1. The large difference between how I have thought and understood success compared to the way Malcolm Gladwell argues is the circumstances and families that create success. Previous to reading this book, I strongly believed that the way to become successful was to put in hard work. For example, my theory to success was similar along the lines to what Malcolm Gladwell discusses earlier in the book. He says, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good”(Gladwell, 2008). I believed if you practiced what you want to be successful at everyday, you would eventually end up reaching your goal.
However, after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion my beliefs are now different. One of the more important examples Malcolm Gladwell mentions that showed how different I thought was the success story of Bill Gates. I personally believed that Bill Gates was successful only because he was an intelligent man who was driven by hard work and his goal to create the personal computer. Previous to this novel my only education on Bill Gates was from reading short articles about him and from what I have heard from friends and teachers. What I did not know about Bill Gates was his given circumstance and the support from his family and others.
Malcolm Gladwell mentions that there important opportunities that were “incredible lucky series of events”(Gladwell, 2008), that created his success. Some of the opportunities Bill Gates was given were his “free computer time at the University of Washington”(Gladwell, 2008) and also previous to that his mother along with others “had enough money to pay for his high school Lakesides computer fees”(Gladwell, 2008). Without the circumstance of Bill Gates receiving free computer time, chances are he wouldn’t have been nearly as intelligent and innovative with computers as he is today.
To reiterate Malcolm Gladwell’s argument about super achievers are successful because of their families, in Bill Gates circumstance it is true. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to practice with computers at a young age if his mother couldn’t afford to pay for the schools computer fees. Based on Bill Gates example Malcolm Gladwell writes about, it creates a credible argument to how he believes how to become successful. I did not even consider before reading this novel that family and the fortunate circumstances you are given are a substantial part to ones success.
However, now it is crucial that it is not overlooked. 2. In my opinion, the “cultural language” in the United States varies across the country depending on where you are from. I believe that in some regions of the United States the cultural language is similar to the language represented by the co-pilot Koltz in “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes”(Gladwell, 2008). However, I also believe in other vicinities in the United States the cultural language is outgoing and in the situation presented in the plane crash chapter, the cultural language would have been much more extrovert.
The cultural language across the United States has emerged and evolved based on where you and your parents are from and how you were raised. Moments before the plane “Avianca 052”(Gladwell, 2008) crashed after running out of fuel, Co-Pilot Mauricio Klotz attempted to warn Kennedy Airport that their airplane did not have the sufficient amount of fuel to land. However, because Klotz was using “his own cultural language”, the controllers were not able to comprehend the trouble Avianca 052 was really in. I believe Klotz’s mitigated speech during this problem is similar to some cultural languages in the United States.
For example, Malcolm Gladwell discusses Robert Sternberg’s theory of “practical intelligence”(Gladwell, 2008). To Sternberg, practical intelligence is “knowledge that helps out read situations correctly and get what you want”(Gladwell, 2008). It is clear that Klotz’s cultural language lacked practical intelligence. However, I believe numerous cultures in the United States also lack the same intelligence. Malcolm Gladwell recalls a study where “Annette Lareau conducted a fascinating study of a group of third graders”(Gladwell, 2008). Results of the study showed that lower-class children are “quiet and submissive”(Gladwell, 2008).
Therefore, children and adults who are from lower-class families very well could have responded the same way Klotz did during a time of emergency. The cultural language of the United States can also be outgoing and far from “quiet and submissive”. Malcolm Gladwell discusses the South and the personalities people possess there. From results of an experiment, it had shown that Southerners were more willing to stand up for themselves. The experiment consisted of calling them an “asshole” to see if it “caused their levels of testosterone and cortisol-the hormones that drive arousal and aggression-to go up” (Gladwell, 2008).
The results were the Southerners “were angry, their cortisol and testosterone jumped. Their handshakes got firm”. It is easy to predict how a Southerner would have reacted to a plane moment’s way from crashing if they react strongly to simply being called a derogatory name. My guess is that if a Southerner was a co-pilot, the controllers at Kennedy Airport would have understood the trouble the airplane was in. I believe our vast cultural language derived from what Malcolm Gladwell would call “the culture of honor”(Gladwell, 2008).
The “culture of honor” describes people behave the way they do because of where “you grew up or where your parents grew up…where your great-grandparents and your great-great-grandparents grew up and even where your great-great-great-grandparents grew up”(Gladwell, 2008). This explains our difference in the United States culture because the majority of the people living in the United States families were once immigrants. People come from all over the world to live in the U. S. and that is why are culture is different from any others.
I believe our vast cultural language works in favor with our social structure because it matches with the supply and demand of our economy. For example, there are plenty of jobs in the United States where people who respect their superiors and are afraid to speak up can work. Also, there are opportunities to open up your own business if you contain traits similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s example of a Southerner and do not mesh well with being told what to do. 3. When Gladwell says that biologists talk about the ‘ecology’ of an organism he is referring to why certain organisms are more successful than others.
Malcolm Gladwell is inferring that the “tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn”(Gladwell, 2008). It is the tallest oak in the forest because of many more reasons. Reasons that include luck and some things that cannot be controlled. For example, when discussing about oak trees, Gladwell mentions that one oak tree is the tallest because “no other tree blocked its sunlight…no rabbit chewed through its bark… and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured”(Gladwell, 2008).
Gladwell’s point of the ecology of this certain tree is that is it the most successful because of certain circumstances it was placed in. The “Matthew Effect” or also known as “accumulative advantage” is when “those who are successful are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success”(Gladwell, 2008). Malcolm Gladwell’s example of accumulative advantage is hockey players and how at a young age they achieve success. Gladwell discusses that “the professional hockey player starts out a little bit better than his peers.
And that little difference leads to an opportunity that makes that difference a bit bigger”(Gladwell, 2008). An important implication of the hockey example is that the similarities in the age of the hockey players who have had success. The majority of the hockey players in Canada are born in “January, February, and March”(Gladwell, 2008). Because of the fact that these professional hockey players were born in the beginning of the year they had an advantage over those who were born later in the year.
The reason why they have an advantage is because when they were young they were bigger and more matured than those who were born later in the year. Since that these hockey players were bigger than the other kids they were given the opportunity to play hockey at more of an elite level. This is a prime example of “The Matthew Effect” and it explains that ones who are successful are given more opportunities to be more successful. However, accumulative advantage and ecology both are very similar.
For example, along with the accumulative advantage in the hockey player instance there is also ecology to it. As mentioned earlier, the ecology of an organism is lucky or uncontrollable circumstances that occur. For the most part, the date of birth of a person is often uncontrollable and is not often planned. Accumulative advantage and ecology as seen in this example, are often correlated with one another. In both the Matthew Effect and the ecology and an organism, people are given a better opportunity. References Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York: Little,Brown and Company.