Tuesday, March 10, 2009

6526: Outliers And Out-And-Out Liars.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell is a complex book that doesn’t always appear comfortable with its topic of exploration. Comprised of nine chapters spread across two parts, along with an introduction and epilogue, Gladwell’s bestseller bounces through a series of observations and musings about the things that make certain people extraordinarily successful.

What leads to success? Gladwell believes it’s a combination of opportunity, culture, practice, access, family, class, geography and more. “It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like,” says Gladwell. “It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

This is not an easy book to describe. So we won’t bother trying. For a general overview, check out what Time published. To contrast all the gushing, read the New York Times critique. A taped presentation can be viewed via CNN with Anderson Cooper. And Rochelle Newman-Carrasco delivered a brilliant perspective with relevance to multicultural marketing at The Big Tent.

MultiCultClassics will merely touch on a few advertising-related points inspired by the book.

Gladwell introduced the 10,000-Hour Rule, claiming studies show the key to success in most fields is not rooted in talent. It’s merely practice—10,000 hours over a 10-year stretch. This poses challenges for those seeking to jump-start diversity in our industry. For example, part of the Howard University initiative hopes to train Black executives in other professions for transitions to Madison Avenue. Now the skeptics and realists alike have reason to doubt the quick success of the endeavor. Gladwell almost supports the Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants, Inc. report, which stated the current pace of progress means “eliminating today’s Black under-utilization will require 71 years, or until the year 2079.”

Gladwell contends that one’s background and culture definitely influence victory. This likely explains the exclusivity on Madison Avenue. If you’re a member of the privileged elite, and you’re a White male, a rewarding career awaits. The alternative cultures get shipped to thriving roles in the mailroom.

MultiCultClassics proposes a sequel to Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

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