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9 Books That Malcolm Gladwell Wants You To Read

9 Books That Malcolm Gladwell Wants You To Read

Have you ever thought about the books that influence thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell? With over 4.5 million book sales and counting under his belt, Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most popular and successful authors alive today. His quirky narratives about the hidden nature of achieving success have propelled him to a media-darling status that only a handful of writers can relate to.

Gladwell possesses the rare skill set of being able to dig deep into subjects that deal with human behavior — such as Social Science and Psychology — and to pull away tiny little details that others would’ve probably overlooked, and then tie them into big ideas that affect our lives quite significantly…

It’s his attention to detail that resulted in his string of best-selling books and his stellar writing career as one of the world’s leading non-fiction writer. Several thought-provoking books influenced Gladwell’s way of thinking, which of course had a direct impact on his writing.

Here are nine that Malcolm Gladwell recommends you read.

#1. ‘Freakonomics’ by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

freakonomics-by-steven-d-levitt-and-stephen-j-dubner

    Gladwell told The Week that Freakonomics was the book that turned a boring subject like economics into an entertaining topic, and it’s an enjoyable read to boot.

    #2. ‘Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession’ by Janet Malcolm

    psychoanalysis-the-impossible-profession-by-janet-malcolm

      Gladwell considers the author of Psychoanalysis, Janet Malcom, his “nonfiction role model.” Gladwell was quoted in The New York Times as having said the following about the book and its author:

      “I reread Malcolm’s Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession just to remind myself how nonfiction is supposed to be done.”

      #3. ‘Fooled by Randomness‘ by Nassim Taleb

      fooled-by-randomness

        This is the book that most likely inspired some of Gladwell’s assertions in his best-selling book, Outliers: The Story of Success, where he notes the lack of consideration we place on “opportunities” (luck, chance, or circumstance) when we survey the contributing factors to success for individuals like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

        Gladwell told the New Yorker that Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness, “is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses were to the Catholic Church.”

        #4. ‘The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game’ by Michael Lewis

        The_Blind_Side_Evolution_of_a_Game

          Gladwell considers Lewis to be an inspiring role model. Reportedly, Gladwell even told The New York Times that he reads Michael Lewis’ books for the same reasons he watches Tiger Woods play golf:  “I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”

          If Gladwell’s endorsement weren’t enough to get you to pickup the book — you should also probably know that The Blind Side is an extraordinary story about love and redemption that gets you thinking about how we’ve all got vulnerabilities — and whether we’re ready for it or not — life can “blind side” us when we least expect it. And it’s our ability to get back up that makes us successful in the long run.

          #5. ‘The Opposable Mind’ by Roger Martin

          the-opposable-mind-by-roger-martin

            Bookstores — both online and off — are crowded with books about how great CEOs and leaders stand out from their peers. According to Gladwell, The Opposable Mind is the only one you need to read.

            “I realize that there are thousands of business books on the subject, but, trust me, this is the first to really answer the question” Gladwell says.

            #6. ‘Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do’ by Tom Vanderbilt

            traffic-why-we-drive-the-way-we-do-by-tom-vanderbilt

              Traffic is an investigation of how our behavior behind the wheel relates to human nature… this seems like a tall mountain to climb, until of course, you think about how otherwise normal and well-tempered people turn into total maniacs when they get behind the wheel.

              Gladwell says that the author of Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt, has a clever way of writing. Which is suitable, seeing as though you’d have to be pretty savvy to put together a best-selling book about why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) — and then to have it make Malcom Gladwell’s list of recommended books.

              #7. ‘Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man’ by Garry Wills

              nixon-agonistes (1)

                This book is an outlier when you compare it to the rest of this list, but it’s a classic nonetheless, at least according to Malcolm Gladwell it is.

                Here’s what he told The Week about the book: “A classic from the early ’70s by one of the great political writers of his time. Written just before Richard Nixon resigned, it’s as devastating a portrait of him as has ever been written.

                #8. ‘Should I Be Tested for Cancer?’ by H. Gilbert Welch

                should i be tested for cancer

                  This is a book that brings together a wide body of little-known medical research — and presents this data in a compelling argument against the constant testing for cancer in the world of medicine — which seems to result in unintended consequences by way of invasive treatments, misdiagnosis, and much, much more.

                  This book asks a simple question: are there situations when you shouldn’t be tested for cancer? The author’s answer brings data together in an engaging and stylish way that really gets you thinking. Which is precisely why it makes Malcom’s list of books for you to read.

                  #9. ‘The Person and the Situation’ by Richard Nisbett

                  The-person-and-the-situation-recommended-by-Malcom-Gladwell

                    Gladwell told the New York Times that the author of this book, psychologist Richard Nisbett “was the most influential thinker in my life.” Gladwell attributes his world general way of thinking about the world to Nisbett and his book, The Person and the Situation; saying that “if you read that book, you’ll see the template for the genre of books that The Tipping Point, and Blink and Outliers belongs to. That book changed my life.”

                    Okay, now that you’ve the nine best books straight out of Malcolm Gladwell’s library — which one will you read first?

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                    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

                    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

                    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

                    Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

                    You have to work hard to develop the right skills

                    If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

                    1. Make your presentation short and sweet

                    With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

                    JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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                    2. Open up with a good ice breaker

                    At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

                    • Joking
                    • Tugging on their heart strings
                    • Dropping a bombastic statement
                    • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
                    • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

                    You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

                    3. Keep things simple and to the point

                    Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

                    4. Use a healthy dose of humor

                    Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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                    It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

                    5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

                    Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

                    6. Practice your delivery

                    Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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                    7. Move around and use your hands

                    Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

                    8. Engage the audience by making them relate

                    Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

                    9. Use funny images in your slides

                    Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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                    10. End on a more serious note

                    When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

                    As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

                    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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