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Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Should you read this book? Yes! Some books can be categorized as just “fascinating reads”. This is one of those. It would be unfair to place in one category. The phenomenon here explained can easily apply to business, governments, and society in general. That phenomenon is what the author describes as the tipping point. The tipping point is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point” that creates social epidemics. Through references of research studies and plenty of examples, the book states how “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”
Malcolm Gladwell is a New York journalist (well, he is Canadian, but based in New York) who writes for The New Yorker, as well written other books (which are part of my reading list!) His writing style makes this a very pleasurable read: it is interesting, it uses a simple and clear language that steers clear of sounding obnoxiously scientific (which can be a nuisance in such an extensive topic). All statements in the book have examples to illustrate them and the research to back them up. I like it that Gladwell has not pretended to be an expert on the topic of social epidemics, but rather an editor / consolidator of the expertise out there on the topic, thus enabling the less aware masses of such available knowledge.
To explain how these products, messages or ideas “tip”, Gladwell divides the book in 3 sections which describe the main ingredients that enable this tipping points:
The Law of the Few refers to how most social epidemics are the responsibility of a few people with a rare set of so-called social gifts. He calls them Connectors, or people that bring others together; Mavens, or people who accumulate expertise on a certain area; and Salesmen, or people with extraordinary negotiation skills. The Stickiness Factor refers to how a message, product, or idea is shaped in order to deliver a memorable impact, so it actually “sticks”. Finally The Power of Context refers to the enormous influence our environment can have on our behavior, thus social epidemics can be very sensitive to these conditions.
If you are a knowledge enthusiast like me (or junkie; the term can certainly apply, too), you will enjoy this book tremendously. You will learn about so many different topics: crime rates, advertising campains for shoes, the process of developing children’s TV shows, disease epidemics, teenagers and smoking, and many more examples that illustrate the different factors that enable social epidemics. Gladwell is a fantastic storyteller, the stories are engaging and you will have a hard time putting the book down. I was able to finish it less than a week!
Paola’s mood after reading this book: