Singapore-based financial blog that aims to educate people on personal finance, investments, retirement and their Central Provident Fund (CPF) matters.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (Book Review)

I would like to recommend this book to those that have not read it and are interested in finding the trends that contribute to success stories. Readers should take it with a pinch of salt as these are just general trends and generalizations that may not apply to individuals. However, it still gives a different perspective as to how people become successful which often are due to invisible, and what seems like insignificant factors.

This book consists of 3 different parts: an introduction, a part on opportunity and a part on legacy. The introduction offers a terrific summary into how the book is going to be structured by offering a case study on the Roseto Mystery. The author explained that in order to understand an individual's outcome, one must look beyond the individual. We must look into the effects of how different cultures, social connections or even the history of the town can structure one's mindset as one progresses into the society. I believe this is also the reason why Singaporean parents are frantically enrolling their children into the "prestigious" schools as they feel that this will aid their children in getting an inherent first advantage as they grow older.

Part 1 on opportunity offers insight on how opportunities are presented to the right set of people with the right set of characteristics. With this set of people, few are selected to be the success stories as they took upon the chance and grind towards their goals. While most are of nature such as birth dates, a person's IQ and their parents' demographics, there is an active attribute that we can adopt in order to increase our chances of reaching success. That is the 10,000 hour rule. Most success stories often only occur once the person has accumulated 10,000 hours. While the author did not explain the reason, what he offered is that the brain seems to evolve into another level, reaching a state where it is able to do that one activity with excellence once 10,000 hours of practice is achieved.

Part 2 on legacy shows how distinctive cultures affect our thinking subconsciously, thus contributing to success. This part explains the inherent part within us where we are influenced by our family, friends and co-workers. Some of which can affect the success of which industry we can thrive in. An example given in the book was the Hofstede's dimension where low power-distance-index (PDI) countries thrive better in being a pilot. This is because both pilot and co-pilot have to check and balance each other's flaws and coordinate in times of crisis.

There are numerous examples given in each factor to illustrate the trends that the author discovers. As I have said so in the beginning, it is advised that readers take it with a pinch of salt as it applies to the general society and people without the inherent characteristics can still succeed through determination and hard work.

Note: This is my first book review and I hope I have done it well. While I hope to offer more content on the book, I also wish to balance between offering insight instead of giving full information as stated in the book. I also hope that I have established certain amount of interest on the book such that you will want to read it as well and benefit. Do post your comments and discuss below!
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