Journalist and pop guru Malcolm Gladwell brings other people's big ideas to the masses, and in that way, “I’m a parasite,” he says. In his new book, the author takes modesty to a new level, crediting his success—which, by the way, manifests itself in a $4 million advance for his latest book and $80,000 speaking fees—to circumstances outside his control. That goes for everyone else's, too. Success, he writes in Outliers, is as much about luck as it is talent, reports Jason Zengerie in New York magazine.
Gladwell analyzes a bunch of outliers—people who are spectacularly successful—for the circumstances that allowed them to excel. Take Bill Gates: He's obviously brilliant, Gladwell concludes, but a lot of similarly brilliant people didn't get the breaks he got as a kid, when he was exposed to computers long before he got to Harvard. This book, he says, is not about self-help, but social change. "The world decides what you can and can’t be. And the appropriate place to provide opportunities is at the world level, not the individual level.”