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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Book Review: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

I am a big Malcolm Gladwell fan, and Outliers, while an enjoyable read, was my least favorite of his books so far.   Outliers has the same riveting storytelling style, and I loved the Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes and The Trouble with Geniuses story of Christopher Langan.  But I was left with the somber feeling that success is a cosmic conflicting mix of random and pre-ordained, and either way, there isn’t much that could be done about it.

It was the opposite feeling I had reading a similar, success-themed book, Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is OverratedTalent didn’t have as breezy a style  but at least it had an uplifting point (success is hard work, actually REALLY hard work, 10,000 hours’ worth).   Colvin also actually had practical advice we could use — the importance of Deliberate Practice, for example.

Outliers has the fun stories and does remind us that hard work and talent play roles in success.  But it left me empty and unmotivated, probably not the effect I am going to want to pass onto my coaching clients. 

Read it for the interesting anecdotes and certainly if you’re a Gladwell fan, but seek your success tips elsewhere.


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