Malcolm Gladwell Biography & Facts
Malcolm Timothy Gladwell (born 3 September 1963) is an English-born Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has published seven books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000); Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005); Outliers: The Story of Success (2008); What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism; David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013); Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (2019) and The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War (2021). His first five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. He is also the host of the podcast Revisionist History and co-founder of the podcast company Pushkin Industries.
Gladwell's writings often deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences, like sociology and psychology, and make frequent and extended use of academic work. Gladwell was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2011.
Gladwell was born in Fareham, Hampshire, England. His mother is Joyce (née Nation) Gladwell, a Jamaican psychotherapist. His father, Graham Gladwell, was a mathematics professor from Kent, England. Throughout his childhood, Malcolm lived in rural Ontario Mennonite country, where he attended a Mennonite church. Research done by historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. revealed that one of Gladwell's maternal ancestors was a Jamaican free woman of colour (mixed black and white) who was a slaveowner. His great-great-great-grandmother was of Igbo ethnicity from West Africa.
Gladwell has said that his mother is his role model as a writer. When he was six his family moved from Southampton to the Mennonite community of Elmira, Ontario, Canada.Gladwell's father noted Malcolm was an unusually single-minded and ambitious boy. When Malcolm was 11, his father, who was a professor of mathematics and engineering at the University of Waterloo, allowed him to wander around the offices at his university, which stoked the boy's interest in reading and libraries. In the spring of 1982, Gladwell interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in History from the Trinity College of University of Toronto, in 1984.
Gladwell's grades were not high enough for graduate school (as Gladwell puts it, "college was not an ... intellectually fruitful time for me"), so he decided to pursue advertising as a career. After being rejected by every advertising agency he applied to, he accepted a journalism position at conservative magazine The American Spectator and moved to Indiana. He subsequently wrote for Insight on the News, a conservative magazine owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. In 1987, Gladwell began covering business and science for The Washington Post, where he worked until 1996. In a personal elucidation of the 10,000-hour rule he popularized in Outliers, Gladwell notes, "I was a basket case at the beginning, and I felt like an expert at the end. It took 10 years—exactly that long."When Gladwell started at The New Yorker in 1996 he wanted to "mine current academic research for insights, theories, direction, or inspiration". His first assignment was to write a piece about fashion. Instead of writing about high-class fashion, Gladwell opted to write a piece about a man who manufactured T-shirts, saying: "[I]t was much more interesting to write a piece about someone who made a T-shirt for $8 than it was to write about a dress that costs $100,000. I mean, you or I could make a dress for $100,000, but to make a T-shirt for $8 – that's much tougher."Gladwell gained popularity with two New Yorker articles, both written in 1996: "The Tipping Point" and "The Coolhunt". These two pieces would become the basis for Gladwell's first book, The Tipping Point, for which he received a $1 million advance. He continues to write for The New Yorker. Gladwell also served as a contributing editor for Grantland, a sports journalism website founded by former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons.
In a July 2002 article in The New Yorker, Gladwell introduced the concept of the "talent myth" that companies and organizations, in his view, incorrectly follow. This work examines different managerial and administrative techniques that companies, both winners and losers, have used. He states that the misconception seems to be that management and executives are all too ready to classify employees without ample performance records and thus make hasty decisions. Many companies believe in disproportionately rewarding "stars" over other employees with bonuses and promotions. However, with the quick rise of inexperienced workers with little in-depth performance review, promotions are often incorrectly made, putting employees into positions they should not have and keeping other, more experienced employees from rising. He also points out that under this system, narcissistic personality types are more likely to climb the ladder, since they are more likely to take more credit for achievements and take less blame for failure. He states both that narcissists make the worst managers and that the system of rewarding "stars" eventually worsens a company's position. Gladwell states that the most successful long-term companies are those who reward experience above all else and require greater time for promotions.
With the release of The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War in April 2021, Gladwell has had seven books published. When asked for the process behind his writing, he said: "I have two parallel things I'm interested in. One is, I'm interested in collecting interesting stories, and the other is I'm interested in collecting interesting research. What I'm looking for is cases where they overlap".
The Tipping Point
The initial inspiration for his first book, The Tipping Point, which was published in 2000, came from the sudden drop of crime in New York City. He wanted the book to have a broader appeal than just crime, however, and sought to explain similar phenomena through the lens of epidemiology. While Gladwell was a reporter for The Washington Post, he covered the AIDS epidemic. He began to take note of "how strange epidemics were", saying epidemiologists have a "strikingly different way of looking at the world". The term "tipping point" comes from the moment in an epidemic when the virus reaches critical mass and begins to spread at a much higher rate.Gladwell's theories of crime were heavily influenced by the "broken windows theory" of policing, and Gladwell is credited for packaging and popularizing the theory in a way that was implementable in New York City. Gladwell's theoretical implementation bears a striking resemblance to the "stop-and-frisk" policies of the NYPD. However, in the decade and a h.... Discover the Malcolm Gladwell popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Malcolm Gladwell books.