Writer and author Malcolm (“Tipping Point”) Gladwell recently gave a 40-minute talk at the University of Toronto’s business school. It is worth watching, especially for the typically Gladwell-ian way he weaves Fleetwood Mac factoids into broader musings about innovation and venture capital.
Mind you, I don’t entirely agree with Gladwell’s comments on venture capital. He confuses VC rhetoric with VC practise, and venture investors are not nearly as quick to kill companies as they say they are — but shhh, don’t tell anyone that. And I’m also not nearly as convinced as he is that the “old masters and young geniuses” argument holds uniformly across creative endeavours.
Just for fun, I pulled together some data to semi-empirically test one of Gladwell’s arguments. Specifically, he posited that top-selling recording artists either hit it big in their first few albums, or build to a big album well into their career. It isn’t true, at least not for the artists behind the ten top-selling albums of all time.
Bottom line, however: Even Gladwell’s errant arguments are more fun than most people’s true and boring ones, so the video is worth watching in its entirely.