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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Paperback – January 7, 2002
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About the Author
Malcolm Gladwell is also the author of the #1 bestselling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He was a reporter for the Washington Post from 1987 to 1996, working first as a science writer and then as New York City bureau chief. Since 1996, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker.
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Gladwell introduces the three rules of epidemics to explain what makes certain trends become a nationwide phenomenon while others just disappear after a short amount of time; The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and The Power of Context. The book tells a story about how a few teenagers in NY brought back the almost off the market Hush Puppie sneaker and made it a fashion icon; the Hush Puppie sneaker was a strong example of how The Law of the Few works. The Law of the Few explains how this epidemic is started by only a small group of people, but this small group of people must have the right traits to make the trend contagious enough to spread dramatically. Connectors, mavens and salespeople, are the tree type of people described in the book; Connectors are social butterflies which link different groups of people together, Mavens are like sponges in that they soak up as much knowledge as they can, and salespeople are the persuaders who are able to make others think a certain way or follow a certain trend. The book also explains that certain people can be more than one of these types, Paul Revere is used as an example of both a connector and a maven.
The second rule of epidemics focuses on the importance of not only making something contagious but making something stick. Gladwell explains how a message or trend may reach a large amount of people but for an epidemic to occur the message or trend must stick in people's minds. The book dives into the success of young children's TV programs such as Sesame St., explaining that producers do so much research to figure out what intrigue young people. Sesame St. producers understand what they're viewers want to see and are able to produce each episode to make it educational and fun for young children. The idea that a product or message needed a sticky factor was a given to me before reading this book, but what this book made me realize was how much research and hard work goes into making something stick even with something as easy as a young children's program.
Lastly the power of context explains how human behavior is highly affected by they're surroundings and specific circumstances which the context is presented. Gladwell explained how certain factors such as the state of the economy, shift in age demographics in the population etc could all potentially have an impact on crime taking place in New York City. An example used was how zero tolerance for minor crimes on the NY subway helped a dramatic decline in the amount of major crimes throughout NY, although this example got Gladwell's point across I did not find it as realistic as others. What I found to be most interesting in describing the power of context were the case examples and psychosocial studies showing that people are less likely to help people if there are other people around to help and if they are not under time pressure for other commitments.
Taking everything into account, I found The Tipping Point to be both educational and intriguing. I think Gladwell did a great job in using plenty of data and examples to discuss how social behavior plays a major role in turning a certain product or message into a nationwide trend. I would recommend everyone to read this book.
Another reason why this book is so successful in spreading its message is that it breaks down such a complex issue into three very simple. As hard as it is to explain why certain fads catch on, Gladwell does so effortlessly in three simple rules: The Law of the few, The Stickiness Factor, and The Power of Context. Breaking the book down into these three sections makes it much easier and interesting to follow.
The reason the chapter related to the Law of Few is so effective, is because it is so relatable to the reader. Everybody has Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen in their lives. It makes the book quite enjoyable to be able to compare actual people you know in your life to the strangers described in the book. Although, at times the chapter does become a little confusing due to the amount of names that Gladwell incorporates.
The chapter that I found most interesting was by far the chapter discussing the Stickiness Factor. The amount of time and effort that Gladwell says the producers of shows such as Sesame Street and Blue's Clues put into each episode was both fascinating and quite surprising. My previous thoughts that these shows were so easy to produce and that children will watch anything have been completely turned around, and I now know that these shows are some of the most critiqued and complex shows on television.
I also found the chapter discussing the Power of context very relatable as I live in a large city. The way Gladwell talks about how things as seemingly insignificant as arresting people who don't pay their fare can affect the crime rate of New York so significantly, fascinating.
I found "The Tipping Point" to be a great read and really very interesting. The Case Studies at the end of the book do a great job of both recapping the book and providing further examples of the Laws discussed in real life situations.
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