Malcolm Gladwell sets out to prove two arguments in The Outliers:-

1. There is no such thing as an overnight success and
2. Stars are born AND made.

Throughout The Outliers, Gladwell looks at several case studies including The Beatles, Bill Gates, New York lawyer Joe Flom and others.

Gladwell argues that it is possible to take a successful person and predict their history in terms of where and when they were born, who their parents were in terms of cultural identity, and what type of school they attended.


While looking at successful Canadian hockey players, it was discovered that the best were born at a specific time of year. With other case studies, Gladwell succeeds in building the case that it definitely depends on when you were born as to whether you will be successful or not, in a range of endeavours.

He then goes on to examine the importance of cultural heritages including Jewish immigration and the ensuing rag trade boom, and the significance of rice fields on success in mathematics and other academic enterprises.

Gladwell’s signature and most coined argument from The Outliers is the 10,000 hour rule. Using a collection of studies he suggests and proves that one will only be an outstanding success at anything once they have achieved 10,000 hours of practice and execution of their speciality.

Gladwell builds compelling arguments and makes one stand back and think about the nature of success. The information he provides and the argument he makes allows us to understand success retrospectively and to some extent predictively.

Cliff notes really don’t do this work any justice and it is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in the pathology of success.