If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling books The Tipping Point and Blink then you are familiar with his interesting way of looking at the world. You may not always agree with his conclusions, but his observations are always thought provoking. His recent book Outilers is no different. In fact, it is the perfect book for this blog and I will write about it more in the coming days.
But if you are not familiar with Outliers, or even Galdwell, I wanted to make sure they both got on your radar. The subtitle to Outliers is The Story of Success. Galdwell looks at why an usually high number of the top hockey players are born in January, February, and March. Why Hamberg, Germany played a key role in developing the talent of the Beatles. And why being born on or around 1955 was important to be a computer wiz like Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs.
“People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it themselves. But the fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievment in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”
We’ll look more into this beginning tomorrow with a special Q&A with Colin Covert, the film critic for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. One cannot ignore the fact that two films in the that two years that have made over $100 million at the box office (Juno & Gran Torino) were written by writers in the Minneapolis area.
Related post: Screenwriting Jamaican-Olympic Style
Update: I just decided at random to see when three of the top all-time pro hockey players (off the time of my head) were born and Gladwell’s research was on the money; Wayne Gretzky (January), Bobby Orr (March), Gordie Howe (March). I think Gladwell, and those whose he reports on who have done research in this area, are on to something.