“The older I get, the more I understand that the only way to say valuable things is to lose your fear of being correct.” – Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is a world-renowned Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker, most commonly known for his #1 national bestseller, Outliers: The Story of Success (2011), along with his 4 other novels, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), and a collection of his journalism, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013), all 5 of which were on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Since 1996, he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he has made global contributions in the subjects of Psychology, Sociology, and Marketing, helping him earn a spot in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
Malcolm Gladwell’s Net Worth: $30 Million
Like many inspirational geniuses of our generation (J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, etc.), Gladwell was not the most talented student in the classroom, nor the savviest business professional right out of college. After Gladwell graduated college in 1984 with a degree in history, he quickly realized that his grades weren’t good enough for grad school. He resorted to his pragmatic plan b, a career in advertising. After receiving a rejection letter from every single advertising agency he applied to, it was time to take a shot at something else, anything. In an attempt to relieve the stress of unemployment and failure, he pursued the only option he had left, writing. He got his chance with The American Spectator as an entry-level journalist, before being fired in 1985. After a few more miserable years of working odd jobs and freelancing, he caught the eye of the New Yorker in 1996.
When Gladwell began writing for The New Yorker, two of his articles, The Tipping Point and The Coolhunt gained national attention. The rest was history (literally). He seized the opportunity and expanded the essays into his first novel, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. As the book became an international bestseller, he received an estimated advance of 1.5 million dollars that he had never seen before and sold around 1.7 million copies within the first five years alone. What could the 36-year-old have possibly said in this book that made it an international bestseller?
The Tipping Point Of 2000
Gladwell defines his idea of “the tipping point,” as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” It is the moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire, just like his book. In the novel, he explores, (or better yet, scientifically proves) how a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the international popularity of a new product, or an exponential drop in a city’s crime rate. In other words (his own words), “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do,” by a specific group of people in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time.
His debut of The Tipping Point introduced three interesting ideas, studies, phenomenons (or whatever you want to call it) that the world had never seen before. Describing his first law, The Law of the Few, he stated “success of any social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts,” similarly to the way economists think of the 80/20 principle. Eighty percent of the work comes from 20 percent of the people.
Next, The Stickiness Factor refers to the specific, nuanced content of a message that renders its cognitively significant impact, the real key to advertising (jokes on them).
His third law, the Power of Context, is the impact of the environment on human behavior. In this last law, he introduced the “Broken Window Hypothesis,” often referred to as one of the most influential theories in the history of criminology—the idea that significant crimes (murder, rape, robbery) are encouraged by seemingly trivial crimes (graffiti, public urination, and broken windows), meaning that cities can reduce serious crimes by cracking down on minor ones.
In the mid-1990s, a couple of New York City leaders, Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor, and William Bratton, the head of the New York City Police Department, put this idea to the test. They worked together to apply the Broken Window Hypothesis to their city, focusing on targeting minor crimes like graffiti and public urination. Within a few years, the entire crime rate of New York City had plummeted. Yup, Malcolm Gladwell had arrived.
After his first novel, along with a number of articles revealing the science behind sociological phenomenons like the Broken Window Hypothesis, Gladwell had finally made a name for himself, and a pretty paycheck to go along with it. It didn’t take long before his next work of art, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking was published a few years later, revolutionizing how people within a society thought and understood the world around them. Today, Gladwell is responsible for five best sellers, thousands of published articles, podcasts such as the Revisionist History Podcast (I guess he did make something of that history degree), and hundreds of key-note speeches all around the world. According to celebrity net worth, Gladwell’s sticky ideas and successful career have helped him earn a current net worth of 30 million.