Outlier Trivia – A Book Report

23 Dec

If you’re tired of the same old stories at holiday parties a quick read through this book report, Outliers, will equip you with fun new trivia to share.

Malcolm Gladwell does a great job of using interesting research and stories to build a case. In the book Outliers, he builds the case that extraordinary success is not so much about hard work as it is time, location and heritage. He suggests people do not rise from nothing – they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages.

Here are a few topics…

The Matthew Effect – people that start out a little bit better than their peers get special treatment, training and advantages that lead to special opportunities. For example in sports, date of birth dramatically impacts likelihood of elite success. Seventy percent of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the first six months of the year (40% in the first three months.)

The 10,000-Hour Rule – apparently 10,000 hours of practice are required to achieve world-class mastery in almost any discipline; music, sports, writing, chess, etc. You only need 4,000 hours of practice to teach.

Bill Gates, while admittedly talented, smart and hard working, succeeded in part because he had unusual opportunities based on chance, and being born at the right time in history.

Wealth – of the 75 riches people in human history (starting with Cleopatra), 14 of the richest were American born within 9 years of each other in the mid 1800’s! How does one explain 20% of the richest people EVERY being clumped together like that? Opportunity – the railroad and Wall Street emerged.

IQ is good to a point (about 120), but does not translate into measurable real-world success. A study started in 1921 showed that the highest IQ kids in the class do not become Outliers or Nobel Prize winners.

Practical Intelligence is typically gotten from family. An extensive study examining a child’s ability to succeed in the world, based on economic factors, showed that children of poorer families were often better behaved, less whiny, more creative in making use of their own time and had a better sense of independence than kids from wealthier families. However, they are less able to advocate for themselves causing them to miss many opportunities.

Place and Time. There was a perfect birth date for New York Jewish lawyers – 1930. Based on the educational system at the time, the Depression, non-Jewish birth rates and Wall Street snobbishness, being born a poor Jewish immigrant in 1930 offered an opportunity that changed law firms forever.

Cultural Legacy. Feuds between families in Kentucky in the late 1800’s still affect well-educated, affluent descendents that never lived in the area,100 years later. In 1999 Korean Air nearly went out of business due to their inordinate number of plane crashes. The problem was not a lack of skill or equipment it was cultural norms. Apparently it was not OK to give the Captain negative feedback, which includes basic information.

Your only choice today is to expand your repartee of interesting facts and stories! If you like the book report, buy the book.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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