Malcolm Gladwell: “Just a thinker”

Fast Company has an interesting profile of Malcolm “Tipping Point” Gladwell in its January issue. It is well worth reading, with it impressive how Gladwell has gone from a “mere” New Yorker staffer to becoming required biz school reading:

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.

Good gig: $800,000-plus in speaking fees, and then there are the book royalties …

[Update] A few people have not unreasonably questioned my math skills, given that $40,000 a speech for 25 speeches a year works out to $1,000,000, not $800,000. Well, that’s true, except you forget that most of these speeches will have been arranged by agencies that typically take a 15% to 20% cut. So … $800k-plus net to Gladwell.


  1. Since when does 25 times 40 equal 800? Or has the cold dulled your math skills?

  2. An excellent question. I’ve tried to answer it in an “update” to the original post ….

  3. I didn’t know that speech brokers got 15% to 20%… that’s nearly as good a racket as speech giving itself!