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Malcolm Gladwell Quotes

70 of the best book quotes from Malcolm Gladwell
  1. #1
    “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.”
  2. #2
    “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.”
  3. #3
    “The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”
  4. #4
    “When and where you are born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were make a significant difference in how well you do in the world.”
  5. #5
    “It’s not so much ability as attitude.”
  6. #6
    “If you work hard enough, assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.”
  7. #7
    “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.”
  8. #8
    “It is not the brightest who succeed. ... Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those that have been given an opportunities - and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”
  9. #9
    “Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.”
  10. #10
    “But before he could become an expert, someone had to give him the opportunity to learn how to be an expert.”
  1. #11
    “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.”
  2. #12
    “Achievement is talent plus preparation.”
  3. #13
    “The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.”
  4. #14
    “The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?”
  5. #15
    “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
  6. #16
    “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”
  7. #17
    “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.”
  8. #18
    “The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. And what’s more, the people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”
  9. #19
    “We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.”
  10. #20
    “Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”
  1. #21
    What the Israelites saw was an intimidating giant. In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that for battles with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.”
  2. #22
    “The scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier at a family income of around seventy-five thousand dollars a year. After that, what economists call “diminishing marginal returns”sets in.”
  3. #23
    “We have a definition in our heads of what an advantage is - and the definition isn’t right. [...] It means that we misread battles between underdogs and giants. It means that we underestimate how much freedom there can be in what looks like a disadvantage. It’s the Little Pond that maximizes your chances to do whatever you want.”
  4. #24
    “Underdogs win all the time. Why, then, are we shocked every time a David beats a Goliath? Why do we automatically assume that someone who is smaller or poorer or less skilled is necessarily at a disadvantage?”
  5. #25
    “The lesson of the Impressionists is that there are times and places where it is better to be a Big Fish in a Little Pond that a Little Fish in a Big Pond, where the apparent disadvantage of being an outsider in a marginal world turns out not to be a disadvantage at all.”
  6. #26
    “How you feel about your abilities - your academic ‘self-concept’- in the context of your classroom shapes your willingness to tackle challenges and finish difficult tasks. It’s a crucial element in your motivation and confidence.”
  7. #27
    “There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources - and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.”
  8. #28
    “People are ruined by challenged economic lives. But they are ruined by wealth as well because they lose their pride and they lose their sense of self-worth. It’s difficult at both ends of the spectrum.”
  9. #29
    “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.”
  10. #30
    “There is an important principle that guides our thinking about the relationship between parenting and money - and that principle is that more is not always better.”
  1. #31
    “The reason King Saul is skeptical of David’s chances is that David is small and Goliath is large. Saul thinks of power in terms of physical might. He doesn’t appreciate that power can come in other forms as well - in breaking rules, in substituting speed and surprise for strength.”
  2. #32
    “Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of these kinds of lopsided conflicts, because the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty.”
  3. #33
    “We compare ourselves to those in the same situation as ourselves, which means that students in an elite school - except, perhaps, those at the very top of the class - are going to face the burden that they would not face in a less competitive atmosphere.”
  4. #34
    “Society frowns at disagreeableness. As human beings we are hardwired to seek the approval of those around us. Yet a radical and transformative thought goes nowhere without the willingness to challenge convention.”
  5. #35
    “The best students from mediocre schools were almost always a better bet than good students from the very best schools.”
  6. #36
    “We spend a lot of time thinking about the ways that prestige and resources and belonging to elite institutions make us better off. We don’t spend enough time thinking about the ways in which those kinds of material advantages limit our options.”
  7. #37
    “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness. And the fact of being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate: it can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.”
  8. #38
    “We strive for the best and attach great importance to getting into the finest institutions we can. But rarely do we stop and consider whether the most prestigious of institutions is always in our bets interest.”
  9. #39
    “Being on the outside, in a less elite and less privileged environment, can give you more freedom to pursue your own ideas and academic interests.”
  10. #40
    “When the law is applied in the absence of legitimacy, it does not produce obedience. It produces the opposite. It leads to backlash.”
  1. #41
    “The right question is whether we as society need people who have emerged from some kind of trauma - and the answer is that we plainly do. This is not a pleasant fact to contemplate. For every remote miss who becomes stronger, there are countless near misses who are crushed by what they have been through. There are times and places, however, when all of us depend on people who have been hardened by their experiences.”
  2. #42
    “We are all of us not merely liable to fear, we are also prone to be afraid of being afraid, and the conquering of fear produces exhilaration... The contrast between the previous apprehension and the present relief and feeling of security promotes a self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.”
  3. #43
    “Just to summarize: I lurched into Rachel’s room like a zombie, freaking her out, then went for a fist pound. It is impossible to be less smooth than Greg S. Gaines.”
  4. #44
    “You can take pretty much any sentence in this book and if you read it enough times, you will probably end up committing a homicide.”
  5. #45
    “I think we are innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it.”
  6. #46
    “One of Gottman’s findings is that for a marriage to survive, the ratio of positive to negative emotion in a given encounter has to be at least five to one.”
  7. #47
    “Gottman has found, in fact, that the presence of contempt in a marriage can even predict such things as how many colds a husband or wife gets; in other words, having someone you love express contempt toward you is so stressful that it begins to affect the functioning of your immune system.”
  8. #48
    “The Big Five Inventory:
    Extraversion. Are you sociable or retiring? Fun-loving or reserved?
    Agreeableness. Are you trusting or suspicious? Helpful or uncooperative?
    Conscientiousness. Are you organized or disorganized? Self-disciplined or weak-willed?
    Emotional stability. Are you worried or calm? Insecure or secure?
    Openness to new experiences. Are you imaginative or down to earth? Independent or conforming?”
  9. #49
    “Spontaneity isn’t random.”
  10. #50
    “Our unconscious is a powerful force. But it’s fallible. It’s not the case that our internal computer always shines through, instantly decoding the “truth” of a situation. It can be thrown off, distracted, and disabled. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interests and emotions and sentiments.”
  1. #51
    “Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions - we can alter the way we think-slice - by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions...It requires that you change your life so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis and become comfortable with them and familiar with the best of their culture, so that when you want to meet, hire, date, or talk with a member of a minority, you aren’t betrayed by your hesitation and discomfort. Taking rapid cognition seriously - acknowledging the incredible power, for good and ill, that first impressions play in our lives - requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.”
  2. #52
    “Some people look like they sound better than they actually sound, because they look confident and have good posture.”
  3. #53
    “So the rich kids aren’t the alpha group of the school. The next most likely demographic would be the church kids: They’re plentiful, and they are definitely interested in school domination.”
  4. #54
    “But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgments and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world.”
  5. #55
    “Most of us, in ways that we are not entirely aware of, automatically associate leadership ability with imposing physical stature. We have a sense of what a leader is supposed to look like, and that stereotype is so powerful that when someone fits it, we simply become blind to other considerations.”
  6. #56
    “Allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv. It enables rapid cognition.”
  7. #57
    “Not long ago, researchers who analyzed the data from four large research studies that had followed thousands of people from birth to adulthood calculated that when corrected for such variables as age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary.
    That means that a person who is six feet tall but otherwise identical to someone who is five foot five will make on average $5,525 more per year.”
  8. #58
    “I began to listen with my eyes, and there is no way that your eyes don’t affect your judgement. The only true way to listen is with your ears and your heart.”
  9. #59
    “Theory: People always get fired up when an unattractive girl and an unattractive dude are dating each other.”
  10. #60
    “He will immediately assume you are gay, and there is no force on earth greater than the fear jocks have of homosexuals. None. It’s like the Jewish fear of Nazis, except the complete opposite with regard to who is beating the crap out of whom. So I guess it’s more like the Nazi fear of Jews.”
  1. #61
    “Two important lessons here. This first is that truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking...The second lesson is that in good decision making, frugality matters.”
  2. #62
    “But chances are you’ll lean forward a little less, turn away slightly from him or her, close your body a bit, be a bit less expressive, maintain less eye contact, stand a little farther away, smile a lot less, hesitate and stumble over your words a bit more, laugh at jokes a bit less. Does that matter? Of course it does. Suppose the conversation is a job interview. And suppose the applicant is a Black man. He’s going to pick up on that uncertainty and distance, and they may well make him a little less certain of himself, a little less confident, and a little less friendly. What this unconscious first impression will do, in other words, is throw the interview hopelessly off course.”
  3. #63
    “It was about the least fun social situation imaginable. If terrorists had burst into the room and tried to suffocate us in hummus, it would have been an improvement.”
  4. #64
    “Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.”
  5. #65
    “All that extra information isn’t actually an advantage at all; that, in fact, you need to know very little to find the underlying signature of a complex phenomenon.”
  6. #66
    “Extra information is more than useless. It’s harmful. It confuses the issues. What screws up doctors when they are trying to predict heart attacks is that they take too much information into account.”
  7. #67
    “Gottman, it turns out, can teach us a great deal about the critical part of rapid cognition known as thin-slicing. Thin slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.”
  8. #68
    “We like market research because it provides certainty - a score, a prediction; if someone asks us why we made the decision we did, we can point to a number. But the truth is that for the most important decisions, there can be no certainty.”
  9. #69
    “One thing I’ve learned about people is that the easiest way to get them to like you is to shut up and let them do the talking.”
  10. #70
    “There are two kinds of hot girls: Evil Hot Girls, and Hot Girls Who Are Also Sympathetic Good-Hearted People and Will Not Intentionally Destroy Your Life (HGWAASGHPAWNIDYL).”

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