Defining Success in Gladwell's Outliers: the Story of Success


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An outlier is defined as a value that stands out from all the other values. In the book outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the readers are shown the stories of success of the odd. Gladwell’s definition of success aligned greatly with the success story of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. As Gladwell describes, Job’s hour of hard work, his wisdom, family, and attitude contributed to his success. Job’s carried these characteristics which made him an “Outlier” as Gladwell described.

In Outliers, Gladwell defines success as an attribute you are born into. The biography of Steve Jobs’ exhibits the concept of an Outlier as Gladwell describes. From being adopted to, dropping out of college, to creating a multi-billion company, Jobs’ has proven himself;f to be an Outlier. Gladwell states “Working hard is what successful people do…” (Gladwell 280). That is exactly what Jobs’ did and him a successful man in this fierce world.

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According to Gladwell, researchers have come with 10,000 hours which roughly equals to 10 years, for a person to excel in any activity. He uses Mozart to prove his 10,000-hour rule. Mozart’s first pieces weren’t very successful but, he composed his masterwork at the age of 21, which by then he has completed 10,000 hours. This rule can be applied to Steve Jobs success story. He worked day and night for hours and hours trying to create a system which no one has ever created. His hours of work for years added up to 10,000 hours by the time they were ready to launch the extraordinary product.

Apple was not solely found by Steve Jobs. Behind that great achievement, lies the hard work of many. Such as Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula, etc. “ Steve Wozniak stayed with Apple since the beginning. “ To say that Steve Wozniak was wowed with the idea of a computer in a small box might be an understatement.” (Bluthmen 55). Wozniak’s geniuses lead apple to a bigger and higher place. Not only Wozniak but, Mike Markkula, former marketing manager of Intel had a huge impact on the success of Apple. “If Steve wasn’t thinking big enough, Mike Markkula definitely was (Bluthmen 77). Not only these but many more contributed to Apple. Jobs had many people around him guiding and helping his throughout the course. As Gladwell would say, it was not just only the geniuses that mattered their creativity and innate knowledge played a bigger role.

Gladwell point outs hidden factors that determine one’s success. He explains how inheriting wealth produces more opportunities for one. This factor can be seen in Jobs success story. “ The family bought a house in Mountain View, and as Paul put together his workshop in the garage,…. (Blumenthal). From him getting adopted to, moving into California were steps towards his success. Getting adapted to a more wealthier family gave him access to move to California and moving gave him more opportunities many kids did not have back in the time. When many kids did not have access to a computer, Jobs got the privilege to experience and learn new things. Jobs parents taught him“ how to build things, put things back together (Blumenthal 9). As Gladwell explains, the location you are born impacts greatly, as it opens up more opportunities for you, which then lead to your success.

Gladwell uses rice paddy farmers to demonstrate persistence and attitude towards your job. He describes how rice paddy farmers have to work throughout the year, harder than any other farmer growing rice requires additional attention and patients. Using the paddy farmers, Gladwell demonstrates the attitude and persistence one needs to succeed in life. “ He finished work late at night, arriving home at about ten p.m and fall into bed. Then, he’d get up at six a.m, shower, and do it all over again. (Blumenthal 197). Jobs’ success story is shown proving Gladwell’s definitions of attitude and persistence towards life true. Job’s would not have been able to produce the great company Apple without tenacity and positive attitude towards the creation. Jobs succeeds in proving the saying, hard work leads to success.

As the audience of both Outliers and the biography of Steve Jobs, it is visible how much of Gladwell’s concepts of an outlier aligns with Steve Jobs’ life and success story. Many factors, such as the 10,000-hour rule, the power of inheritance, his wisdom, persiatnceness, and attitude towards life. Jobs’ was able to achieve the success he desired through these qualities. Jobs’ can be distinctly identified as Outlier with the help of Gladwell’s concepts.

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