The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell [Book Summary]

The spread of concepts, goods, and actions can be related to the spread of a viral infection: for several years, just a few people are affected (or infected), however, then, within a short period, it turns into an epidemic.

Consider the suede shoes produced by Hush Puppies, which stay as just shelf-warmers until the mid‑1990s when all of a sudden they turned into a must‑have. Within only a year, sales numbers increased from 30,000 to 430,000 pairs; the following year, nearly two million pairs of Hush Puppies were bought.

The company that produced it didn’t have anything to do with the epidemic. Everything began when a couple of hipsters in Manhattan began to wear the shoes, which “infected” others with the concept and begin a trend.

Social epidemics share numerous of the same frequent features as viral infections.

For instance, subtle external changes can usually extremely affect the transmissibility of social infection, just like how viral infections can spread really easily during wintertime when the majority of the people’s immune systems are weaker.

Additionally, both will ultimately get to a Tipping Point: the point at which the serious mass has been attained and the spread cannot be stopped anymore

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Chapter 1 – An epidemic occurs as soon as the Tipping Point threshold has been crossed.

The Tipping Point is the point in which a trend becomes an epidemic and spreads just like a wildfire.

Consider a flu strain, for instance; it might spread through a population gradually initially; however, day after day, it infects more and more people until it eventually gets to that magical point when the transmission rate rises intensely and the epidemic gets out of control.

If shown in graphic terms, the growth would be a curve that is a little bit inclined at first, and then protrude at nearly a right angle. This intense turn is known as Tipping Point.

Also, the similar type is noticed n in the spread of technological innovations. When the Sharp the electronics company produced its first affordable fax machine in 1984, in the first year, they sold about 80,000 fax machines and noticed that the number increased gradually yearly, until 1987, when it got to the Tipping Point and sales increased rapidly.

At that specific Tipping Point, a lot of people had a fax machine that anyone who didn’t have it choose that they’d better have one as well

Meaning, an important change happens at the Tipping Point, making the “infection” to abruptly spread profusely.

Chapter 2 – A specific few crucial people are usually the cause of epidemics.

The 80-20 Rule explains a sociological occurrence seen in several groups of people in which 20 percent of the people have the tendency to impact 80 percent of the final result. For instance, in most societies,

  • 20 percent of workers do 80 percent of the work,
  • 20 percent of criminals are guilty of 80 percent of the offenses,
  • 20 percent of drivers are the cause of 80 percent of every accident,
  • 20 percent of beer drinkers drink 80 percent of the beer.

For instance, virus epidemics, are generated by a few crucial people; however, the proportion is even more severe: just a small number of the people infected do the majority of the “work” in increasing the spread.

A lot of the early AIDS incidences in the United States can, for instance, be traced back to one flight attendant who, according to him, had sex with over 2,500 people in North America and by doing that particularly added to the spread of the virus.

Similarly, in the situation of social epidemics, it is usually a specific few who accelerate the rate of transmission. Most times, these people are those that have special social connections or an extraordinary character.

A specific few crucial people are usually the cause of epidemics.

Chapter 3 – Ideas spread fast specially with Connectors, or with people that have huge social networks.

Ideas are usually spread by people that have a lot of social networks. The extraordinary aspect of this is that these Connectors typically are not just well-connected in one aspect; however, in a lot of different aspects.

Connectors are the idea propagators and nodal points of social connections. They are familiar and like interacting with, several people. Their most significant asset is having a lot of alleged weak networks within their reach. Meaning, having a huge network of acquaintances from every different area of life is more precious to them than having close connections with friends.

Contacts that extend to social milieus are particularly significant when we talk of spreading epidemics: if a virus or idea just spread within a closed circle, it would not turn into an epidemic.

This is the reason why Connectors with networks consisted of people from various social groups are significant to the occurrence of epidemics.

Scientists discovered in a social experiment that was conducted during the 1960s, that everybody in the world is connected to everyone else through only a few people. However, the connections aren’t essentially equally distributed. Crossing the borders of milieus usually happens by way of a small group of mainly well-connected people.

Hence, anybody who wishes to spread an idea by word of mouth should do good to concentrate on these Connectors since they are the people who can start social epidemics.

Chapter 4 – There are some people who are born with the skill of persuasion and the ability for selling ideas.

Some people are born Salesmen.

Normally, they are people who reason positively and have so much energy and enthusiasm; abilities that assist them to persuade other people of new ideas.

Various studies have indicated that exceptional Salesmen differ from other most clearly in their non-verbal communication. They can sense the accurate rhythm of a discussion and form a deep harmony, so creating a sense of trust and intimacy in a really small time.

In a nutshell, Salesmen accomplish to synchronize themselves with others. With their nonverbal communication, they get others to do a type of dance where the Salesmen set the pace.

Also, people that are born Salesmen have a special manner of showing their feelings: feelings are contagious, and Salesmen express them really well that others sympathize with them instantly and, as due to that, change their own behavior.

Salesmen are in a place to influence others on the inside from the outside, which enables them to be the perfect people to spread ideas.

Chapter 5 – In all networks, there are Mavens who gather information and spread it to others.

Maven is the last kind of person that plays a vital role in spreading social epidemics. Mavens have two unique features:

  • They know so many things about a lot of different things and take in information regularly –usually about new trends or certain goods and their prices, etc.
  • They possess social abilities and usually share their information with others.

Mavens do not possess extremely huge networks; however, they do possess a crucial influence on those in their own network. Other people trust the Maven since everybody understands that the Maven has an insider understanding.

Mavens are extremely communicative and socially driven to be helpful and spread information to others. If they are sure about a good or service, they suggest it to their friends and acquaintances – and their friends and acquaintances stick to those suggestions.

That is the power of the Maven.

Chapter 6 – Before an idea can spread, it has to stick.

If you wish for an idea to spread, you need to ensure it sticks first.

An idea requires something that is special, something catchy – something that makes it different the rest of the information that overwhelms us daily.

For it to stick, the information needs to be appealing. Commonly, refining something – even small information– in how the message is presented is what makes it different.

For instance, in 1954, Winston the cigarette brand advertised for its new filter cigarettes with the mantra, “Winston tastes good as a cigarette should.” They intentionally added a grammatical mistake (making us of  “like” instead of “as”) which produced a little sensation. The message stuck and eventually spreading just like an epidemic. In only a few years, Winston turned out to be the most common cigarette brand in the US.

Another illustration is from the world of television. Sesame Street’s big success was mainly due to the fact that the creators of the show introduced an innovation. When the show aired at first, they usually stuck to the protocol of putting scenes that have “fictional” characters (the Muppets) separate from the rest of the scenes with real actors that were recorded on the street.

However, immediately the creators that kids were bored with this separation, they chose to bring the Muppets into the real scenes. This little; however, vital change is what made Sesame Street really interesting to its audience. The rest is history.

Chapter 7 – External circumstances have a really greater impact on our actions than we assume.

Our action is extremely reliant on external circumstances. The least changes can have a big influence on the manner we act in any specific circumstance.

For instance, a study revealed how being in a hurry can impact our enthusiasm to assist. Students were told to go to the lecture hall to give a speech; 50% of them were told there was no hurry to reach there, and the remaining 50% were told not to get there late. While going to the hall, all of them met a man who collapsed. Only 63% of students in the first stopped to assist the man; it was only 10% of students who stopped in the second group.

In a different study that was conducted, the Stanford Prison Experiment, 24 healthy males were chosen to use two weeks in a mock prison whereby each of them was told to act the role of either a prisoner or a guard.

The experiment immediately got out of control. The “guards” abused their power and became more and more harsh and sadistic, causing a lot of the “prisoners” to experience emotional breakdowns. Due to this, the experiment needed to be canceled totally just after six days.

The change in their circumstances – in spite of being a pretend prison with mock roles –changed the participants into totally different people and had a big influence on how they acted.

Chapter 8 – Even the least changes in a setting can know if an epidemic happens.

The occurrence of epidemics relies mostly on external circumstances and can often be traced back to little changes.

In the mid‑1990s,  this was obvious to the authorities in New York City when the city’s crime increased and got out of control, and a number of apparently harmless information was held responsible. They believed that things such as graffitied subway cars, or subway-fare evaders going without punishment, gave out the signs to people that no one cared of crumbling circumstances – and that anybody and everyone could do anything they like.

For them to deal with this crime epidemic, authorities started concentrating on these more trivial details. They removed graffiti, apparently overnight, and fare-evasion became a crime that was punishable. By displaying none tolerance for what looked like insignificances, it became obvious to the people that irresponsible actions were not accepted anymore. The crime rate reduced quickly in the next years; all thanks to these small interventions, they were able to change the epidemic.

Another subtle aspect that has a role to play in the occurrence of social epidemics is the magnitude of a group. The rule of 150 states that just in groups that are not above 150 people can a dynamic growth that can later spread outside the group.

Meaning, say you want groups, for instance, schools, firms, clubs, or communities, to be incubators for infectious information, ensure to make them small.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

There are numerous vital factors that play a part in starting an epidemics. They are very easy to identify and can be deliberately used to spread ideas, goods or behaviors.

What is the reason why ideas spread just like epidemics and what part does the Tipping Point play in to?

  • Ideas spread like epidemics.
  • It is just an epidemic as soon as the Tipping Point threshold has been crossed.

What kind of people has the greatest influence on the spread of ideas?

  • A specific few key people are usually the cause of epidemics.
  • Ideas spread really fast with “Connectors,” or individuals with a huge social network.
  • There are people that are born with the ability of persuasion and a gift for selling ideas.
  • In all networks, there are “Mavens” who gather information and spread it to others.

Which other features play a role in the spread of ideas?

  • Before an idea can spread, it has to stick.
  • External circumstances have a really greater influence on our behavior than we assume.
  • Even the least changes in a setting can know if an epidemic happens.

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Savaş Ateş

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