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Malcolm Gladwell on Why Entrepreneurs Should Be Troublemakers

The best-selling author explains why you shouldn't seek the approval of your peers--you should do just the opposite.

As a New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell has written extensively about some of the most disruptive innovators in the history of business.

While many of the characteristics these entrepreneurs share are somewhat obvious, you'd be surprised to hear what traits Gladwell says the most successful business leaders tend to have in common. 

"They are not people who require the social approval of their peers to go forward with an idea, and that’s a very rare trait. Very few people are truly disagreeable, but if you look at the really great disruptive innovators, they’re often vilified at a certain point," he says.

One example Gladwell points to is Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who in 1961 was denounced for outsourcing his furniture to Poland.

"Imagine going to a communist country to make your product at the height of the Cold War. The only way you can do that is if you are indifferent to what the world says about you," Gladwell says.

"That’s the crucial part about why he was able to do this incredibly disruptive innovative thing, because he wasn’t someone who spent any time worrying about his reputation or anything like that."

To hear more about the traits that make a great entrepreneur, watch the video below. 


What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Underdogs

New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell talks to Inc. about business lessons from his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

Last updated: Jul 24, 2014


Graham Winfrey is a staff writer for He previously covered alternative investments at Private Equity International magazine, prior to which he worked at Business Insider and He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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