't losing anything at all by doing that.
How David Beats Goliath was a pretty interesting New Yorker article built around 2-3 very good stories, connected by some less-than-great history and dubious analysis. (Gladwell repeatedly implies that it's better to be David than Goliath, because Davids who use unusual strategies win more than half the time. He never manages to acknowledge that he's only looking at conventional-strategy Goliaths, and excluding cases where David looked for alternate approaches but found none.) Still, I'm glad I read it. The Eurisko strategy game story is superb, and the full-court press basketball narrative provides an interesting analogue to similar strategies in other sports like 'small ball'.
David and Goliath consisted of those 2-3 very good stories in a 300+ page book, filled out by tenuously-connected stories, ludicrously cherry-picked anecdotes, and confirmation bias filled blunders through sociological data.
Gladwell is definitely a talented storyteller, and turned loose on the right stories that's not to be underestimated. But his book-length works are scattered and heavy on filler at best. At worst, they're things like Outliers, which is focused and persuasively argued - at the cost of wildly misrepresenting the basic facts it relies on.
Yes. Malcolm Gladwell loves to write about his own brilliantly uncovered anecdotes...
Peak loses a lot of that, and is co-authored by a psychologist who is behind a lot of more scientific work in the area of expertise (his work is also referenced in Outliers).
In general, I recommend people skip Outliers (really just skip Gladwell entirely) and read Peak instead.
It's great to see that someone else "gets" this. There's a lot of great research and evidence that supports your thesis, and I don't think that the majority of the population has any idea that it exists. People still seem to be enthralled with this idea that there are geniuses out there who never had to work hard or practice... as if Jimi Hendrix just picked up a guitar and played it to perfection without ever practicing for a second.
For anyone interested in the research in this area, there is a great piece from Harvard Business Review by K Anders Ericsson called The Making of an Expert. And Malcom Gladwell's Outliers is also a fun read on the topic.
I think we are currently demystifying the process of becoming "talented" at any given endeavor. The quicker we realize that we aren't "born to x" we can begin to put in the work necessary to make it look like we were "born to x."
I'm also finishing Atlas Shrugged finally this week, having just finished The Fountainhead. Next on my list is Anthem, then I think I'll go back to some non-fiction for the next couple books... like Outliers and Capital and Freedom.
When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi (highly recommended, but come prepared)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany (recommended for HP nostalgia)
Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance (recommended)
Shoe Dog - Phil Knight (highly recommended)
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell (meh)
The Gene - Siddhartha Mukherjee (currently reading, recommended so far)
Great article! All the points are right on the mark - but open to interpretation as I can see from the comments so far. We meet a lot of founders and I see them pointing out to Outliers
all the time. Getting Real book and stuff like that. If one could write a book to build a successful startup or emulate Outliers, we'd all be running billion dollar companies. There's a lot more to success than a single recipe.
Most importantly, I think you can learn from Outliers and apply but think of your OWN WAY TO BUCK CONVENTIONAL WISDOM and do it in a way that you believe it and are passionate about making it happen.
Yes, and yes. Good for you, and I agree.
The fact remains, Gladwell's most recent book, Outliers, argues that there is no such thing as talent.
If you call someone talented, you're implicitly conceding they were somehow predisposed to have the skill they've got. Gladwell says there are no such predispositions, only histories, habits, and hard work.
UPDATE: the definition of TALENT I'm using is here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/talent
1. A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment. See Synonyms at ability.
This reminds me a lot of the book Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell. It seemed that, at least with respect to successful people, a large part of his thesis was that they were only successful because of their circumstance. However, the only unifying theme between all the successful individuals was that they put forth an extraordinary effort to master their fields for an extended period of time.
Gates sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night and taking a bus to work on an unused computer at a local college is a bad example of someone that was lucky with circumstance. It's an example of someone willing to do whatever it takes to create circumstances for himself. The same could be said for this chef.
> The adage was given a scientific basis when journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000-hour rule in his 2008 bestseller, "Outliers
Malcolm Gladwell declaring something based on cherry-picked anecdotes does not give anything a "scientific basis".
While Gladwell (very) often drives me crazy (he's a walking, talking Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect machine), I find Outliers to be his best book. You just have to reframe it mentally as "mastery generally involves a whole lot of practice, here are some stories illustrating that". Even when I vehemently disagree with his conclusions, he really is an excellent storyteller.
1. Born a Crime (audiobook) by Trevor Noah is an entertaining yet thought-provoking listen
2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (just gives a different perception to success all together, at least did for me)
3. Mastery (Robert Greene) - can be dismissed as Anecdotes but really powerful ones
4. Deep Work (Cal Newport) - a guy who doesn't like to be on social media and I found reading about him and stumbled upon this and it's absolutely an insightful read
5. The subtle art of not giving a fk - This is a short, beautiful and an amazing read even if you aren't looking for self improvement
"One subject in Outliers is what Gladwell calls the "mismatch problem," which refers to his idea that the qualifications which people look for/companies require in candidates when hiring often do not necessarily have any correlation to successful job performance - and often leads to poor hiring decisions."
He's also written on the problems in scouting athletes & picking teachers in the New Yorker.
I don't care if it's oversimplified. The 10,000 hour rule is brilliant for getting people past the difficult stages of learning a new skill. Can't play guitar? It's not because you were born without musical talent...it's because you haven't put in your time yet. Get to work. People aren't born playing guitar. They learn to play guitar...through practice...lots and lots and lots of practice...10,000 hours of practice!
For me, this realization was life-changing. And yes, I learned to play the guitar at the age of 40 after reading Outliers because I then had faith that with enough hours of hard work that I could do it. And I did. And now playing music is one of my greatest pleasures in life.
by Malcolm Gladwell: I bought this book after it was referenced in one of Alex Ferguson's books. It's a fascinating tale of how people became to be successful by being the right person in the right environment at the right time, from how Bill Gates dominated the world of software, to how The Beatles became one of the best bands in the world. It's a great reminder that a mixture of hard work, the right environment, and dumb luck will help you do well.
2) C# in Depth by Jon Skeet: Buying and reading this book is what led me to continue down the deep rabbit hole of .NET development, and following the C# language from version 1 onwards via the book is a great way to appreciate the language, as well as use it. As someone that writes C# daily this is the main book I recommend to existing devs.
3) Introduction to Algorithms by CLRS: This is a bit of a cheat, because I've only glanced at various pages of this book. I have a degree in Computer Science, but my maths knowledge is lacking (to put it kindly), so despite my degree I have only a practical understanding of a lot of the algorithms talked about in the book. It's been my goal for years to build up my knowledge of maths to the point where I can read this book cover-to-cover and actually understand what's going on. I'm still not there, but hopefully one day I'll make it.
Couldn't agree more and this is coming from someone with a similar background to the original poster.
If you plan on working for a company it is almost a requirement to have some form of four year degree these days, so lacking your GED or high school diploma will be a major blocker.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but the truth is that you are going to be working and grinding harder to prove your value than any of the other candidates with a degree no matter what your skill level is.
With that being said, I've been lucky enough to interview with many managers who didn't care about a degree and who gave me wonderful opportunities. I always have a nagging feeling though that my luck is eventually going to run out and not having a degree is really going to hurt me, especially as I move higher up the ladder.
I know many disagree with Malcom Gladwell, but he made a great point in his book "Outliers" on how many of the successful people we see today who didn't go to school or whatever benefited from other things around them. These are situations that not everyone has, so to look at a Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg and use them as a model of what can be done is somewhat risky. I'm not trying to be a downer or anything as I'm all about the underdog winning, but as I've become older I've realized that when you are the underdog the odds are stacked against you. You'll end up working 100x harder just to get to the same level as the others.
If you plan on working for yourself then disregard everything up above :)
Most non-fiction books usually spend about 80% of it explaining a concept.
Book summaries will tell you what the concept is, but not why it works or how they defend it.
The book Outliers has some very bold concepts - the 10,000 hour rule, as well as justifying that underdogs are usually the winners. These are easy to claim, hard to defend, and you have to read the book to understand it.
Which is why the 10K hour rule is absolute nonsense. It is meant to sell books by appealing to talentless individuals that make up the vast majority of the population. If you spend 10K hours playing tennis starting from childhood, you would not be a top pro. The only people who do that are those who already had talent and were successful at an early age based on that talent. That's the Outliers loophole. You can't find people without talent who spend 10K hours doing something, so therefore talent must not exist. If you can't understand this then there is just no hope for you. Outliers
is simply a book to let losers feel better about themselves. That's all.
Bill Gates is an extremely talented individual. It took going through Math 50 at Harvard to tell him that they were actually people in the world markedly smarter than he. A lesser individual in Bill's circumstance would not have been able to do what he did. They would have learned to program and become a mediocre career software engineer somewhere, which is what I think the vast majority of this site's readers are. Sure, keep telling yourself you're just as talented as Gates. Pathetic.
I don't see the "for Hackers" angle in this article.
Yes, you can think through problems while lifting but that's hardly unique to weight lifting. Ditto for books on tape.
I'm not hating on weight lifting here (I've been lifting consistently for 9+ years) but I just don't see this as being Hacker News.
PS - I think you meant to write "read" instead of "ready" here:
"In particular, the Freakonomics audio books are quite good as they are ready by the author, as is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell."
This. I'm listening to Outliers right now (where he builds up that concept). I can understand how people think Gladwell is a load of crap... if you focus on his points out of context. It was never "get 10,000 hrs and you'll be an expert", but instead "once you get to a certain level of talent/innate ability, it's deliberate practice that makes the difference."
Range was enjoyable, but it was essentially just a mirror image of Outliers
. The same sort of interesting anecdotes about some people you've heard of and some you haven't, but saying you should eschew 10k hours in favor of a more broad experience.
Felt like a very "poppy" sort of management book. Not bad, but def not highly recommended.
Some books I've enjoyed in the past year:
Wish to laugh?
* Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
* Yes please! by Amy Poehler
* Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
* Where Good Ideas Come from, by Steven Johnson
* The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene: An Intimate History both by Mukherjee Siddhartha
Learn (more) about great thinkers?
* Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci or Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
* Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight
Yuval Noah Harari 3 good ones:
* Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
* Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
* 21 lessons for the 21st century
From time to time, I try to put some good ones over here: https://greenido.wordpress.com/?s=book
Gladwell's book Outliers held this theory that the people who learned to be good at math are the ones who sat down long enough to see it through. It took about 22 minutes for someone to learn a basic fundamental of math. Most people give up by 2-5 minutes. Programming is a lot like that. Arguably those with good algorithm skills and such have even higher frustration tolerance.
Watch Malcolm Gladwell's interview with Fareed Zakaria for his book "Outliers
" (part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCt1Wc8Kx4U
, part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf3NalDYIT8
In "Outliers" Malcolm explores what makes a person successful and asks the question, "Why do some talented people flame out early while others go on to brilliant careers?"
Malcolm's main premise is, "Success doesn't have much to do with talent. It's almost always a product of hard work and the culture of which we live our lives."
But I think Malcolm is really describing the development of genius and how the environment/culture either encourages or discourages people from focusing on a certain areas or ideas. Go the wrong way and you miss developing into your true potential.
From my perspective, genius is not so much measured by IQ, although a high IQ helps, but genius can be measured by how rare and valuable your perspective is and how effectively you see patterns in- and make associations or connections among disparate ideas. Paul Cooijmans has a similar perspective (http://www.paulcooijmans.com/genius/).
Developing these rare or unique perspectives usually takes deliberate and devoted focus on something (like when Malcolm talks about the 10,000-hour rule).
Einstein wasn't a genius because he was most skilled in math -- he wasn't -- Einstein became a genius because he relentlessly explored a problem, following it our farther than anyone had taken it before. This allowed him to see connections that no one had seen before, and these connections/discoveries were valuable to humanity.
So yes, praise kids for their effort -- it's one of the requisite components of genius.
This article touches on a favorite subject of mine, the over-reliance on IQ tests as some meaningful metric of how someone will perform in a given job.
Smarts are good to have, but without hard work it's useless. Like a powertool without a competent handler. As an employer I've found over the years that the people that worked out best were not necessarily the ones that appeared to be the smartest, but the ones that were willing to go the distance. In my circle of entrepreneur friends the same pattern pops up.
In the book 'outliers' there is a whole chapter dedicated to the story related in the article about the experiment with the gifted children, it's an interesting read.
People like him, are made by many, many random acts, and of course dedication, around 10.000 hours is need it for be an expert in any field, any. What if "grandfather who was a grocer" was a plumber instead?
I Strongly recommend this book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
He studies outliers, their family, culture, timing. One of many fun facts is that almost every pro-hockey player in Canada is born in the early's month jan, feb, mar.
Why? they compete versus small children when their are kids, and those months of strength give them advantage, which sent them into better teams, with better coaches and so on..
Of course it's possible, it's just not helpful to the discussion. It's like reading Outliers
and then expecting a solution other than saying: put in 10,000 hours and then hope you're in the right place at the right time.
Focusing on what they've done, rather than their race, gives others a chance to disassemble and possibly, duplicate what they've done. Race is used as a disqualifier, rather than a single factor...that's what I have a problem with.
Outliers is a fun book about this type of stuff. It's not that the creator "hacked" the system for Flappy Bird -- all signs point to him being a super authentic game designer who just made his game, and for lack of a better word "lucked" into all the right circumstances. However, it's still interesting to try to determine which factors played a role in something that clearly had such a non-standard trajectory. Everything that goes "viral" has to have some catalyst that created the opportunity to go viral. Nobody knew about Flappy Bird in May, hence it could not go viral. Something changed in December and that is what is so fascinating.
by Malcolm Gladwell
It made me realize that the people who exceed in some field aren't only smart: they also rely a lot on their experiences. For example, most hockey players are born in the first part of the year. Why? The deadline for young hockey leagues is January 1st.
Or take Bill Gates. His mom started a programming club for his school, back before computers were easily accessible, meaning he had programmed a ton by college.
Or take the Beatles. In their early years, before they were famous, they played daily 8 hour shows.
I've found other people like this: Bode Miller (a great skier) had parents that owned a ski hill, and lived at the area. He grew up on skis.
Malcolm Gladwell mentions a "10,000 Hour Rule." Once you do something for 10,000 hours, you're an expert at it. You see this even in college classes: students who don't try don't do well. Students who do try get good grades.
So when people say, "Oh, you're so smart!", I replace it with, "You've had the experiences you need." Yes, you do need to be smart, but that's not where the base comes from.
The Amazon link searches for books written after the year 2000, and the copyright at the bottom is 2001-2014.
Also, Outliers came out in 2008.
Gladwell found that family income was the primary determinant of success not intelligence. Most gifted students from poor families did not do well.
"Gladwell continuously reminds the reader that genius is not the only or even the most important thing when determining a person's success. Using an anecdote to illustrate his claim, he discusses the story of Christopher Langan, a man who ended up working on a horse farm in rural Missouri despite having an IQ of 195"
Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - Mssrs Dell, Gates and Jobs are all the same guy, largely social forces put them where they are.
Quit trying to suck up to the people on here. They are not talented people. This would be obvious to you if you had any talent at all. These people are mostly 30-some career software engineers who fantasize about becoming entrepreneurs and like thinking of themselves as hackers even though they lack the skills to justify that term. There's some good domain technical knowledge here, but very little actual intelligence. Just read any math links (everybody upvotes to look good, but nobody comments because they don't really understand - or they write really dumb comments).
If you can read Outliers and not understand the horrible science and generalizations behind it then you are an idiot. 120 IQ?? Are you kidding me? Maybe it makes you feel better because you only have a 120 IQ, but that precludes you from achieving anything meaningful in math and science. High IQ does not mean you will be a high achiever, but only those with exception IQ's are able to achieve in certain fields.
This is the problem with America. This is why America will lose to China in the next decades. We are trained to feel better about ourselves be devaluing those with superior intellect and ability.
Thanks for this. It sounds like a good reason to read Outliers. I've seen it recommended a lot but haven't wanted to read it because I really struggled to get anything out of The Tipping Point (I thought it was a cliched version of the non-fiction category: a couple of ideas repeated over and over, full of anecdotes and trying to connect unrelated things… completely unscientific).
With all my heart, I agree with you; but I wished I shared some of your enthusiasm.
I've been brought up with the saying, 'The sole purpose of education is to help a person think sensibly in difficult times'.
However, I've not come across any _major_ shift in education systems worldwide. Yes, there are heartening stories about a few charter school systems  and a few countries making strides (like Finland). But these are one off success stories.
I do hope that technology companies make a step towards solving this.
But our startup culture, unfortunately, also is laced with trying to 'show growth' all the time and that leads us to think short term too.
Perhaps something like the LTSE may help private players take long term bets (fingers crossed).
Also, even the history of education is ripe with missteps , mind you :) not unlike the decision by YouTube here (as someone said, The road to hell is paved with good intentions)
Don't get me wrong, I want to be as optimistic as you are :)
(I think I came across this while reading Outliers by Gladwell)
In Malcolm Gladwell's latest book Outliers
he uses hockey players as an example of how genetics (or talent) isn't necessarily a deciding factor.
Top-level Canadian hockey players are disproportionally born in the early months of a year. This is because the cutoff for deciding which league to play in is January 1st. Kids born in the first half of the year are older and bigger than the other kids. They make it onto the best teams in the best leagues and get more practices. Ultimately this advantage allows them to play professionally at a higher rate.
Malcolm Gladwell showed how small advantages often turn into huge advantages over time in his book "Outliers
". I realize its not universally applicable, but his anecdote shows that more things are winner-take-all than you would think.
Brief Summary of His Case Study:
A hugely disproportionate number of Canadian NHL players are born in the first couple months of the year. Someone investigated this, and attributed this to the cutoff date for kids' hockey leagues was January 1st. Note that this is for ~7 year old kids or something. Because kids grow so rapidly, the boys born in January and February had a small but real size and strength advantage over the hockey players born towards the end of the year. This lead to the older players being perceived as superior (because they were), and therefore getting more attention from coaches and more playing time. This in turn made the gap one not just of size, but also skill. These better players eventually went to play on travel teams and play even more hockey with more attention, and got much better. Some of these eventually went to play in the NFL.
by Malcolm Gladwell.
What it helped me see is that we aren't necessarily born with world class abilities but that we can achieve them by working hard. I know there have been criticisms about the methods Gladwell outlines towards achieving mastery but the basic message about working hard towards mastery is valid.
It completely changed my view on why people become Masters in their field.
Ok, so the kids are not programming but they are getting started with both development and business at a very young age and that's great. Getting even just a few years of a lead over the other kids their age really helps in the long run.
Keep in mind that in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (http://goo.gl/VC2FC) it shows that just getting a head start makes a huge difference.
I'm like you. White and use to think the same. Love him or hate him, the last chapter, A Jamaican Story, in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers really pierced my heart. I can't fathom what it must be like. I think those that despise affirmative action take things personally. They are right, sometimes it's not fair since they busted their butt, paid their dues, etc but lose out possibly because the color of their skin. It sucks and I'm sorry.
by Malcolm Gladwell
Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki
If, in my nonfiction book, I write, "Under normal circumstances, water boils at 80 degrees celsius," then I am a liar, and there is nothing I can say after the fact that will excuse my behavior.
Malcolm Gladwell often writes lies in his nonfiction books. I have found myself personally deceived by some of his lies. For instance, on page 39 of Outliers, he writes:
The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals”, musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks.
The first time I read this passage, I thought it was one of the most extraordinary pieces of information I'd ever encountered. It meant that practice almost completely determines ability! I mostly believed that for more than 4 years. (And so did the rest of the world -- that's the core of the 10000 hours meme.)
It turns out that the passage is completely false. Ericsson's study did not actually say anything about individual violinists at all -- it only ever reported average statistics of groups of violinists.
Other studies of the relationship between total practice time and ability have found that different people may reach a given level of ability with enormously different practice totals. For instance a study of chess players found that the average amount of practice time needed to reach the Master level is ~11000 hours -- but the standard deviation of the distribution is more than 5000 hours. One person only took 3000 hours to reach Master level. Another took 23000 hours. 
Calling this kind of deception "being playful with ideas" is absurd.
 Note: I have not read the study in question. My info comes secondhand, from http://www.sportsscientists.com/2011/08/talent-training-and-... and http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/media/books/H....
by Malcolm Gladwell
* The Checklist Manifesto
Cue comments about how Elon Musk is doing so much more with his money than everyone else, and how SpaceX/Tesla Motors/SolarCity are so much more valuable than anything else.
Cue complaints about how no one works on hard problems any more, and that everyone is just chasing instagram/facebook/twitter/groupon/zynga/social/local/mobile.
Forget that Elon Musk started an advertising/publishing company in 1995-1997, intelligently riding the bubble, and then created X.com (a more complex Mint.com), which he then merged with Confinity to create PayPal (from where he was essentially fired - unfortunately).
Forget that battery tech wasn't useful enough until just over 5 years ago (not nearly dense/cheap enough), and how we needed the massive production increases in laptop battery production for Tesla to make sense. Also forget that NASA had 0 use for SpaceX until the Space Shuttle program was shutdown - which is curiously lined up with the COTS program. Also forget that Solar panels required massive production gains thanks to China which only occurred within the past 5 years. Finally, ignore the fact that he would never have been able to do anything without the money from a stupid email payments thing.
Big problems are awesome. Little problems are better.
Everyone starts small. Even Elon (a personal hero of mine and a man I deeply respect).
Start on new small things, work hard, and TIME your entry/exit with extreme precision. Malcolm Gladwell says a lot of things which are "truthy", but his Outliers book was right on the money.
"Big things have small beginnings" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB52xyaY4kk).
Okay, so I've been meaning to get this off my chest -- I'm a bit peeved by the fad of deriding Gladwell for a panoply of accounts. All of a sudden it seems that everybody's hopping on the cool wagon where the new thing is scorning Malcolm Gladwell. The 10,000 hours model is rather loosely made in the Outliers
book. He does not say '10,000 hours exactly' will give you worldclass skill in area x -- he says roughly 10,000 hours, with expert instruction, constantly pushing the boundaries, etc. will get you mastery.
Just like Norvig does not say 10 years exactly will make you a worldclass programmer.  It's said in loose terms. Basically, it's just a more marketable and fun way of saying 'Practice makes perfect' -- and I applaud both Gladwell and Norvig for once again saying it again and inspiring people to really work hard at whatever they want to be good at.
The answer to all such questions should be:
"As early as you can."
Here's the reasoning. If you are doing what you love to do, it should be nearly impossible to stop doing it. If you are doing what you love to do you will try to do it as often as you can, so regardless of your intelligence, current skills, or general aptitude you will continue to improve until you are at the best of your abilities. If you are smart enough to post on HN, then you've passed the "am I smart enough" test. From that point on it is only a matter of when, not if.
What do you find yourself doing all the time (everything included)? That is, or is closely related to what you should do. If it isn't programming then programming isn't what you should be doing, and you should exit ASAP so you can pursue the thing you truly enjoy and therefore will excel at.
For reference you should consider reading "Outliers"  by Malcolm Gladwell, and check out Simon Sinek's talk  about marketing and how leaders inspire action. In particular the segment about the wright brothers vs Samuel Pierpont Langley starting ~7:50
This explanation is also given in Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.
I have 4:
-Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography - you can download it for free
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - A bit simplistic but it opens your eye to the fact that talent is a small part of being successful in whatever you want to achieve.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - You need people to succeed. Making enemies or just treating people indifferently is a bad move.
- 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey. People put it down because the advice seems to be common sense but it's only common sense if you know it but not everyone knows it.
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius- this is a lifelong guide. Read it until the pages fall apart and then get another and do the same.
All these books can be read multiple times and you'll learn something new so get hard copies if you can.
I have seen a fair bit of 'red shirting' also. It seems quite strange to me - but then I graduated high school at 17 (no skips) and many high school students in my town are 19 when they graduate now. The inevitable result of 7 year old kindergarten students I guess (btw one of my sons is 6 and in first grade).
After reading Outliers at least I have a theory of why I was a crappy hockey player with my October birthday.
While I agree that too much of a good thing is a bad thing, I disagree with the spirit of the article. Yes, children should not be adults. But let's face it, America's percentage of overbooked, stressed, kids is nothing compared to the overwhelming masses which are under-challenged and not interested in school or learning. The U.S. is so far behind in education--having school years much shorter than the top countries like Finland and Japan--that overworking our kids should be the last thing we are worrying about.
Malcolm Gladwell makes a point about [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concerted_cultivation] Concerted Cultivation in his book Outliers that I think is very appropriate to the topic at hand.
One more thought: If a child from China read this article, he would probably laugh. I say, work our kids harder! Damn punks...
This post made me think of the book Outliers by Gladwell -- the Zucks and Gates of this world are very much a result of hard work, but they're also a result of being in exactly the right place at the right time. But I've got some good news: Most of you are quite young here and tech is filled with cycles. Maybe you don't get to be the next Gates or Jobs, but you could still be the next Larry Ellison or Michael Dell. I'd also remind everyone that tech is a fickle mistress, and that only about twelve years ago Steve Case was the conquering hero when AOL merged with Time Warner. Don't be depressed -- stay hungry, stay foolish!
Today I was thinking about the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing. That's his theory from the book Outliers
(which I haven't read) which argues that to become a true expert in something requires 10,000 hours of practice.
Now, say I wanted to become an expert in programming. To the point where I was an elite 10x developer. If I quit my job and lived off my savings, I could conceivably work on programming 100 hours per week. So after ten weeks I'd have 1000 hours, and after 100 weeks I'd have my 10,000. So that's two years or so at a minumum.
But living off savings for two years would be incredibly costly. Working full time would let me squeeze in say 20 hours a week, so I'd now take 10 years to reach the golden 10,000 hours or experience. If I cut down to a part time job, it would take 20 years.
I think the latter two are unrealistic because they take so long. The 100 hour per week option is more of a possibility. With universal basic income, everyone would have the opportunity. If lots of people pulled it off, the productivity gains for society would be enormous.
Obviously there's lots of people in society who have this sort of spare time and simply do not use it. However I think there's an argument that the people most likely to achieve this 10,000 hours goal are people who are gainfully employed and wouldn't pursue it without some sort of income support.
Ericsson has gone so far as to dedicate an entire six-page section in his 2017 book [Peak] to a discussion of [Outliers]'s popularization of the catch phrase "the ten thousand hour rule". In the section he lists three reasons why this phrase is misleading, and one way in which it is accurate.
The central theme of [Peak] is to review what things all experts have in common, irrespective of their varied fields: these being a habit of deliberate, purposeful practice and mental maps.
[Peak] Peak: Secrets from the new science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
[Outliers] Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Having read Outliers
, I understood the "10,000 hour rule" as a rule of thumb for what it takes to go from zero to meaningfully better than most people on pretty much any given subject (aka: an expert).
Subsequent to reading the book, I do notice that the rule is also widely used as a convenient way to deliberately misinterpret the book & rule and write snarky articles. Somehow people think it's clever & fair to take a single phrase out of a multi-hundred-page context and ridicule it for not inherently being encyclopedic in depth and peer-reviewed.
Undiscussed is that the "outliers" the book investigates are people who started with "10,000 hours", having achieved that level of practice when most competitors (themselves forming a tiny segment of the general population) are just beginning their 10KH. Also, they tend to do so when the rest of the field is just beginning to form. Bill Gates had his 10,000 hours in before starting college - and did so just as the "personal computer" was starting to emerge. The Beatles had their 10,000 hours in before leaving high school - and were ready when mass-distribution music + rock & roll were emerging as the norm. To wit: it takes 10,000 hours practice (that's working on the hard stuff, not the familiar/easy) to become an expert; it takes having done that before that expert's peers to become an outlier.
For anyone that hasn't heard, the "10 thousand hour" catch phrase was created be Malcom Gladwell in his book [Outliers
], when Malcom misunderstood the research results of Anders Ericsson.
Ericsson has gone so far as to dedicate an entire six-page section in his 2017 book [Peak] to a discussion of [Outliers]'s popularization of the catch phrase "the ten thousand hour rule". In the section he lists three reasons why this phrase is misleading, and one way in which it is accurate.
The central theme of [Peak] is to review what things all experts have in common, irrespective of their varied fields: these being a habit of deliberate, purposeful practice and mental maps.
[Peak] Peak: Secrets from the new science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
[Outliers] Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
I liked Gladwell's take in Outliers
on this topic.
Impoverished immigrants are more successful than American born poor because of the belief that amount of effort has a high correlation with success/results. This belief is cultivated through culture values (ex: Chinese proverbs on working hard) and working in a profession with a direct link between effort and result (owning tailor shops, dry cleaners, restaurants, etc.).
That mentality is transferred to the immigrant's children, who end up becoming more successful than the children of the American poor despite their parents' inability to teach them English or American culture (advantages that the children of American born poor comparatively have).
I think you are over-simplifying the situation. Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers popularized the notion that a person needs on average 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a given task. A lot of people took this to mean, "if you put in 10,000 hours of practice, you will become a master." This is not true. The 10,000 hours of practice is necessary, but not sufficient. The practice has to be _intentional_, guided, goal-oriented practice. Not just playing the same song or making the same shot over and over.
It is from Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book he suggests that this happens because at a young age these kids born in January have an age advantage over their peers.
During adolescence physical development can be a substantial advantage and one born in January compared to another born in August will be physically different in terms of development.
Therefore, they are better from the start due to physical advantage. This results in more coaching and more attention, therefore they are encouraged to progress further in baseball.
Very good book for those not familiar.
Its a sad reality of the culture prevalent amongst poor and rich muslims. Hopefully no one becomes a target of any blasphemy laws.
With that said, as someone who grew up as a direct witness to honor cultures and strong religious roots, labelling people who carry out violence as sadist is deluding yourself to reality. This isn't sadism, this isn't even fundamentalism. This is basis of a culture in which honor and religion are above anything else, and anything which deviates from the set rule is eliminated. Not doing so is considered outside the norm.
For an easy read on honor cultures, check out chapter six of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and also watch HBO's doc on honor killings called A girl in the river.
I thought Outliers by Malcom Gladwell was a good book, but maybe it's an exception. It really shed some new light on life in general, so I'm glad I read it as a high school junior. It's ignorant to write off an entire genre of books, even if much of the genre is comprised of convenience store bookshelf "Become a millionaire overnight!" title bait books on the subject; when an author takes a closer look at what success really is, it can actually be a worth-while read.
Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers has this story and others of that generation of computer billionaires.
I have a contrarian view about reading productively, which is: READ WHAT OTHERS AREN'T READING.
It's as if there is a similar process as the Efficient Market Hypothesis happening with books: the best-sellers define our shared reality, and apparently (at least for me), they aren't worth reading.
For example, think of Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. Virtually everyone has heard of the 10'000 hour rule. That means that the first thing you have to do to be more productive in your reading is start by NOT reading Outliers: all its content is already common knowledge.
Which brings me to this post. No matter how many books the author is reading, he is simply reviewing what everyone else (Atomic Habits, Thinking Fast and Slow, Grit) is reading too. So there is little value in what he reads, because it's discounted by what "everyone" knows already.
What do you guys think about that? Am I too off course?
The first chapter of Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers has a plausible explanation... he gives an example of how successful hockey players are disproportionately born in the months of January, February, and March. To poorly summarize the explanation, it is that the kids who started out with a slight advantage (i.e., being slightly older and bigger than the other kids) have their advantages multiplied over time because they are singled out for extra training and opportunities for growth (all-star games, travel teams, etc). In the case of chess, it is possible that the initial slight advantage (being a boy) does not even exist, but is only perceived, but if boys receive more encouragement, training, and opportunities than girls, the end result could be the same.
After I read Outliers
, I actually believed 10,000 hours myth for sometime until I realized Gladwell is journalist who can convince you with any argument with series of anecdotes as opposed to scientist who gathers data and calculates stats. The turning point for me was mountaineering training which IMO is one of the most demanding "sport". It was very quickly apparent to me that for same amount of conditioning efforts I was no where close in performance to people who were "born with it". As I read more books on mountaineering it was clear that elite or even moderately competent people in this field has significantly larger lung size, fast lactic acid clearance and extremely efficient slow burn metabolism. Most of these comes from genes and with practice you can improve things to some degree and get much better with it but you simply can't climb 8000m without Oxygen like Ed Viester did or do North Face under 2.5 hours like Ueli Steck or speed climb 3 major Yosemite walls in 24 hours like Dean Potter does.
All nature vs nurture debates end in one simple conclusion: It's not neither nor or either or, it's both.
Business owners control wages only in the event that labor supply outstrips demand. After the 70s, due to globalization and technology, the demand (in the US) for modestly educated bodies dropped, while the demand for (a comparatively smaller number of) highly educated workers increased.
When you can buy steel from China or run a car factory with robots, what do the 20,000 workers that used to work there do? Google has ~20K employees worldwide and it's worth $175B, the old USX steel plant on the South Side of Chicago has 20,000 workers within 2 square miles. Tech companies create jobs, but nowhere near the number that manufacturing used to.
I never mentioned whether this was a good thing or not. I think that every person that doesn't get autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward (worth reading the book Outliers just for that 3-item list), society will be poorer overall. So I think that unemployment and underemployment are huge drags on the economy, not to mention how devastating they are to the people involved.
"I personally believe that additional productivity of a worker should benefit the worker not just the employer" - this happens when the worker creates unique or hard-to-replace value. I too wish everyone could do this, and it's one of the main reasons to do a startup.
"i also believe that there should be institutions in place to promote and foster lower income inequality." - you can argue that YC is doing this, by teaching founders how to become richer than they would have otherwise been. The question is if this method (teach people to create more value vs capture value from those that create it) will scale to a whole society. I personally doubt that, so the question is how much to take from the top, and where to set the floor.
I really enjoy listening to pretty much anything the folks at Full Cast Audio have done; http://www.fullcastaudio.com/
Other than their work i've recently listened to Bill Bryson reading his autobiography, "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid", as well as Malcolm Gladwell reading his book, "Outliers".
I usually listen to the previews in the iTunes music store to get a feel for the narrator.
Two good books I read recently:
1) Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku
2) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (I haven't read Atlas Shrugged yet. So cannot compare them.)
Yesterday I finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and it is a very good book too.
Currently reading: What They Teach you at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism by Philip Delves Broughton
is a fun read, and short. Just as with all Gladwell it's long on idea consistency and short on numerical rigor.
But this is sort of a misinterpretation anyway. The point isn't that 10k hours is enough to make you a master in isolation, it's that masters don't get to be masters before 10k. At the top end of elite practitioners of any art, talent still matters.
So I am not familiar with all of his books and it was some time I've read the last one (Outliers
) but he doesn't give (at least not much) direct possibly harmful advice to people. He just describes some phenomena and some bold theories to explain those. It's not like you will hurt yourself committing to 10k hours of deliberate practice in your field or something.
On the other hand Oprah with her promotion of The Secret which is potentially very harmful if you start applying things it advocates or Kiyosaki with his books/mlm promotion are better candidates to put into scam category.
Cool, I'll check it out and put it on my list! I've read all the books on the current list, that was sort of my starting point. I think I use almost everything on the site, with the exception of a few tools. Some of the books don't necessarily pertain to startups, but I felt they had value in the message they were delivering. Outliers is generally loved/hated and, while the science behind his data is lacking, I still like the message of hope and perseverance it delivers. Thanks for the suggestion though! Keep them coming!
Dunno about that.
I read the first seven (I think) chapters of Outliers, and I can only remember Gladwell using two statistically relevant pieces of information: that sports players are born close to the cutoff line for their sport, and that violinists who have a chance to become virtuosos have uniformly practiced about 10000 hours, while the merely "good" ones have practiced about 8000 hours and the bad ones have practiced 4000 hours. (Incidentally, I don't really believe the second one -- because it implies that all kinds "effortful practice" are exactly as efficient as one another.) I'm not saying that there weren't others, just that I can't remember them.
I can remember at least eight statistically irrelevant anecdotes, though, and certainly I think anecdotes (and boilerplate) made up at least 80% of those first seven chapters. Plus his anecdotes kind of sucked. The Beatles prove the 10000 hour rule? Okay, I guess. Bill Joy? I don't really think so. Bill Gates? Hell no.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The lesson on the surface is that you need to practice/work to become good at anything, but the deeper message for me was that everything is basically preordained. People are acting based on what's logical to them, which is the sum of their experiences. Since we can't control what happens to us, we aren't really in control of what we do either. I mean, the future is still wide open, but looking back, everything happens for a reason, and those reasons are pretty much out of our control. I'm not entirely certain that was the message Gladwell was trying to portray, but that's how I've viewed life ever since I read that book.
I think that calling Gladwell's suggestion that 10,000 hours is the magic number to become an expert bogus based on your single data point is a bit hasty. Gladwell didn't say that everybody who puts in 10,000 hours of band lessons becomes the Beatles. The way I interpreted the book was that the 10,000 hours of practice was simply a prerequisite to becoming the Beatles. There were numerous other factors outside of this practice time requirement that lifted the Beatles to fame. Many of those factors were luck-driven, including but not limited to inherent talent that they were born with.
In fact, my interpretation of Outliers was that being good is simply a prerequisite - the rest is heavily luck-driven even though nobody really likes to talk about it.
While reading Gladwell's book Outliers
I got the distinct impression that you could effectively argue against his thesis, that successful people are only successful because of their circumstance, without changing many words in his book. What Gladwell fails to understand is that what makes a person an outlier isn't that they happen to have expended energy getting good at something that people want, it's that they took the time and effort to get good at something to begin with. What makes a person an outlier is the dedication and motivation to truly become an expert at something.
For example, in his book Gladwell says that Bill Gates is a victim of circumstance, and gives examples of that circumstance. One example was that Gates frequently snuck out of his parent's house in the middle of the night to ride a public bus to a local college where he worked on an unused computer terminal. Similarly, Gladwell tells a similar story about Steve Jobs, in which he looks up Bill Hewlett's number in the telephone book, and calls him to ask if he can have some spare electronic components to construct something for a school science project. What makes those two outliers isn't that they had the opportunity to do those things, it's that they actually did them. In both cases, they created an opportunity for themselves, then seized the opportunity. They didn't just created one opportunity, however, they created and took advantage of hundreds of opportunities, each time further leveraging their cumulative advantage. If it was truly just circumstance, then everyone living within bus distance to a college with an unused computer, and everyone with a telephone and a phone book should have founded Microsofts and Apples.
There is an interesting observation about Asian cultures made by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers
. He argues that one of the reasons why Asians are _statistically_ better at math than others is because of the language and cultural legacy. More precisely, it is a lot easier to remember numbers in Chinese (and other Asian languages, apparently) than in English, giving Chinese children a head start in mathematics. This turns into quite an advantage by the time they reach college.
He also argues that societies that were developed on rice farming tend to be more diligent as it is a lot more labor intensive work than ,for example, wheat farming. Also Chinese feudalism had more of a "hands off" approach, where the landlords were always taking a fixed amount of their earnings. So while Europeans were making pretty much the same amount of money during all their harvests, Asians had an income which was more proportional to their efforts.
There is a lot more to it for sure, and I don't know if he is right, but its certainly a nice read.
 - http://gladwell.com/outliers/rice-paddies-and-math-tests/
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - page turner
There are no words that can sum up Steve Jobs genius and his contributions to modern society.
On the other hand, I can't help but notice how much press/literature there has been on his genius and I think it's starting to be excessive. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not a fan of literature that praises success and goes in-depth into the lives/processes of talented people(that's why I'm not a fan of Gladwell's Outliers book). Where can you draw the line between admiring someone's achievements and idolising their every trait?
Something I read in Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell shocked me into reconsidering my role as a father. I'm not a big fan of that book in general, but I found a pearl in there.
I used to think that I needed to set and enforce hard rules, as if this will teach my kids order. I don't want them to take the easy way out or try to negotiate everything. I thought my approach was a good balance to my wife's, as she doesn't assert much authority.
According to a study mentioned in Outliers, my style of parenting is prevalent among the poorer social class, and it leads to a mindset of resignation. Wealthier parents listen more to their children, negotiate with them, and help them take their place in the adult world rather than just be quiet and follow the rules.
This idea has connected a lot of dots for me, and I think I can be a better father than I have been.
Both of them are teaching children to be honest people. Chinese children scored higher just because they were trained earlier. That's it. And there are several minor reasons mentioned in book <Outliers: The Story of Success>. China has a lot of people, and there are cheaters to blame, it's not only about those cheaters' honesty, there are economic problems too. Try to generalize or portray all Chinese students as dishonest people are just not objective. If you wanted to play that game, who got more prisoner to citizen ratio? Given they read those cutie books taught them to be law-bide people.
This reminds me of Nassim Taleb's piece about his discussion on the Black Swan theory with an Italian colleague. The colleague argues that he would not have come up with the theory had he grown up in a Protestant culture because of its Platonic tendencies. Suffice it to say, Taleb uses hard evidence to prove such causality doesn't exist.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shows why Jewish lawyers tend to be more successful. A few decades ago, it was difficult for Jews to find work at the top Wall Street firms because of the WASP tradition. So instead they established their own firms and handled work that the WASP firms refused to touch, such as corporate takeovers. This work later became big in the 80's, and the Jewish firms were the ones that had all the experience, so the money went there.
It would be easy (and naive) to attribute the success of Jewish lawyers to their cultural heritage, but Gladwell's explanation is much more convincing, and he actually uses data to back his assertions up. I do think culture influences mindsets, but I also think it's practically impossible to discover how it does so. Arguments like the author's are absurd. However, it is fascinating how successful Jews tend to be overall, as pointed out in the article. I wonder what alternative explanations there are.
I actually didn't take "right place and time" to be the sole theme of Outliers
although I did think the confusing way in which the book was written suggested that.
I read from it a combination of the two. In a rambling way it said that in order to even be eligible for an "outlier" outcome you needed to have done the 10k+ hours but that doing the 10k+ hours was not enough.
i.e. Skill & work is necessary but not sufficient to end up building an outlier result like Google/Apple/Facebook/Goldman Sachs etc.
Another work-more-and-you'll-be-successful suggestions. Along with Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers
and countless blog posts.
How thick are we here at Hacker News? This isn't news. We know the value of hard work. It's what our parents have told us since we went to school. Why do we have to repeatedly reinvent the wheel with this suggestion?
I think it is a replicated result among students of gifted students that they GAIN ground intellectually during the summer school vacation, because they pursue their own intellectual interests by independent reading and aren't slowed down by the school curriculum.
Malcom Gladwell cites something similar in his book, Outliers - a study which showed that economically advantaged (high SES) kids progress in reading/math skills over the summer, while low SES students either stay within similar scores or score worse on reading/math tests over the summers. And by "something similar", I suppose I mean "the exact opposite" - kids whose parents engaged them in academic activities over the summer gained intellectually, while those left to "pursue their interests without a curriculum" fell behind.
FWIW Malcolm Gladwell's business bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success has a chapter devoted to explaining the superior safety record of American major airlines compared to foreign carriers: "The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes". Gladwell comes to the conclusion that foreigners are unsafe because they are ... foreign. They have a strange and defective culture that prevents the first officer (copilot) from speaking up and pointing out problems to the captain. If only everyone were American, the world would be a better and safer place. This article explores an alternative explanation: foreign airlines do comparatively poorly because their first officers have almost no pilot-in-command experience.
"A third of all Americans dying of medical malpractice is simply a fairly bold claim."
Not really because because most people only die after 4 or 5 things go wrong, which means that the causes of death sum to way over 100. E.g. close to 1 in 3 Americans die from drug use, and 7 out of 10 Americans die from chronic illness. But the way it works is that first someone will start smoking (drug use), which then causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic illness), and then they will go to the hospital get MRSA because the doctor didn't wash his hands (iatrogenic death).
In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers there is a whole chapter on planes that is actually very similar, in that usually 4 or 5 small mistakes have to be made to actually cause a crash.
I just read a book that I think would be enjoyable for anyone who has either internally or externally debated these things; "Outliers: The Story of Success
" by Malcolm Gladwell.
It's easy to credit them with hard work and think they deserve it. The biggest thing I notice is how many thousands (millions) of other people in the world have the exact same traits ("Seeing past the trees", "Ability to convince other people to believe in you", etc) and fail in our world.
has also recently made me think more seriously about the role of luck in an individual's overall success. It is amazing the role it plays. In fact, I'm really suprised that the book didn't mention Lord Timothy Dexter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Dexter
), who is the epitome of success by luck.
However, it hasn't changed my overall viewpoint that it is largely up to the person to continually position themselves such that they are receptive to luck. Another way to look at it is by stating the corollary... that the only certain path to failure is to not try.
"10,000 hours of training, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. Gladwell based this assertion on the work of Anders Ericsson, who studied classical violinists and found that, in every case, it had taken a regimen of 2-3 hours a day for 10 years to develop their abilities. Later research by Ericsson and others confirmed similar results in other fields."
"pros' endowments on these are four or five standard deviations from the population norm. They were likely selected for those endowments prior to most of their practice."
In the Outliers book, Gladwell also talks about the topic of how kids are selected for in sports. He uses the example of hockey. Essentially, the kids start out young and there isn't much difference in their ability in the beginning. But the 'chosen' kids get more attention, instruction and practice. So over the years they become "four or five standard deviations from the population norm", to use your phrase, but they don't start out that way.
In the hockey example, it comes down to size. A typical 6 and half year old is bigger, and that much more developed that a 6 year old, and they are slightly better players because of it. Essentially, this small advantage gets exaggerated.
So, according to Gladwell, people all start out in a very similar place, and it's the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and work that makes the difference.
I don't know if this guy will make the PGA (there aren’t too many spots), but I am confident he'll be several standard deviations better than the population norm.
I just skimmed Outliers
book by Malcom Gladwell. One of the things author discusses are differences in number systems in different cultures. He argues (in fact quoting Stanislas Dehaene ), that in eastern languages number words are shorter and faster to pronounce.
Thus, you can hold more of them at a time in memory (short term memory is very time sensitive).
You could say that you dont really need to 'pronounce' stuff to make mental operations, still they have sensory form (be it visual, auditory,...), so argument holds.
He also brings up the issue of regularity of eastern number systems making it much easier to do calculations in these languages - to an extent that it gives eastern children real advantage in math. Developmentally speaking.
I'll read his book and take them for what they are... He combines memes that are just under the radar of public awareness, and brings them to the national discussion. Even if the 10,000 hour rule is not rigorously supported, it's worth reading Outliers
because the ideas become part of the national conversation. His books are worth the 2 hour read.
I'm not sure if I appreciate him because my expectations are modest, but I've never viewed his books as a waste of time.
I hate to dump on someone's effort to motivate others, but this post is a dangerous extrapolation that combines Outliers  and the author's personal experience.
It promotes the idea of a magic number, and that hard work and time leads to returns (not true for the majority of startups). It encourages thinking like "Man I'm at the 950 hour mark, I'm almost there!", or even worse, planning one's product milestones around time spent.
One of the main attractions of the 10k hour rule is that there are few external stimuli that can negatively affect your learning/training.
If I decided to invest time in taking up the trumpet, I don't have to worry about competition with other budding trumpeters or whether BrassCrunch or Spitter News have effusive posts on my latest performances. I won't have to determine which percentage of the public 'gets' trumpets and plan how my playing should appeal to them.
With proper practice one hardly ever goes backward -- ability increases monotonically give or take a few plateaus. With startups you often go backward as you try to figure out your product-market fit and so on. Userbase size or revenue would not increase over time the way ability does when it comes to personal improvement.
1. I haven't actually read Outliers but I'm familiar with its thesis. If it's anything like Gladwell's other books, I recommend The Talent Code for better treatment of the subject matter. Norvig's http://norvig.com/21-days.html is also great reading.
I was reminded of Chapter 6 of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The chapter is called "Harlan, Kentucky," and discusses the feuds that took place there. He makes an attempt to blame it on genetic heritability, tracing it back to Scotland and forebears who herded sheep and practiced honor culture, with mention of a psych study showing Southern students responded differently to insults. Higher testosterone levels? I can't remember. I think it's unsettled that genetics plays a role, but why not?
I mostly agree, but one thing I saw was multiple 7 year olds in my kids' kindergarten classes. They were "red shirted" by their parents because after reading Outliers they thought it would give them an advantage. I think it ended up hurting those kids because they were bored. It also hurt the youngest kids (some nearly two years younger) who were physically and mentally outmatched. And it hurt the class because the teacher had to split attention between kids who were very different in maturity and ability.
This discussion made me think of the "Joe Flom" chapter from Outliers
by Malcolm Gladwell - https://www.litcharts.com/lit/outliers/chapter-5-the-three-l...
I post this not really as a rebuttal to your post, or the grandparent, but more of a "here's what success a couple of generations later" actually looks like and what some of its characteristics may be.
I think you might want to read Outliers
What I don't get about your post is how do you explain the Chinese, Indian and all the other students not being disengaged? They apparently found it very stimulating (according to the boston.com article). Do you attribute that to just the language barrier? I came here knowing very little English about 9 years ago. I had 2 months to learn before I went to high school (freshman year). It was brutal, but I did well in school; and I am nearly completely incapable of learning another language (I tried learning Spanish for years).
So what's left? Is it that the foreign students come from a culture where hard work is emphasised more?
I have not read this book but based on the article, I feel the concepts in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers > This book. Relationships do not prove causality, but David tries to with the stories of Van Gogh and Tiger Woods and Federer? The examples in the article leave me frustrated because professional artists and sports icons are not a repeatable success. Using those people as examples of success is bad data. I don't comment, this article bugged me for some reason. My takeaways are: Specialization matters, how you find 'your thing' is up to you. And figure it out well before you turn 40, unless you are Van Gogh.