At a panel discussion about the publishing industry at New York University on Monday,Malcolm Gladwell,the best-selling author of“Outliers”and“David and Goliath”was asked to share the worst advice he’d ever received.
“When I was just starting out as a writer, I had a friend who was very knowledgeable, and when I proposed an idea, she would say, ‘It’s been done,'” Gladwell recalled.
This mindset is stuck in the past, focused on what was versus what could be. Further, the same seed of an idea can be tackled in countless different ways, with varying results.
“There are 100 articles written on the same topic every day,” said Gladwell. “The world can happily accept more than one approach.”
For that reason, he never worries about people stealing his ideas and believes it’s a mistake to keep them to yourself. “I always tell as many people as I can, as long in advance as possible, what I’m working on,” he said. “It’s all about the execution. They can’t steal that.”
Some of his biggest breakthroughs have come from people knowing what he’s working on and offering some crucial piece of information or help.
While Gladwell spoke specifically about the media industry, his advice is applicable to any profession. Having a limited view of what’s possible, in addition to hoarding your ideas, seems a great way to toil in obscurity on projects that may not be all that relevant.
“The most effective thing you can do is not shut up about what you’re doing,” Gladwell said.
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