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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - 3 Big Ideas

Updated: Mar 30, 2019


This book was written by Malcolm Gladwell.

Seth Godin recommended it in one of his lectures so I had to read it.

This book is all about understanding and manipulating the minutia of everyday life to make big differences.

He goes into the different little things and uses anecdotes and examples of how to use these, under-the-surface, principles.

He uses insight, case-studies and psychology to describe each principle.

3 Things I Learned

There were seven or so principles in this book but these 3 were my favorite.

1. The people of a market epidemic

This one was the most interesting one for me, which is saying a lot because this whole book was ultra interesting.

This section was about the most influential people in spreading a market epidemic.

There are 3 types of people that catapult a market epidemic; connectors, mavens, and salesmen.

Connectors are the people that spread the word. These are the people that are friends with everybody and they know all kinds of people. They are the kind of people that can strike up an interesting conversation with anybody. They travel and experience and are well liked and people look up to them. When a connector is interested in something, people listen. If you get the approval from a connector, your idea/product will reach many ears.

Mavens are people that gather knowledge. These people catalog and memorize all the aspects of their chosen market. These are the people you come to with your questions about their chosen market. Say there is a car maven and you say you are looking to get a new car. You will talk with them and go through their questions and this person will know exactly what is right for you by matching you to the aspects of the car market that they so deeply understand. Get the approval of a maven and your idea/product will be well received by those who seek out the maven.

Salesmen are the persuaders. These are just who you think they are- salesmen. They study the cues and subtleties of persuasion which Malcolm Gladwell calls, cultural micro-rhythms. These cues can be anything from facial expressions and head nods to speech tones and pauses. This sense of persuasion can come naturally or be studied. Get the approval of salesmen and convince and persuade people to buy your idea/product.

I do not do this chapter justice and you will see what I mean if you get the book. Gladwell really cements the concepts of these types of people with great anecdotes and if anything it is super interesting.

2. Context

This section was about the power of context.

In the first part of this section he goes into what is known as "the broken windows theory." The example he gives was that crime was rampant in a Bratton New York. The officials issued policy after policy to keep people from breaking the law so often. Gladwell points out here that the crime was situational.

When people saw the graffiti and beaten down property they stopped caring about the environment because they saw that nobody else cared about it.

It was the context of the situation.

When the new guy in charge started cleaning up the graffiti and replacing the windows, the crime rate dove down. The environment changed so the situational context changed, so the people changed.

3. Example setting; having an excuse to do it

This part describes how when people see someone else do something out of place, they are more likely to do it. Gladwell uses an example here of jay-walking- if you are waiting to see the little, green walking signal before you cross the street but see someone jay-walk past you; you are much more likely to jay-walk yourself.

He also talks a crazy anecdote of the power of example using the suicide rates a while back in Micronesia. One day, a popular teenage figure in Micronesia killed himself over something trivial like a breakup. Suddenly, all these teenagers started killing themselves over these trivial matters. One got in a fight with his parents and killed himself, others would have breakups and kill themselves. Because the popularity of this figure, the example of his trivial killing of himself was spread to so many people. The people who could associate with him, teenage boys, saw his example and suddenly suicide was commonplace.


Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book, not only did it give me a better understanding of the small things that are relevant to spreading ideas but it was super interesting the whole way through and gave me a different take on the world around me.

Even if you have no plans to use the different principles in this book I would still recommend it to you; there were lots of really cool stories that get you thinking about how layered and complex life is.

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