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Malcolm, Chris Langan or Interested Party: I know someone who could be a good match of intellect for Chris Langan. His comment "I dont think there is anyone smarter than me out there" and "I have never met or never seen even an indication that there is someone.." has now been given an OPPORTUNITY. However, I am not smart enough to sleuth out how to connect personally with Malcolm or Chris to offer this connection. THAT is the why , in the 'how' opportunity of connecting. Lets someone give this a chance. I want to 'meet' Chris Langan's "I think I could have them" and give him someONE to think with. So, I have the puzzle piece to fit this nicely, who can connect with me that is within the 7 degrees of separation. It would be sooo fun. Okay, I am waiting.

Mr. E. Nigma

Dear Mr. Gladwell,

In our class, we have to relate nearly, if not, everything to an “essential question.” The question is as follows: “To what extent do time and place define a person?” I find that your book relates very much with this question. In fact, I would say that your book is this question… in book form. The whole purpose of your book seems to be to explain exactly how time and place define a person through their opportunities available in life and the time at which they born, down to the month.
I found the prologue to your book very interesting. I found it very strange how a group of people was significantly healthier than the rest of the population simple because they were all nice and friendly too each other. Even though they had terrible eating habits and smoked and drank they never seemed to die of sickness or anything else. If it were not for the passage of time, these people could have easily lived forever. I thought this story was an excellent way to start off a book about outliers, as they were definitely just that.
The epilogue was also very interesting. I found it quite fascinating how your parents being born when they were allowed you to become the successful person that you are and author of this find book.
The chapter you wrote about plane crashes and how ethnicity can affect them was almost absurd at first thought. Once I had read it though, it became very interesting and informative. I never would have thought that the country and culture you grow up in would affect your ability to fly a plane. I had never heard of PDI before and I never put any thought into how your culture’s treatment of authority and superiors can affect your life and you operate.
I am not really sure if anything in my own life relates to the stories and concepts presented in your book. I have never really paid much attention to that sort of thing before, or really ever thought about it. However, I am sure that I will be looking for those examples now to see if I am one of those lucky outliers too.

Sincerely,
A student in a school in a suburb of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania in the United States of America

Kylanne Berry

Letter to the Author

Dear Malcolm Gladwell,
I can honestly say that I have never read a book quite like yours and I probably would not have read it had it not been for my senior English class. That being said I was pleasantly surprised with your book because I enjoyed it so much. In English class, our semester is based around how time and place define a person. We focus on this question in order to understand that circumstance is a big definer in all areas that we are studying. This relates directly to your book because the outliers presented were all successful under their own set of circumstances. One of my favorite chapters, chapter three: the trouble with geniuses’ part one, proved that it is not just intelligence that makes success and once above a threshold everybody is on the same playing field. I find this so interesting because it proves that just because somebody’s IQ is astronomical it will not be helpful unless they have other attributes under their belt. This also means that perhaps someone who is not ranked in the top ten of their class (like me) still has hopes to become someone great. It was a very inspirational chapter and so interesting.
When I read Marita’s bargain and saw all the effort she put into school I was in awe and impressed. As a senior I am finding my focus and drive slowly dwindling. To read about the level of dedication in someone so young was amazing. I also made a connection to my academic life because in the book you made mention of the fact that when students are placed into the advanced classes versus the average classes the real gap begins to show up in late years. That is precisely what happens in my school. People in the college prep classes actually call them the “stupid classes.” Mostly it’s in jest, but subconsciously they truly believe that and it is sad because early action in academics could prevent it.
Chapter eight, discussing Asians advancement in math was another favorite. The stereotype I have continuously heard throughout all my schooling is that the Asian population always excelled in mathematics. It was very informative, in a very non-judgmental way, which merely explained the reasoning behind it. That was the best part about your book. You were never judging any one group or persons, you were merely studying patterns in history. In my mind, that is an impressive accomplishment that many would find difficult. It was refreshing to see no biases or racism.
I wanted to express my enjoyment of your book because it is extremely rare that I find a school book I enjoy reading. Please continue the great writing.

Sincerely,

Kylanne Berry

Sarah

Dear Malcolm Gladwell,
I recently have had the pleasure to read your book, Outliers and I find it to be a bit shocking, but in an informative way. This past summer, I have also taken the time to read your other well-known novel, The Tipping Point, so I am very familiar with your writing. What I feel made Outliers much more captivating is that you learn certain exceptions when it comes to being successful. Usually when I think of a successful person, I automatically think of how hard they have worked to get to the top. In the chapters within your book that have interested me the most include the Matthew Effect, The 10,000-Hour Rule, and The Three Lessons of Joe Flom. Within these three chapters I have discovered that the main idea behind a person becoming successful mostly relates on uncontrollable factors such as luck, but occasionally efficiency of a practice is shown within success stories.
The first chapter focuses around the seemingly statistical anomaly that the best young Canadian hockey players are almost all born in January. The explanation turns out to be that that the age cut-off is December 31st and someone born in January is going to have 10 months of development/practice more than someone born in October. This has a snowball effect. The best players get grouped together in better leagues. The high-level of competition makes each player even better. The Lesson that I have learned is that timing can be critical to an outlier's success. While reading about the cut-offs and the age differences, my mind automatically jumped to the idea of the educational system and how success throughout the school years also reflect the idea of when a person was born.
Within the chapter of “The 10,000-Hour Rule” you explain that the Beatles played 10,000 hours in Hamburg, Germany and that Bill Gates had put in their 10,000 hours of computer work as well. The perception is that they were born with some kind of gift. It's true that they were extremely talented, but most people ignore the fact that they had opportunity. Other bands may have been as talented as the Beatles, but they didn't have the clubs Hamburg that made them play all day. Other people may have had the talent of Joy and Gates, but access to computers in their time was extremely limited. You looked at some of the richest people in history and find that they often clustered around a certain event. In other words, to have an opportunity and put in the work to be the best of the best can make one successful. In my eyes, (and I am sure in others) 10,000 hours is a vast amount of time. Most people would probably like to spend those hours diverse in their studies then stuck within a constructed part of one study; it must take a lot of patience and a strong commitment to work up to 10,000 hours which explains why so few become successful.
In the chapter of Joe Flom, the lawyer in New York City whose success started in the mid 1950s, I have discovered the three lessons which helped him become successful during his time. They include having the right culture, demographic luck, and the right family history. I find that this is very much a summary of points that were made previously. The importance of family history was covered in the past chapter. The importance of demographic luck was covered in the 10,000 rule with Bill Gates and Bill Joy. As for having the right culture, I think that overlaps the family history in quite a few ways. Sometimes factors that help a person become successful are uncontrollable and entirely based on their amount of luck, which in this case is very noticeable in this chapter. It makes me wonder why my close friend is much smarter than me when we have been enrolled in the exact same classes and have a very similar work ethic. It did not take me long to realize that both of her parents are doctors.
All of these things are viewed in terms of generation, family, culture, and class. Outliers — those persons of exceptional accomplishment — typically have lives that proceed from particular patterns and while reading your book, I find myself wishing to be an outlier. Never in my life have I ever wanted to be apart from society, but if it makes me successful, I’m in.
Thank you for a wonderful written book- I enjoyed reading it very much and I will definitely be sure to keep these lessons in mind for future references!
Sincerely,
Sarah Lorraine Thompson

JP Zugschwert

Dear Malcolm Gladwell,
I read your book Outliers for my twelfth grade English class and I really enjoyed it. For the most part, I am not the biggest reader, but I could not put your book down. I love how you described the different aspects that affect success. Some of them, like the 10,000 hour rule, I understood that practice made perfect. However, I did not know about the examples. Every page I learned something new.
One of the chapters that I enjoyed most was the first one about the Canadian hockey team. I found it really interesting because when I first saw that chart, I never realized that their birthdays were in the beginning of the year. However, once it was explained to me, I realized it was just about luck. Since they had their birthdays there they physically were ahead of their competition; which, as you explained, meant better coaching and more time practicing. This common fact did not take away from the style you wrote it with. It was another reason why I enjoyed this chapter along with the rest of the book.
Another chapter I enjoyed was the one about how the type of lifestyle your whole personality. Your findings really intrigued me because, I am from a middle class family, and I am not the most outgoing individual. It really speaks to me that you described how the lifestyle attributed to that. However, one thing that does not match your findings is the fact that I have a really hectic schedule. Between school, my job, lacrosse, and the college search I barley have any time to be alone. Anyway, I also liked the part in this chapter about Terman’s Termites. I found it interesting that, even with their large intelligence, they had lower class jobs. However, it all made sense once you described their family background. Once again, I say that your writing truly fascinated me.
In summary, I just wanted to reiterate how much I enjoyed your book. Also, when I took a trip to Utah with the ski club in my school, one of the chaperones who did not know we read your book started talking about it and how much he liked it. It was cool because my friends and I, who also read it, could join in on the conversation.

From,
JP Zugschwert

jack miles

When Gladwell is making a case for being born at a propitious time, I was surprised there was no mention that a half dozen of major 19 Century American literary works were published at mid-century within about five years--Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, and Hawthorne. Seems a glaring omission. But I'm just starting OUTLIERS; perhaps they will appear later on.

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Pat Schock

Hello, Malcolm and Outliers readers,

I am just starting this book and fascinated by it. I am both a hockey mom and a school employee.
I volunteer to assist at-risk teenagers in school.

Hockey teams, informally, show what he says.Can't disagree.
I agree that middle-class parents coach their children to intrude, appropriately, on the speech of an authority figure and customize their personal environment. I believe studies also show that middle- and upper-class people are more aware of civic tools, more likely to participate in all aspects of politics, and more likely to demand needed local services.
Malcolm's point about coaching children is backed up by today's article on Parentdish by Tom Henderson:
"Preschoolers Sense That More Attention is Paid to Middle-Class Kids."

This is helpful -
thank you for the original thought.

Pat

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Bio

  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

    My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.

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