Outliers – A non technical book every freelancer/developer should read
Outliers “The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell is a popular book. I heard about the book in a freelance discussion group at a developer conference. I quickly ordered a used copy from Amazon. It’s popularity became very apparent when multiple people, that saw me reading it in an airport terminal, asked if it was any good because they had heard it was. My answer is yes. The book has been reviewed many times (795 on amazon alone) so to avoid duplicate statements I will give my brief summation along with my comments about how the theories in the book apply to software development. If you have read the book please comment with your thoughts. If not I suggest you do because it’s a quick, thought provoking read.
Summary: The book is NOT a 12 steps to success type book, I really hate those books. Gladwell presents the theory that success is not a trait or a gene that only some people have. Gladwell proposes that there are no simple rags to riches stories where a person builds an empire solely on their own. With scientific studies and research to back up the theories Gladwell explores how opportunities and advantages provide the gateway to success.
- 10,000 hours (very popular topic from the book)
- No one succeeds without many, many hours of preparation. No one.
- Examples from Bill Joy(co founded Sun) to The Beatles are given.
- My thoughts: Turn off the xbox360 and the TV and learn a new language, framework, or pattern. Then repeat.
- Some people that prepare will be rewarded with incredibly rare opportunities.
- My favorite example in the book is a list of the richest people ever. A large number were from a 10 year period in the mid 1800’s. That time period gave a few lucky individuals the opportunity to become tycoons because of culminating economic and technical advances.
- My thoughts: So if you are not lucky enough to be learning the types of technical skills that will benefit you, then take it upon yourself to make your own luck and find a position that will.
- IQ is not all you need
- The book covers in depth the story of Chris Langan who has an IQ of 195, but has never attained a college degree or high profile professional career.
- My thoughts: To succeed in software development you need communication skills, imagination, and technical skills(IQ). You need to know how to inform/educate non technical people and how to debate effectively with colleagues.
- It takes a village
- No body makes it alone. We all need support from family, friends, and colleagues.
- Every freelance book or article I read says to have a partner.
- Love what you do
- Great quote from the book: “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it has no meaning”
- My thoughts: You know if you love your job or not. Stop thinking about finding a satisfying job. Update your resume and go find a job you will love. It won’t find you, unless you are one of those really lucky people the book mentions.
Another excellent review of Outliers: http://www.markhneedham.com/blog/2009/01/06/outliers-book-review/