Outliers: Gladwell’s 3rd Mega Hit – Revised Summary

The Advantage of Being Jewish in the 1930’s

  • In the 1930’s, Jewish lawyers were not welcomed to New York law firms so many took whatever work walked in the door. As the nature of legal work changed, the Jewish firms prospered and grew. They were not afraid to engage in lawsuits that were settled in court and were in the right place when mergers and acquisitions became lucrative. They didn’t triumph over adversity. Adversity ended up being an opportunity.
  • Cultural legacies are powerful forces that have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished. They play roles in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of without them. The question for the next part of the book is to look at their role in the success of people and how to use them to one’s advantage.

The Cultural Legacy of Korean Air

  • In some cultures, the speech of subordinates is mitigated. This refers to any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said. This is typical in countries like Korea. While the captain will give commands (Turn thirty degrees right) the copilot may only give hints (That return at 25 miles looks mean.) This is why historically, crashes have been far more likely when the captain is in the “flying seat.” Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying because it means that the second pilot isn’t going to be afraid to speak up. Korean Air had an accident rate 17 times higher than United Airlines until they figured this out. In the US, people are less subservient to authority.

Why Asian’s are Better at Math and Rice Farming

  • Asian languages have simple number names that make numbers easier to learn and manipulate. If you ask an English speaking child to add 37+22 they have to convert the words to numbers. Asian children hear add three tens seven and two tens two and the necessary equation is right there.
  • Rice farming requires meticulous attention to detail and continuous hard work compared to western farming. This is why Asian farmers are autonomous as overlords can’t control servants when they have to care so much and work so hard. This helps explain why Asian cultures work so hard and do so well in school. Cultures that succeed are the ones that value hard work more than others.

Why Asians Out Perform Poor Kids

  • Like Asian schools, charter schools run by KIPP feature longer days, longer school years, and lots of homework. They are similar to Asian rice farms in that the work is constant with no long period of rest like summer vacation which mimics the fact that western farmers work less in the summer than during planting and harvesting seasons.
  • During the school year, poor students gain at about the same rate as students who are not poor. The difference is due to the fact that when kids are not in school, wealthier parents see to it that their children are involved in some kind of learning experiences. Poor kids scores drop over the summer which creates a persistent learning gap.
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