Let's see: First there was a Washington Post profile of Pete Wehner, now doing the thinking for the Bush White House (see my December 18 posting). Then we find out that Kathy Chumachenko has become the new First Lady of Ukraine (see my end-of-year letter, December 31).
Now another of my former colleagues at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Malcolm Gladwell, is in the news. In advance of the publication of his new book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Little, Brown, January 2005), he is the subject of a profile, "The Accidental Guru," in Fast Company magazine.
Malcolm made a splash about five years ago with his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (also published by Little, Brown), but only after working for years in the trenches of journalism. After leaving EPPC, he moved to the Washington Times, then became the first Washington Times staff writer to be hired by The Washington Post. He rose to New York bureau chief of the Post before beginning a stint at The New Yorker.
Here's what Danielle Sacks has to say about him, in part, in Fast Company:
No one in recent memory has slipped into the role of business thought leader as gracefully or influentially as Gladwell. Soon after his first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little, Brown, 2000), fell into America's palms, Gladwell made the leap from generalist staff writer at The New Yorker to marketing god. Since then, Gladwell has oscillated between pen and mike, balancing lengthy New Yorker articles with roughly 25 speaking gigs a year, his current going rate some $40,000 per appearance. Last year, he spoke at such highbrow conferences as TED and Pop!Tech and was invited to share his wisdom at companies including Genentech, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Hewlett-Packard. His New Yorker articles have become required reading for B-school students. The Tipping Point spent 28 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and more than two years on Business Week's, and today there are almost 800,000 copies of Gladwell's trend-mapping bible in print. Mention his impact, though, and he modestly tries to brush it off -- leaning, like any good journalist, on data points to support his argument. "Remember," he points out, "even a book that's a best-seller still is only read by less than 1% of the American public."
It's heartening to see my old co-workers rising in the world. And now it looks like I have to add more books to my must-read list.
Monday afternoon update: I just learned that Malcolm Gladwell will be appearing at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville on Wednesday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m., as part of his Blink promotional tour. He'll be talking about the book and signing autographs for fans at the Darden School of Business.
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