Glad For Gladwell

I’ve been a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan for years and had the distinct pleasure last Tuesday of getting to hear him in person for the first time, thanks to UTPB’s Shepperd Distinguished Lecturer Series (which was previously responsible for bringing the former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev here to speak).

Gladwell has a real gift for unearthing, dissecting, & interpreting social concepts & emerging trends and making them digestible & entertaining for the common person. Frankly, I’m amazed that we somehow lured an author & speaker of this magnitude to our little corner of Texas—much less that the lecture was free!

I had to coax Dede to attend, but she was pleasantly surprised to discover just how engaging & thought-provoking a speaker the author is. His lecture centered around one of the topics, capitalization, that’s focused upon in his most recent book Outliers: The Story of Success. Capitalization is the ability to take advantage of peoples’ untapped potential for achievement & success. Gladwell examined several of the factors that limit success and discussed some solutions to overcome & eliminate those. Afterward, he graciously autographed each his 3 books that I had with me, including the copy of “Outliers,” which I’d just bought that evening.

Malcolm Gladwell   Autographed copy of "Outliers"
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Want to hear some of the author’s thoughts yourself? Check out his Human Nature lecture where he explores why we often can’t trust people’s opinions, using examples of New Coke & Herman-Miller’s Aeron chair—neither of which performed in the marketplace even remotely similar to how research suggested they would.

I also recommend you check out my Jumbo Shrimp & SUV Safety post where I cite some of Gladwell’s points on consumers’ flawed rationale behind chosing SUVs for safety.

And you’ll certainly want to watch the following TED talk where Malcolm talks about what spaghetti sauce can teach us about innovation:


  1. On a side note, I’m driving a death mobile: F-150 pickup. But hey I look cool, and it’s hard to mount a gun rack and carry a 4 wheeler.

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