Friday, February 20, 2009

Book Review : Outliers

Book : Outliers
Author : Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher : Allen Lane ( Penguin Books)

Price : Rs 399

Book review # 8

I bought this book with lot of expectations . I was thoroughly impressed by Malcolm Gladwell's previous books - The Tipping Point and The Blink.
The main motivation for me to buy this book was the " tagline" of the book. Gladwell marketed this book as one which will explain the story of success and honestly I fell for it.

I am disappointed .
Unlike the earlier creations, Outliers is nothing to write about. It is an ordinary and often a very boring read, except for the first two chapters. I found the book boring may be because I expected too much out of it. I knew that it was not a self- help book that will give you a step by step approach to success but I expected a hell lot of insights into those beautiful minds that created successes.
The author defines Outliers as those who have achieved extraordinary success in their lives.

As a reader, my only take-away from this book is his 10,000 hours rule. It is a remarkable insight and may be that single insight makes the money spent on this book worthwhile.
The ten thousand hour rule is simple
If you want to be a genius in a chosen field , you have to put in 10,000 hours of practice/study.

That is it...

This is not a new insight . We all knew that hardwork is essential and hardwork = success equation has become a cliche. But nobody has put a quantitative benchmark to the amount of hardwork needed to become a success.
Malcolm Gladwell did a great service by putting a magical number to hardwork. I thank him for that. Now I can tell my daughter and students about the quantum of work they have to put in to become a genius.

To my surprise, after giving away a powerful insight, Gladwell tried to undo and negate this 10,000 rule in the rest of the chapters. By quoting outdated examples , Gladwell tried to establish that external circumstances play the major role in shaping outliers. So effectively he says that even if you put in 10,000 hours of study , you may not become an outlier ????????

Then he goes on proving his contradictions with examples from history and most of the examples were alien to me.

But in the marketing point of view, this book was marketed well. There will be lot of readers like me who may have bought this book thinking that Gladwell will reveal the secret key to success....
and the message given to us by the author was :

fool... try working hard.. nobody has become successful by reading a book...