Why Did Malcolm Succeed? (Outliers 2)

Why did Malcolm Gladwell succeed? Is he a self-made bestselling writer? Is his story different than the story of why some succeed and others don’t that we looked at in my previous blog about Gladwell’s book Outliers? Does he have none to thank except his own hard work and native talent? In the epilogue to his book, he offers an answer.
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No Ordinary People

While sitting in a limo in Manhattan wondering if she is overdressed for the party, Jeannette Walls looks out the window and spots her homeless mom rummaging through garbage in an alley.

Walls’ astonishing memoir, The Glass Castle, begins here and then chronicles a childhood in which alcohol, dysfunction and bad choices conspired to keep her whole family

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destitute. After she and her siblings moved to New York City and clawed their way out, her well-educated parents continued to live in poverty. And when the pair moved to New York to join their children, ultimately the two of them were without a home.

The book contains one incredible episode after another of pain, hardship and disappointment. Yet one that struck me the most took place after Jeannette had scraped together enough funds to go to college. There she took a course from a professor she enjoyed who began teaching about the effects of economic and social forces on people.
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Redeeming the Office

I admit I’m a fan of The Office with it’s all-too-painfully-true portrayal of life in the cubes. One time I found myself yelling at the screen, “But I don’t want to be Michael!” There was nothing to do but admit the truth, of course.

A colleague at work recently drew our attention to a brief parody of The Office from the folks at Rightnow.org. The camerawork and the writing are spot on. No doubt it has a bit more redeeming social value than even the original. So check it out here.

Ban the Next Book Clause

Every so often I am talking to an author about a potential book and he or she will say, “Well, I will have to check with my previous publisher first. In my contract I gave them first option on my next book.”

I am always amazed when I hear this. We got rid of the “next book clause” from our contracts thirty years ago. I thought such arrangements disappeared with the era of the dime novel. Apparently not.
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