"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost

January 2, 2014

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (Part One, Two and Three)


Malcolm Gladwell is back!

Born on September 3, 1963 (close to mine. The date, not the year of birth :p), Gladwell graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in history and later became a journalist, bestselling author, and recently a speaker.

Gladwell has been considered a thought provocator -- who happens to make us change the way we think about almost everything when/after reading his books. He has written five books: The Tipping Point, BlinkOutliers, What the Dog Saw and now David and Goliath.

After waiting for four years, Gladwell finally released his new book on October 2013. He brings the world his Gladwell-ness writings (with so much researches, lots of reading, tables, and this time, graphics!) back. David and Goliath -- Underdogs, Misfits and The Art of Battling Giants is not "just another book". It's a book you MUST read!

Well well, enough for the introduction part. Let's move on to the quick summary. :3


David and Goliath is divided into three parts: Introduction, Part One and Part Two. Part one includes the first three chapters and part two includes the last six ones.

On the Introduction: Goliath, Gladwell first serves us with the story of David, a shepherd guy from Elah, who won the fight over Goliath, the giant Philistine. The fact that David won seems so untrue, everyone didn't expect him to win.

When the Philistines came to Elah, King Saul, the King of ancient Palestine commanded his people anfd his army to prepare for the war. The Philistines built their camp at back south of Elah, while the King Saul's army at the opposite. Nobody wanted to attack first but then the Philistines lost patience that they sent their best soldier, Goliath, a giant, to the valley floor to fight one on one. When seeing Goliath, nobody in King Saul's side was brave enough to fight the giant.

But David, a shepherd guy, volunteered to fight Goliath. King Saul at first diubted him and asked him to take his sword and armor to protect him but David refused it. In the end David ran andused his catapult to shoot Goliath's forehead. Goliath went unconscious and David killed him. David won.


The story above shows us the whole content of this book.

Gladwell wants to show us that sometimes what we see is not the reality. That our mind can be wrong. That what we think is right is not absolutely right. And what we think is wrong is not 100% wrong. That strenght can also be weakness, and a weakness can actually be a blessing in disguise.


***


Part One: Weakness in Strength (and Strength in Weakness)
*Similar to what I've just said hehehe*


Chapter one, which is titled "Vivek Ranadive", consists os three stories of underdogs who won the game.

Vivek Ranadive has never played basketball before. So when asked to be the coach for his daughter's basketball team, he got a bit confused. His daughter (Anjali)'s basketball team consists of girls who actually can't really play basketball. But as an immigrant from India, who chose to study at MIT, and is a person who is really tenacious, he then found a way.

Ranadive's strategy is to keep moving until the oppsing tim gets exhausted. That's whu he uses full-court press. The key: Anjali and the team must not be tired. They must always be in a fit condition. One, two, three, attitude, hah!

T.E Lawrence (also known as Lawrence of Arabia)is actually an archeologist who loved to wrote full-of-imagination prose(s). He didn't graduate with good grades in the leading British Militery Academy. But he led a rebellion of Arab against Turkey who at that time overran Arab at the end of World War I -- and he mostly won the uprisings.

On 1971, Fordham University Rams played basketball with University of Massachusetts Redmen. Umass iwas a great team and was an undefeatable since 1969. The tallest player in Fordham was only 1,96 m. But Fordham used the full-court press strategy and won.


What we can catch from these three stories is that being an underdog doesn't mean that we can't win. Underdogs can win -- using the right strategies. Underdogs are sometimes underestimated by people, as not being capable of doing what they're doing. What people see is (maybe) just their appearance. They don't see the inside. But then, underdog strategy is hard to do. They gotta do it fast.

But most importantly, underdogs do it in their own way. They don't mind being anti-mainstream, and that's why they win.





***



Chapter two: Teresa Debrito.

Most people think that a smaller class is better for students' achievement.  Is it really so?
Some countries, including US, China, Canada, Netherland, Singapore, Hong Kong, England and Korea agreed in that idea and have decided to change their class' size.

But as more researches are done, there are differences of result in different countries. There's a 15% significant proof that students achieve better in a smaller class. Also 15% significant proof for students that achieve worse. 20% says that smaller class has no effect and the rest 50% is a bit confusing; it leads to both directions but can't be concluded. So actually the idea "the smaller the class, the better the achievement" is apparently nothing than just an idea that works in only small percentage.


And then there's this story about a great Hollywood figure who came from Minneapolis. He has become entrepreneur since he was little. He then got succeed in the Hollywood industry, got a house which is as big as plane hangar, private jet and a Ferrari on his garage. He knows how to earn money, how to use it, and most importantly he knows the value of money. Now he wants to teach his children about the value of money too, but it's a hard thing to do. Because, how can he teach his children the value of money of his own version (workhard and faith) when it's different from his children's version (private jet, ferrari and all)?

When we're lack of money, we got problems. When we have too much money, we also got problems. Only different ones (lol). The two stories above about size of class and the Hollywood figure lead us to the idea/graphic titled "Inverted U-shaped Curve".

taken from dailyfinance.com
There are three parts of the curve.
The left side is when having more is better. 
It's when the smaller class size the better.
 It's when having more money won't make you starve, and will make you be able to do things better.

The center part, the flat one, is when additional effort won't make much differences.
It's when the smaller the class' size has nothing to do with students' achievement.
It's when too much money won't make you be any happier.

The right part, is when doing/having more even makes the situation worse.
It's when the smaller the class' size, the worse the students' achievement
It's when the more money you got won't make your children understand the value of money.

The same goes for most things on life.
 Now, do you still think the more the better? Think again :>



***





On chapter three: Caroline Sacks, we'll learn about the unseen disadvantages of being little fish in a big pond and also unseen advantages of being big fish in small pond. Watch.

In the mid 19th century in Paris there was a group of painters who oftenly gathered in a cafe in Batignolles named Cafe Guerbois. Members of the group were Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and Pisarro. One night, they discussed about their chance to get their paintings hung on Salon, the most prestigious art exhibition in Europe. (Their paintings are now hung in every big art museum in the world, their art stream is Impressionism. Yes, they were Impressionist). But at that time they couldn't show it anywhere because their paintings were different from others', not the mainstream ones. No one wanted to buy their paintings because they weren't hung on Salon.

But Salon itself had its own weakness. Salon was the biggest art exhibition so there were so many paintings to be chosen to be hung on the wall. Sometimes they were hung too high that the visitors couldn't see them. That made many painters disappointed.

So then, on 1873, Pisarro and Monet made a new group named Societe Anonyme Cooperative des Artiste Peintres, Sculpteures, Graveurs (I couldn't help but to try to pronounce the words. Yes I still want to learn French :>). Everyine joined it except Manet, who still thought that Salon was the best way to make his paintings be known by people.

The exhibition of the Impressionist was held for a month. There were 165 arts and it brought 3500 came to see them -- 175 people on the first day. The Impressionists started to get their place in the world of art. It's all because they chose to be big fish in small pond.


Little Caroline Sacks was really interested in science. So when it came to the time where she'd choose to study, she finally decided to choose Brown University for the first choice, and University of Maryland as the alternative.

Why did she choose Brown over Maryland? Well, Brown is an Ivy League member, the students are smart, it's prestigious and so on and so on, so Sacks thought it'd be nice for her to study there and learn science with smarter people who would be willing to learn together with her. She thought she could be the best there, again.

But the facts came out and it's all really different that what she had expected. Her friends are competitive. They don't want to share their secret in studying with her. They study alone. Sacks, in the end, couldn't be the best too, because she was in pressure of seeing her smart friends succeeded getting better grades than her. Sacks case is an example of small fish in big pond.




***


Morning guys <3
I know you've been waiting for this :3. Yes yes we're gonna talk about the second. and also the last part (it turns out that there's actually three parts of it, so yeah) of the book. If you want to read the previous two, go here and here. :)

So let's see... On the Introduction we've read the David and Goliath story and our eyes were opened by Gladwell on part One. We've learnt, so far, that underdogs can win. That we can't just underestimate those who look like below us. Or the other way around, we can't underestimate ourselves for everyone has their own strength and uniqueness. Underdogs can win. We are big fish in small pond.

Part Two is titled "The Theory of Desirable Difficulty" and consists of three chapters: chapter 4, 5 and 6.


On Chapter 4: David Boies, we are brought to look for what dyslexia really means. To be honest, I first knew how dyslexics' brains are developed, and it's kind of amazing how God has given us our own kind of strengths and weaknesses.

Dyslexia is usually considered asa weakness. Dyslexics can't read easily. That's why at first other people think they're dumb. They are not. As written in the book, when dyslexics were just fetus, their nerve cells should've spread onto the right areas of the brains, just like the chess game., but because of some reasons, those cells got lost on their journey. Anyhow, dyslexia can also be the weapon for success, as in this book, we'll see how some dyslexics are really successful.

David Boies became a lawyer by developing his ability to hear, to listen. He used to learn law thingy by listening to the lecturers.

Brian Glazer is also a dyslexic. He mostly got F and D in school, so then he found a way and decided to talk with his teachers everytime they told him his subjects' grades. It turns out that his grades were actually changeable, his Ds became Cs, his Cs became Bs (because his teachers realized that he's actually not dumb.) He developed his ability --his strength-- to express his opinion. He is now one of the most successful film producers in Hollywood.

Gary Cohn, also a dyslexic, took a really big risk by convincing a big person from major Wall Street brokerage firm that he knew everything about stock options. Cohn is now the president of Goldman Sachs.

What can we learn from this chapter? Well, one thing we should remember is that everyone --including those who are considered having weaknesses-- can be successful. We can choose to seek our own path rather than to accept the reality--the label people put to us.

Never belittle yourself for things you think are your weaknesses. Who knows it might be your strength? :)




***


On Chapter 5: Emil "Jay" Freireich, we'll learn about another "The Theory of Desirable Difficulty".

Jay Freireich's past was incredible. His father suicided when he was just a little boy. His mom worked in a hat factory, and he was babysitted by an Irish woman who he considered as his real mommy.

If I'm not mistaken, Jay Freireich is a well-known doctor who was one of the founders of leukimie's medicine. You see, your past --what could seem like a weakness-- can make you. Or break you. It's how you see it and response to it.


***


Chapter 6: Wyatt Walker

Wyatt Walker was one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s partners and he had joined King's move since 1950. Both King and Walker were underdogs. They were minority in environment where majority conquered.

But they've learbt some things from the majority and they used them as weapons to win the battle.




*****



Part Three: The Limits of Power


Chapter 7: Rosemary Lawlor

Do you guys know about the Troubles? It's kind of a name of a fight between Christian and Catholic Irish, happened in North Ireland for almost --if I'm not mistaken-- thirty years.

When the fight got worse, the British sent a help--British army's goal was to neutralize the condition there. But then because most of the army was Christian, the Catholic Irish lost their hope on British. They didn't believe the British.

And they were right. The British army--commanded by General Freeland--happened to betray them, and ended up fighting them. The British army acted hard and harsh on them--hoping they'd be afraid and give up. But in fact, they were not afraid and they even fought.

You see, power need legitimation.


***


On Chapter 8: Wilma Derksen, we'll be given two stories. 

One is the story of Mike Reynolds, whose daughter, Kimber, was killed by two men. Reynolds promised to Kimber not to let everyone else suffer her and his pain, and then there came Three Strikes rule, which in the end turned out to be harmful, and be erased from the California's law.

And then there's story of Wilma Derksen, whose daughter, Candace, found dead and banded after gone for seven months.

At first the Derksens wanted to have a press conference--just like what Reynolds did. But when they got home, their house were full of people and there's this one man who warned them the danger of making their case go public. They could lose their life, he said.

So the Derksens thought about it for a while and decided to forgive the killer. They eventually saved their life.



***


Chapter 9: Andre Trocme

During the World War II, on 1940 France was conquered by Germany and many of Jewish people were caught and sent to death camp. It was Andre Trocme, a teacher from Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small town in France who decvided to hide some Jewish people in gis city. And everybody in the city agreed.

Everybody there wasn't afraid of German's threat, and Trocme, publicly wrote a letter to Philippe Petain that he placed some of Jewish there.

The question is: why did German never beat down Le Chambon-sur-Lignon? Probably because--as written in the book-- fighting a city, or a nation, or a move is never easy.





*****


Hi! You're at the end of the post. Of course reading this post won't make you know everything in David and Goliath book so I still suggest you to read it :3 May you are enlightened by the posts I made and good luck in life!
See ya :)

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