Monday, September 30, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell interview

Conventional wisdom says Malcolm Gladwell is a zany brainbox whose books challenge our assumptions and revolutionise our lives. But, asks Gaby Wood, is that another misconception?

Malcolm Gladwell photographed in New York, 2013
Malcolm Gladwell photographed in New York, 2013 Photo: Dan Callister
Malcolm Gladwell says he never knows what people will take from his books.
“It’s never what I think it’s going to be,” he shrugs. “Parts that you think are going to make this big impact are ignored, and parts that you wrote in a day are like the 10,000 hours stuff – I thought no one would ever mention that again. And it is, in fact, all people talk about. Who knew?”
Not dissimilarly, the story of Malcolm Gladwell himself has taken off in ways that would have been difficult to predict. Once a journalist, he is now a phenomenon, revered and scoffed at in different quarters, somewhere between social scientist, motivational speaker and preacher-like source of consolation.
He plays one-man shows to packed theatres on both sides of the Atlantic; he gives talks to businessmen about subjects such as Fleetwood Mac, earning tens of thousands of dollars per speech; his books are automatic bestsellers. His work has coined an adjective – “Gladwellian” refers to a sort of nerdy and captivating formula, against which there has been an inevitable backlash. A website called The Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator mocked up fake Gladwell covers: “Blank”, one read, referring to his book Blink, “300 Empty Pages to Fill With Your Own F---ing Thoughts”. 

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