Malcolm Gladwell: What We Should Know About Talking to Strangers – The Jordan Harbinger Show

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Key Takeaways

  • We have enormous confidence when it comes to drawing meaningful conclusions about people we know very little about
  • When it comes to job interviews, employers often place too much weight on meeting candidates in-person
    • You should hire people based on their abilities and skills, not their physical presence 
  • Writing a book is 20% writing and 80% organization/reflection
    • “It takes a long time to figure out how to express what you think and it takes a long time to figure out what you think”
  • No higher order can proceed without the presumption of trust
    • If you don’t have trust, you can’t put your child on a school bus
    • If you’re going to trade stocks, you have to trust the financial system

Intro

Malcolm’s Newest Book: Talking to Strangers

  • Malcolm’s latest book is the “angriest one” he’s ever written
  • The Sandra Bland case largely influenced him to start the book project
    • What happened?
      • A conversation between an African-American woman and a white police officer turned into an altercation causing the woman to end up in jail
      • A few days later she committed suicide – “That’s where the book begins… Let’s figure it out and see whether we can prevent this type of thing from happening again.”
      • It’s possible that if the woman was white or driving a nicer car, she wouldn’t have been pulled over and this incident would have never happened
  • “This is a book about emotional understanding”
  • Another example of discrimination discussed in the book comes with Donald Sterling, the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers
    • Donald owed a ton of property and notably wouldn’t rent it to black people
      • He got sued by the DOJ and had to pay a fine, but nothing else changed
    • In 2017, when his girlfriend recorded him spouting racist comments, he was forced to sell his NBA team
      • “We got upset about the latter and we gave him a pass on the former”

Spies

  • Malcolm is obsessed with spies
  • The countries with the best spies are Israel, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran
    • These countries can’t afford huge weapons like F-16s, so they have to rely on human intelligence as their secret weapon

On Wrongly Judging Others

  • We have enormous confidence when it comes to drawing meaningful conclusions about people we know very little about
    • “You can’t draw meaningful conclusions about someone from the way they complete words in a psychological questionnaire”
      • Why? – One reason: People from different cultures express their emotions in different ways
  • A cool fact: Malcolm recalls a circumstant where an AI program was better than a judge at detecting which criminals were a flight risk
  • When it comes to job interviews, employers often place too much weight on meeting candidates in-person
    • You should hire people based on their abilities and skills, not their physical presence 
      • For instance, people with bad teeth are often discriminated against – But what does the fact that someone has crooked teeth have to do with their ability to do a job?
        • “We have to take these misconceptions we have of strangers seriously”
  • Some people are mismatched (meaning – the emotions they’re feeling may not be represented accurately through their actions)

Additional Notes

  • You don’t always have to kill your darlings in a creative project
    • If it doesn’t fit with your current work, just put it in the closet and perhaps use it sometime in the future
  • “No higher order can proceed without the presumption of trust”
    • If you don’t have trust, you can’t put your child on a school bus
    • If you’re going to trade stocks, you have to trust the financial system
    • If you’re going to host a podcast, you have to trust your guest will show up
    • (However, the negative side of trusting others is that doing so leaves you vulnerable to deception – you have to accept that tradeoff)
  • Writing a book is 20% writing and 80% organization/reflection
    • “It takes a long time to figure out how to express what you think and it takes a long time to figure out what you think”
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