Don’t get me wrong. I like Malcolm. Nice guy with a sweet head of hair. But, in a world where we’re overwhelmed by incoming information, spending any time reading Malcolm, Thomas L. Friedman or any of the other Pop Intellectuals is dumb. Their writing sucks up brain cycles on inconsequential topics and, since he sells millions of books, that means his ideas are immediately common knowledge.
The best type of food for a brain is exactly the opposite. It more closely resembles secrets: things that only I (or a few people know) and that I synthesize from my inquiry and observation. Instead of reading something read by everyone, the better strategy is to search out people or places that can enable you to discover things that no one else knows.
If I’m hunting for a business idea, perhaps that’s talking with someone about an unsolved problem in their life. Or, if life wisdom is what I’m looking for, I’ll ask to people about their approaches to life. What is “normal” for them may be something that I never considered as an option. Or, if I need a new perspective, go to a museum or walk around a new neighborhood.
But, my recommendation is to avoid Mr. Gladwell and Mr. Friedman unless you’re reading just for entertainment. Nice guys, but they’re not going to get someone anywhere except through a long plane flight.