Success Stories: From Mozart to Fleetwood Mac and Back

Fleetwood Mac, quarterback Dan Marino, Mark Twain and Cezanne. What could they possibly have in common? Today’s keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell had the answer: They have all achieved success through compensation.

Many of us know Gladwell from his work at the New Yorker magazine and his books The Tipping Point and Blink. Gladwell’s new book, Outliers: The Story of Sucess, investigates the factors that foster success by exploring the role patience and persistence play in achieving creative accomplishments. Gladwell’s insightful—and at times hilariously entertaining—keynote address showcased Fleetwood Mac’s ten-year and 16-album journey through trial and tribulations to their most popular 1977 album Rumours as an example of a group of people who achieved great success by compensating (i.e. effort and recovering and learning from failure), rather than capitalizing (i.e. building on strength and one advantage after another).

In today’s world, we’ve come to think of success as something that can be achieved over night (think “American Idol”), but Gladwell explains that success is the result of a trial-and-error process; an innovative experimentation that takes many years. And that’s what Fleetwood Mac, Dan Marino, Mozart, Mark Twain and Cezanne have in common—they all worked slowly and diligently, compensated for their various disadvantages and were hungry for success. Gladwell argues the genius of figures like Mozart and others is the result of their persistence and patience in their approach to creative accomplishment.

>Maybe it’s time we follow Gladwell’s urge to take compensation more seriously, rather than believing in the fantasy of immediate success. If we don’t, we run the risk of never letting true creativity blossom. Just ask Fleetwood Mac.—Silvana Pop, public relations relations coordinator, Please Touch Museum


2 responses to “Success Stories: From Mozart to Fleetwood Mac and Back

  1. I came away from this incredible talk with multiple thoughts but one that keeps coming back to me
    Are we too impatient for genius?

  2. George Washington is another example of a great compensator.

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