malcolm gladwell

malcolm gladwell bw



may 2014 – Malcolm at #howlive:

find way to capitalize

let’s try this: cure ios city

Gladwell: the idea of a “disagreeableness” that drives innovators, standing firm in the face of peer disbelief. #HOWlive #socinn #socent

Original Tweet:


Are you fine going forward despite the fact that those around you think you’re crazy? @Gladwell #howlive

@Gladwell says real innovators remain indifferent to groans from peer group; don’t mind being called “crazy.” #HOWLive.

Gladwell at #HOWLive on Steve Jobs: He’s really good at stealing ideas. He’s just in a much bigger hurry than you are. #SVAxHOW

Original Tweet:

Harder tasks force you to slow down and focus. #howlive @malcolmgladwell

Original Tweet:

slow is steady and steady is fast …. remember that. via Al on fb (who is at the conf)

Gladwell: “We very rarely ask, ‘At what point do we have enough?'” Vonnegut knew: #howlive


intro’d to Paul during an interview he had with Malcolm Gladwell..

malcolm interview
truly transformative to try to figure out others…

…what to do..

maybe it’s hard for you to say anything real here…

what have you changed your mind about..?

malcolm  – i think that’s a human responsibility – to be questioning yourself…

– – – –

Maria‘s post on this interview:

That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.

bravery to change your mind ness


find/follow Malcolm:

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from Greg‘s post – don’t chase unicorns:

One of the things that makes myths so attractive is that they are not only unknown, but unknowable.  It was said that powder made from the horn of a unicorn had magical properties to purify water because… why not?  If impure water is a poorly understood problem, a fabricated solution provides hope, not to mention a profit opportunity.

In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell makes the same mistake with regard to social epidemics—viral cascades of ideas that are elusively transferred from one person to another.  He writes:

The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.

He calls this his “Law of the Few” and it is very convincing.  We all know people who seem to have rare social gifts, such as those with lots of friends or the gift of gab, and it makes sense that that such “influentials” would play an important role in the spread of ideas. Unfortunately, influentials are a myth.

The truth is that social influence is quite complex and defies simple explanations.  The science of networks does offer a very effective framework for understanding social epidemics, but it is highly mathematical and somewhat counterintuitive, so most people are perfectly happy to chase the influential myth even though it’s all for naught.


sept 2014:

3 things going for disrupters:

The Beauty of Being Disagreeable

He was “completely indifferent to what people said about him,” Gladwell said, which is “the first and foundational fact to understand these disrupters. They are what psychologists call disagreeable–they do not require the approval of their peers in order to do what they think is correct.”

Reframing the Problem

“Successful disrupters are people who are capable of an active imagination,” said Gladwell. “They begin reimagining their world by reframing the problem in a way no one had framed it before.”

Removing Constraints

…wanted to get it done, now. It had nothing to do with his vision or insight. Not even his brains or resources, said Gladwell.

Like Steve Jobs, McLean believed in his vision. What set him apart was not what was in his head or his pocket–“it was in his heart,” said Gladwell.


skimming outliers (2008):

p 6

rarely find anyone from roseto (in pennsylvania.. entire group immigrated from italy)under 65 with heart disease… 1950s.. before advent of cholesterol-lowering drugs et al… heart attacks were epidemic in u.s…. ate 41% of calories: lard, smoked heavily, struggling w/obesity -outlier

p 9

secret wasn’t diet/exercise/genes/location.. had to be roseto itself… as bruhn and wolf walked around the town, the figured out why. they looked at how the rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat in italian on the street, … cooking for one another in their backyards.. they learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure.. .. many homes had 3 gens living…and how much respect grandparents commanded… they went to mass… saw unifying/calming effect of the church…

the rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world thy had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills…

p 10

wolf and bruhn had to convince the medical establishment to think about health and heat attacks in an entirely new way: they had to get them to realize that they wouldn’t be able to understand why someone was healthy if all they did was think about an individual’s personal choices or actions in isolation. they had to look beyond the individual. they had to understand the culture he or she was a part of , and who their friends and families were, and what town their families came from. they had to appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.

in outliers, i want to do for our understanding of success what stewart wolf did for our understanding of health.

so too.. perhaps.. redefining success in the first place.. and ongoingly..change mind everyday ness.. ie: all the flavors..

part 1: opportunity

ch 1: the matthew effect

p 18

in examining the lives of the remarkable among us – the skilled, the talented, and the driven – i will argue that there is something profoundly wrong with the way we make sense of success.

… we assume that it is those personal qualities that explain how that individual reached the top… in autobios published every year… story line is always the same: our hero is born in modest circumstances and by virtue of his own grit and talent fights his way to greatness..

p 19

i want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. people don’t rise from nothing…. the people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. but in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opps and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and makes sense of the world in ways others can’t. 

it makes a diff where and when we grew up

so let’s design for.. equity.. everyone getting a go everyday..

p 20

this is not a book about tall trees.. it’s a book about forests – and hockey is a good place to starts because the explanation for who gets to the top of the hockey world is a lot more interesting and complicated than it looks.. in fact, it’s downright peculiar

p 22

ie: more players born in jan than any other month

p 24

have extra months of maturity – for age cut offs.. and if chosen.. gets better coaching.. teammates are better… plays more games..

p 25

in a few years.. he really is better

p 28

similar w timms scores.. qualified for gifted program…adv reading/math groups..

p 29

so early on.. the teachers are confusing maturity with ability…. get better from adv/higher grouping et al.. only country doesn’t do this is denmark..

dhuey: it’s outlandish that our arbitrary choice of cutoff dates is causing these long-lasting effects, and no ones seems to care about them

p 30

matthew effect – to those w much more given…

p 31

he didn’t start out an outlier.. he started out just a little bit better

he suggests for school.. keep same ages together.. so not competing with more mature..


ch 2: 10 000 hour rule

p 39

amateurs never practiced more than 3 hrs a week

p 49

beatles playing for 8 hrs a day .. 7 days a week

p 51

bill gates getting to do real time programming in 68 – in 8th grade… lived in computer room from that time on… it was my obsession.. i went there everynight..

p 55

what distinguishes their histories is not their extraordinary talent but their extraordinary opportunities..

equity: everyone getting a go (opps) everyday

p 62

list of billionaires/kings/queens…. what lists says is that it really matters how old you were when that transformation happened..

p 67

i don’t mean to suggest.. that every software tycoon in silicon valley was born in 55..  but there are very clearly patterns here.. and what’s striking is how little we seem to want to acknowledge them.. we pretend that success is exclusively a matter of individual merit..

these are stories.. about people who were given a special opp to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when the at extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society.. success not just of their own making. it was a product of the world in which they grew up

ch 3 – the trouble w geniuses, p1

p 74

1921 – making study of the gifted his work – terman – and his gifted group called – termites… terman: nothing about an individual as important as his iq.. except possible his morals..

p 75

he believed his termites were destined to be the future elite of the u.s… today .. many of terman’s ideas remain central to the way we think about success.. schools have programs for the ‘gifted’.. et al..

p 76

so far in outliers, we’ve seen that extraordinary achievement is less about talent than it is about opportunity.. in this chapter i want to try to dig deeper into why that’s the case by looking at the outlier in its purest and most distilled form – the genius… for years, we’ve take our cues from people like terman.. ie: in significance of high intelligence. but.. as we shall see… terman made an error..

p 77

terman didn’t understand what a real outlier was, and that’s a mistake we continue to make to this day

p 85

what lempert is saying is that by the only measure that a law school really ought to care about – how well its graduates do in the real world – minority students aren’t less qualified..

p 88

florence’s iq is higher than poole’s .. but that means little, since both students are above the threshold..

p 89

this was terman’s error. he fell in love with the fact that his termites were at the absolute pinnacle of the intellectual scale – at the 99% of the 99% –  without realizing how little that seemingly extraordinary fact meant. by the time the termites reached adulthood, terman’s error was plain to see… few of his geniuses were nationally known figures..

p 90

intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated – terman concludes

back on langan… his extraordinary intelligence is of little use if we want to understand his changes of being a success in world. yes, he is a man with a one in a million mind ……but so what.. if we want to know likelihood of becoming a true outlier… we have to know a lot more about him than that..

ch 4 – trouble w geniuses p2

p 96

it was suddenly clear how lonely his life had been. here he was, a man with an insatiable appetite for learning, forced for most of his adult life to live in intellectual isolation..

p 100

there they are, the prof and the prodigy, and what the prodigy clearly wants is to be engaged, at long last, with a mind that loves maths as much as he does. but he fails. in fact – and this is the most heartbreaking part of all – he manages to have an entire convo with his calc prof w/o ever communicating the one fact most likely to appeal to a calc prof. the prof never realizes that chris langan is good at calc..

p 101

practical intelligence – robert sternberg – knowing what to say to whom.. when.. et al..

p 102 – langan born smart.. but social savvy is knowledge. it’s a set of skills that have to be learned..

annette lareau.. study of 3rd graders: there were only two parenting ‘philosophies’ and the divided almost perfectly along class lies.. the wealthier parents raised their kids one way (push, schedule, convo, get-into-ie: g/t, .. and the poorer another..

p 108

the sense of entitlement that he has been taught is an attitude perfectly suited to succeeding in the modern world..

p 115

no one….. ever makes it alone

ch 5 – the three lessons of joe flom

p 128

it’s not that those guys were smarter lawyers than anyone else.. rifkind says… it’s that they had a skill that they had been working on for years that was suddenly very valuable.

part two – legacy

ch 6 – harlan kentucky

p 176

cultural legacy

ch 7 – the ethnic theory of plane crashes

on culture affecting how forceful/clear we communicate

ch 8 – rice paddies and math tests

p  228

on the shortness and regularity of the number-naming in china.. allowing them to remember..count.. et al.. much easier/earlier than americans.. et al

p 230

for 3/5s.. chinese: out of five parts take there.. that’s telling you conceptually what a fraction is. differentiating denom/num… u.s. kids disenchantment w math in 3rd/4th grade..  math doesn’t seem to make sense… its linguistic structure is clumsy.. basic rules seem arbitrary and complicated.. asian children.. don’t feel nearly that same bafflement.. they can hold more numbers in their head.. et al…. so built in advantage

p 231

we assume that being good at things like calc and algebra is a simple function of how smart someone is. but the differences between the number systems in the east and the west suggest…. that being good at math may also be rooted in a group’s culture.. .. like korean culture…. stood in way of flying airplane..

p 232

what if coming from a culture shaped by demands of growing rice (intricacies, rows, et al) also makes you better at math

just simply doing.. doesn’t have to be rice..

typical size of rice paddy is tiny – size of hotel room… typical rice farm.. 2-3 paddies.. a typical village in china of 1500 people might support itself entirely with 450 acres of land.. in american midwest would be size of typical family farm..

ag changes dramatically.. in west: efficiency via equipment/mechanical labor

p 233

in japan/china: no money to buy equipment.. and wasn’t extra land anyway.. so rice farmers improved.. by becoming smarter…  better managers of own time.. making better choices….. francesca bray: rice ag is skill oriented…

rice farmer.. hardest worker.. in comparison – hunter gatherers had a pretty leisurely life..  don’t grow anything.. and it is growing things.. preparing, planting, weeding, harvesting, storing .. that takes time. nor do they raise any animals…. ie: kung men/women work no more than about 12-19 hrs a week.. (at most 1000 hrs work/yr) with balance of time spent dancing, entertaining, and visiting fam/friends.

same w peasants .. who fix tools.. and/or hibernate ish in winters & afternoons.. while rice farmers craft bamboo ness et al

p 235

working rice field.. 10-20 times more labor-intensive than working on an equiv size corn/wheat field.. some estimates.. of wet-rice farmer in asia… 3000 hrs a yr


hard work.. but work was meaningful

on craving work that matters

autonomous… growing rice is too complicated and intricate for a system that requires farmers to be coerced and bullied into going out into the fields each morning..

p 237

it’s very exacting.. you have to care… you’re controlling all the inputs in a very direct way

self-talk as data ness

p 239

working really hard is what successful people do

yes.. but that obsession.. has to come from within.. that’s our problem.. we’re intoxicated with supposed to’s.. so.. all of us .. not-us

p 246

at berkeley, schoenfeld teaches a course on problem solving.. the entire point of which , he says, it to get his students to unlearn the mathematical habits they pickup on on the way to uni.. .. we sometimes think of being good a math as an innate ability… but to schoenfeld.. it’s not so much ability as attitude.. you master maths is you are willing to try…… give space and time to explore

huge.. that this is work that matters to the individual.. we now have tech to ground the chaos .. of that mattering.. and matching to others with same mattering/curiosity.. everyday a new.. ie: doesn’t have to be rice farming

ch 9 – marita’s bargain

p 250

whole chapter on kipp being wonderful

p 251

students walk quietly down the hallways in single file. in the classroom, they are taught to turn and address anyone talking to them in a protocol known as sslant.. smile, sit up, listen, ask questions, nod when being spoken to and track with your eyes….. kipp has become one of the most desirable public schools in ny city……

what kipp is most famous for is mathematics.. in s bronx, only about 16%  of all middle school students are performing at or above their grade level in math.. but at kipp, by end of 5th grade, many of the students call math their fav subject.. in 7th kipp students start high school algebra…  by end of 8th.. 84% at or above level

? ugh

p 252

kipp reps one of most promising new educational philosophies in us.. but its success is best understood not in terms of curriculum/teachers/resources/ innovation.. rather.. by taking idea of cultural legacies seriously

p 259

on gaps in learning (huge that he’s just calling learning – like most people – increase in reading and math scores).. more from summer than from school year..

girl from other side of tracks… may still have a wonderful vacation, making new friends, playing outside going to the movies having the kind of carefree summer days that we all dream about. none of those things, though, will improve her math and reading skills, and every carefree summer day she spends puts her further and further behind alex.

whoa.. what an insane focus for humanity. how crazy are we..

p 260

that’s the value of going to school 243 days a year. you have the time to learn everything that needs to be learned.. and you have less time to unlearn it…..for its poorest students, america doesn’t have a school problem.. i has a summer vacation problem, and that’s the problem the kipp schools set out to solve.


rev of everyday life.. as the day..

p 261

stuff on tucking shirt in…

..the beginning is hard.. (school on sat 9 to 1 and summer 8 to 2 at kipp) by end of day they’re restless. part of it is endurance, part of it is motivation. part of it is incentives and rewards and fun stuff. part of it is good old fashioned discipline. you throw all of that into the stew. we talk a lot hereabout grit and self-control. the kids know what those words mean.


p 262

what that extra time does is allow for a more relaxed atmosphere…

tuck shirt in..?

p 266

what was being asked of her (marita – life in day at kipp).. is same as askded of korean pilots. to become a *success at what they did, they had to shed some part of their own id, because the deep respect for authority that runs throughout korean culture simply doesn’t not work in the cockpits… same for marita.. the cultural legacy she had been given does not match her circumstances.. not when middle/upper-middle class families are using weekends and summer vacation to push their children ahead. her community doesn’t not give her what she needs. so what does she have to do? give up her evenings and weekends and friends – all elements of her old world  – and replace them with kipp…

schooling the world.. we are so.. so crazy. what we are doing to our children.. to us.

rather *success at what others decide they should do..

p 267

is this a lot to ask of a child/it is. but think of things from marita’s perspective. she has made a bargain with her school. she will get up at 545 in morning, go in on saturdays, do hw until eleven at night. in return, *kipp promises that it will take kids like her who are stuck in poverty and give them a chance to get out. it will get 84% of them up to or above their grade level in math… 90% get scholarships to private or parochial high schools instead of having to attend their own desultory high schools in the bronx… 80% will go on to college..

*kipp promises… but what if this isn’t the cure to poverty.. what if it’s indeed perpetuating it.. by perpetuating this – not-us – ness (ie: we aren’t math/science scores.. we aren’t jobs for pay.. we aren’t how much money we have..)

there’s a nother way ..for (blank)’s sake

p 268-9

imagine if all kids got opp bill gates got.. marita didn’t need brand new school.. laptop.. et al.. she just needed a chance..

so.. a lot of these words are good.. (ie: all of us luxury of gates ness; given a chance;…) just drowning in assumption of what success is.. (ie: higher scores; money; ..)

epilogue – a jamaican story

p 285

superstar lawyers ad math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. but they don’t. they are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. their success is not exceptional or mysterious. it is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are. the outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all

we can now live in equity (everyone getting a go everyday).. so why would we not..? we can’t not..

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

ie: hosting life bits ..via self talk as data.. as the day. everyday.