Life and Other Funny Things

Cross your fingers for luck and shoot yourself

Someone asked me to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. So I did. Unfortunately.
I don’t really read these kind of books. Not really my thing. But the few I have read have been fine. Nothing life changing, but at least they didn’t make me want to take a gun to my head!



The sad part is that the book came out four years ago, and people have been praising him for FOUR years. In case you didn’t get a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant and inspiring book Outliers, here it is in a nutshell:

  • You don’t work towards success, you need to be lucky
  • You have to be born after wars, or before industrial growth if you want to be successful. If you want your kids to be successful, wait for a war to have them, or a good twenty years before industrial growth. And give him/her lots of jujubes, rabbits’ feet, and four-leaved clovers. But keep child away from black cats, and ensure he/she doesn’t walk under ladders, otherwise they may not be successful.
  • If you are poor, you probably won’t be successful, and neither will your kids. However, you can be good at math by having rice paddies.
  • Ensure your child is born in January, he will become a famous hockey player.
  • Having a higher IQ doesn’t make you successful. Neither does it mean that you’re smarter. (It’s true, successful people don’t necessarily have high IQs. A good example is Malcom Gladwell and his popular book Outliers that sold millions of copies worldwide)
  • If you want to be a successful lawyer, work in the garment industry.
  • In the end, luck is everything.

I think Gladwell is like the golden boy of the elite. His points are repetitive and most of the time contradict each other. Also, I think he’s a bit of a racist.

Favorite quote: “Elementary and middle schools could put the January through April-born students in one class, the May through August in another class, and those born in September through December in the third class. They could let students learn with and compete against other students of the same maturity level. It would be a little bit more complicated administratively. But it wouldn’t necessarily cost that much more money, and it would level the playing field for those who—through no fault of their own—have been dealt a big disadvantage by the educational system.”  That’s a great suggestion Gladwell! That doesn’t sound completely pointless at all! I bet if we did that, EVERYONE would be a Nobel Prize winner!

You must be this tall to rideHonestly, Gladwell sounds like a toddler screaming “that’s not fair!!” when presented with a must be this tall sign.

If you are looking for a book which tells you that while innate talent has some effect, how far you get ahead depends on your circumstances, your culture, hard work and a lot of luck, this is the book for you. But I still have to meet someone who doesn’t know that already. All in all lowering your expectations of Gladwell is the best option. That way he can never disappoint you.

I will, however, say that Gladwell is a very clever man. To take such a topic, that people undeniably want to know about, and write an entire book on it is utter genius. Gladwell’s knack for making a reader say “huh, interesting” is something for other writers to marvel at. I’m convinced that he could write a book called ‘Green: It’s the color of grass’, and he would write it in such a way that would make most people say “huh, who knew?!?”.


27 thoughts on “Cross your fingers for luck and shoot yourself

  1. I always think these “success” books are most successful for the author! I think I’ll pass on it. BTW, I was born in January and can’t even ice skate, let alone play hockey! Funny review!

    • I say, good for him! If anything, I might say that Gladwell taught me that no matter how stupid an idea, go for it! What’s the worst that could happen? You might just end up a millionaire!
      We must inform Gladwell about that skating situation immediately! He used more than 30 pages to convince us that people born in January invariably become famous hockey players! Why aren’t you famous yet? How can this be?!
      And thanks! Glad you liked it! 🙂

  2. So how exactly does genius here determine maturity levels? If they can write a book saying “You’re screwed, the world is based on luck”? I mean, I’m sure there is some truth to that, but why write about it? It’s some weird sort of determinism there. What, born in June? Sorry -give up now. I mean, sure, you thought hard work and effort and education might mean something, but nevermind that.

  3. Wow. So my parents have been lying to me. I could have retaliated all along: “I don’t need to do my homework! You need to be successful by now because you lived through the Vietnam War!”

    • You are so right! How do they expect anything from us? We’re part of the worst recessions, and it’s all their fault! They on the other hand should’ve had a pool made entirely of gold by now. For shame.

  4. i read the book and disliked it completely. he very muchs “cherry picks” his examples of things in order to “prove” his points, such as his attempt at proving anything about birth order. it was annoying, just as his other book “blink” was annoying. it was so annoying i’m not even sure if that was the title. “blink.” i think so.

    hey, how’d you get that gravatar? is that really a depiction of you? did you have the professionally done or some cool software do it?

    • That Gladwell and his birth order theories! I wonder if people really believed him. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Blink, but I don’t think I have it in me to do that to myself all over again.

      My gravatar? It’s this website I use, you can apply different effects to your pictures. It’s completely free, you should try it. I used the B&W, Orton style, and Charcoal effects for my gravatar, really glad you liked it!

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