Gladwell: Innovators "take social risks"

Innovation may not require a big bank account, but it surely demands a different kind of personal capital - a willingness to disregard criticism. Malcolm Gladwell, speaking in advance of a book due out in 2013:

In all the instances he cited, innovation came from people who are on the fringes and that enabled them to make this difference. Gladwell's theory seems simple, the way he explains it. While most people dwell on the genius of innovators, the real risk they take is social, he said.

'Innovators need more than idea; they need a thick skin,' he said, illustrating the point with anecdotes spanning breakthrough in cancer treatment, the sub-prime crisis and the making of furniture retailer IKEA. 'Being an outsider gives you the motivation. I see this time and again in periods of innovation,' Gladwell said.

His upcoming book will also address the "unexplored dangers to elite education," according to the linked piece. The thick-skinned essayist and former Yale associate professor William Deresiewicz has written on the same topic, wondering if answering all the little questions equipped his students to ask the big ones.

A bit off topic, but when you're done with that read Deresiewicz's Solitude and Leadership.