Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Malcolm Gladwell - 60 Minutes - David and Goliath - Introvert. Ivy League Schools are Overrated. Google.

A colleague told me about this 60 Minutes piece I missed when he was promoting his book David and Goliath.

Here is the preview.

Watch the entire segment at CBS here. You learn:

He is an introvert. 

This is necessary for new ideas and perspectives to come forth. Deep thought and introspection is needed to fix disparate pieces together. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking highlights beautifully the important role introverts play in a world which increasingly lauds those who are extroverts...

Our information is still siloed. 

Even with a powerful search engine like Google some of most interesting research and information is found, (gasp!), at a library. As increasingly more people find the ease of finding information via the internet, might there be value in other ways of research?

Thinking radically different can result in success, but it isn't easy to rock the status quo, unless you are an outsider. 

Note Gladwell's upbringing as well as "outsider" status of Vivek Ranadive as he coached his daughter's basketball team having zero experience in the sport. Gladwell's New Yorker piece "How David Beats Goliath - When Underdogs Break the Rules" became the basis of his book.

He is intensely curious.

As noted in the CBS piece, should we trust "received wisdom"? Do we simply take for granted what was told to us? Fortunately, Gladwell does not. More importantly, does the in depth research and thinking needed to validate or refute conventional wisdom. Going back to the original research and first source material is something highlighted by Jim Collins in his book - Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. Collins highlights this example with the race to the South Pole - the successful team challenged the conventional wisdom and not only was first but survived. The other team died.

"There’s this wonderful point when [Norwegian explorer Roald] Amundsen makes what strikes others as a rash decision. That decision was to land at the Bay of Whales. Now everybody thought the Bay of Whales was moving ice, and therefore, very dangerous. But Amundsen had gone back and read all the actual journal entries of the explorers who had been to that part of the world, dating back to, I believe, 1841. In those journal entries, he noticed that there was this fixed, dome-like structure at the Bay of Whales, and it had been there since 1841. Conclusion? It is not moving. It has been there since 1841. Because he had this orientation to putting his hands deep in evidence himself and reading all the journal entries himself, he has this empirical observation: “That is not moving ice. We can confidently put our base there,” which gave them a head start. He put their base at the Bay of Whales rather than at the standard place, which would be McMurdo Sound."

He writes on Mac

At least at home. At a previous talk, he spoke about how he doesn't use a Mac. Companies promoted their products to Baby Boomers by accentuating how different products provided "status" and showed that they were an individual. You didn't have what everyone else had. Now every one has a Mac except Baby Boomer Malcolm.... Perhaps he has changed that point of view? More likely? His computer broke down and needed a new one...

Ivy League Schools are Overrated.

The CBS segment highlighted a talk Gladwell gave at Google. It is worth watching.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

TPMG Shareholder Day 2015 - March 17, 2015

Always wanted to meet Malcolm Gladwell in person. Check off the bucket list today!

First heard him and Atul Gawande speak at a patient safety conference in 2005 in San Francisco and blown away ever since. I even made a fan page (you are on it)! 

Get a quick smile when ask him to sign as Wexford Harding! 

That MADE my day (if not the year). Great to hear him again live! I could listen to his stories for 2 to 3 hours or more (thank goodness for YouTube!).

His next book has to be on health care, right, Malcolm? (note Canadian technique to get verbal agreement).

Three hour round trip for 2 minute encounter, momentary exchange, and live talk.

So worth it!


Great to connect with Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, NY Times reporter and creator of Paying Till It Hurts 
and the conversation at Facebook.  
Much more to do!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Malcolm and Adam Gopnik at the Long Wharf Theatre

Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik at the Long Wharf Theatre.

Insights from a great conversation.

Changing One's Mind. The Canadian Jedi Mind Trick, Right? The honest world broker - Canada.

Gladwell wonders why is it really hard for people to accept the notion that changing one's mind is a desirable thing? At 6:40. He quotes President Clinton's observation of George W. Bush at 8:08.

Gopnik notes the Canadian verbal technique to get agreement - appending the word "right" to any sentence which then gives instant adhesion and coercive cohesiveness. This is how Canadians win any debate. Example - "we all know that 6 month old babies are much smarter than scientists with PhDs, right?" at 10:37.

Gladwell at 14:30 notes that role of Canada in the world is to be a “middle man” honest broker countries in the world. He notes how infrequently Canada has not adopted the bad habits of it neighbor.

Insights on the Tea Party Movement.

17:19 the equivalent mythology for America – Boston Tea Party. He notes a complete ignorance of history.

20:35 in LA get the purest feed of what America is thinking, doing, feeling. – he was running the Santa Monica stairs he keeping hearing “And I said to him, that does not work for me.”… we will all be using that phrase in 6 months. “way and no way”… Unfortunately the popularity of the that praise has passed. Otherwise he would have used on his tombstone, he had the courage to stand up to those who said no way and would say way…

22:00 His focus on abolishing the Ivy League.

24:20 don’t ask don’t tell of the institutional educational area you attended. Is that place where I can get a good education? What is the brand value of the institution? The second question is irrelevant to getting a good education. Employers are using the brand strength of the institution as a proxy for quality. By not asking the question, employers could get you know you as an individual. 27:00 need to stop making the institutions being part of a luxury brand. 28:00 the streets in certain LA neighborhoods are named after Ivy League schools.

30:10 how Naples Florida differs from their typical audiences of the Upper West Side of New York.

31:00 Marvin Miller – transitions in the country… we’ve forgotten how not the rich were very rich….

Twitter Does Not Cause Social Change.

37:20 Thoughts about Twitter – Gladwell called out the absurd overstatements at the time on the role of Twitter and social media’s impact on Arab Spring. Gladwell noted that a revolution or movement like the civil rights movement was years in the making. Real social change requires time, social planning and coordination, and social risk. Twitter suggests revolution does not require any of that. Only in America can we think that chance would occur simply by using a smartphone in 2008 in San Jose. It makes a mockery of the sacrifice needed to make tangible change.

43:50 civil rights movement there was a time where King and others speak at a church. King and the leaders expected to die in the church by a mob. The four important civil rights leader with 600 other people were there. Had it not been for a last minute intervention by the National Guard, we came this close to having the entire civil rights movement wiped out. Speaking about how close we had come in not realizing the civil rights movement.

47:55 the older you get the more in awe he is in how these critical moments are interesting and powerful, specifically are contingent on individuals and their courage. Again, the example of civil rights movement.

50:30 the problem with Waco on how the situation was completely misinterpreted. A group of highly devout set of people who lived by themselves to study scripture was somehow a threat to society. Agrees with Gopnik that we need to look past to content of the ideology and look at the behavior. Separatist. Eccentric. Not threatening. Even now, he finds the outcome problematic.

Health Care Insurance Should be Catastrophic Care.

52:45 Gladwell does not believe Obamacare is the solution to health care. The book that radicalized him was by David Goldhill. Insurance is the cause of our problems not the solution. We should have insurance to protect against catastrophic events.

Predictable events though are medical should be paid for the same way. Much like buying a shirt. If we had clothing insurance, the shirt would be $1000 dollars. There would be two people in the back doing processing. We would have a crisis for those who had no clothing insurance. We would spend 23% of GDP on shirts!

We should have insurance if one might get hit by a truck.

Gopnik notes that unlike other insurances, we all will be using it at some point.

Gladwell notes that we will incur costs as we age. However we won’t have exactly the same outcome. Some will have spent $2 million. Others passed away peacefully in the sleep.  We need to have insurance to help against that wide range of costs.

For the check-up or having a baby, this should not have health insurance. Having a baby is not an insurable event. In case of something goes wrong, we should insurance against that. For 90 percent of cases where nothing goes wrong, we know what to expect and how much it should cost. If someone can’t afford it, we should help them out. We should not construct a massive system.

57:40 favorite story of Canada of a town he lived near. It was called Berlin because many German immigrants lived there. After World War One, they changed the name to Ketchner.

10,000 hours is 16 years

59:00 introduction of the topic
1:01 Gladwell - mastery takes a long time. Instead of judging people too quickly we should be slowing down our assessment. In this country we are front-loading where people or what strata they should go into rather than back-loading.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Keys to Success -

A recent article featuring the Maestro: From Quartz - Malcolm Gladwell on the key to success: don’t be afraid to look like a fool

  • Keys - capability, desire, passion.
  • It is healthy to have winners and losers - for kids.
  • Why the 10,000 hour rule for mastery isn't about sports, it is about mastery of complex cognitive tasks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Malcolm Gladwell Interviewed by Michael Lewis

The two best writers of their genre.

The interview by Michael Lewis of Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most intimate and personal that you will see of any of Gladwell's public appearances. I've watched many, many, many of them (New Yorker, Google, conferences) on YouTube and this one is by far the best.

How a paperwork snafu allowed Gladwell not to be deported from the United States back to Canada.

Gladwell reflects on his experience working on a Reverend Moon publication with his rendition the Police song - "Walking on the Moon"
Despite his success, Gladwell never will be mistaken for an American. He is very much Canadian and espouses Canadian virtues.

His journey to becoming a writer started with the creation of Wexford Harding, intramural football coach, who commuted from Alabama to the University of Toronto.

 How he was forced to be a right winger because other forms of rebellion were cut off, for a variety of reasons. His mother sounds incredibly wise.

On his drive to Washington DC from Indiana after believing he blew his chance to make it in America, his insight that the lyrics to the Foreigner song - "I Want to Know What Love Is" is a decent psychological test when making the statements into questions.

The interview by Gladwell of Michael Lewis is just as good. Gladwell's introduction of Lewis is exceptional. Gladwell explains his testimonial for Lewis' newest book, Flash Boys. Lewis' book Moneyball was fantastic and something I think about when doing my day job of making health care better.

My absolute favorite Gladwell books are below.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Does one of the most influencial thought leaders need a fan page?

I think so.

Sure Malcolm Gladwell has his own website and a wikipedia page. Even his initial blog, which sadly, but perhaps understandably hasn't been kept up to date since 2010.

Now, I've been a fan of his work since listening to him speak for the first time at a patient safety conference in San Francisco in 2005 with fellow New Yorker writer Atul Gawande. Prior to that discussion, I had no idea who either man was. After that conference, I read all of their books and continue to follow their commentary closely.

Both have had a profound influence on my thinking.

With Gladwell, I've been reviewing many of his interviews, commentary, and articles, particularly those which relate to health care and many which do not.

From my blog -

And also some great pieces including from Forbes and my colleague Robert Pearl, MD.

And some very interesting and insightful talks / interviews including:
Malcolm Gladwell on Criticism, Tolerance, and Changing Your Mind via BrainPickings

and the lecture he alludes to at UPenn (my alma mater) is here
Other great videos / lectures include:

 2014 Seagram Lecture
Talks at Google - SapientNitro iEx2012 Keynote Speech Tokens, Pariahs, and Pioneers - New Yorker Festival (and in Q&A how awesome, Canada is, eh!) With fellow Canadian - on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight - Extended Interview

What is your favorite Gladwell video or piece?

Happy Belated Canada Day from one Canadian to another!