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Sizing Up Goliath: The Upside of Being Underestimated

January/February 2014


Malcolm Gladwell’s first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, took as its subject “the moment of critical mass” that allows trends, fads, and ideas to spread as quickly and ubiquitously as uncontainable viruses. Published in 2000, that book’s engaging mix of social science research and marketing case histories put the phrase “tipping point” on everyone’s lips. Ironically, it was a tipping point for Gladwell, launching his career as one of the most popular nonfiction authors in English.

Five years later, Gladwell’s next book, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, focused on the science and psychology of intuitive thinking and when and why going with your gut can sometimes yield better decisions than relying on logic and reason. Not everyone agreed with his optimistic take on the benefits of snap judgments and gut instinct (see my review “Don’t Blink: Two Skeptical Looks at Intuition” in the January/February 2011 issue of the Networker), but the critical consensus was once again overwhelmingly positive, and the book appeared on numerous bestseller and best-of-the-year lists. His 2008 and 2009 books—

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