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Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell by Crack Books
January 1, 2010, 10:13 PM
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Outliers Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Liked this book a lot, although the basic point is (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!) simply that where you come from matters, on the journey to get where you’re going. I liked Gladwell’s examples, particularly the “culture of honor” (being new to “The South” and Texas in particular), although in some cases I think he might have done a bit more to try to suggest solutions to the seemingly “inescapable destiny” angle. I mean, does being Southern automatically mean you’re going to get into fights due to a “culture of honor” that Northerners don’t share? I don’t think so. In reality, I think it’s more about being the type of dumbass who doesn’t *question* your so-called culture, despite the fact that it will continue to get you into trouble if you unconsciously abide by it. It seemed a little too simplistic an explanation of the phenomenon, as well as quite lacking in the “helpful suggestions” department.

I think the most effective example in the book was the discussion about the Korean airline pilots, who managed to turn their company around and stop crashing planes after a particularly disastrous year, once they identified the cultural issues that were at stake. Noting the cultural differences, re-training people to succeed (rather than crash planes into mountains), and not making it a matter of “we’re better than you” or “us vs. them” worked here. I would’ve liked to see more of these types of examples, explaining how can people can help overcome cultural obstacles to success.

That would’ve made it a truly spectacular book, although the exploration of success NOT as a one-man bootstrapping operation but instead as the culmination of a variety of background factors was quite interesting as well.

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