The Next Malcolm Gladwell? It Could Be You.

malcolm_gladwell You may not know  Malcolm Gladwell personally, but you certainly know his books.

Blink, Outliers, Tipping Point and  What The Dog Saw are all bestsellers. I love them and recommend them.

His new book,  David and Goliath is already at the top of the best seller lists and I  will certainly read that one too.

Which brings me to the title of this post and  what Malcolm Gladwell does.

1. He takes stories that everyone knows.  He re-casts them in a totally new light.  He interprets these stories in a way that no one ever considered before.

2. He manages to shake us up. He teaches. He encourages us to see things differently. He makes us think.

The story of Paul Revere?  He re-casts it to focus on Paul Revere’s likeability and influence.  People found out  the British where coming and took action because Paul Revere had influence and charisma.

David and Goliath?  It’s more than the triumph of the little guy over the big guy, it’s the triumph of superior technology–the slingshot.

You get the idea?

So, for you, if you want to be the next Malcolm Gladwell, here’s what you need to do.

1.  Read a great deal, know a lot of stories.

2.  Don’t accept the usual interpretation.

3. Take the stories that you know and come up with a completely different interpretation of what happened.  Identify what this new interpretation teaches us.

4. Identify the patterns that you see in similar stories and events.

5.  Be strong. Very strong.

images-3Be willing to have people [initially] tell you you’re crazy.  Can you imagine what it was like being Malcolm Gladwell’s teachers in elementary school?

The teachers would tell a story and he’d interpret it in a completely different way.  I’m sure he drove them nuts.  They most likely told him was crazy, or wrong or didn’t get it.  But he persevered. You will have to do the same.

6. Tell people these new and different ways of interpreting the stories. Talk to people 1:1, your friends, your teachers, go on TV, write a book do whatever you can to teach people, to help them learn, to shake people up, and to have fun.

And you’ll be on your way.

But what if you don’t become the next Malcolm Gladwell?  Here’s what you can do.

images-2 You can talk to your boss about the way you see things, to your partners about a niche market you discovered, you can be a damn good consultant. You can develop an audience for your ideas.

You can become a teacher or professor.  You can change the way people see things.  And you’ll be taking a step towards changing the world.

This is what I think is the best part of Gladwell’s books.  He encourages us to take a new and different point of view.

And he shows examples of people being rewarded for this.

He encourages us to believe in our way of seeing the world even when it is different than the way other people see it.

In the beginning, people may say you’re crazy, but in the end they may call you a pioneer or a genius

And if you don’t become the next Malcolm Gladwell, you’ll have taken a step towards expanding what we know and  we’ll all come out way ahead.


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  1. randee says:

    You are right. It’s the stories he weaves into his books that make them so readable and enjoyable. Good post.