Malcolm Gladwell — who’s been described as “Joe Rogan for people who read The New Yorker” — is taking a lot of (richly deserved) dunking for his “Do what I say, not what I do” take on working from home.
In the podcast series “The Diary of a CEO”, Gladwell told host Steven Bartlett that office workers should stop “sitting in their pyjamas” and return to the office and gather in one place in order to have a sense of meaning and belonging:
“It’s very hard to feel necessary when you’re physically disconnected. As we face the battle that all organizations are facing now in getting people back into the office, it’s really hard to explain this core psychological truth, which is we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary.
And we want you to join our team and if you’re not here it’s really hard to do that.
It’s not in your best interest to work at home. I know it’s a hassle to come into the office, but if you’re just sitting in your pyjamas in your bedroom, is that the work-life you want to live? Don’t you want to feel part of something?
I’m really getting very frustrated with the inability of people in positions of leadership to explain this effectively to their employees. If we don’t feel like we’re part of something important, what’s the point? If it’s just a paycheck, then it’s like what have you reduced your life to?”
“The Diary of a CEO” seems aimed at the sort of striver that watches Alux.com videos (home of such classics as “15 Things Poor People Do That The Rich Don’t”) and Gary “Capitalism’s youth pastor” Vee but has an a longer attention span than a goldfish. Gladwell’s schtick — long on storytelling but short on analysis — is perfect for this podcast:
The Dunking Point, part one
Needless to say, the internet was having none of Gladwell’s pampered nonsense. The dunking was swift, harsh, and high-larious.
For your enjoyment, I’ve gathering some of the best tweets on the topic and spread them throughout this article. Here’s the first set:
Malcolm Gladwell crying on something called the “Diary of a CEO” podcast is my cue to log off https://t.co/cV8PdcrWFl
— yc (@yc) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell is Joe Rogan for people who read the new yorker
— I’ma Party Clownnnnn (@riverguardian) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell is the Jordan Peterson of Nate Silvers.
— Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyer) August 7, 2022
First they came for Malcolm Gladwell and I said nothing because it was great and I honestly wondered what took them so long.
— Tobias Wilson-Bates (@PhDhurtBrain) August 8, 2022
Now that I work from home I cook my dinner on my lunch break, take care of my garden during stretch breaks, observe the many ways my dog naps, jump directly into writing once I clock out, & read everyone’s tweets dragging Malcolm Gladwell for being a hypocrite who works from home
— Amanda Smith (@AmandaSmithSays) August 7, 2022
First of all, the “Diary of a CEO” podcast, where Gladwell gave his terrible take, isn’t recorded at a traditional dedicated workspace, but in the host’s home.
Malcolm Gladwell is the Jordan Peterson of Nate Silvers.
— Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyer) August 7, 2022
Take a look at the set where “The Diary of a CEO” interviews take place. It’s not a recording studio, but a dining room in a house or condominium.
It’s a rather upscale house or condo with more product placement than you’d encounter in real life, but a house or condo nonetheless. It’s most decidedly not the office environment that Gladwell insists we return to.
The Dunking Point, part two
Let’s enjoy more tweets about Gladwell:
Me and the homies dunking on Malcolm Gladwell pic.twitter.com/xKSUBWuL6G
— dan (least improved) (@TheDantagonist) August 8, 2022
I will hear Malcolm Gladwell’s opinion on modern work culture after he’s compiled 3 spreadsheets, prepped a budget presentation, and answered 4 complicated emails w/his coworkers clucking about The Bachelorette behind him the whole time.
— Klara Wells (@klaradactyl) August 8, 2022
OK, but if Malcolm Gladwell was in your home, you wouldn’t want to work there either. https://t.co/ehguAc3Y54
— Joshua Stein, philosophy, ethics, politics (@thephilosotroll) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell has spent more than 10,000 hours coming up with takes, still hasn’t mastered them
— Andrew Fleischman (@ASFleischman) August 7, 2022
This from a guy who works where he wants. Explain the lost “culture” to my team members who save two hours of commuting a day. For some types of work, in-person is important. For our divorce law firm, remote worked beautifully for two and a half years. https://t.co/hiCGrHEDIH
— Raiford Dalton Palmer (@raifordpalmer) August 6, 2022
There’s also the fact that Gladwell doesn’t go to an office.
Pictured above: An overused grinder in need of cleaning and maintenance. And to the right of Malcolm Gladwell, a coffee bean grinder and espresso machine.
Gladwell doesn’t go to an office because he doesn’t have to. He had a desk at The New Yorker, but you weren’t likely to find him there:
I worked at The New Yorker for several years. I didn’t once see him at his desk or in the office.
— Michael Donohoe (@donohoe) August 7, 2022
If you go back into The Guardian’s archives, you’ll find a piece from March 2005 titled My work space, in which he makes it very clear that office work isn’t for him:
“He’s away from his desk” is something that’s now true of New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell. When he wrote his bestseller The Tipping Point, he remained shackled to his desk, mainly from habit. But while writing his new book, Blink, he unleashed his lust for wandering, in New York, Rome and London.
Malcolm says: “I hate desks. Desks are now banished.” He starts the day writing at home, but this is always done from his sofa, using his laptop. “I work better when I’m comfortable,” he says. After a stint on the sofa, it’s out into the world.
“I refer to my writing as ‘rotating’. I always say ‘I’m going to rotate’ because I have a series of spots that I rotate.”
The article goes on to list Gladwell’s decidedly non-office workspaces:
- A spot in Manhattan’s Lower East Side where “The waiters are all Australian and they play The Smiths all day long which I find so fabulous.”
- Restaurants in nearby Little Italy, where they let him linger in the middle of the afternoon.
- Another Manhattan restaurant: the Savoy in SoHo, which closed a few years after Gladwell’s interview.
He also said that he’d love to work at the Monmouth Coffee Company in London’s Covent Garden, which he describes as “warm and idiosyncratic.” And hey — having been there and done some quick coding and developer relations work there — can attest that it’s a decent place to get work done. But it’s not an office.
The Guardian article’s final paragraph tells us about one of the biggest benefits that Gladwell gets from ditching his office desk: he enjoys his job more!
By leaving his desk behind, Malcolm says that he’s been able to disassociate writing from work. “It seems like a fun activity now. Kind of casual. It’s been more seamlessly integrated into my life and that’s made it much more pleasurable. I never want to be at a desk again.”
And hey, here’s a photo from his Instagram account that shows him working on his podcast, Revisionist History, in a place that’s very clearly not the office:
Simply put: Office job for thee, but not for me!
The Dunking Point, part three
And now, more dunking:
Jordan Peterson, Malcolm Gladwell, and Joe Rogan are walking Turing Tests for human intelligence. If you think they’re smart, you’ve failed.
— Matthew Sheffield (@mattsheffield) August 8, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell is up there with Ayn Rand in being important for my mental development; in both cases, thinking “hey, that doesn’t add up, I think this is a bunch of shit” and working through *why* led to me to being a much better thinker
— the pithy king (@keithpille) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell is on my front porch, rolling around on the ground and crying, he’s saying something about how gas station attendants should be a thing again because it reminds him of how much petroleum is about community, can someone please come get him
— Dan Telfer (@dantelfer) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell wants me to back to the office because he’s spent 10,000 hours being a soulless corporate shill
— Glen Weldon (@ghweldon) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell is mad because an intern at the New Yorker wasn’t available one night at 8 pm to fact check his piece about the history of carbon paper and he had to do it himself.
— Brian Gaar (@briangaar) August 7, 2022
Even when he shows up at an office, it’s a much better setup than most of us have.
His company, Pushkin Industries Inc., is one of those companies whose name evokes images of “blue collar” and heavy lifting name, but which actually specializes in the kind of white collar work where people have a nervous breakdown when the Nespresso machine is broken (namely, podcasting and audiobooks).
Pushkin lists hybrid on-premises/remote jobs at the time of writing. While Pushkin’s main office is in Manhattan’s Union Square and the job description says that they’ll eventually get everyone back to on-premises work, if Gladwell shows up at an office, it’s Pushkin’s satellite office in Hudson, the small upstate town where he lives:
So when he does show up at the office, it’s the office that’s conveniently close to home.
It should also be noted that even if he had a long commute, Gladwell is pretty much free of any of the time commitments that are part and parcel of family life. He is not, nor has he ever been married, has no kids or dependents, and although his general vibe suggests “cat person” all the way, he has no pets. He doesn’t have to make quality time for a spouse or kids, doesn’t have to take anyone to school or soccer practice, or take an animal to the vet. It’s all Malcolm time.
The Dunking Point, part four
Because there’s never enough: MORE DUNKING!
Malcolm Gladwell needs you at your cubicle if he’s going to write more pseudoscience self-help books marketed to dummies who were in a gifted class forty years ago https://t.co/jyfCM0R4oD
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) August 7, 2022
I was going to write something about hypocrite Canadian Malcolm Gladwell’s stance on working from home but remembered I already summarized in this thread why offices don’t work for so many people https://t.co/PtcxzzZ6Ou
— Karen K. Ho (@karenkho) August 8, 2022
A reminder that Malcolm Gladwell is a truly gifted storyteller and a very poor scholar, which makes him dangerous: https://t.co/HzVJ7wdz1u
— Neil Shyminsky (@neilshyminsky) August 7, 2022
Jordan Peterson crying over unmade beds and Malcolm Gladwell having an existential crisis over people not going to the office is really all the proof that you need that we’ve evolved past the need for Guys That Think About Stuff All Day For A Job
— Asymmetric Himbo (@AaronCampeau) August 8, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell’s reasoning for being a frequent flyer on Epstein’s plane will never not be funny pic.twitter.com/Udl8xFb8uo
— Branch Covidian (@NerlensNoLs) August 7, 2022
Malcolm Gladwell’s hottest takes:
4. “Working from home is for losers”
3. “Jeffrey Toobin shouldn’t have been fired for jerking off on a zoom call”
2. “Somehow I found myself on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane and I don’t know how it happened”
1. “Joe Paterno did nothing wrong”
— Boo and don’t vote (@DoctorFishbones) August 8, 2022
…in closing, here’s the opening theme from the ’90s TV show from which this post gets its title. Enjoy!
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