Podcast 241: Malcolm Gladwell Talks About “Talking to Strangers” Plus a Delicious, Healthy Hack

Try This at Home

Take a shower (or bath). Research backs up this approach.

Happiness Hack

I’ve discovered the chaffle (cheese-waffle)! Delicious, low-carb if you’re a low-carb eater like me, easy, weirdly filling, and fast.

I bought this Aicok Waffle Maker, but any waffle-maker will do, I’m sure. People also recommend the $15 Dash Mini Maker.

Interview with Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s books are consistently #1 New York Times bestsellers—books like The Tipping PointBlinkOutliers, and David and Goliath. They’re all fascinating investigations into surprising new concepts about human nature.

Malcolm is also the host of the blockbuster podcast Revisionist History and his music podcast Broken Record.

His latest book is—no surprise—generating a tremendous amount of buzz. It’s called Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t KnowIn his classic style, he starts with the question, “What happens when we have to deal with the unfamiliar?” He draws examples from the stories of Neville Chamberlain, Bernie Madoff, Amanda Knox, Sylvia Plath, Sandra Bland, and others to illustrate the argument that strangers are not easy. The tools and strategies we use to make sense of strangers are often flawed—and we’re often weak in just the areas where we think we’re strong.

Malcolm mentions the work of Tim Levine, for instance, Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception.

Malcolm’s Try This at Home

Have time in silence.

I mention the wonderful book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. 

Elizabeth’s Demerit

This is episode 241, and many episodes ago, Elizabeth committed to report on how she’s doing with her #6 goal for 2019. Short version: she hasn’t made as much progress as she’d hoped to do. 

Gretchen’s Gold Star

I give a gold star to Seattle—the city of flowers! When we were in Seattle for a live event, we loved seeing so many people walking around with bouquets of flowers.


  1. If you’re looking for more great podcasts to listen to, consider the other podcasts in The Onward Project, my network of podcasts. There’s Side Hustle School with my friend Chris Guillebeau. Or Happier in Hollywood where Elizabeth and her writing partner Sarah Fain discuss being writers in Hollywood and all kinds of other topics about work and creativity. The newest addition to The Onward Project network is Melissa Hartwig Urban’s podcast, Do The ThingIn episode 19 she reflects on how talking to strangers (see above!) can transform mundane social exchanges into meaningful encounters.
  2. I recent annotated my book, The Four Tendencies, for Goodreads. You can see the notes on the Kindle ebook version or read them directly on Goodreads. Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading.




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