Overview of Outliers The Secret of Success by Malcolm Gladwell .ppt

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					          Overview of
Outliers: The Story of Success
     by Malcolm Gladwell

                  Jim Campbell
               Black Cat Web, Inc.
       Web Solutions for Small Businesses
           About Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is a highly accomplished
journalist and author who comments on
social phenomena. Outliers (late 2008) is
his latest.

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                About Malcolm Gladwell
• Canadian-born on 9/3/1963; both
  Jamaican and British by descent
• Steady career in journalism since 1987
• Outliers debuted at #1 on New York Times
  non-fiction bestseller list
• Books have common theme of exploring
  subtle themes and patterns in individual
  and societal behaviors
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                About Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point and Blink, his first two
books, remain popular titles, years after
publication; accepted as academic reading;
studied avidly in sociology, psychology, and

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                About Malcolm Gladwell
Informative links about Gladwell and his
• His website:
• Here is a link to Gladwell’s Ted Talks
lecture on the lessons of spaghetti sauce:

Now, to Outliers …
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                Formal Definition
out·li·er \-,lī(-ә)r\ noun:
1: something that is situated away from or
  classed differently from a main or related
2: a statistical observation that is markedly
  different in value from the others of the
  same sample

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                Gladwell’s Outliers
• Sometimes, individuals not only succeed
  but stand far outside the norm – they are
  successful beyond even wild expectation
• What does it take to become an “outlier”?
  Are there patterns we can see? Are there
  behaviors we can emulate?
• Gladwell shows us the mystery, and
  unravels it, chapter by chapter
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 Introduction: “The Roseto Mystery”
• Founded in the late 19th century by Italian
  immigrants, Roseto, Pennsylvania was a
  small quarry town, named after the
  hometown of its founders
• In early 1960s, an amazing discovery was
  made about this town. Sociologist John
   “These people were dying of old age.
                   That’s it.”
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  Roseto, PA: An “Outlier” in Health
• Heart disease was an epidemic in the late
  1950s, early 60s; American diet was high in fats
  and cholesterol, while medical solutions were
  very limited
• Roseto, PA had a remarkably low incidence of
  these problems; virtually NO ONE under age 65
  had heart disease!
• Longevity and health are tied to good physical
  habits, such as diet, exercise, abstinence… was
  this the reason?
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            Investigation of Roseto
• Dr. Stewart Wolf and others tried to find
  causes. Strangely:
     – Eating & exercise habits were ordinary;
       typically Italian-American after many
     – Smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity were
       at normal rates for time
     – No genetic patterns of longevity found

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     Was Roseto a “supernatural”
   phenomenon? Something out of
    The Twilight Zone? Star Trek?
   “Submitted for your
    approval: Roseto,                          “Dammit, Jim-
     Pennsylvania!”                             these people
                                              don’t die ! I can’t
                                                explain this!!!

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    The answer was… ROSETO!
• The culture of Roseto was very positive,
  supportive, social nurturing; a transplant from
  their Italian village and still in the mode of
  community support necessary for a hard
  working immigrant community
• Visiting, sharing was a daily ritual
• Work, church, family, entertainment all
  entwined, community experiences
• Optimism, openness always encouraged
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Could Roseto, Pennsylvania be a model for
contemporary healthy living?
Recent study: optimism is key to longevity.
Didn’t Roseto already tell us?
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                Part 1: Opportunity
Opportunity, we assume, is equal for all;
hard work, dedication, and discipline are all
we need to reach our goals.

But is this true?

The next few chapters explore.

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                “The Matthew Effect”
“For unto everyone that hath shall be given,
and he shall have abundance. But from him
that hath not shall be taken away even that
which he hath.” - Matthew 25:29

Sociologist Robert Merton claims that social
advantages or disadvantages, even arbitrary
ones, tend to compound, often unnoticeably.
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       Canadian hockey is unfair?
• Hockey in Canada is wildly popular and
  competitive. Only the very best can rise
  the ranks to professional stature and then
  to stardom.
• Canadian hockey players are among the
  best in the world.
• But- the system has a built-in flaw, leaving
  many qualified players out of
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          2007 Medicine Hat Tigers –
            anything strange here?

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                The critical first year
• Selection into Canadian hockey teams
  happens at a young age
• During selection, child players who are
  older will tend to be more competent since
  they are more developed than younger
• In Canada, eligibility is determined by age;
  “cut-off” in placement for birthdays on
  January 1st
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• Player A born January 1st, 1999 is eligible
  for the first year of hockey playing in 2008
• Player B born December 1st, 1999 is
  considered for the same class
• Player A will be noticeably more
  developed than B, since at the age of 9 or
  10, age differences are significant
• Player C, born in December 1st, 1998, is
  too old to be considered in this league
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Older hockey players are served by
         “Matthew Effect”
• The older player “A” is noticeably better
  developed at age 9, and he achieves more
  in that first year than the younger “B”
• Player “A” makes the “rep” squad (all-star
  team) in hockey; player “B” stays back
• Next year, difference between two players
  is more pronounced; cycle repeats year
  after year
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     Differences brought by birthday
• The few months age difference, which can
  play a fundamental role in ranking hockey
  players in their first year, compounds
• A player who is more accomplished in his
  first year is more easily considered for key
  challenges in the second… then the
  third… all the way to the pro levels
• Professional Canadian hockey players
  therefore tend to be born early in year
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                   An example

                 Wayne Gretzky
                Born: January 26, 1961
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         Discussion: how personal is
• It took decades before anyone noticed
  these patterns in pro-hockey.
• What if Wayne Gretzky had been born in
  November, instead of January?
• Is it really fair to blame ourselves 100% for
  every failure? Credit ourselves 100% for
  every success? Or is the deck sometimes
  stacked in ways we cannot see?
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           “The 10,000-Hour Rule”
• Hard work really does matter; in fact, it is
  absolutely necessary
• Many “outliers” went through a period of
  intense, passionate, and often punishing
  work, that often had no certain reward
• Gladwell’s rough calculations imply that
  10,000 hours of labor investment, usually
  at a young age, is the minimum needed for
  “outlier” success
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           The Beatles in Hamburg
• The Beatles took several trips to Hamburg
  Germany between 1960 and 1962 to play
  at strip clubs
• The schedule was grueling, demanding
  them to play often for eight hours in a row,
  seven days a week
• The day was filled with group meetings
  and song-writing; how did they manage?
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            Beatles in Hamburg,1960

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  Why did the Beatles succeed?
• There were many singing groups around,
  inspired by American pop stars, especially
• The Beatles were extraordinarily diligent,
  rebuking their Liverpool roots and jumping
  into the very competitive rock-and-roll
• Their fortitude was tested by playing to the
  roughest, most hostile crowds in Hamburg
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          The Hamburg “Gauntlet”
• The Beatles found themselves routinely
  booed, with beer thrown at them. Club
  owners would easily fire them for not
  performing adequately.
• To fill out sets, they would work during day
  to perfect technique and flawlessly imitate
  songs; they also began to write their own
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   Imitation and tenacity was key to
• Bobby Vee, Take Good Care of My Baby,
  #1 in January, 1961
• Beatles, covering same song, on January
  1st, 1962, without any musical theory
• This demo record was rejected, but they
  kept at it – they were on the Ed Sullivan
  show two years later

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 “Trouble with Geniuses, Part 1”
• Notion of “IQ” was developed by Lewis
  Terman in the 1920s as predictor of
  competence and success
• Actually, all sorts of factors are involved in
  predicting success
• Evidence suggests that once IQ passes a
  certain level, the differences matter only
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  “Trouble with Geniuses, part 2”
• Huge differences in achievement exist
  based on home environment and the
  response to authority, which is directly
  predicted by economic and personal
  circumstances in childhood
• Example: J. Robert Oppenheimer was
  named head of Manhattan Project without
  any major credentials
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  “The Three Lessons of Joe Flom”
Jewish lawyers, doctors, and businessmen
in late 20th century New York succeeded
due to three factors:
1. Being Jewish meant they could not and
did not follow “conventional” paths
2. Being born in 1920s – 1930s, with good
economic possibilities
3. Legacy of meaningful, entrepreneurial
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                Part 2: Legacy
Continuing the themes from the early part of
the book, “legacy”, that is, the person’s
origins, play a major role in determining

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                “Harlan, Kentucky”
• Famous American “family feuds” clustered
  in Appalachian Mountains in 19th century
• “Culture of honor” was present due to
  origins of peoples (the rocky, rugged
  coasts of England, Scotland, and Ireland,
  where fertile land was rare)
• “Innate” tendencies are actually cultural

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  “Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes”
• Gladwell profiles certain plane crashes as
  having been caused by human error that is
  directly attributable to cultural issues
• Korean Airlines, rooted in the deferent
  culture of authority in Asia, had bad crash
• Crashes disappeared after such practices
  were eliminated in cockpit
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  “Rice Paddies and Math Tests”
• The very precise, demanding methodology
  required for wet-field rice cultivation
  means that the culture would idealize
  proficiency in mathematics, measurement
• Asian students do better at math than
  Western counterparts due to the
  languages and the structures of their
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                “Marita’s Bargain”
• Profiles a very demanding school program
  in South Bronx (KIPP) aimed at intensive
• The idea is that students are demanded to
  put in 12 hours a day- even from a young
  age- to overcome the more destructive
  tendencies of their culture

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                “A Jamaican Story”
• Gladwell cites his own family’s story as a
  series of lucky breaks brought on by both
  advantages and disadvantages
• Civil strife in Jamaica, rooted originally in
  slavery, had everything to do with how his
  family relocated to England and his
  parents met

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      Gladwell’s summary statement is
      (almost buried) in the last chapter
“Their success is not exceptional or
mysterious. It is grounded in a web
of advantages and inheritances,
some deserved, some not, some
earned, some just plain lucky – but all
critical to making them who they are.
The outlier, in the end, is not an
outlier at all.”
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           My Summary Statement
No one who reaches for a major goal, even
the so-called “outlier”, knows where it will
lead. The point is to invest in our dreams
with passion, even when there are major
obstacles and no guarantees.

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