David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

The task I did before this is, I listened to the audio book version of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath. I gathered information from the audio book and created short summaries and an analysis for some of the important topics. these topics include the famous David and Goliath story, a basketball team and a college student.I found the book containing a multitude of different interesting topics that will give you the advantage in life and I would highly suggest reading it.

In the book David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell talks about how disadvantages can be advantages in disguise. Like most people think being dyslexic a huge disadvantage, but look at it this way. If you can’t read, it forces you to be a better listener which can be a very useful skill. This book tackles scenarios like these and I will provide an analysis. And what better place to start than with David and Goliath.

David and Goliath

The moral of this story is that your advantage may be your greatest weakness. In the second half of the eleventh century the Philistines and the Israelites fought in the Valley of Elah. The two sides decided to avoid the large bloodshed of a full fledged battle, both sides would choose their finest warrior. The Philistines chose Goliath, and the Israelites stood frozen with fear, then a shepherd boy named David descended the ridge with only a sling and a few rocks. Goliath mocked David but as he was doing so David slung a stone at was later discovered to be going at 150 mph. It turns out that Goliath actually had a tumor that pressed against the gland that contains growth hormones, releasing them into his body making him grow. But this same tumor also pressed against the back of his eyes causing him to go partially blind. So you could say Goliath’s advantage of being big was also his greatest weakness. Anyways, Goliath was prepared to fight hand to hand in close quarters combat, his weapons such as a sword and a throwing spear that was specifically built for close range was deadly for the way Goliath prepared to fight.  Knowing Goliath was built for close quarters David wasn’t going to play to his strength, so he attacked where he was weak… from a distance. 


Analysis: Sometimes what gives you greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness. Also what can be perceived as a weakness can be your prevailing strength. What gave Goliath his size was also the reason that he lost to David and because of David’s lack of size, it made him underestimated and that is his advantage. From something that many people would see as something that would hold you back. 


Redwood City Warriors

Avec Ranadeev decided to coach his daughters basketball team and said he’d only have two rules.

1) Never raise his voice, yelling at 12 year old girls doesn’t help, and

2) He would full court press every minute of every game. He thought that the game of basketball was senseless, team would just keep on allowing the other team to move the ball ¾ of the court uncontested. They would just keep taking turns trading points. The team Ranadeev coached was not talented at all so they were going to full court press and not let good teams do what they were so good at. For practices they would just run, Avec couldn’t teach them basketball so he was going to make sure they were fit. There are two deadlines in basketball, one is the inbound pass. The opposing team needed to inbound the ball within 5 seconds or it’s a turnover. The warriors would all take another player and their job was to make sure that their player never got the ball. The other team would either take too long to throw in the ball or the pressure got to them and they threw the ball away. The second deadline is that the ball needed to get passed the half court line with-in 10 seconds. So even if the opposing team met the first deadline the warriors would swarm the ball and not allow the ball to make it into their end. The warriors would beat teams that were way more skilled than them because all they needed to do was make all of the easy lay-ups. One of the only games they lost that regular season was when only four girls showed up. They lost by only 3 points. They would hide their weaknesses by exposing other teams weaknesses and making the easy lay-ups. The reason they got the ball so much is they attacked where good teams were as vulnerable as bad teams. You would think that other teams would try the full court press, but they didn’t. See Ranadeev’s girls  weren’t as skilled so they needed to have more grit than everyone else. More drive, and enthusiasm. Good teams and players don’t have that drive or grit because they already think they’re good enough to play. That what gave the bunch of unskilled girls the leg up. 


Analysis: Don’t play to your opponents strength, attack where they are weak. In the case of the Redwood City Warriors, they attacked where a good team was the same as a bad team not letting the skilled teams do what they were so good at. They pressured their opponents and came away with wins. 


Caroline Sax

Caroline Sax loved science. She always excelled in her class and had always gotten an A. She went to 5 different schools, Wesley, Brown, Providence College, Boston College, and Yale. she really fell in love with Brown. So she applied with University of Maryland as her backup. She was accepted to Brown. Everybody in Brown was kind of like her smart, curious and excited. One of the classes she took was organic chemistry even though she didn’t want to be an organic chemist. The professor  suggested she retake the course the next semester because she didn’t get it. The next semester, she didn’t do any better, she got a low B. She’d never gotten anything other than an A. It also didn’t help that the other students wouldn’t share their studying techniques because in their minds it means giving Caroline a leg up on them. She got so intimidated that she quit science altogether. Even though she never wanted to be an organic chemist. The thing is, compared to the rest of America taking organic chemistry she actually was in the top 98%. But since she was comparing herself to the people at Brown, and Ivy league school, she felt stupid. This is called relative deprivation.This could also mean that she went to the wrong school, or just simply picked the wrong classes. See, if she had went to the University of Maryland she would have graduated with the degree she wanted. Here’s an example, Hartwick is a school near New York that isn’t very prestigious. Harvard is the of the best schools in the world, and when we compare the two schools we will break them up into three different groups. Top third middle third and bottom third. And we will use SAT scores. 



Hartwick                            % of degrees given Harvard                          % of degrees given 
Top ⅓         569 / 800         55.1% 753 / 800                         53.4%
Middle ⅓        472 / 800     27.1% 674 / 800                          31.2%
Bottom ⅓        407 / 800   17.8% 581 / 800                         15.4%


As you can see students below the  33rd percentile of Harvard gets only 15% of Harvard’s degrees. That means that a lot of the students at Harvard don’t get the degree they wanted. They would be better off going to Harwick where they would finish in the top 33rd percentile and get the degree they wanted. This is another case of the little fish in a big pond.


Analysis: If you were a fish, then you would want to live in the biggest pond possible, right? I mean wouldn’t you want to be in the pond with the coolest and biggest fish. Maybe not. Caroline Sax chose to go to Brown instead of the University of Maryland, in my opinion she might have chose wrong. If she really wanted to graduate with a STEM degree she would have gone to the U of Maryland. She would have been in the top ⅓ of U of Maryland, but instead she chose to be a little fish in one of the deepest and most vast ponds in the world. This is a prime example that just because it’s the best institute doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.


David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell Analysis
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