Outliers: The Story of Success

Matthew Effect & Threshold

Title: Outliers: The Story of Success
Authors: Malcolm Gladwell
Edition: 1
Finished Date: 2018-02-21
Rating: 1
Language: English
Genres: Self-Help
Level: Entry
Publishers: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2008-11-18
ISBN: 978-0316017923
Format: Pdf, ePub
Pages: 309
Download: Pdf ePub
Chris Langan: IQ 180
“A typical day is, I get up and make coffee. I go in and sit in front of the computer and on my mind, all I have to do is concentrate on the question before I go to sleep and I virtually always have the answer in the morning. Sometimes I realize what the answer is because I dreamt the answer and I can remember it. Other times I just feel the answer, and I start typing and the answer emerges onto the page”


The extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity.

Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120i, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.

Robert Sternberg: “practical intelligence”

  • knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it and knowing how to say it for maximum effect
  • knowing how to do something without necessarily knowing why you know it or being able to explain it

It’s not knowledge for its own sake. It’s knowledge that helps you read situations correctly and get what you want. it is a kind of intelligence separate from the sort of analytical ability measured by IQ

“They acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings. The appeared comfortable in those settings; they were open to sharing information and asking for attention

hidden & extraordinary opportunities/advantages

1. Matthew Effect: accumulative advantage


  • Rich get the biggest tax breaks
  • the best students get the best teaching and most attention

It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success.

Start out a little bit better than peers.
litter difference leads to an opportunity that makes that difference a bit bigger, and that edge in turn leads to another opportunity, which makes the initial small difference bigger still.
On and on until he becomes an outlier. But he didn’t start out an outlier. He started out just a little bit better.

  • where is born
  • ethnics: Jewish in U.S. in 1930 lawyer
  • when is born:

    1. year

      Of 75 richest people in human history, an astonishing 14 are Americans born within 9 years of one another in the mid-nineteenth century.

      Almost 20% of the names come from a single generation in a single country.

      • 1954-1955
        • Bill Gates: 1955/10/28
        • Paul Allen: 1953/1/21
        • Steve Ballmer: 1956/3/24
        • Steve Jobs: 1955/2/24
        • Eric Schmidt: 1955/4/27
        • Bill Joy: 1954/11/8
        • Scott McNealy: 1954/11/13
        • Vinod Khosla: 1955/1/28
        • Andy Bechtolsheim: 1955/9/30
    2. relative age

      In preadolescence, a twelve-month gap in age represents an enormous difference in physical maturity

      • Mechanism/Steps

        1. are chosen into a better team before adolescence
        2. better coaching, better teammates, more games

          In the beginning, advantage isn’t so much that he is inherently better but only that is a little older. But by the age of 13 or 14, with the benefit of better coaching and all extra practice, he really is better.

        • Education: the disadvantage in kindergarten does not go away.

          The small initial advantage that the child born in the early part of the year has over the child born at the end of the year persists.
          It locks children into patterns of achievement and underachievement, encouragement and discouragement, that stretch on and on for years.

      • Example: Education

        • ability group for young children: advanced reading groups and advanced math groups
        • At four-year colleges in the United States, students belong to the relative youngest group in their class are under-presented by about 11.6%
      • Example 1: Canadian hockey:

        • the cutoff date: January 1 at age 9 or 10
        • who get opportunities: born in January >> February > March > rest of months
          Example: Roger Barnsley, a Canadian psychologist, found that there were nearly 5.5 times as many Ontario Junior Hockey League players born in January as were born in November.

          • 40%: between January and March
          • 30%: April and June
          • 20%: between July and September
          • 10% between October and December

            • Example 2: U.S. baseball
            • the cutoff date: July 31
            • who get opportunities: born in August

            Example: In 2005, among Americans playing major league baseball 505 were born in August versus 313 born in July.

        • Example 3: England football
          • the cutoff date: September 1
          • who get opportunities: born in September
            Example: In the football association’s premier league at one point in the 1990s, there were 288 players born between September and November and only 136 players born between June and August.

hard work 10,000 hours Deliberate practice + unusual opportunities

requirements to achieve 10,000 hours

  • parents’ support during young age
  • cannot be poor: no part-time job for a living

In fact, most people can reach that number only

  1. if they get into some kind of special program, such as a hockey all-star squad
  2. or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours

    Example 1: Michigan University was one of the first universities in the world to have computers simultaneously executing multiple programs. (time-sharing)

    Bill Joy

    • Michigan U’s computer lab opened 24 hours
    • There was a bug and Bill Joy can use computers for free

      Example 2: Bill Gates

    • father: a wealthy lawyer in Seattle

    • mother: the daughter of a well-to-do banker
    • 8th grade: the Seattle’s elite private school started a computer club in 1968

      Most colleges didn’t have computer clubs in the 1960s.

    • Computer Center Corporation hired Gates in the middle school. Gates had more opportunity to program for free.

    • more opportunities


  • personality
  • intelligent
  • lifestyle
  • born talent
  • passion
  • ability
  • privileged backgrounds

    The sociologist C. Wright Mills “The best time during the history of the United States for the poor boy ambitious for high business success to have been born was around the year 1835.”