The Story of Success

Gladwell, Malcolm

eBook - 2008
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.

Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2008.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780316040341
Characteristics: 309 p. :,ill. ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc
Alternate Title: Outliers (eBook)


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Oct 20, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Why are some people very successful? This is a fascinating and compelling review and raison d’etre of exceptional individuals who achieved extraordinary success. Gladwell’s analysis concludes that it takes a convergence of timing, ordinary factors outside one’s control (where and when one was born) added to preparedness, creativity and intelligence to produce the outstanding achiever – the outlier. This book will transform the way one understands success.

Sep 05, 2014
  • redban rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This book is a fun, comfortable read; it's a pop sociology fluff-piece after all. However, there are some assumptions that left much to be desired. Perhaps, if all areas of society are truly meritocratic, I would find validity and insight in the book's examples. Yes, practice makes perfect, but does perfection always cause success? I would suggest this is a tenuous assumption in the business world. If a large corporation spends say 30% on marketing/administration and only 15% on research/development, and lobbies to place barriers on start-ups, and simply buys out any new innovative company, this large corporation is the model of success given the incentives structure. But can it really claim perfection?

Sep 03, 2014
  • jootysun rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I loved this book! It was not only thought provoking, but one could really re-evaluate his or her own decisions on some of the frameworks that Gladwell presented.

I do like how he really values hard work in this book and downplays "talent," while society stereotypically excuses low performers by saying they lack "talent" or "intelligence".

Though he is by no means arguing that anyone can succeed with 10,000 hours of practice and the "right" mindset on hard work, he does raise some interesting points in how attitudes really determine one's "success."

Aug 31, 2014

I found this perspective very interesting and thought provoking. Can anybody with the same timing, opportunities and 10,000 hours of practice be successful?

Aug 20, 2014
  • StarGladiator rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

While I agree with Gladwell's overall thesis in the importance of externalities (too often we are fed an insane notion of solipsism today in America!) to success, I don't agree with many of the examples he posits. The comparison between a Bill Gates and a genius-level fellow from a much lower socioeconomic level, missing many advantages accorded Gates (whose mother sat on boards with the CEO of IBM, and therefore Gates was a known quantity for the DOS licensing, the sweetest licensing deal in human history, and a uncle who was the vice-president of First Interstate, original financing for the Microsoft startup, and hiring a fellow who had no qualms of copying Gary Kildall's CP/M operating system and renaming it DOS, and licensing other companies' apps and reengineering them into the Microsof OS, and on and on). When "pundits" claim little correlation between intelligence and success, therefore inferring that intelligence is unnecessary, they neglect to mention conclusive studies indicating that the greatest predictor of success is what family (as in the richest) one is born to! Real history does not ignore the theft of great inventions and work, be it Edwin Armstrong's FM frequency work (stolen by Sarnoff), Farnsworth's invention of the TV (also stolen by Sarnoff), the theft of the laser from the original inventor, Sears' theft of the ratchet wrench from the original inventor, Buckminster Fuller's misappropriation of the geodesic structure (the court later removed the patent from Fuller's ownership and transferred it to its rightful inventor) and on and on. (Nicola Tesla worked day labor for four years!) I do agree with Gladwell's final analysis in the need for a meritocratic approach, so unlike the fraud-based approach in the fraud-based society we exist in today. [One wonders at the education of a commenter who equates meritocratic opportunity with "socialism"?] I see rightwinger pop sociologist Gladwell at the opposite end of a man of integrity such as Chris Hedges. Not a Gladwell fan. Too bad Gladwell hired on to do a hatchet job on WikiLeaks, an exemplar of real free press, unlike Gladwell!

Jul 24, 2014
  • Da_Brain rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

For some reason, I thought it was a much better read than The Tipping Point.

May 06, 2014

This is a great work.

His reading style is complementary. Many authors read their own work poorly.

Jan 25, 2014
  • talktimereader rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Interesting read and lighter than expected.

Unique insights into successes and the roads to....

Jan 22, 2014
  • ravishri rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

What is it about? The premise is that successful people are successful because many things beyond their control have gone in their favor.

Pros: The book is well researched and well written. The author is clearly a good writer and makes his case using reasonable facts.

Cons: It downplays the hard work of the successful people. It also does not applaud the successful people for making the choices (i.e. factors that WERE under their control) that eventually played a big hand in them eventually being successful. As the saying goes "u can bring a horse to water but you cannot make it drink it". Using that analogy the author seems to believe that it is really the "bringing the horse to the water" part that was primarily responsible for the success that followed instead of the "horse choosing to drink it" part.

Oct 02, 2013
  • arttoad1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Well written and researched. I was expecting something else and was pleasantly surprised with the analysis by Gladwell. Rings true.

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Dec 15, 2011
  • ghreads rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success – the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history – with a society that provides opportunities for all.

Nov 05, 2009
  • dotdotdot rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

... and no one - not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses - ever makes it alone.


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