Malcolm Gladwell was fired from his first job after just two months—here's what he learned

This is what Malcolm Gladwell learned from being fired two months into a...

It's easy to think that your first professional opportunity is going to define you for the rest of your career, but take a look at bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell and you'll see this isn't the case.

Gladwell was fired from his first job after just two months, and the experience taught him that there are no shortcuts to success. When he was 20 years old, he took a job at a magazine in Indiana, and quickly realized he lacked the discipline he'd need to be successful.

"I was 20 years old and I couldn't wake up before 11 o'clock in the morning," he told CNBC Make It in 2017. His inability to make it to work on time ultimately led to him being fired.

Since then, Gladwell has come to profoundly appreciate the value of hard work. "I have learned many things subsequently, but you know, one of them is the importance of discipline," he says.

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell
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In his book "Outliers: The Story of Success," Gladwell writes that people must put in 10,000 hours of hard work in order to perfect a skill. He argues that Bill Gates was a success because he had been coding since he was a child. Similarly, he writes, The Beatles made it big in part because they had experience playing grueling eight-hour gigs. This kind of strenuous work is what makes people successful, says Gladwell.

"There is no way around hard work," Gladwell tells CNBC. "There are never any shortcuts, and anyone who tells you there's a shortcut is blowing smoke."

Not only is hard work necessary, but Gladwell notes that it's the only way to make sure that taking a risk pays off. "Hard work is what makes risk-taking possible. You can't do one without the other," he says. "The only way you overcome the obstacles associated with risk-taking is if you put your nose to the grindstone."

If you're able to put in this kind of hard work and take bold risks, your chances of success are high, he says. And it's no coincidence that Gladwell's book emphasizes the importance of rising early. "No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich," he says.

As for Gladwell himself, he's no longer sleeping till noon.

This is an updated version of a story that appeared previously.

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