Malcolm Gladwell Quotes


Inspirational Quotes by Malcolm Gladwell

Kris Krüg – http://www.flickr.com/photos/poptech2006/2967350188/

Have you ever reflected on a decision only to realize you should have gone with your instinct? But how can you trust your instinct, isn’t it affected by an intertwinement of unknown factors? How much time do you actually need in order to make a smart decision? Malcolm Gladwell answers all these questions and more in his phenomenal book, Blink. He teaches you, backed with solid research just how much time and information your subconscious needs to discern an appropriate decision. Gladwell also goes on to inform you that you begin to trust your intuition when you’ve learned how to train it, and thus have put yourself in the best position for your instincts to lead you along correctly. Below are a few segments from the book, mostly the introduction but you will need to read the entire book to understand the entire concept, examples and research.

Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Business & Leadership


“The very best companies, they concluded, had leaders who were obsessed with the talent issue. They recruited ceaselessly, finding and hiring as many top performers as possible…The reasons for its collapse are complex, needless to say. But what if Enron failed not in spite of its talent mind-set but because of it? What if smart people are overrated?”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures


“In the early 1990s, the psychologists Robert Hogan, Robert Raskin, and Dan Fazzini wrote a brilliant essay called “The Dark Side of Charisma.” It argued that flawed managers fall into three types. One is the High Likability Floater, who rises effortlessly in an organization because he never takes any difficult decisions or makes any enemies. Another is the Homme de Ressentiment, who seethes below the surface and plots against his enemies. The most interesting of the three is the Narcissist, whose energy and self-confidence and charm lead him inexorably up the corporate ladder. Narcissists are terrible managers. They resist accepting suggestions, thinking it will make them appear weak, and they don’t believe that others have anything useful to tell them.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4498)


“Narcissists typically make judgments with greater confidence than other people… and, because their judgments are rendered with such conviction, other people tend to believe them and the narcissists become disproportionately more influential in group situations. Finally, because of their self-confidence and strong need for recognition, narcissists tend to “self-nominate”; consequently, when a leadership gap appears in a group or organization, the narcissists rush to fill it.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4506)

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Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Criminology

“The crime scene is presumed to reflect the murderer’s behavior and personality in much the same way as furnishings reveal the homeowner’s character,” we’re told in a crime manual that Douglas and Ressler helped write. The more they learned, the more precise the associations became. If the victim was white, the killer would be white. If the victim was old, the killer would be sexually immature.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4249)


“In our research, we discovered that… frequently serial offenders had failed in their efforts to join police departments and had taken jobs in related fields, such as security guard or night watchman.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp 4252)


“When they looked at a sample of a hundred serial crimes, however, they couldn’t find any support for the FBI’s distinction. Crimes don’t fall into one camp or the other. It turns out that they’re almost always a mixture of a few key organized traits and a random array of disorganized traits.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp 4304)


“Brussel did not really understand the mind of the Mad Bomber. He seems to have understood only that, if you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous. The hedunit is not a triumph of forensic analysis. It’s a party trick.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp 4362

Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Instincts


“Blink is concerned with the very smallest components of our everyday lives—the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever we meet a new person or confront a complex situation or have to make a decision. When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink


“We believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Blink


“Our unconscious is a powerful force. But it’s fallible. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interests and emotions and sentiments. So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them? When our powers of rapid cognition go awry, they go awry for a very specific and consistent set of reasons and those reasons can be identified and understood.” “Our unconscious is a powerful force. But it’s fallible. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interests and emotions and sentiments. So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them? When our powers of rapid cognition go awry, they go awry for a very specific and consistent set of reasons and those reasons can be identified and understood.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink


“The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, setting goals, and initiating How long, for example, did it take you, when you were in college, to decide how good a teacher your professor was? A class? Two classes? A semester? The psychologist Nalini Ambady once gave students three ten-second videotapes of a teacher—with the sound turned off—and found they had no difficulty at all coming up with a rating of the teacher’s effectiveness. Then Ambady cut the clips back to five seconds, and the ratings were the same. They were remarkably consistent even when she showed the students just two seconds of videotape. Then Ambady compared those snap judgments of teacher effectiveness with evaluations of those same professors made by their students after a full semester of classes, and she found that they were also essentially the same.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink


“The third and most important task of this book is to convince you that our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled. Just as we can teach ourselves to think logically and deliberately, we can also teach ourselves to make better snap judgments. The power of knowing, in that first two seconds, is not a gift given magically to a fortunate few. It is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink


“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

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Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Intelligence


“Curiously, however, only the ones who believed in malleable intelligence expressed interest in the class. The students who believed that their intelligence was a fixed trait were so concerned about appearing to be deficient that they preferred to stay home. “Students who hold a fixed view of their intelligence care so much about looking smart that they act dumb,” Dweck writes, “for what could be dumber than giving up a chance to learn something that is essential for your own success?”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4526)


“After they were finished, one group was praised for its effort and another group was praised for its intelligence. Those praised for their intelligence were reluctant to tackle difficult tasks, and their performance on subsequent tests soon began to suffer. Then Dweck asked the children to write a letter to students at another school, describing their experience in the study. She discovered something remarkable: 40 percent of those students who were praised for their intelligence lied about how they had scored on the test, adjusting their grade upward. They weren’t naturally deceptive people, and they weren’t any less intelligent or self-confident than anyone else. They simply did what people do when they are immersed in an environment that celebrates them solely for their innate “talent.” They begin to define themselves by that description, and when times get tough and that self-image is threatened, they have difficulty with the consequences. They will not take the remedial course. They will not stand up to investors and the public and admit that they were wrong. They’d sooner lie.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4530)


“Are there things that I’m not good at, or things that I can’t learn? I think that’s the real question. There are a lot of things I don’t know anything about, but I feel comfortable that given the right environment and the right encouragement I can do well at.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (kp. 4727)

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Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Interviews


“Psychologists call this tendency — to fixate on supposedly stable character traits and overlook the influence of context — the Fundamental Attribution Error, and if you combine this error with what we know about snap judgments, the interview becomes an even more problematic encounter.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4757)


“Then Myers grinned and said, as an aside, “Do I truly think that is a fault? Honestly, no.” And, of course, he’s right. All I’d really asked him was whether he could describe a personal strength as if it were a weakness, and in answering as he did, he had merely demonstrated his knowledge of the unwritten rules of the interview.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4777)


“Menkes immediately seized on a telling detail in my answer. I was interested in what job I would do best. But isn’t the key issue what job the company most needed to have done? With that comment, I had revealed something valuable: that in a time of work-related crisis I start from a self-centered consideration. “Perhaps you are a bit of a solo practitioner,” Menkes said diplomatically. “That’s an essential bit of information.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4795)


“What is interesting about the structured interview is how narrow its objectives are. When I interviewed Nolan Myers I was groping for some kind of global sense of who he was; Menkes seemed entirely uninterested in arriving at that same general sense of me — he seemed to realize how foolish that expectation was for an hour-long interview. The structured interview works precisely because it isn’t really an interview; it isn’t about getting to know someone, in a traditional sense. It’s as much concerned with rejecting information as it is with collecting it.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4804)


“It just doesn’t feel right. For most of us, hiring someone is essentially a romantic process, in which the job interview functions as a desexualized version of a date. We are looking for someone with whom we have a certain chemistry, even if the coupling that results ends in tears and the pursuer and the pursued turn out to have nothing in common. We want the unlimited promise of a love affair. The structured interview, by contrast, seems to offer only the dry logic and practicality of an arranged marriage.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4809)


“If we let personability — some indefinable, prerational intuition, magnified by the Fundamental Attribution Error — bias the hiring process today, then all we will have done is replace the old-boy network, where you hired your nephew, with the new-boy network, where you hire whoever impressed you most when you shook his hand. Social progress, unless we’re careful, can merely be the means by which we replace the obviously arbitrary with the not so obviously arbitrary”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4830)


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Malcolm Gladwell Quotes about Personality


“A person watching a two-second silent video clip of a teacher he has never met will reach conclusions about how good that teacher is that are very similar to those of a student who sits in the teacher’s class for an entire semester.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4687)


“He found that how talkative a boy was in one setting say, at lunch — was highly predictive of how talkative that boy would be in the same setting in the future.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4738)


“How we behave at any one time, evidently, has less to do with some immutable inner compass than with the particulars of our situation.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Daw: and other adventures (kp. 4743)

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