Malcolm Gladwell @UB

14 Nov

Last night I had the pleasure of  listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s talk as part of the University of Buffalo’s Distinguished Speakers Series. Malcolm is no doubt a gifted and entertaining speaker. If you get a chance, I recommend you read his latest book, David and Goliath. The book deals with underdog success stories and shows you how to overcome stacked odds. The interesting part of the story is that David type victories happen more than we think. They happen when the underdog chooses to fight unconventionally. If David fought Goliath with a sword he would have been killed instantly, instead he fought with a sling that was quite powerful against the immobile Goliath. Gladwell cites research from Toft, a political scientist who tallied up all the wars over the last 200 years between large and small countries (where large means 10x population and 10x military might). He found small countries, who fought unconventionally (Guerilla warfare) won 60% of the time.  This is really intriguing and to put it in perspective, if The US fought Canada (US has roughly 10x the population of Canada), and Canada fought unconventionally…history would suggest you put your money on Canada. Sounds nuts, I know, but think about how the Vietcong defeated us….


Malcolm Gladwell UB

University of Buffalo

University of Buffalo


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