Category: Bookworm Spice

Success and Outliers

Have you ever wondered how the super-rich got so rich, or how people become insanely successful?  What is it that they have that we ordinary people don’t? Are they smarter than us?  Luckier than us?  More motivated than us?

There are essentially three ways of getting rich.  Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, others are ‘self-made’, and still others, although very few, become extremely wealthy through the blessings of Lady Luck (like winning the lottery).  And if you listen closely, an overwhelming number of ‘self-made’ millionaires and billionaires attribute their success to hard work, drive and perseverence.  Now, I am a total believer that this combination of attitude and values will help you get to the top.  But, do you believe that that’s all it takes?  If yes, why are there not many more disgustingly wealthy people in the world?

Those are some of the questions swimming around in my head whenever I day dream about how I can make lots of money so that I don’t have to work and just travel around the world.  Then I came across a book by Malcolm Gladwell titled Outliers: The Story of Success that shed a whole different light on the sucessful and wealthy. I know he has written other books such as Blink and The Tipping Point, which my husband told me were also extremely worthwhile reading.  But I haven’t read those yet.

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell presents his theory on how people like Bill Gates, the Beatles, athletes, etc. become rich and famous. In addition to hard work and motivation, he points to the familial, environmental, cultural, and other idiosyncratic factors that help shape a successful person. He argues that success is not attained by oneself, as many successful people claim. What about their upbringing, the era in which they were born, the opportunities afforded them, the cultural influences? These are just as important, if not more so, than the individual characteristics. To fully understand how successful people become successful, you need to look deeper than just what you see and hear. There are a lot of other factors that help them rise to the top, factors that they may not be even aware of and cannot control.

It’s amazing how, for a selected few, the universe seems to align perfectly for them. No one is really a ‘self-made’ success, not even over-achievers. Outliers has opened my eyes to the unseen forces that shape a person’s life. This book is an extremely interesting read and I highly recommend it.


Read this author!

I have been wanting to post a Bookworm Spice post for awhile, but I haven’t come across anything new or inspiring to share. At some point, I’ll go back and share about some old favorites, too. But today, I picked up this author who is friend of a friend. I’ve been a fan of his FB page for awhile, but never had the chance to sit down and actually read any of the publications. Many of his short stories are available for free online, through various online magazines, mostly of the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Given that I’m completely swamped by work this weekend and have been seeking out every possible escapist activity to procrastinate, I decided to check out one of his recently published stories. I found I enjoyed it so much, I went to find others. (Unlike another Spice, when I procrastinate, I do not find things I hate to do more than the task at hand. I find truly escapist fun things to do. Like catch up on half a season’s worth of Nikita episodes. There’s an idea for another post – my guilty pleasure TV addictions!)

Anyway – the stories are really smart, but not so much sci-fi/fantasy, which I tend to only like when there is a historical or cultural component. I know a lot of sci-fi does have these concepts, but sometimes I get too lost in the science of the fiction and have a hard time enjoying the actual storytelling. I did not get that from these stories. The writing itself is also really…lovely…I don’t know how else to say it without just saying “well-written”, which is too generic and trite of a phrase. My favorites so far have been Ad Block, The Visit, Tying Knots, and Simulacrum. In each, I’ve found a message or theme that resonates strongly with me. You know when you read something that puts an idea or concept into words and you realize this is something you totally understand and believe, but you just didn’t realize until you read it in someone else’s words? Because you yourself never had the ideas in fully formed words or concepts? These stories did that for me. Tying Knots inspired a welling up of indignation, Simulacrum led to a welling up of tears. Really amazing.

His website lists all of the links to the stories that are available online. I wonder if any of the other Spices will enjoy the stories, too. Maybe it’s just me. But he seems to be getting a lot published, so there does seem to be widespread appeal, too. He and his wife recently co-wrote a novel that’s in the editing process – I can’t wait to see how that turned out, too.