What exactly does it take to be successful in a fast-changing world?
This is the question that author and innovator Malcom Gladwell tackled in the first session of his sought-after masterclass session at the BCX Disrupt Summit in Kyalami, Johannesburg, on Friday. Hundreds of entrepreneurs and businesspeople paid just over R12 000 for the masterclass, which wrapped up the two-day summit, and included such influential innovators as will.i.am, entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana and Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko.
Gladwell argued that attitudinal traits were most critical when it came to career success.
Using the historical example of the late American transport entrepreneur Malcom McLean, who invented intermodal shipping containers and revolutionised the industry, Gladwell said creativity was certainly important.
Creativity or an active imagination was needed in order to be “open to the ability to see solutions to problems where others don’t”.
However, creativity needed to be paired with being highly conscientious. The ability “to follow through on an idea in a detailed and disciplined way”.
“There are many creative people and also many consciousness people,” Gladwell said. “But there are few people who possess those two traits together. It’s incredibly rare.”
The third trait was the most unexpected – disagreeableness. Gladwell defined this as not requiring the approval of others to do what you think is right.
“Time and again, when looking at the origin of successful businesses, you will see that the rest of the world thought those entrepreneurs were crazy. We sometimes overlook how much courage it takes to be a great disruptor and innovator. To not require the approval of others to follow through with what you think is right.
“None of those traits are about knowledge, resources or backing. They’re about attitude. If you remember that you can take the first step towards innovation and disruption,” Gladwell said.