Malcolm Gladwell: Biography, Books, and Inspirational Quotes


Malcolm Gladwell

Canadian Journalist, Author, and Public Speaker

Author of the bestselling books The Tipping Point and Blink, Malcolm Gladwell is an English-born Canadian writer and journalist best known for his unique perspective on popular culture. Gladwell was named one of Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. 

Who is Malcolm Gladwell? Malcolm Gladwell Biography and Career

Malcolm Gladwell was born in Fareham, Hampshire on September 3, 1963 to Joyce (née Nation) Gladwell, a Jamaican psychotherapist and Graham Gladwell, a British mathematics professor. 

Gladwell’s family moved in 1969 from England to Elmira, Ontario, Canada where his father taught mathematics and engineering at the University of Waterloo and his mother practiced psychotherapy. He sometimes went with his father, exploring libraries and wandering around the offices which ignited an early interest of literature and reading in him. Having a white Englishman as his father and a Jamaican as his mother, Gladwell later cites the unique outlook afforded by his heritage as a motivating factor in what he called as his “intellectual adventuring”. 

Gladwell graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Toronto. However, since his grades were not acceptable to enter graduate school, Gladwell decided to pursue an advertising career instead. Unfortunately, he also faced rejection in this field and was not accepted in any of the advertising agencies he applied to. It was then that he decided to accept a journalism position at The American Spectator and moved to Indiana. During this time, Gladwell also started writing for Insight on the News. 

In 1987, Gladwell’s name was appearing on The Washington Post where he was covering business and science. He worked at The Washington Post until 1996, before he shifted to The New Yorker. 

His work in The New Yorker was highly appreciated by readers and he gained even more recognition with two articles in particular, The Tipping Point and Coolhunt, both written in 1996. Both articles then became the basis for his first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, for which he received a $1 million advance. He continues to work for The New Yorker, while also serving as a contributing editor for Grantland, a sports journalism website.  

As of now, 56-year-old Gladwell remains unmarried and has no children.

Malcolm Gladwell Net Worth

Malcolm Gladwell is a renowned Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has written five bestselling books and thousands of published articles. He has also made several podcasts, such as The Revisionist History Podcast and has given countless key-note speeches all around the world.

He reportedly has a net worth of $30 million. 

Malcolm Gladwell Books (Best Malcolm Gladwell Books)

In 2000, Gladwell published his first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which seeks to describe and explain the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. It became a bestseller, as did his second book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), which extols the idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as – or even better than – wisely planned and considered ones.

In Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), Gladwell examines and explains the factors that contribute to high levels of success. To support his theories, he examines how the Beatles became one of the most successful musical acts in history, how Microsoft co-founder Bill gates gained his wealth, and how cultural differences contribute to perceived intelligence and rational decision making – just to name a few. 

Gladwell’s fourth book, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), is a compilation of his favorite New Yorker articles, including his awarding-winning profile of inventor Ron Popeil. Each article was handpicked by Gladwell, and all share a common theme: Gladwell tries to show us the world through the eyes of others, even if that happens to be a dog (hence the title). 

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013) is Gladwell’s fifth book and it examines the struggles of underdogs versus favorites. It is partially inspired by an article he wrote for The New Yorker, How David Beats Goliath.  

In Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know (2019), Gladwell challenges the assumptions that we are programmed to make when meeting strangers, and the potentially dangerous consequences of misreading people that we don’t know. 

Malcolm Gladwell Quotes

Here are some Malcolm Gladwell quotes to help motivate and inspire you. 

“Achievement is talent plus preparation.”

“…If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.”

“We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.”

“Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.”

“The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”

“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”

“Those three things — autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward — are, most people will agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.”

“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”

“Truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.”

“It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether or not our work fulfills us. Being a teacher is meaningful.”

“When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”

“It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call ‘accumulative advantage’.”

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