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“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”  Malcolm Gladwell

I just finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  Yippie, I finished a second book!

I will keep my review short.  I didn’t like it.  It was not a waste of time, but I don’t recommend it.  I think nothing is a waste, no book is.  It always makes us think, even if we end up wishing we had read something else.

I wanted to like it. Afterall most people like it, if you go by the reviews on Amazon.  I liked the idea of it.  I wanted to be enlightened about success and successful people.  I was not.  I was left disappointed by it.

I have heard so many great things about Malcom Gladwell’s books over the years that I expected a lot.  Perhaps I expected too much.  I thought I would have this big revelation when reading one of his books.  With this one I expected to gain some invaluable insight on the key to success. I did not!

The one part I found interesting was regarding plane crashes.  According to Gladwell most crashes are due to communications issues and lack of cultural awareness.  Being an immigrant and a non-native English speaker that resonated with me; but there are a lot other facts that goes into a person speaking up or not in certain situations.

“Achievement is talent plus preparation”  Malcolm Gladwell

To me some of his ideas were just common sense.  Others were just anecdotes.  There was no big reveal, no big secret.  It reinforced some old cliches, that I believe in.  I will summarize the books in cliches:

  • Timing is everything. Timing, such as the month and year someone is born in matters.  He had some anecdotes about hockey players to illustrate that. 
  • Grab every opportunity. Not everyone is given the same opportunities in life.  The successful people are the ones that take full advantage of the opportunities they encounter.
  • Practice makes it perfect. The more you practice something, the better you will be at it. Duh! He believes that the sweet number is 10,000 hours or 10 years.
  • Hard work matters. Again, duh!   
  • Where you are from matters, and it shows up in our behavior and interaction with others. Something like, “you can remove a girl from Brazil, but you cannot remove Brazil from the girl”.

“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.”  Malcolm Gladwell

Perhaps because I am an immigrant from Brazil, that came to the US looking for better opportunities, I know all about not wasting opportunities when they show up.  All I have is due to hard work, so I fully believe in it.  My culture influences me a lot.  Not matter how many years I have been living in the US I still see the influences of my upbringing in Brazil in my daily interactions.  If I would only practice more I would be fluent in French, and many other stuff. 

After reading this book I was hoping to have learned something new.  Something that I could use in my life. I did not.

I will read Blink at some point as I already have the book on my shelf.  Perhaps Blink will be more illuminating.  

“Hard work is only a prison sentence when you lack motivation”  Malcolm Gladwell