Good Reads: ‘David and Goliath’

B is a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. This book ‘David and Goliath’ was my first exposure to his work. It is a quick read. I was able to knock it out during a recent flight. Overall, I enjoyed the book. But I had to take it with a grain of salt.

The premise of the book is that the most favored to succeed can actually sometimes be at a disadvantage by conforming too rigidly to the accepted paradigm of “success” in the respective field. To bolster this thesis, Gladwell gives various examples of underdogs leveraging some unique characteristic to dethrone the heavily favored alternative. As an illustration for this phenomenon Gladwell uses an inverted parabola that roughly equates to the economic law of diminishing returns. In layman’s terms, he makes the argument that there can be too much of a good thing (money, intelligence, athletic ability, etc..).

While I found the book entertaining, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that being and underdog can be leveraged advantageously in all instances. I agree that in certain cases that can be true, the same way that there are exceptions to almost every rule. In my opinion there was enough data and analysis that it wasn’t just another “embrace your flaws!” fluff piece. I thought it was worth the read.