« Revisionist History

Bonus: Malcolm Gladwell debates Adam Grant

2018-05-10

In a special live taping at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Malcolm talks with WorkLife’s Adam Grant about how to avoid doing highly undesirable tasks, what makes an idea interesting, and why Malcolm thinks we shouldn't root for the underdog.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Did you miss me, did you want hear my voice hello, hello, fellow revisionist historians. This is Malcolm global season. Three is almost ready to go. We are clubs and as a reward for your patience, I thought I'd, give you a little gift. Live conversation. I did my friend Adam grant the ninety seconds free. Why in New York City a few weeks ago, we ve done this before the why his last book came up I interviewed him there on stage now he wanted to interview, which is daunted because Adam is a very big deal. Professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Best sellers like given take originals an option b, which Cheryl Sandberg winner about towards the kind of person
if you email him some question you're right, you back in two minutes with this brilliantly thought out dissertation anything. How did he do that. Going inside Adam and I still use a blackberry. I know I know, and since we both got a lot of grief for that we have explanatory signature lines under our blackberry emails is sent from my blackberry, because I'm a lot eyed and I believe in support the canadian economy mine is sent from my blackberry because there's no school like old school, not to get competitive about this but minds we better. What you about two here is a conversation about the workplace.
Which is Adams specialty. Now why exactly? He thought I would evidently intelligent to say about the workplace is unclear since I work in coffee shops. So a lot of what follows is just me: pretending to know something that I don't, which has never happened before I have to say you're my favorite sparring partner, in the sense that you really take joy Intellectual disagreement. I've discovered that I do too, and so my is that we will disagree on something so good. When we do. I hope you take that as a sign that I respect your opinion enough to want to change it. And ideally I will win more. These arguments that I loose yes, fair and ground rules should, I didn't know I'm happy to lose. Arguments do anytime. You want great we should do this glad you're here so the place
I started to say that when I think about work life, we both spend a huge, a huge part of our work, lives, thinking about human behaviour and trying to understand make sense of it, and maybe make it a little bit better, and I think you know we were both in jobs. A pretty strong monopoly on the right, but in journalism and social science curious outside of our jobs. What you would say is the occupation has the most insight into human nature and human behaviour. Well, I mean there are obvious ones. Teachers would be the first and by extension, and then all of their professions. Attached to that, so I had my brother's a principle. I always feel like in the position he's in. He has he's a principle of an elementary school, so he interacts with kids their parents.
And then the teacher has got to deal with the kids and the parents and strikes me that you have a very powerful lens on human beings when you're sick leave, because parents are never more crazy than when they are interacting with the teachers. Children, so you're, you're, gonna, nominated principles, teachers by instinct was comedians, I think as a community- and you have to understand not only what will make people laugh but also what's right on the edge of making people uncomfortable, and that requires a lot of insight into the immediate reaction that your audience is going to have, and so I think, millions are Master psychologists Greer. You re totally disagree because you invited you think good by this know. Nothing about this added saw him. I'm I'm using the principal teacher. Is that, as my motto using that committed the thing it's dead,
gold about the teacher. Is it? The teacher is dealing with people in a natural environment in real time, and there is an infinite variety in circumstances and two kinds of people that they have to interact with the comedian, by contrast, is dealing with people in a tightly controlled setting with a rich set of expectations governing their behavior where they get. Turned down the lights dose everyone without the hall. You know and create an expectation that laughter is the appropriate response to what they're doing I cannot imagine a better set of circumstances and easier set of circumstances for navigating situation than those. So if that's true, when are you ready Your first stand up performance. I I would, if you're asking me this authority at the first question, is: if you're asking me, would I rather teacher class at first graters or do a stand up, provided that the answer is, I would do a standard form as a million times before I would teach a class of first graters. Really hard. I cannot wait to present you with both options,
and see what you're really two years. But how can you it's not even close by the way stand up. What are the things of Santa can do that drives me crazy. Is that they like to pretend that their profession is this terrifying death define you know, high wire act. Have you ever given performance before a group of people who have been drinking they are putting in your hands like they're, just there sitting there their doorstep with alcohol waiting to be entertained. That is about as far as you can get from a roomful. First graters, as is humanly pepper. I think there's some truth about. I also think, though, that the nice thing about about kids is that the situations repeat overnight so. You only have a certain number of ways that kids can misbehave and they can. Parents can be difficult and you get to practice over and over again. The responses that you want to have and overtime that becomes a skill and it becomes expert
Well, you don't think comedians practice. Of course they do. Of course they do, but your audience vary so much try to give an improper performance in a new country for the first time you what they do do that they go to Vegas and they go to the top, the seller and better hanging out on the rug community. No, but my point, they control their environments, no one controls their environments better than comedians. That's how they manage to do what they do right, and so you don't think that's still requires deep, site into human behaviour or psychology not deep inside now. Talking too drunk people require some insight Let me turn here right now. Let's see, if there's a little of it,
when I talk about your work, life said maybe a little bit about your creative process and where you ideas come from how you develop them and any insights for audience on how to be a little bit more creative. Well, you know, I I didn't episode by package last year called the king of tears, which is all about why this country music, can do sad, songs and rock and roll can't and one or two things. One of the points I made with something that I believe very strongly for a long time, which is the country music. Can
Sad when Rock n roll can't, because country music is specific and specificity is something I become increasingly interested in- is a trait of interesting. This that all the interesting people I know are people whose speech and thinking has a great deal- specificity too. So I was listening, for example, to her interview with the rest of that knowledge, who's. The Ceta person, yes, he's a brilliant physician who was one half of vampire weakened before they broke up, and I happen to know his brother, whose also billion direct they are the same quality when they talk about what they do. There is this brilliant level of specificity, so they don't just say I really loved that film by offered Hitchcock, which is what ninety percent of us would say. What's all will say is if you watch that film by
Hitchcock in the thirty second moment? There's this scene with this happens, and so on so says this and the camera does this, and in that moment you realize this right and sprang into the same thing he was talking about the song had written. And ass he went through the sun. He didn't he identified as the points of his image It's his zeroed in on exactly the mobile. In the song from nineteen sixty nine that he heard when he was a kid in high school Nineteen, eighty, nine and Europe, he was here when he heard it and that guitars you know, and you realize that why you listen to him and that quality of being specific and being able to illustrate your larger points with that kind of precision is the quality of what makes something interesting I've come to understand. Is that has informed the way? I look for ideas, so I try I'm trying to be I'm trying to be as precise as possible in how I was written idea.
One standard in the service of illustrating an idea. You dont have skate over the you don't want to get over the surface, but isn't that what you ve always done? Here's a story about a statue and oh my gosh- that changes your entire understanding of intuition and here's a story about a hockey team are a soccer team and all of a sudden, Edward we're gonna re. Imagine how success works and think it's much more luck and opportunity than we could. I I think I did it in the beginning without realising that's what I was doing so usb, but my creator processes and the issues I have only recently become kind of conscious of it and I rose you know with upon cast. You have to crank up the specificity even more so you because now your listing to somebody's voice in order to engage someone whose only experiencing this through the rears you need to ramp up precision. So I have a different. I guess a different taken, interesting this, which comes from Associated just Maria Davis. Her others is beautiful,
for decades ago called that's interesting where he said: ideas survive not because their true, but because their interesting that's interesting. This is this is bad news, but then he's gotta proving this point in a better way and then he says what makes an idea interesting. He says what makes an idea interesting is when it departs from conventional wisdom We just a firms or assumptions. You took a curious. You don't get entreat. There's enterprise like confirmation by us all when you're interested as when you're like hot. That's, that's the opposite of what I would have thought or that's different from what I would have believed and I dont think specificity gets you there. I think if you know, if you ve, really specific story that confirms everything I always thought was true about the world's I'm. Not that excited. If you have a specific theory that I've read and welcomed Gladwin book generator once they created fake book titles of yours and one of them that I remember, was nothing. What sandcastle can tell us about North Korea.
Like that's interesting, random like while never would have thought that a sand castle could explain North Korea, and so don't don't. You think that specificity needs to be coupled with a price should get out of here. This fact guys I grow so much for that guy's theory of it was interesting, not terribly interesting. I was there, I mean yes, Davis then creates this is the worst thing for us our societies. Today He creates a typology of the interesting and they're. All these different ways that you can challenges assumption button. I think what is interesting is he says, but not all assumptions want to be challenged, So an interesting ideas, one that challenges. You're weekly held a substance, whereas, if you challenge somebody strongly
some since they just say you're wrong or you're stoop, that's good! That's that's what you ve been working on the fit topic around questions of what does it take to be effective for successful hyper former and how much does my environment and whether I fit it matter? I'd love to talk about that. So can you tell us first what you, where you been doing there? Well, I had I wanted to talk about basketball, because, right now the abs is lovely, little case study in fit to backtrack, basketball, the kind of intuitive position, a basketball is its see, sport where talent matters most and coaching and organizational fit matter least, if you put them
are not a team of also Rand's can basically guarantee or make the players, and he actually has made the final several times it. Teams of so I didn't really matter who's with Bron he'd seen or you can put a bunch of stiffs any this fine right. In fact, the two greatest teams bus motives of all time, the MID nineties Chicago bulls, we're three superstars and then to very ordinary pose. The fifth per was a big, slow white guy from Australia. And if you look at this warriors of two years ago, there were three superstars and then their footwear was a big, slow, lumbering white guy from Australia, That's not add you can just go to a and get some random guy b. He could we get so, but what's happening now in basketball. There's a couple examples in this: in that sort of go against. That one is that one of the best guards in a game season was, is gonna Victrola deeper, on ok, see and was considered a disaster.
And he simply moves teams to a new environment. With a zombie about a coach these, playing with Russia Westbrook, whose probably a very difficult personal play with and simply by moving teams. He went from being someone who was widely considered to be a bust someone we washing out the league sooner media, compare into this suddenly superstar, whose kind of playing elite the reverse is also true that the best coach in a league is probably Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, a second that every time a very promising player is traded from the Boston Celtics. They turn out to be terrible. Like previously Boston and they gonna tumor. Like all wait, a minute, the guy actual J craters example, every mosaic OJ crowd is really good, then passed and trades of, like God, they traded Jake Router, while they can survive without Jake. Rather, Jakarta goes the Cleveland, Cavaliers and like there was some people realise how she countries actually not any good,
was good on Boston and then there's another piece of good governance. For your theory, which is the season, they lost their two biggest stars and the first time they got better and the second time way better than they should have been. So it's like now, it's always to invest why No, but we certainly in this moment in basketball, it seems like it's very, very, very coach depended and when you see those are given a couple, those those specific example total examples. You then begin to wonder how many players on basketball teams who we consider mediocre, are actually really good, but just in the wrong environment is Victor our depot, is he an exception, or is he part of a larger trend? I am increasingly of the opinion that there must be lots of Victor all depots out there. I think there are- and I think they're not just in basketball. So this makes me think of study of cardiac surgeons where you track their performance over the course of today, and the question is how many surgeries that they have to perform with the same minimum
this robot technology before they they get to the point where they're up the learning curve adds a written a book once that an average of ten thousand hours could be helpful. That does not turn out to be the case. Practice has no effect to us. In that context, and they are as deadly on surgery number a hundred thousand as they were a number one, and this is we're ready, refers to learn from experience, and so would husband and Persano did? Was they broke down the data by which hospital your perform surgery and they said, will what what's the effect of practice it hospital a under performance in hospital, a verses, then hospital B and they surgeries, we're hospital specific so that every surgery I performed a hospital a at least up to a certain point, reduce the patient mortality rate by about one percent. But then, that afternoon is a surgeon over to hospital B, and it's like I'm starting over, and I have none of that and the reason is I've, indifferent team who, who knows my strength
This is, and we ve developed a set of effective routines and that that kind of suggests that performance and skill and expertise is team, specific its context, Pacific and then you see the same thing in financial services companies, and so that makes me think that people use around yourself with really matter in disguise What does this disease suggests that we, lot more rational for me, if I am, you know he knows he trotted out Approach Adam Grant. Why don't I posed you and all the colleagues who you think make. He was good, as you are wisely routine for businesses to try and higher the group. So two thousand wealth. I was asked to speak in a Google event work and Larry pages onstage and they told me they wanted me to explain how it would run Google as an organizational psychologists. What would I do differently? And this is exactly the point I made them. As I said you, don't you if you look at your greatest innovations from you know the Google search engine, although cross
a few of the more recent ones, they ve almost all been Diana Charity, and yet you hire anymore, rose. You reward individuals, you promote individuals, you fire individuals. What have you did, what Grace Picasso lift up and you hired entire teams, but you didn't do that. You promoted teams, rewarded teams and when a team failed you fire, the whole group suppose the individual and they got really excited about it, and then they did the math of how much work it was going to be keep a team together, and they say this just not practical, and so instead they said, we study what makes our teams great and then try to create more. Conditions so that anyone can join any team and become great, but I'm a big fan of citizens is what they wanted to do. Make any sense, or is that sound, like a cup Silicon Valley, cop out. No ethical makes a lot of sense, so you ve seen it really urge. Having observed that teams outperform individuals, they said that they would rather than you Teams just study the individuals in the no no, no so they wanted to study the qualities of great teams. And how do
Will any team, even if they haven't shown excellence together to reach that level of success it seems in, convoluted in the way. That means not enough to take a very simple idea that a team that is observed to work well should be kept together and continue to work well there. Instead, what kind of abstract out the quality recreated over their yeah? I think they're! U soon, I'm saying what I said, In writing. We get so smart that the obvious thing is: no longer satisfactory, like New Adam, I can think of a way, that's way harder and women complicated and ultimately might work as well. I think we should do that. Definitely, no, look, I think they're there to complications. One is over. Seventy five percent of airline accidents happen. The first I've accrues flying together, and the evidence goes so far on this that NASA to do this, relations showing that if you had a crew that was well rested, flying together for the first time
They mean more errors than a sleep, deprived proved that had just pulled in all nighter but finding other before, and you talk to her about this, and you say you should force right pilots to to work together. Like me, logistics, can't do it. There's no way to organise these flight mapping schedule so that everybody is always together and that girl has aversion to that challenge. Writer, as do most companies. The other challenge which which I think in some ways is bigger than there is such a thing, is too much shared. Various so in the NBA teams max out on probability of success around three or four years together and then once they are more than four years ago, experience. There odds of winning go down, and maybe they're just getting old the players by that point, but a lot of it seems to be routine rigidity and that you become more predictable. You you stop innovating, you started a stop. Adapting and other teams can can.
Develop ways to defeat you, and so I'd worry a lot about saying: hey, we gotta really successful teen, let's go, let them be great until that they suck. I do think, though, that there are some interesting questions this raises, so we go back to the idea of fit and we say are so you don't we we know that people perform better with the team. They understand well or a team that date they fit into the natural extension of that is to say. Ok when I go into a company, I gotta figure out what the people are like might be, values, personalities, skill set and I wanna go join a place where I belong and yes to question for you the first one is: how do you recommend doing that and then? Secondly, what do you think that the problems associated with it will soon it's funny? They haven't episode of my progress. The season where I deal with this question explicitly it's all about a very brilliant military guy who goes into
crucial moment in this country's history goes into government service works, for I say non military government service was one of the we're things about military guys is that when they refer to the government they dont referred to the military like as if the give motorways, not the government, which I find quite charming. So he goes into a standard Washington bureaucracy as a marine corps guy and what happens is mayhem in a certain sense. He's too good for the job one of things he does is he realizes his predecessor had never left Washington, and this is an agency that has far flung operations all over the world and he's like that's crazy, and he then visits absolutely every one of the four hundred field offices of his organization in three years. At the same time as he gives two hundred and fifty
Ages testifies for Congress rights, hundreds of articles just cause, he's marine corps guy and that's what they do their like there in a hurry. The really super organised the busy and they don't do a jobless again, do a well right. That is not the way bureaucracies work you know and for good reason, you dont want bureaucracies run by Marine corps, guys. The worst thing that can happen if you're in a bureaucracy is a proxy gets really really good. Right and of freedom as we know it think it saves anatomy, I'm I'm not being funny. I big dead. Serious we are Our liberties are imperilled by overly competent bureaucrats, strike
this guy super super competence. Is it just a tragic, Miss Fit in a standard Washington bureaucracy? Now why doesn't he adapt well? He could adapt. I think if he'd left, as at thirty five year old Marine Corps colonel, but he leaves at sixty two at that point in his creates more problematic than it would have been earlier. I think government service is a really good example this, because the culture of government service is so specific and in some ways so counter intuitive that you know we persist, for example, in this country and thinking it business success as a year. Four predictor of a political success? Then it's not couldn't be more different right. The kind of skills you need to navigate the political process are not the ones you learn running a company. I think where you know where this is strictly for me is if we go back to hear your marine guy
I would say: there's a study that Chad hard now lead that was published recently, which showed that the more you misfit, the more you contribute and so, if you were to read and organizational culture, we could distinguish them on an taskforce, relational values, a task oriented organizations are high efficiency. High productivity are all about getting Sefton Relational organizations are much more community oriented, they're all about family and their independent. You could be high and both but oftentimes organisations that maximizing one don't the other and which had Is that if you bring a leader into the sea swede, if the organizations coal there's more task, focused the relational leader, actually add more value because they're not redundant.
So I would say the Marine guy is exactly read. The commandant is exactly where you want to put into government because he's providing something that is sorely lack except. I should have acted in this specific instance. The policy that he was so brilliantly enacting was a terrible policy as it works really well, when you give you know that task oriented person, orders that makes sense. In this case, we gave him motors and made no sense, got it I guess you know there's a paradox here, though, which is we're, we're all happier and more comfortable and organisations that fit our values and yet somehow the ones that the diverge or clash where we can contribute the most or differentiate ourselves the most. How do you think about resolving the paradox? End: you're you're ready a book about how we gauge strangers. How do you think about sizing up a new organization? A new culture and new work
place a new boss. I think that we under sample new situations we make up our minds far too quickly and we're pressured to make better blazing, were pressure to make up our minds far too quickly. I dont know why would logically expected some. In order to be able to sign up a new organization in over the course of a bunch of lunches with managers there who are, if you knew that seem silly to me, I happened to be a big carnea cars, and one thing I have found is: are you can't size up? A car in a test drive is
ridiculous thing in the world, so you're about to spend an enormous sums of money on a car and eager for the test right in the test. Right is basically they go around the block with you. It's nonsense right. It's almost if they're they're, afraid of you actually driving a car before purchasing, which is a very odd position for an automobile salesman to take that they are better than they are anxious about you having too much experience with their product before you viper and they don't think this is a problem. They seem to think that if you just sit in the car, you can somehow intuit you're all that's good. Bad about that. I will be just by I really enjoy how much this bothers you out big. It's a car right. If this, if this were, you can only go on three dates with someone before you're allowed to decide whether you want to marry them get getting upset, but this is a car who cares? Would you try
driving like. I am not entirely sure you'd like a hundred a handy from I've, never driven a holiday, but a car is solely function. It gets me from one place to another, but to my point here, I don't care how to your you really not. What tat tells we run a that combating early fair when it is my wife, my wavelengths car she picked it out and I drive it became interested. Here's an honest question: How are you supposed to know what to do with your money? Very few of us Are exposed to meaningful advice on how to manage our finances even fewer have the means to get professional financial guidance betterment is a platform was built to do something radically? to give accessible financial advice. That puts you first, if you're like most Americans, he's probably sitting in a savings likely earning you next to nothing
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neither kill or create that would change the way we work life is experienced in your organization. Super interesting. Well, I'd like I mean I'm very nice way back in tipping point. I wrote about this whole idea of keeping groups Andrew hundred and fifty, and I thought about that since and I do think it- I would try and keep the sections of the companies small and independent under one fifty, if possible,
I just think people enjoy themselves much more when when they know that when that their working with and where there is that extra element, when there is that social bond, in addition to kind of formal things, keeping people together, that's just my much more powerful. I would take people's physical health farmer seriously. I think that a few that who I mean sounds very scandinavian, and why does he said? I prefer it if we were because if you can eat in and you growth in the seventies and in the eighties and Canada, one The principal advertisers in Canada is the canadian government and which is unusual because it doesn't happen here and what the king I used to do. What far more actually that period is that they would vile this time on the radio and tv to make certain arguments about how we could be better Canadians and invariably the arguments about being better conditions involved, holding up Scandinavians as a role model. So they would always tell us that while the Swedes live
You know four years longer than the average creating the sweet. You know the Norwegians are running twenty miles weak, whereas the average pay and runs prelude. All I mean it. I was so as a kid constantly like walking around with this kind of vague anxiety. I was not living up to the scandinavian model secretly, those as funded by the scandinavian risks, but I mean, with the passage of time. I've come to look more fondly on that, but I still think they have a lot of things right. You know like if you got Amsterdam and everyone cycling to work, and you just think how often task as this is the thing is: it works because everyone's doing it the thing of all of our problems with cycling. The work had to do
with the fact that we do want to be the only person on the road cycling right, but once everyone cycling it's fine, so that sort of what they understood in Amsterdam. Like my I went, I once had dinner with by dutch publisher, who is a woman and her sixties, and it was it we we're in March and at the end of dinner, she disappeared into the to win emerged in a wet suit like where you going on issues like all, I'm sorry home now and she underwear, No I'm not I'm not gonna. Let me look. You know like a full on Canada and Sheer she gonna bicycle and she she wrote eight miles to the rain hum and she did that every day. I just thought there was something tat, Were I see oh, I would like to somehow I just think people are much happier when they get it instead of regularly exercise and sadly the dozen most people schedules to love that
as an avid runner, what does that look like? Does your company have exercised breaks built into the day, but companies can you not gonna make it? The money saved at that we're gonna be working out a lot, but we really after that and really unhappy I don't know my far be it from you to hold up joint global is an example of that's my mother s example of work life, because my mother had a very unique perspective on work, which was It never occurred to her that the point of work was to make money. She had a whole list of things that came first, but one of choice. Quabos great observations was that whenever she got a job as she handed in secondary
clear. She, the first thing she would do is she would go to her boss and she would say, look I know I could work full time but is pointless. I can get if you let me works half time I can get just as much work done and I'm gonna be happier new can be happier and they would always agree after she pointed out. This was- and I think, she's kind of right that much of what people do can be accomplished if they are happy and well rested in can Accomplished in some fraction of the time they currently spend on the job, so I am not sure whether my company loses money. I think a reason. Reproductive place, my father, a mathematician once was offered a job at Yale and silky left for the weekend too good for weak to visit Yale sped away. There came back we're all in Penza needles where we moving to new and he's he said so over. What was it forms like his now Son Africa as well? Why you, like Yale Yale famous place, he goes
I got in there at nine o clock. They are all their desks. I left at five. There were still their desks, magna work when you came out with David and Goliath, I remember talking, and you know I was thinking that you're. You wrote this book about underdogs because you love to route for the underdog, and you said no and to this day I'm surprised and puzzled about why I'm hoping to get to the bottom of it. Why do you route for the favourite? I believe that's the only Julie, empathetic, position to take and you're right. I feel a lot of sympathy for the New York Yankees rooting for the underdog is is a form of moral weakness and explain why
so you have. Two people are competing. One person is expected to win. One person is not expected to it right. If the person who is not expected to win doesn't win their mind, disappointed, but not massive disappointed because they didn't expect to win if the person who is expected to win, doesn't when they are massively disappointed, because the gap between their exploitation and reality is enormous, their suffering they go home, devastated their law are over. They want to give up everything they go to a man, some soul, searching they wander off into the desert without water, food, their life, the living hell. If you are a truly empathetic person, where does your sympathy lie with? The person is like
I remembered hasn't, got away anyway service point, or is your sympathy with the person who is wondering helplessly through the data without benefited food water because they lost something that they had every exploitation? It would win. Where's your heart out of the pepper you're, like I'm, going to go with the underdog. That is so sad twisted snakes how's your there. There so much wrong with your reasoning that I don't know where to start so personal. I grant you the point turbans here in the audience and here's this great equation that says happiness is reality, minus expectations and that's shrimp, and so I think you're you're, absolutely right that the favourite is going to be more disappointed if they live, then, if the underdog, MRS, but what you're not accounting for, is all the joy, the favourite had the last five times the Patriots won the Superbowl. So I don't have a lot of empathy for Tom Brady. He still, as is five rings, he's still as his chin he's gonna be fine, whereas the Eagles,
suffering through many many years of being a great. Now it's out of your league. It's a recent and selling it all comes back to as in your native village but anyway, but think about think about the fact that the Tom Brady has a whole bank of joy built up over decades. And porn. Make fools has been struggling, his whole career and he gets to touch catch. A touch on pass in the Superbowl. You can't reconfigure the kind of principles of human psychology in service of Your own Philadelphia inferiority complex happen. You are on home turf. This is not fair, but no like. I can play the story out for any group right that the team that have one individuals that have already been on top there have already enjoyed the fruits of of experiencing that kid is probably still you wait a minute you claim to believe in social justice. You do, and so you basically
to maintain inequality and just let the winners keep winning, and yet you wrote a whole book about how you want to create opportunities for David to become Goliath, so you should be running for David, the book was an abstract exercise in understanding what Howie a socially maladaptive outcome, the underdog winning can be understood That's all. Let me give you another that is not to be lasting. Let me do it. Plain to you. How I first came with understanding. What you are overstating is the degree joy that accompanies underdogs victory. The reason you're overstating it is you're forgetting the circumstances under which underdogs win. So I first clearly formulated this principle brooding for the favourite during the nineteen seventy six Montreal Olympics when great joy, who was the overwhelming favoured too in the long run the hijab lost to abolish guy Vladic, something
who is nothing whose like not even a good. Why? Because it rain that day and great joy depended, was a very technique driven high jumper who needed absolute precision in his money. His foot for Egypt. It was raining and wet. His foot was slipping and sliding he lost and like melodic one right now, Vladic for the rest of his life would look at his gold medal and say well. You know only really wonders because it was raining, we're gonna, know everything. Oh yeah has attained it out. We hold our tainted victory yeah even today, even today he looks it he's got his how big is providence in a case on his wall. He probably got in that tucked away in Spanish and it and is his daughter, says to him. How did you do in the seventy six Olympics want to talk about it
you? I cannot let you get away with that. You have claimed that that Rosson Isabel gave you your worldview with the person and the situation, a book that there are it's on their research on attribution theory, which showed very clearly send for decades that human beings, naturally tribute failures to external forces and successes to internal forces, so logic is going around. Thinking I am the world's greatest high jumper, and not only that was able to be great on a day when it rained when I was in it serious disadvantage so eat that great joy. Secondly, I am not going to change your mind. I can tell it's fine go back What are you gonna change? Yours This is not just the underdog to have a chance suggests experience for a moment. The joy of being on Daphne is tainted let us examine listener, an audience questions. This is from Kelly. She wants to know how often you assess your career goals,
how your goals have changed over time. I dont know if I have gurgles just to be left alone in this way. I can't let that would go. You ve, it is these shifts in turns right, so you started a podcast you're. Writing a tv pilot. At one point you you must be trying to accomplish something in terms of your influence in the way that you spread ideas is there's not a goal there will. I do want to get bored
I think I mean in the series of time our notice anything more than that that I'd like to try the pockets was. I won't try something new. The screenplay was. I want to try something new. The ruddy books was. I won't try something new. I left the Washington Post DO magazine voting because I want to try something new. I mean I was an unhappy in any of those places, but I just thought, but I ll fix the most money I hadn't jobless. What most one was at the worshippers hugely fund, but at a certain point it is u yours, well, there's more to life than just this right, so you should try. Something else shown wants to know recently I guess what I want to try something new screenplay was. I want to try something new. The ruddy books was, I one try something new. I left the washed imposed do magazine voting, because I want to try something new. I mean I was an unhappy in any of those places, but I just thought, but I ll fix
That is that you should never explain your disagreement in straightforward way. You should rather quietly and in a kind of behind the backs, sort of way make feelings known so one of the things that I felt here. That's a disappointment to sort out this is this is the most important irritated watchword was I really very early on that? The way to make sure that you were given a Simon set, you light was to never do a good job with assignments set you didn't and this then strategic sloppiness. This is so routinely violated by people so at the Washington Post, we're editor. Who is obsessed with whether stories. If there was a hurricane, he wanted to send twenty people. And nothing is less funding covering hurricane and so the hurricanes. With common we wouldn't be sent on mass. And I could see. I was no dummy. I could see what a trappist was cause there's like too
Three major hurricanes a year they lass, you know some of them can spend two weeks in like some some storm ravaged town in south floor. Like this is just not no part of this sounds interesting to me so I was assigned. There was a hurricane. It is hitting the outer banks, centering town, on Colombia, North Carolina. Where did I go Colombia? south girl, had I call the sun shining here what you guys are talking about and then when they got angry, I was able to use my trump card, which was I'm Canadian added, no exact Colombia's. What why it was a good idea to have bodily think about this? Who thought is a good idea to have a Colombia North Carolina, Colombia suffer as is there such a shortage of names of cedar us that before they separate the two Carolinas there's squabbling over who gets to use Colombia like there's a shortlist I like
one because on the list, I like the whole thing's ridiculous and yet, when I wanted to not be handed, you know, tasks and I thought were Renate, get you some time like sitting on a committee to determine furniture purchases. Just let us follow the bottom of my priority list and didn't you good job at it. You travel to a different city in a different thing to get out of doing the job, because it means that the thing is you had to make a statement, It is not enough to be kind of if you, if I was just kind of routinely incompetent fight, they could do that they have routinely incompetent people on step. They'll, just throw me back into the fire the next time it was a hurricane. So this highly Raymond identity, spectacularly like Think globally even know where North Carolina is. We can't send her to do hurricane coverage, so it was like that was. I thought a lot about that when, before it pulled that particular stuff,
feel so proud to know you're right now, different question. This is from Brad. If blue collar jobs are replaced by I, how do you stay relevant as a worker? I want you There are blue collar jobs, the ones that are going to get replaced by I or a white collar jobs to one's placed by that would be my first question go. I say I keep hearing really interesting predictions that focus more on the displacement of cognitive, the complex. So if you think about what I do is simply an article that your terms about by someone saying you know autonomous vehicles don't put truck drivers out of work because truck drivers do a lot more than DR trucks. They do a whole bunch of personal tasks that require a purse.
Is that a machine can't do so, the actual driving part it's just some small. So what you might have is a situation where you have a human in the truck. Only the humans not driving all the time, but you still need to human check on the cargo manage that make sure the truck is working properly. You know meet with a person when up his head, hurt and upset her, but if you know a lawyers doing document search, you know that seems to be really straightforward, for it is trying to eliminate lawyers, no No, no, no, not at all, but I mean now would be. I know the lawyers are quite worried about it and, I think appropriately. So how does one state I mean, I think the answer is that you just need to be. The obvious answer is good at the things the machine is not I'm not an alarmist, but I happen to think that there are so many things that we need people to do them or are not being done right now. The most of that involve. Communicating with them and empathizing with them and helping them out that some displacement of
in some areas is not gonna is not the end of the world. It just means that will be able to focus a lot more on. People who are in need of help. Students Dave both committed, basically the same question, which is you read about Enron a long time ago? What lessons did corporate Amerika fail to learn from that debacle that we're still in need of learning? What is so much fun about the Enron case? fun. Anxieties had fun yet funding number one is, which is the thing that I wrote about at the time by road to Enron: articles the second one was better than the first and the second one. I pointed out and one was an example of a scandal in which everything that was used to bring down Enron was material in the public record, put out by Enron gonna words to know what I was doing wrong. All you had to do was to read. Material that Enron aid given to the public on what I was doing and they re
it took so long to bring em on down is that basically, no one ever read the stuff they were putting up now. This raises a really interesting question: if everything that was used to end Enron was based on stuff, that Enron told us, then what did Enron do wrong. So, basically, if you think that there was a fraud- and you say I know there are fraud, because here in their ten case they detail all the crazy things are doing, but they told you they were doing crazy things. So what's your case, Why were you binding, Edwin Stock? If anyone told you they were doing crazy things? Maybe you didn't read the ten k which is supposed to do if you buy a lot of Enron stock, so it gets very confusing. It's not the same? In other words as the woman it, their nose was littered with homesteads results, so it is now a case against those with homes. That's very so she was pretending to do acts in fact doing we think doing why that's fraud, but it
I tell you I'm doing. Why did I do why and you say wait a minute. You did why you should go to jail. That's confusing says I tell you. If I tell you I'm going to defraud you, you're, ok with it. Well, no, I do not think I'm ok, I'm saying it's a different kind of crime, and it is one that I don't really understand anymore. I'm used to the model that the continent is trying to con me, but I'm not used to the model with a convent says before he calms me here's how I'm gonna call you Doug wants to know What actions you recommend? Young professionals take to shape and organisation, even though They might not be in charge yet and I feel like we need to disclaim that we we don't know,
We want to follow your career advice, but what? What what advice would you give I'm gonna change organization, a culture you dont, like yeah policy, you think is broken, not be passiveaggressive, I'm guessing too good question. I don't know if I have a good answer to that. I am when I think back in my time in large organization wash impose. The thing that was most frustrating to me was the, the extent to which people over time in an organization put the needs and desires of those on the inside ahead of the needs and desires of those who their serving. So there was a famous case of a very, very, very brilliant reporter who was fired from the wash imposed because he was difficult to work with
but there was very little understanding of the fact that what made him a brilliant report, it was the same thing that made him get difficult work with and that you, if you fired everyone who is difficult to work with the wash supposed you wouldn't have a newspaper anymore you, you know what I thought was odd, that I did an editor, didn't consider it as part of their job description, the ability to work with difficult people right. That's why you do that job and that's what makes you good is that at that job, and it is a point, sometimes people get so kind of immersed in their environment that the the reader who you're spoke be serving falls away, and you just think about what would make your life better. So I guess it answer that question. One simple ways to keep Roma is keep reminding yourself and those around you. What the point of your organization is, who you're serving but go back the sampling. So how long do you out with someone and how are you getting them and vice versa,.
How long you hire people alive. You insist: I've heard of assistants who work for you. I've been very lucky with them. There's only one I ever got rid of, because it didn't work out what what happened was in train rapidly became clear to me that she was a bad assistant, but it also at the same time became clear to me that she was a wonderful person and so deeply hilarious said she couldn't even send an email that wasn't absolutely brilliant piece of work that would reduce you too. You know helpless. Years of laughter and so that really change my perspective on hiring Zeiss like what I was willing to give up competence in her job for like everybody else. I answer is absolutely so. I was like, You know they be bringing something interesting to the table. I'm happy I do. I do feel, like the record needs to show that you just said she was brilliant because she was hilarious. So I stand by my comedian
why she had been incredibly fine. Thank you for agreeing to join us for sharing your pat advice, and your interesting ideas and your wisdom and your arguments that have inspired so many of us to ask more interesting, deeper, bigger questions. It's a real out. I want to thank you, Malcolm and thank all of you for being here. You been listening to me and Adam grant the ninety seven. Why, in New York, this interview is the final episode on the first season of his podcast work life with Adam Bread, which is part of the TED Podcast Network, the great show Adam being Adam, doing all kinds of fascinating interview.
The people about workplace life. If your curious about what everyone else does from ninety five or as the case may be seven ten give Adam show a lesson on apple podcast or wherever you're listening to this and for those of you waiting on the first episode, a revision is history. It is just around the corner.
Transcript generated on 2020-01-12.