Malcolm Gladwell: Inside the outsider

On his long hair, the Ivy Leagues, door bells and being an outsider: Malcolm Gladwell lets his hair down on "60 Minutes"

If you think he looks cool when his hair is long, he's not.  If you think going to an Ivy League school is an advantage, he says it's actually a disadvantage. Door bells? He has no use for them. Meet Malcolm Gladwell as he talks about his writing, his life as a self-described outsider and his new book.   Anderson Cooper speaks to the best-selling author for a 60 Minutes profile Sunday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The curly-haired writer sometimes lets his hair get out of control and he says it gives people the wrong impression about him.  "People assume when my hair is long that I am a lot cooler than I actually am," he says with a laugh.  "I am not opposed to this misconception, by the way, but it is a misconception," says Gladwell, a self-described hermit. 

As for the Ivy Leagues, he says they are not always the best place to go for a good student.  How does a student good enough to get into an Ivy League school keep his confidence up around students as good or better than he is? "If you're last in your class at Harvard, it doesn't feel like you are a good student," says Gladwell, who attended the University of Toronto, a state college. "I come to New York and all kinds of people who went to Harvard and Yale are mentioning that in every second sentence. It drives me crazy," he tells Cooper, who informs him that he went to Yale.

Door bells drive him crazy, too. So he doesn't have one.  "I don't want a door bell. I don't want anyone ringing my door bell...seems to be intrusive," says the author.  "They can call me on their cell phones."

Gladwell has been a staff writer for The New Yorker for 17 years, where the famous literary magazine's editor, David Remnick, has come to know him well. "I think what he is interested in is testing and pressing against received wisdom...what we think of our ideas of the world," he tells Cooper.

His unique perspective comes in part from being bi-racial and always feeling like an outsider, he says.  "We lived in England, then we moved to Canada, where we were sort of outsiders. And then I moved to America, where I am kind of an outsider," Gladwell says.  "So I feel like I've constantly been in this situation of shaking my head and thinking, 'This is a strange place.'"

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