Cup of Joe: Malcolm Gladwell Is Wrong…I Hope

Yesterday the internet went ablaze when popular author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell said in an interview (above) that history will exalt Bill Gates, and many will forget Steve Jobs. He went on to talk about how Gates has spent his retirement doing charitable things, while Jobs worked tirelessly til his early death on expanding Apple. Gladwell ascertains Gate’s charitable work will leave a greater impact on humanity than Apple’s legacy.

I think that the web’s response has completely lost touch with the context of the interview and most coverage has been focused on sensational headlines meant to drive up CTRs. I mean let’s face it, saying anything negative about Steve Jobs online, is like kicking a puppy in front of a class of third graders.

I honestly have no idea if history will forget about Steve Jobs. And I doubt either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates even considered themselves in competition, especially within the last 5 years. So over all, I think this whole discussion is pointless and it’s sad that everyone seems to be missing the most disturbing comment Gladwell made.

“The greatest entrepreneurs are amoral.”

In the interview he tells many examples of great entrepreneurs that seemed to be amoral. Then he tells the story of Oskar Schindler, the entrepreneur that saved thousands of Jewish people in Poland during World War II by enviably pouring all of his assets into their survival and thus ruining his business.

I understand what Gladwell is trying to say. I mean it makes sense that people who are amoral are able to think and act methodically, I just don’t think that’s required to succeed. Or at least I hope it isn’t. I know I have made many decisions in my business completely based on morality. But at the same time I am not failing either! :)

What do you think? Do you think Gladwell is right? Or do you think you can still be successful and still be moral? If you are an entrepreneur let us know in the comments below what your experience has been.