Bikram yoga, a popular brand of super-hot yoga run by a Speedo-sporting, hip-thrusting alleged sex guru, is experiencing a crisis of faith as multiple sexual assault lawsuits move forward against its figurehead and namesake, Bikram Choudhury. The New York Times reports hot yoga studios are dropping their Bikram branding due to the six civil suits now pending against him, the most recent of which was filed just a week ago.
Malcolm Gladwell's fellow intellectuals, bloggers and Canadians were the first to turn against the New Yorker essayist's accessible and apparently all-too-convincing ideas; now the various professional classes are, one after another, joining the backlash against his DANGEROUSLY misleading anecdotes. Fearsome reviewer Michiko Kakutani was brutal in the Times ("glib, poorly reasoned and thoroughly unconvincing"); the Malcolm Gladwell of computer programmers rather ironically ripped into him ("utterly lunatic theories"); and now a pilot writing in Salon warns that Gladwell will kill us all! Or at least perpetuate untrue stereotypes, false assumptions and incorrect statistics around commercial airline safety, which is almost as dangerous, if you'll grant us some Gladwellian license here. Take, for example, this exchange:
Fancy business school degrees—who has time for them? Instead of an MBA, wouldn't you rather have some sort of laser-printed homemade certificate stating that you spent six months hanging out with a dude who writes books about "Purple Cows" and "Small is the New Big" and "Meatball Sundae" and other made-up marketing terms? Well Seth Godin's game-changing new "Alternative MBA" is just the program for you! "This sounds as good as summer camp, MBA school, and a spot on 'The Apprentice' mixed together," says one of Seth's enthusiastic minions. Yea, that sounds about right!
Our friend Nate Silver is already making canny career moves! The baseball stat superfan-turned political pollster blew everybody's mind by calling the presidential election results down to a tenth of a percent. We advised him to pursue a career in corporate consulting in order to become a wealthy power player who works for the forces of good. Well he didn't start "Silver Consulting" just yet, but he is positioning himself to become the next Malcolm Gladwell-esque overpaid business idea guru. Just as good!: The Observer breaks the news that you will soon be able to buy Nate's book(s)!
Malcolm Gladwell, blogger, New Yorker contributor, and poofy haired airport bookstore genius-in-residence, is finishing up his latest book just in time for the nascent backlash against him to reach full force. Gladwell's book The Tipping Point introduced his now-famous style: gleefully retold anecdotes arranged and analyzed to support some slightly unlikely sounding thesis. Blink took this style even further, presenting even more disparate stories manipulated to 'prove' some pseudo-scientific CEO self-help method for improving your decision-making skills. But both books sold zillions of copies and even embittered east coast writerly types still seemed to like him. Now, on the eve of his next book's publication, the cracks are starting to show.
Would you like to become an "expert" in a field that really defies easy expert prediction? Here's how: Take a group of things in that field that have already proven themselves to be successful. Then find common characteristics among the items in that group. Put forward those characteristics as your own personal advice about how to be successful in said field. Then, when your audience discovers that simply staring at a bunch of characteristics of things successful in the past does nothing to help them make the hard decisions about the future, you can just shrug and say, "Hey, these things are complex!" This works for "experts" in stock picking, politics, and, especially, marketing.
The Wall Street Journal's "Careers" column today measures the influence of business gurus. Using a complicated metric involving "googling people" and also "looking people up in Nexis," they have determined and ranked the most influential business thinkers in the universe. Number one is some dude named Gary Hamel who writes terrible books your boss probably reads, if you work for an asshole. BUT: the second-most-influential business thinker in the world is Thomas fucking Friedman, which is probably why we're in a recession. He has a new book out this summer! It's called Hot, Flat and Crowded, which is clearly something a made-up cab driver said to him about India. [WSJ]
Larry Winget: bald person, financial guru, Hyundai pitchman. He's one of several financial authors who appear incongruously in Hyundai's current ad campaign, which features some "normal" people who, upon seeing an anonymous man in a tie pop up behind them at a car dealership and offer advice, react by saying excitedly, "Hey! Aren't you [financial author] of [personal finance advice book]?!" Whereas a real person would probably kick them in the nuts. The funny thing is that bald financial guru and Hyundai pitchman Larry Winget now says he doesn't necessarily want people to buy Hyundais at all!