When the Data Comes Together…

Photo by Hunter Harritt on Unsplash

On November 22, 2022 member Natashia H. gave her premier presentation to the CWLC on the works of Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers — The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. In addition, his work is widely known through print and visual media, and through his podcasts which include Revisionist History and Broken Record.

Natashia is a lover of non-fiction, and her interests lean towards math and sciences. When she discovered Malcolm Gladwell’s popular non-fiction books based on analytics, she found a refreshing narrative based on real-life stories, which provide new ways to look at life. She likens Malcolm Gladwell to a skilled detective, who raises entirely new questions, analyses information, suspends judgment, and removes assumptions to reveal truths. He is a skilled writer, making his theories, the research behind them, and the implications for application accessible to a general audience.

In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Gladwell analyzed how a few “influencers” can wildly affect the success of a product or idea – although the work pre-dates the term. In Outliers: The Story of Success Mr. Gladwell interviewed business owners with mega-success, such as Bill Gates. He discovered success depends not only on drive and intelligence but other factors beyond the individual’s control. It is in Outliers the world learned it takes 10,000 hours of practice before mastery of anything. Gladwell also explores the concept of mastery. He posits that while raw talent is necessary for success, a supportive home life, opportunity and practice are part of most meteoric success stories such as The Beatles and Bill Gates.

In Blink, Natashia was drawn how people think without thinking (intuition). While intuition can be powerful, she cited Gladwell’s example of gender bias in the selection of professional musicians and how more women “made the cut” when auditions were “blind”. People who beat all odds are the subject of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. Gladwell’s examples show that when the little guy wins, more than luck is usually involved.

In summary, Natashia urged everyone to look for the hidden patterns and use data to challenge “known truths”. Members and Natashia finished up the last regular meeting of 2022 with discussion and questions about the work of this well-known author.

Janet H. & Shawna M.

In the spring, we will continue our theme of New Writers of the 21st Century. Members will present on the authors Gary Shteyngart, Elizabeth Strout, Mary Lawson, Emma Donaghue, Joseph Boyden, and Andrey Kurkov. In addition, we will welcome Dr. R. Boschman as a guest speaker. The updated schedule will be posted soon… see you then.

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