Eben Pagan’s Blog

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Posted in Business, Good Books, Psychology, Success by ebenpagan on December 2, 2008

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” – and it was a good read. Very valuable. Major takeaways are:

  1. Initial conditions matter. Think Chaos Theory. Complex systems that evolve over time (which humans are, and groups of humans are) can be very sensitive to initial conditions. For humans, influential initial conditions can be other people, key training, early advantages, access to tools and resources, etc.
  2. Practice matters. 10,000 hours seems to be the magic “inflection point” that results in “genius.”
  3. Culture matters. What’s acceptable in your culture can influence your thinking and behavior in major ways.

My action steps after reading this book:

  1. Pay more attention to the first experiences that customers, partners, and team members have with our business, our team members, and our products. Better induction processes, better training, and better relationship-building leads to bigger success.
  2. Teach and coach others to practice their craft more often, and for longer. Essentially all of the key successes in my life came after YEARS of focused practice. Encourage practice consistently with others.
  3. Work on our business’ culture. It just happens that I interviewed Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) a few days ago, and most of his focus is on their company culture. This book helped me understand more of the nuances of the importance of aligning and consciously creating culture.

Part of my personal approach to life and success over the past several years is to surround myself with people that “are” what I want to become, and it will happen almost automatically. This book helped me to realize just how important it is to “take control” of your “influences” if you want to direct your own success.

Overall, it’s a good book. Read it:

Outliers: The Story of Success

15 Responses

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  1. Mari Smith said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Eben, thanks a mil for this great power-review. I’m a mega fan of Gladwell’s work and this one looks awesome – I just ordered a copy.

    I really like what you say about surrounding yourself with peeps who are what you want to become… amen! Here’s to the power of mentoring and masterminding with strategically chosen individuals.


  2. Mike Hill said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Great review and couldn’t agree more on every point. 20 Years seems like an aweful lot of practice though.. greatly reduced obviously for those of us who put in more then 8 hours, which, by the way,, go to bed buddy 🙂

  3. Sean Oliver said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the review. I am going to check it ou.

  4. Yavor said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:52 pm


    The book seems to be the next big thing, sorta like the one from Tim Ferris’. I will be checking it out for sure.

    Quick jot downs from your post before reading the book:

    – get yourself surrounded by people you won’t to be like
    – didn’t get the thing about culture, so I guess I will understand it from the book


  5. Caleb Jennings said, on December 1, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Congratulations Eben-you friggin rock man! Tony did a number on you-Twitter, personal blogging 😉 I’ll have to thank Tony when I meet him! I think what you are doing is absolutely beautiful and powerful beyond perception. Mark Joyner and I were just speaking about the mutual goal of ours to meld business with Charity. I have personally invited everyone on my list to this webinar and will be spreading the word as best I know how 😀 I’m looking forward to celebrating your birthday in such a powerful and humble manner along with raising awareness for this often un-noticed issue. Happy almost Birthday!

  6. Carl said, on December 2, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Some contribution here.
    The Book “Software for your Brain” recommended by ED_Dale is a great book.
    Although it’s been a while now, it still worth to take a look since it’s digital downloadable-for free.
    You may have read it already, either way, I would like to benefit you blog reader with relevant great book recommendation.


    Hope it helps:)

  7. Sandy Grason said, on December 2, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Thanks Eben,
    I love this review- I’m going to go back and look at all of the auto-responders we’ve set up for new customers/subscribers and add an extra “somethin’-somethin'” so they feel special.

    Welcome to your blogging career. I’ve heard wonderful things about you, I’m sure you will totally rock.

  8. Kris said, on December 2, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Sounds like a book I’ll have to check out!

    My last 6 or 7 weeks of reading have all been from a list I made of book recommendations I’ve heard you make in the past 🙂

  9. Jacob said, on December 2, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I haven’t read “Outliers” yet, but I did read an interesting bit of a review (specifically regarding his example of The Beatles and their 10,000 hours of practice) in a blog post by musician Mike Doughty a couple of days ago that you might find interesting:


  10. Kevin Wilke said, on December 2, 2008 at 10:57 am

    You mentioned something extremely powerful that could easily be overlooked.

    I can’t remember where I read this, but research has shown that the success (or failure) of something new (new project, new hire, new partnership, new client, etc), as much of 80% is based on how it was started.

    Unfortunately its easy to take the “short-cut” when starting something and assume we will make up for it over time through improvement.

    My notes I have on it…
    – How you start something determines as much as 80% of its success or failure over the long-term.

    – If started poorly, rushed, unplanned or with little direction then quickly becomes muddled with challenges, delays and is VERY difficult to get back on track.

    – And if you let things slide early on, establishing a precedent that’s hard to change.

    – A little preparation upfront saves a lot of frustration, fixes and failure over the long term.


  11. Gordon said, on December 2, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    He talks a little too much about the culture of pilots influencing plane crashes for my taste, but besides that, it’s a good book.

    I’ve heard the 10,000 hours of practice thing from a number of sources including Dan Sullivan in ‘Pure Genius’ and George Leonard talks about a similar process in order to achieve ‘Mastery.’ It has to be a universal. Imagine if our school systems were based upon this idea…

    I like the way you’ve set up this review as it’s actionable. I think I’ll have to create a similar process to facilitate my own learning.



  12. Jason said, on December 5, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for this Eben, great review, I enjoy your thought processes. Went ahead and ordered the book, looking forward to reading it.

    I would enjoy reading more of your reviews, and maybe a what your reading list.


  13. WeightLoss said, on December 11, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Outliers is a great book. The problem is Gladwell leaves little room for critical thinking by interlacing his opinion and ideas throughout the book. I like to form my own thoughts based on presented research. But I think for the target this was a great book.


  14. Christie Prokopiak said, on December 16, 2008 at 12:17 pm


    I just got Outliers today and can’t wait to take a peak inside, but of course I need to be available to sign up for Get Altitude at 3:00 PM ET – that’s TODAY.


  15. Gregg Zban said, on December 29, 2008 at 12:23 pm


    I saw him on CSPAN giving a talk about his book and what wne t into it. A very facinating man and very interesting to listen to. He know how to tell a story. I also learn something very intersting from him, talking about putting in 10,000 hours before you can be considered a master of something. He said that the Beetles played over 1200 gigs prior to performing in the USA for the first time so they would have been considered masters of their craft prior to even playing their first gig in the US.

    Leads me to being the master at what each of us do, heave we put in the 10,000 hours. Anyway, thought provoking.


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