TODAY   |  October 07, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell: Underdogs have a chance against giants

Author Malcolm Gladwell has written a new book called “David and Goliath.” On TODAY he explains its premise, which is that seeming underdogs can use their position to their advantage and come out on top.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> by turning conventional wisd wisdom on it's head and now he's out with david and goliath , underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants. good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> we all thought it was david's faith and a miracle that helped him prevail. you see something different in that story.

>> the story is much more complicated and interesting. i think we underestimated, for example, just how powerful a sling is. the weapon that david chose is a devastating weapon. and also we -- i am not going to give it away but there's a secret to goliath that many medical experts have been speculating about in recent years. so i start the book by retelling that story and it makes you understand, wait a minute, it's not this improbable victory by a one in a million chance. underdogs actually have a real chance against goliaths.

>> if i could sum it up that's the thrust of the book. sometimes something that appears to be a disadvantage can be an advantage. you give a lot of real world examples of that. can you give me one right now?

>> sure, i have chapters on education. i have a big chapter on class size that says we have a -- the conventional wisdom that says the smaller the class the better it is for a child and i say that's true but only up to a point. when classes get too small, the affect starts to reverse and your child may have been worse off than they would have otherwise. so there's a case where spending more and more money and hiring more and more teachers doesn't always create the advantage we think it's going to create.

>> you have the theory of desirable difficulty and tell stories of people that suffer with dyslexia and went on to enormous success.

>> yeah, if you look at successful entrepreneurs and innovators a hugely disproportionate number of them suffer with disabilities. i sat down with incredibly successful business men and asked them what did that mean and they think they did as well as they did not in spite of their disability but because of it. that in learning to cope with it and work around it they learned things they would never have otherwise figured out.

>> it's a very interesting insight. makes you look at difficulties you might encounter in your own life in a different way. it's always good to have you here, thank you. the book of course is called david and goliath . coming