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Outliers The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. chief. Outliers. Outliers are men and women who do things out of the ordinary To understand why certain people become outliers we must look at factors beyond innate talent. We must also look at: Where they were reared When they grew up

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  • Outliers are men and women who do things out of the ordinary
  • To understand why certain people become outliers we must look at factors beyond innate talent. We must also look at:
    • Where they were reared
    • When they grew up
    • The culture they belonged to
    • The characteristics passed down by their forebears
the ecology of organisms
The Ecology of Organisms
  • The tallest tree in the forest probably came from a hardy acorn, but other factors also contributed to its height. Such factors as:
    • No other trees blocked sunlight from getting through to the tree
    • The soil around the tree was rich in nutrients
    • No animals chewed through its bark when it was a young tree
    • No one cut it down before it matured
the effect of birth dates
The Effect of Birth Dates
  • An analysis of a highly successful Canadian hockey team found:
    • 40% of the players were born between January and March
    • 30% were born between April and June
    • 20% were born between July and September
    • 10% were born between October and December
the effect of birth dates6
The Effect of Birth Dates
  • In Canada the eligibility cut off for age-class (club) hockey is January 1
    • Those players born early in the year are bigger and more mature than those born later in the year
    • As a consequence, the older players perform better and are picked for advanced placement where they receive better coaching and more playing time
the effect of birth dates7
The Effect of Birth Dates
  • In the U.S., the cutoff for almost all non-school baseball leagues is July 31
    • As a result, more major league players are born in August than in any other month
summary of the effects of age
Summary of the Effects of Age
  • If you make a decision about who is talented and who is not at an early age


  • You separate the “talented” from the “untalented” and provide the talented ones with superior experiences
  • You will give a huge advantage to those born shortly after the cutoff date
the matthew effect
The “Matthew Effect”
  • “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even which he hath.”
  • The rich have a natural advantage
  • The best students get the best teachers and the most attention
accumulative advantage
Accumulative Advantage
  • Some people start off a little bit superior to their peers
  • This initial small difference leads to more opportunities, which makes them more superior, which leads to more opportunities, etc., etc., etc.
gates advantage
Gates’ Advantage
  • Parents – Wealthy Lawyer/Banker’s daughter
  • 7th grade - Private School/Computer club
  • 1968 - Mother’s Club bought computer terminal for mainframe in downtown Seattle
  • U. Wash – Computer Center Corp. – leased mainframe time (founder’s son @ same school)
  • ISI – Free time for working on payroll app
  • TRW – Independent study semester, writing code for Bonneville power station app
  • Dropped out of Harvard – had 7 years’ programming experience
the 10 000 hour rule
The 10,000 Hour Rule
  • The closer psychologists look at the careers of outliers, the less important is innate talent and the more important is preparation
  • Ten thousand hours is the magic number for expertise in most areas
  • Before they became famous, the Beatles played eight hours a day, seven days a week in a club in Hamburg
the effect of timing
The Effect of Timing
  • The most important date in the historyof the personal computer revolution isJanuary 1975 when the Altair 8800 was introduced
  • If you were too old for the personal computer revolution in 1975 you were probably born before 1952
  • If you were born after 1959 you were probably too young
  • Leaders of the personal computer revolution:
    • Bill Gates – 1955 (Microsoft)
    • Paul Allen – 1953 (Microsoft #2)
    • Steve Ballmer – 1956 (Microsoft #24)
    • Steve Jobs – 1955 (Apple)
    • Eric Schmidt – 1955 (PARC, Sun (Java), Novell, Google)
the effect of parentage
The Effect of Parentage
  • Wealthy parents can afford to give their children opportunities that less wealthy parents cannot
  • Poor children have an inherent disadvantage in school – a disadvantage that, in fact, widens every year
academics vs socioeconomics
Academics vs. Socioeconomics
  • Karl Alexander, Sociologist at Johns Hopkins University
  • 640 First Graders, Baltimore - 1982
  • California Achievement Test (math/reading)
year end test scores





Year-End Test Scores




solution more school
Solution? More School
  • Average School Year
    • USA: 180 days
    • South Korea: 220
    • China: 230
    • Japan: 243
kipp academy
KIPP Academy
  • Mid-90’s – Grades 5-8
  • @ Lou Gehrig Middle School, South Bronx
  • 7:25 am – 5 pm, Saturday 9 am – 1 pm
  • 90 Minutes of English/day
  • 90 Minutes of Math/day (2 hr/day in 5th grade)
  • 95% at or above grade level in math
  • 90% get private HS Scholarships
  • 86% to college (1st generation for many)
in summary
In Summary
  • Success is predictable
  • It is not the brightest who succeed
  • Outliers take maximum advantage of the opportunities that are made available to them