Sunday, October 30, 2011

Outliers: a book review

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You can order this book from Amazon.com now at a lower price!Just click the image above

(This is an excerpt of the book review I wrote for our managerial communication subject last semester)

Written by Malcolm Gladwell (author of Tipping Point and Blink), Outliers book narrates the inspiring stories of some of the world billionaires we have known, their fascinating saga to extraordinary success and how ordinary people should learn lessons from the circumstances of their lives. The book presents how the influence of the environment, upbringing and generation contribute massively to the fate of an individual.

Outliers, according to the author, refer to the unusual or remarkable circumstances of the lives of the people “where normal rules did not apply…it refers to men and women "who do things that are out of the ordinary”, people who have been given---and lucky enough to be surrounded---by opportunities, people who make good use of their passion, skills and talent in order to achieve what they are aiming in life.

The book introduces the readers to the remarkable circumstances that impelled Silicon Valley titans and Bill Gates to fame and immense wealth. Silicon Valley titans include the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems (the company that devised java programming now part of Oracle corporation), William Hewlitt and David Packard, founders of HP. They operated their business empires around the region called "Silicon Valley" (its actual location is in the Southern part of the San Francisco Bay area) where world billionaires had traditionally built their enormous wealth. Silicon Valley was named after the "Silicon chip" because most of the world's high tech businesses are found in this region. Practically, the region earned that name because it was here that the social roots of the information technology revolution had started in 1970s. Aside from Jobs, Hewlitt/Packard and Joy, other high tech titans who had established their companies there are Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and Lawrence Ellison (currently, the 6th richest man in the world), founder of Oracle.

The opportunities given to them were vast, they did not rise to greatness because of their intellect alone, but they did it through spending time honing their skills, acquiring experience, possessing a unique enthusiasm to work harder on their goals, passionate enough to pursue what they wanted in life plus the influence they got from the environment they belonged. Success and achievement therefore have something to do with the environment we currently lived, understanding the trend and needs of the generation we presently belong and having the passion to do the things we love doing. For instance, the fate of computer geniuses like Bill Gates, Bill Joy (the original author of vi text editor), Steve Jobs, and Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft), and their talents were intensified with the kind of environment they were born---1950s, and when they were approaching their adulthood life, computer revolution was also unfolding, thus, having enormous opportunity to explore the skill and talent they already have.

In a world where society plays a major part in every person’s survival, success sometimes depends on what is necessary in the environment, society therefore influences the way we perceive life and the way we live and strive. For instance the tech wizards: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckeberg, both college drop-out but founded companies that would later left astonishing marks in the people's consciousness through out human history due to its world-changing concepts and innovations, all because these world billionaires had seized the opportunities their generation had given (Jobs and Gates for computer revolution and Zuckerberg for Social Networking revolution).

Gladwell pointed out the influence that we must remember through the 10,000 house-rule, based on a study conducted by Anders Ericsson, here, the author emphasized “vastness and magnitude do not simply happen, it requires huge time and opportunity to achieve what we are looking”. The 10,000 house-rule refers to the time, period and circumstances that individual must endure in order to gain enough experience into the field they would be joining. Success sometimes depends not only on our roots, culture and influences alone but on how time would help us improve and develop our skills and talents, thus, more than 10,000 hours of spending on what we love doing will help a lot.

The book also emphasized that even if we’ve got all the talent and intellect in this world, without having given an opportunity to explore what we already have, without the support of the society we are living and without taking any initiative or without enough passion and hardwork, we will end up nothing, take for example the case of Chris Langan, who touted to be the smartest person in the world today and believed to have an IQ more than that of Albert Einstein, but life and circumstances deprived him with the kind of opportunities that would bring him to where he should be, so he ended up nothing.

Gladwell also illustrated how IQ and success are interrelated, but it doesn’t mean that people who have higher IQ are smarter than those who have an average IQ level. This concept also leads to the belief that not all college graduates are smarter than those who did not earn a diploma, remember that most of the world billionaires and computer geniuses like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg did not even finish college.

The true-to-life stories presented in Outliers book are immensely wonderful. It provides thought-provoking lessons and realizations that there’s an interconnection between culture, environment, success, joy and achievement in our fate. It’s not merely destiny or bad luck that undermines our chances to be successful or live in comfort, sometimes it is the product of effort, passion and opportunity. There are important connections of the decade and generation we were born and raised, the trend of that generation, the social position of our family and our roots, the relationships between intellect and perseverance, success and triumph, opportunities and chances and our determination and enthusiasm to pursue a certain goal. It is very difficult indeed to build a certain goal away from what the present world is asking.

People’s mindset has something to do with success too, if we are too focus on failures and weaknesses, if we refused to move on with our lives after misfortunes, like that of Chris Langan, chances are, fate would never cooperate to the kind of life we always wanted. We should constantly look around for opportunities and explore different possibilities of maximizing its advantages. It is also a must to discover  the needs of the present world  so that we can fit our life’s goal on it.

In order for us to become “Outliers”, we should do extraordinary things beyond imagination or beyond expectations, we should think differently because the world is changing, like Steve Jobs, we should try to  be "crazy" enough to think that what we can do can drastically change the world or the environment we are living, we should try to be visionaries in our own right. We may not be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Bill Joy, but at least we can significantly contribute or influence on what our surrounding should be looked like in the next ten years.

Life itself is no magic. There are times that we are very passionate in doing things we suppose to do or things we believe could bring us to greatness but sometimes circumstances refused to cooperate, but having a burning passion to try again and avoid those things that won’t work would surely bring us to where we should be no matter how long it takes. Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs were world's greatest examples that embodied the spirit of this old adage: "failure, more than success, is the beginning of wisdom and greatness". Our fate, depends on ourselves how we view life and how we would spend every hour working on that dream. Then and only then, we would become "Outliers".
Outliers available at Amazon.com at a lower price!Just click the image above to see the details

This book is a must-read, the text and thoughts were presented in a simplest form. You don't need to scratch your head or scramble to look for a dictionary to understand the complicated words. The author is brilliant enough to write a book that can be easily understood by everyone, the great lessons presented were amazing, very comprehensible since the people mentioned and their stories were popular. This is one of the best motivational books in the market today. Read it for yourself.










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