I just finished reading Outliers. I have previosuly read his Tipping Point and Blink and I can say that this book has also opened my mind in yet another dimension.

Unlike his previous books, this one starts with stories of people (Bill Gates, Bill Joy and Steve Jobs) whose stories I am generally familiar with. So it was quite interesting to learn about the events and situations that made them Outliers.

His stories about ethnicity of pilots and how it relates to plane crashes is quite eye opening and, to some extent, hard to believe. However, the chapter of rice paddy fields and it’s relevance to the Chinese math prowess is simply a stretch.

The key point of his book – the impact of timing, family and cultural history – is something I can personally relate to. I grew up in one of the ‘inner-city’ areas in Chennai and it seems quite surprising how I was still able to get all the education and exposure. But its quite obvious now that there were specific things that happened in my life for the way things turned out. 

My maternal grand father, who was a lawyer, was educated in the UK at a time when it was not that common among Indians. Given his global exposure, he encouraged and supported my mom’s education. My mom also became a lawyer, which was quite unusual in the ‘marwari’ community which does not generally encourage women to study and work. And because of her passion to educate me, I ended up in a top school in Chennai in spite of the not-so-educated neighborhood and society. Now this school had all the ingredients to prepare me for a professional career that I now have. 

I have always believed that more than half your life’s path is determined in the context you are born – time, place, family, economy, culture, religion etc. Still there is quite a lot that is not predetermined and is left to the choices one makes in their lives. Those choices determine whether you live a happy life or not. Outliers does a great job of putting facts and research behind this belief.

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