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Secrets of Success

Outliers: How to Be Successful

Benjamin Liu of Camino Grove Elementary

a book review and commentary by Benjamin Liu, 9-year-old 4th grader at Camino Grove Elementary

Outliers, written by Malcolm Gladwell, tells the story of success and shows various concepts and examples, including the determined Chinese farmers and the phenomenal successful legends such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or even Mark Zuckerburg. Do you ever wonder why they make their job look so easy? Or why China’s civilization is getting closer and closer to us each and every day. Chinese farmers wake up at sunrise and start working until sunset. Regardless good or bad weather, they keep working 360 days a year. Thinking of this takes us back to the Chinese civilization. They are catching up to the USA currently. Why? Because they work hard. Nobody working sunrise to sunset 360 days a year is not successful. And we should take this as a fact, because the Chinese civilization proves how much better we can do. We don’t just stop in first place. We keep going no matter how ahead we are.

If you want to be an expert at something you need to at least work ten thousand hours at it. Look at The Beatles, for example. They played about a thousand times on stage before they became famous. Hardly any bands play half of that! Also, Bill Gates is a good example. He spent thirteen hours per day on a computer starting at midnight when he was a young boy. He sneaked into the University of Washington almost every day. Steve Jobs is currently 56 years old and he’s working on Apple computers more than ever. Look at Mark Zuckerburg, the youngest billionaire in the world. I bet you he knows the best strategies and techniques on making successful websites. The only reason these legends are successful is because they spend so much time on what they’re known for. These are people you’re probably craving to be. Well now you know how to do it. It just takes a lot effort and determination. Success rule #1: spend at least 10,000 hours on the area you want to succeed in.

In 1889, a Jewish family Louis and Regina Borgenichts sailed from Poland to New York City with only some money to last for a few weeks. They needed to make money. So Louis set out selling all sorts of things like fish, bananas, etc. The money he was making was not enough. He needed to feed four mouths in his family. He went out to look for something good to sell. It hit him like an explosion. Clothes were his business. Everybody needs clothes. So that night Regina sewed 40 aprons, and they were sold quickly. After this sale they kept on selling clothes until their business took off. Louis had a great brainstorm that day. After the action that day more Jewish immigrants set up shops selling clothes. Everybody put their sewing and dressmaking skills to use. These people worked like madmen at what they knew. In the late nineteenth century, the Garment trade was the largest industry in New York City. Selling clothes there in the 1890s was getting a good fortune. This is a great example of how knowledgeable Jews put their mind into good use to be successful. There is no doubt that the Borgenichts came to New York City at the right time and with the right skill. Those thousands of Jewish immigrants who sailed to New York were given a great opportunity. Bringing home the lessons and knowledge of how to get ahead in the world. Success rule #2: have a good business sense and plan, just like Borgenichts.

The IQ is a test judging how smart you are. Chris Langan, some may call him the smartest man in this country (Chris Langan’s IQ score =160 Albert Einstein’s IQ score =150). Judging from these IQ scores, does it necessarily mean one could be more successful than the other? 70% percent of who is reading this is probably wrong. IQ does not translate any measurable real world advantage. For example, in basketball if you’re the tallest does it mean you’re the best? Of course not! So is IQ testing. Maybe Chris Langan knew more than Einstein. But that barely proves anything. It matters only with their skill in confronting a challenging question. Chris Langan was really a farmer at the end, but he didn’t get an opportunity in success to change the world, whereas Einstein is the greatest scientist in the world.  Success rule #3: You don’t have to be the smartest to make it into success, but you have to be smart enough and be able to make the right choices and decisions with right opportunity to achieve success.

It also matters when you were born. If you were born during the Great Depression you would have a good head start, because you would have a good chance of success right after the Great Depression and right before World War II. A lot of professional sports players are born around the same common months. This makes total sense because the professionals are born in a good date and when they’re older they get a better practicing benefit judging from when they were born. Bill Gates had this benefit. The reason he was successful was because he was born before the computer era and he was given a golden opportunity on long time computer access. Success rule #4: You must be born at the right time to seize your successful opportunity.

Would you trade a billion dollars for all the education you ever wanted to know? In Outliers, we learn that success can come from anyone. Almost everyone is given an opportunity. Success matters from the decisions and effort we make toward our goal. Even though everyone is given an opportunity for success, it only matters to those who make the great effort and decisions to seize their chance at the right moment. Like Bill Gates got a good start on being born at the right time and getting good access to a computer. For hockey and soccer players born in January it was a better shot at getting in the all-stars than those who were born later. For the Beatles it was Hamburg, where they demonstrated the ten thousand hour practicing rule on stage before their success took off. Success does not come from certain people it comes from everyone, but it depends whether we can choose to work hard or not. To be successful you have to believe in yourself.

I hope after you read this, it teaches you the true meaning of success and what it takes. It takes hard work and determination. And you can learn this from the Jews and The Beatles or Bill Gates. When you’ve read this last paragraph, I want you to think about the Chinese farmers and the phenomenal successful legends (could be you in the future).

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