SINGAPORE- Malcolm Gladwell never wanted to be a writer. He wanted to go into advertising but failed to get a job or go into business school.
Now with five best-selling books of social analysis to his credit, corporations and big-name businessmen pay top- dollar to hear him talk.
"It's a highly paradoxical situation," says the 50-year-old bachelor in a telephone interview en route to a paid lecture in Dublin.
Fresh off similar talks in London and Liverpool, he is on a tour of the United Kingdom to promote his fifth and newest title, David And Goliath, about people who use seeming disadvantages to their advantage.
Published by Penguin Books and Little, Brown on Oct 1, it has been topping bestseller charts since it was released, in the pattern of his four previous books.
The Canadian journalist has achieved guru status among entrepreneurs and everyday readers with punchy writing that claims to reveal the roots of success as well as the strangeness in the everyday - why there are many flavours of mustard but only a few of ketchup, for example.
Some reviewers dismiss the science behind his statements, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times recently saying of David And Goliath: "As usual, Mr Gladwell's science is convenient."
However, lay readers adore the books, right from The Tipping Point (2000), which looks at what propels fads and social trends.