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Author Malcolm Gladwell Takes On Underdogs

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - If there is one thing you take away when meeting writer Malcolm Gladwell, it's that he's fast.

"Do you typically move this fast?" asked CBS4's David Sutta.

"I pride myself on being a fast learner," explained Gladwell.

In the most unusual interview Sutta claimed he'd ever done, the left-handed Gladwell signed more than 200 books.  It took him just five minutes.

"Is this weird to do an interview with someone as they sign?" asked Gladwell.

"I've never done it before," responded Sutta. "This is first for me for sure. Not for you I assume?"

"No," said Gladwell. "I've never done a television interview while I sign books.  It is unusual."

Unusual is another good word to describe the five time New York Times Best seller. The journalist has risen to rock star status in the last decade. He tours the country telling stories from his books. And auditoriums are packed. He equates the experience to rock concerts for readers.

"What's the secret to your success?" asked Sutta.

"I don't think there is a secret. I think, I think I've been insanely lucky. It's the kind of thing that once you have become well-known then it's easy to be well-known," said Gladwell

Gladwell's first book, The Tipping Point, answered the question why. Why a brand is successful. Why another one fails. Why crime goes up or crime goes down. The ensuing books have answered more whys and made millions.

His latest book started with a simple article he published on an underdog basketball team winning a championship.

"Sometimes when you write a story you get such a kind of feedback that makes you think 'oh I have touched a nerve'. And that happened with that.  And I began to think that a lot of people, in difficult times, people think a lot about what it means to deal with adversity," Gladwell told Sutta.

In David and Goliath Gladwell explained that the very thing that makes an underdog an underdog is what often allows them to win.

"Do you think you personally relate to the underdog story at all?" asked Sutta.

"I don't," quipped Gladwell. "I always say that I'm Canadian."

Sutta wrapped up his interview after Gladwell was out of books to signs. He started with a few oddball questions including his most notable physical characteristic.

"Your hair. You have a certain style to it?" said Sutta.

"Well it's not a style." explained Gladwell.  "It just is.  This is in the same way your hair is.  My mom is Jamaican.  So this is what a child of someone who's mother is Jamaican looks like. So I don't give it a moments thought.

Gladwell said his next venture may be combining his passion for writing and running.

"I'm obsessed with track and field.  In fact, today I went for a run and I was thinking I don't blog anymore because I'm bad at it.  Then I'm thinking maybe I'll just do a running blog.  That will only be about running.  It'll be just for running nerds like me," he told Sutta.

A nerd who is a multimillionaire. Gladwell shared a little advice for aspiring writers, a little secret that's worked well for him. As he told Sutta, the power of great writing is in people's stories. Points, data, studies are important, but a good story to illustrate is the most important.

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