In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines highly successful individuals and sets out to prove that their success is not a limited product of their intelligence, talent or ambitious, but very much due to their cultural background and opportunities obtained during their youth. Additionally, that people and their opportunities are very much a result of where and when (place and time) they are raised.
I always cringe when people say that their success is entirely self-made and that "nobody ever gave them anything". Simply, because that is not true and they come across as bitter and angry. Gladwell does a solid job at proving that success or failure is a mix of things and one of the key factors is other people, including parents and teachers. How you perceive your life and opportunities are often a direct result of how you were raised. Success is often a multistep process and the foundation is built in childhood.
Gladwell doesn't make the case that only children of rich parents are successful, although it doesn't hurt. Success, in part, can come with being from a cultural background that values a hard work ethic. The ultimate key to being a highly successful individual, seems to be more than one factor falling into place at the same time.
For example, he argues that someone like Bill Gates was successful not only due to his intelligence or parent's wealth, but that he was born in the right year and had unusual access to computers. He knew when opportunities came his way and took them. All of these factors made him successful and they are not mutually exclusive.
My favorite chapter was The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes, where Gladwell makes an argument for why certain cultural norms, specifically cultures that have a high power distance, lead to a higher incident of plane crashes. It was completely compelling and a bit scary! Luckily, Gladwell noted that the recognition of this has led to airlines making changes, resulting in safer flights.
I found Gladwell's book to be completely engaging, fascinating and entertaining. He has a knack for creating a compelling argument and taking the reader down unexpected paths. It's a quick read and would be great for a classroom or a book club, as it naturally lends itself to discussion and might be very polarizing.