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Book Review – David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

October 9, 2013

Gladwell david and goliathYesterday, I was talking with a friend of mine in the television business and he told me about a situation he was in where a television producer was looking for “a good-looking guy.”

Being in Los Angeles, my friend responded, “What are you talking about? Look around. There are hundreds of them within a few feet!”

But the issue wasn’t really that the television producer needed “a good-looking guy.” What he needed was a good-looking guy…with good timing.

Believe it or not, this is hard to find. Why? Because good-looking people get a lot of breaks in life — they get opportunities “normal” people don’t. 

Good-looking people never have to develop certain skills. Why learn how to approach people, for example, when everybody is approaching you? And how will you learn how to handle rejection as well as others if you don’t experience it as often.

Would you rather be born very good-looking or average?

David and Goliath, the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell talks about things very similar to this. In it, he makes the argument that being born with certain “negative” attributes, such as dyslexia, or being in certain situations, such as losing a parent early in life, can actually have positive affects on a person. For example, the 12 of 44 US Presidents who lost their fathers at a young age.

I’ve been a fan of Gladwell’s writing for years. As far as story-telling, he is excellent. He’s writes in a way that will both keep you entertained and make you think.

If you’ve ever wondered why “underdogs” succeed in life, David and Goliath is the book for you.

A few of the things you’ll learn:

  • How a basketball coach who had never played the game (literally) took his team to a national championship.
  • Is it better to be a big fish in a little pond or vice-versa?
  • Can dyslexia help you to succeed in business?
  • How modern leukemia treatments were developed.
  • The story behind an iconic civil rights photo — was it staged?
  • 3 elements of “legitimacy”
  • The use of trickery in hostile environments.
  • Are fewer students in a classroom better? 

If you’ve enjoyed Gladwell’s other books, such as Outliers and The Tipping Point, you’ll enjoy David and Goliath. If you enjoyed Freakomonics, you’ll enjoy David and Goliath. The writing style is similar with interesting stories and a fast pace. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have his previous books, it’s absolutely worth a read, especially if you work in a small business or think of yourself as an underdog at times.

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