David vs Goliath

By Mark Barden, 29/10/2012

Malcolm Gladwell is writing a book about underdogs. Hurrah. As you might imagine, we are all a-twitter about it here at eatbigfish towers. Here’s Gladwell talking about it:

Our blink reaction, based on this intriguing little interview, is that it is going be pretty rich, with ideas drawn from Gladwell’s go-to sources of careers, crime, health, and warfare, including his take on how the US lost the Vietnam War (oh yes it did!). Having spent a rather terrifying hour below ground in the Cu-Chi tunnels myself a few years back I’m pretty sure it has something to do with claustrophobia.

Sounds like there will be a lot about war in the book and that he might be drawing cases from Arreguin-Toft’s ‘How the Weak Win Wars’. If you haven’t read this book, don’t. It is impenetrable, suitable for serious military wonks only, with the main conclusion being that “the interactions of similar strategic approaches favors strong actors, while opposite strategic approaches favor the weak.” And because you read this blog you already knew that.

I’m really looking forward to hearing more about the notion that pain and suffering are, if not a prerequisite for being a successful underdog, certainly provide impetus. Anyone who has been through a workshop with Hugh might appreciate this point.

And see if you can spot MG talking about the value of Intelligent Naivety in here. He claims we all do our best work early in our careers because that is when we see things in the most fresh and interesting ways. If that is the case, then having spent well over the pre-requisite 10,000 hours on the subject of David and Goliath ourselves perhaps it’s time we moved on.

Which brings me neatly on to the subject of the next eatbigfish book, working title A Beautiful Constraint, which is about learning to see that which holds you back as being the very thing that has the potential to propel you forward. While it is certainly inspired by, and applicable to Challengers of all stripes, it broadens our platform considerably. Watch this space.

And watch for Gladwell’s book, too — possibly due out this Spring — it will be great to have someone of his pedigree and prominence weighing in on the subject of underdogs.

But lest you think that the underdog narrative is the only one available to the Challenger, please pick up our latest offering Overthrow, which describes 10 different Challenger narratives, enough to go around.

Overthrow: 10 Challenger Brand Stances

3 Responses to “David vs Goliath”

  1. Fiona Hyland says:

    What a fantastic interview and so encouraging for start ups aiming to take on the big boys, the interviewers ummhmm’s drove me crazy though!

  2. elizabeth gebhardt says:

    Mark – Very excited to hear about the upcoming book “A Beautiful Constraint.” Is there a list we can list to find out when it is coming out? I’d also love to host a reading/workshop in SF and/or LA if interested.

  3. Helen Redstone says:

    Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for the comment. Its still early days for the website but we have a holding page and mailing list sign up over at http://www.beautifulconstraint.com if you’re interested. We’ll certainly be in touch about an event. Helen