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I've read all your books and am looking forward to reading about the Dog. When will it be released in audio format? I subscribe to Audible and I prefer listening to them, because you read them yourself.

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I saw you on charlie rose. i love the way you think. One area you may have missed is the Ketchup story. I was told why it works by a senior heinz executive many years ago. hint the restaurant bottles say " for restaurant use only. " prices for restaurants were very low so people would get used to the taste which is slightly burned. If they just tried the free ketchup regularly they became used to the taste. Note in other countries other brands with more classic tomato taste sell better. also i think your ideas are well suited for america but are limited in foreign countries especially the east.


Malcolm: I didn't read your 'piece', you nasty little worm, but I did read your comment in Sports Illustrated about Michael Vick 'being cruel to some dogs'. I hope you are reincarnated as a dog who is forced to fight, or worse, a dog who is given to a fighting dog as good practice. I'm not a crazy PETA activitist, and I don't throw things at people who wear fur coats, but I fail to see how you can trivialize Vick's actions and the actions of people with whom he associates.

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@John Manganaro... very true about there always being a counter... this is definitely true in the MMA arena...


I agree with the previous poster... regarding Pitino not pressing nearly to the degree he used to...


Pat M.

I teach 9th grade Socratic Seminar, a Language Arts and History combination based on the teaching methods of Socrates. Our course begins with pre-history and finishes with the Greeks and Romans. While studying the Israelites, I came upon your David/Goliath article and used it as a starting point for a metaphorical essay. The students came up with some fascinating comparisons to David and Goliath.

DJ Vierra

I think most of the critiques and comments against your article are short-sighted and limited to factual or even opinion based discrepancies on how much talent had by or the frequency of Pitino's teams pressing. The true thesis of fighting unconventionally is genius. I thought the other arenas you used to showcase this (the war games, and the historical analysis of actual wars) really drove this home. Only the fact that we (I and many readers) are Americans, and so obsessed about basketball, were people so focused on that aspect.
The perfect quote from the article (and one that I have taken to using as a football coach) is that "war is not about arms, it's about legs". This is certainly true about football, and can be expanded to any struggle and perhaps life itself. Effort and planning are the keys, not bulging biceps or other innate assets.
I loved this article and shared it with my father, himself a basketball coach, I an assistant. We coach a talented school, but our recent teams had not seemed to reach their potential. A re-emphasis on effort, partially manifested through pressing and running, was our solution. I read your article only weeks later and it was a revalation of exactly what we wanted to preach.

PS I learned about your writing through your email battle with Bill Simmons, but have since read Outliers and almost every article on your archive. I love every bit of it.

Dan Black

I thought the article was great. I even filled it away. Thanks for your thoughts and wisdom.

Lenny Deverill-West


Slighly off subject.

I'm half way through your book tipping point which i'm really enjoying and I was wondering what you thought about or even if you were aware of the facebook campaign in the UK to make the band Rage Against the Machine's song killing in the name of Xmas number one? This has been put together by one person to rebel against the trend of Xfactor(same as american idol)winners automatically becoming the xmas number one. This campaign seems to me to have all the elements of an epidemic and is about to reach tipping point which is amazing as the song was orginally released in 1992 and has had no airplay and now the band themselves have become aware of the campaign and have said they will give all the money from the song to charity and will play a free concert in the UK if they become xmas number 1

Kind regards

Lenny Deverill-West

Steven Diamond

Mr. Gladwell,
As usual, a brilliant piece that I found to be very well thought out and insightful. Someday, might you reveal the process by which you use to think through your work so well?
I am fascinated by everything you write and would love to understand just how you brainstorm an idea for a piece. I am studying your work so I may someday learn to write as brilliantly as you. Keeping in mind the 10,000 hour rule of course.


In the Australian Football League, the Sydney Swans under coach Paul Roos have - for around a decade - been a classic example of a team with an acknowledged lack of skill and ability across the field. They have also been masters of a game plan known in Australian rules football as "the flood", which is roughly analogous to the press in basketball (the two games share a number of key underlying principles). Employing the flood, Roos has taken his team to the finals in September every year except for 2009 (where unusual circumstances may have applied) and has faced off in the Grand Finals of 2005 and 2006 against West Coast Eagles (my home team) for a one-all record. West Coast at the time were regarded as having the best midfield in the history of the game. The winning margins of those grandfinals was 4 points and 1 point - in a sport where large margins are not uncommon. The Swans cop a lot of flack for "playing ugly" but their fans love it. Opposition coaches have spent some years coming to grip with this gameplan and over the last two years managed to crack it - closing down the Swan's big forwards over the last two seasons. The Swans go into this season (starting soon) with new players in their forward line. Should be interesting to see what Roos can conjure in his last year as coach.

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Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, wherein each group will seek to defeat the others within the scope of a military campaign, and are well defined in duration, area and force commitment.

jim carroll

Malcolm -- I enjoy your work and love your topic of how a David can beat Goliath. But your analysis of the basketball full court press? Air ball!!!

Anyone who has ever coached, played or even watched organized youth basketball knows that the press is very common and devastatingly effective at that level. So much so that most youth leagues have rules that limit or ban its use. The press becomes much less effective (and is therefore used more sparingly)at higher levels of age/skill.

Also, the press is most often used by the Goliaths -- John Wooden's UCLA teams were frequent pressers. In basketball, the classicly successful David/insurgency tactic is the Princeton offense coupled with a zone defense. Slow, methodical and half-court -- the exact opposite of the full court press. In football, the wishbone offense (Navy, Army, Georgia Tech) is a good example of how a smart David can win.

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Nice blog.I thought the article was so clear and concise - not sure how anyone was confused by it.

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The data on underdogs in war is quite compelling in this regard. But it's also true on the basketball court. The press isn't perfect. But given its track record, surely it is under-utilized.

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I thought the article was so clear and concise - not sure how anyone was confused by it.

The theme was pure throughout - use the unconventional and never attack a leader's strength - beautiful work...

Bob Brown

Rick Petino also coached at the University of Hawaii. He was an assistant coach for two years 1974-1976 and coached six games at the end of the 1976 season after their head coach was fired. I understand he doesn't put that on his resume.

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I will reading your book for the first time after reading this blog, I think it's going to be an interesting journey

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I think there people who can called as underdogs and i feel that people who come under this category always have different skills that others dont have but dont know how to show it to.

Mike Smith

I was absolutely riveted by this article.

I was reminded of the article when I saw Star Wars; New Hope again. Alright, it's fiction. But it presents an example of a David failing to follow Goliath's rules. When the rebellion tries sneaky, near suicidal raids, it is successful. When it tries stand up fights (like the beginning of Empire) they are soundly beaten.

I'm also reminded of the wars America seems to keep fighting. They are drawn to meeting their opponents in open battles, which when the enemy obliges, America will pretty much always win. All things being even, an edge in numbers, training or technology should allow you to win in battle. The US usually has all three. If you're an enemy of the Americans, you have two choices. Either believe your own propaganda and lose (Comical Ali) or recognise your weaknesses and attack the enemy where they are most vulnerable; civilian targets, roadside bombs, political or religious rhetoric.

You make mention of the underdog winning using "socially unacceptable" means. I find it amazing that in a David versus Goliath battle, observers are silent on the unacceptable methods of team David, but extremely critical of any failings of the Goliaths. Why is that? Are we as a species naturally drawn to the underdog and willing to forgive their methods because they are the underdog?


I read that article and I loved it

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  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

    My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.

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  • What the Dog Saw

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    Tipping Point

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