October 12, 2013


Once you understand that Goliath is much weaker than you think he is, and David has superior technology, then you say: why do we tell the story the way we do?
--- Malcolm Gladwell, TED Talks Q&A

Do you remember the tale of David and Goliath? That’s the title of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book. He shared his interpretation at TED@250.
There are lessons for you and your money.


The financial sector is huge, powerful and the least trusted in the world. We're still recovering from the harm caused by the 2008 financial meltdown. There are lots of examples of misdeeds in Pound Foolish (Helaine Olen), Fight Back (Ellen Roseman) and @trustandyou.

David and GoliathDavid Then

David took a stand against Goliath in hand-to-hand combat when all others cowered with fear. The match looked unfair.

Goliath had size, strength, experience and armor. David didn't. In a conventional battle, Goliath had the clear advantage. David changed those strengths into weaknesses. He turned his own speed and nimbleness into advantages. He used his slingshot to down Goliath from a safe distance. The battle was unfair ... to Goliath.

David Now

You are nimble. You have a weapon more powerful than sticks, stones and slingshots. You have social media. You have access to the world from your smartphone wherever you go (though mind the roaming rates!). You can attack Goliath anytime you see misconduct using text, photos, audio or video.

Goliath has trouble responding in a quick, caring and believable way. Employees are often restricted or prevented from using social media. For instance, Air Canada lost a dog and internally planned to “just ignore” the media attention, hoping the story would fade away (like RBC-iGate did).

David fought alone. Your weapon is even more powerful because you can mobilize others. Even total strangers can help as your word spreads. Thanks hashtags, retweets, Likes and +1s.

Your Ultimate Weapon

Your ultimate weapon is your money. You alone can decide to
  • support banks with low (or no) service charges and fees
  • question advice from your advisors
  • deal with better people and better companies
Unless you take action, you help Goliath grow stronger. You must give incentives to force change. You must be willing to move your business. You might even need to admit that you made mistakes.

Your Successes

You do make a difference. Here are examples:
  • Rogers gave mobile customers a credit for the latest service outage (perhaps worth $18 million). This seems to be a first.
  • Apple reversed a decision to leave a rating system which measures the environmental impact of their products.
  • Starbucks stopped colouring Frappuccinos with bug extract
There's less need to fear Goliath. We're connected. We’re stronger. We’re more resourceful. We vote with our wallets and feet. We're winning … unless we stay silent.


Podcast 241

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