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Curious which are the worst airline pilots?  (Korean.)  Ever wonder why some musicians are wanna-bes and others are superstars?  (Ten thousand hours.)  Or why the majority of National Hockey League players are born in January or February? (Age cut-off dates when they were children.)  Do you know why New York’s top merger lawyers are Jewish?  (Their parents were garment workers, and, yes, that makes sense.)  Would you like to know why being a genius is not the key factor in success?  (Affluence and parenting; finally, one that we all kind of knew!) 

These are the kind of mind-expanding questions (and their amazing answers) that have made Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success one of the most exciting books I’ve read in years.  

My favorite story is about “The 10,000 Hour Rule,” which finds that level of success is almost directly related to practice time dedicated to learning a skill.  Example:  10,000 hours makes musicians successful; 7,000 hours makes them decent lounge singers; 4,000 hours gives them the competence to become music teachers. 

This is why Gladwell also attributes the Beatles success to the more than 1,200 performances they did in the strip joints of Hamburg, Germany, playing sometimes seven days a week and up to ten hours a day.  Gladwell quotes Beatles biographer Philip Norman writing about their time in Hamburg:  “They were no good on stage when they went there and they were very good when they came back….  They weren’t disciplined onstage at all before that.  But when they came back, they sounded like no one else.  It was the making of them.”

Bottom line:  Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success.  It is a well-written, enjoyable read that, at the very least, will give you a different perspective on life, business and success. Enjoy!  

Achievement is talent plus preparation….
[T]he closer psychologists look at the
careers of the gifted, the smaller the role
innate talent seems to play and the bigger
the role preparation seems to play.”
            Malcolm Gladwell
            Outliers: The Story of Success

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