They had to look beyond the individual. They had to understand the culture he or she was a part of, who their friends and families were, and what town their families came from.
Personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing.
But [a professional hockey player] didn’t start out as an outlier. He started out just a little bit better.
The talent of essentially half of the Czech athletic population has been squandered.
We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.
The outliers in a particular field reached their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly arbitrary advantage.
In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
Do you know how extraordinary that is? Most bands today don’t perform twelve hundred times in their entire careers. The Hamburg crucible is one of the things that set the Beatles apart.
I don’t mean to suggest…that every software tycoon in Silicon Valley was born in 1955...but there are very clearly patterns here, and what’s striking is how little we seem to want to acknowledge them.
Terman didn’t understand what a real outlier was, and that’s a mistake we continue to make to this day.
This was Terman’s error. He fell in love with the fact that his Termites were at the absolute pinnacle of the intellectual scale...without realizing how little that seemingly extraordinary fact meant.
[Oppenheimer] possessed the kind of savvy that allowed him to get what he wanted from the world.
The sense of entitlement…is an attitude perfectly suited to succeeding in the modern world.
The Cs were squandered talent. But they didn’t need to be.
No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone.
Since we know outliers always have help along the way, can we sort through the ecology of Joe Flom and identify the conditions that helped create him?
Is there a perfect time for a New York Jewish lawyer to be born? It turns out there is.
I realize that we are often wary of making these kinds of broad generalizations about different cultural groups—and with good reason. This is the form that racial and ethnic stereotypes take. We want to believe that we are not prisoners of our ethnic histories.
[The pilot’s] plane is moments from disaster. But he cannot escape the dynamic dictated to him by his culture in which subordinates must respect the dictates of their superiors.
Throughout history, not surprisingly, the people who grow rice have always worked harder than almost any other kind of farmer.
This idea—that effort must be balanced by rest—could not be more different from Asian notions about study and work, of course.
Schools work. The only problem with school, for the kids who aren’t achieving, is that there isn’t enough of it.
Her community does not give her what she needs. So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends—all the elements of her old world—and replace them with KIPP
Marita just needed a chance. And look at the chance she was given! Someone brought a little bit of the rice paddy to South Bronx and explained to her the miracle of meaningful work.
These were history’s gifts to my family—and if the resources of that grocer, the fruits of those riots, the possibilities of that culture, and the privileges of that skin tone had been extended to others, how many more would now live a life of fulfillment, in a beautiful house high on a hill?