'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell - Book Club Discussion Questions

'Outliers' - Reading Group Guide


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell investigates the causes of extreme success (outliers). Gladwell’s claim is that it is not primarily individual talent, hard work, or merit of any kind that causes success, but sheer circumstances and luck. Use these book club discussion questions on Outliers to lead a conversation on Gladwell's book.

  1. When does a Canadian hockey player want to be born? Why does it matter?
  2. What’s the 10,000-hour rule?
  3. What problems might there be in Gladwell’s list of history’s richest individuals?
  4. Look at the time of year the techies were born. Do the dates support the time of year claim?
  5. What might explain the fact that not all Nobel winners come from the very best colleges, other than Gladwell’s IQ "good enough" claim?
  6. Does Chris Langan’s experience mean, as Gladwell claims, that success really isn’t about individual merit?
  7. Gladwell claims historical treatment of Jews in both Europe and the US led to their dominance in the garment industry and NYC law firms. How much of an individual Jewish New Yorker’s success should be attributed to these historical factors?
  8. Gladwell gives several reasons for Asian academic success. What are they and which do you find most convincing?
  9. Do the privileges and advantages Gladwell cites seem as decisive as he claims? Are these advantages unique?
  10. What advantages have you benefited from? Why haven’t they been enough to catapult you to an outlier level of success? Alternatively, if you consider yourself very successful, to what do you attribute your success?
  1. Rate Outliers on a scale of 1 to 5.