Discover Malcolm Gladwell's breakthrough debut and explore the science behind viral trends in business, marketing, and human behavior.
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Do trends really spread the same way that viral outbreaks do? According to Malcolm Gladwell, the similarities can be startling. In his landmark debut, the New Yorker writer identifies what causes people, things, and ideas to seemingly explode out of nowhere. Using examples like Paul Revere’s ride and the kids’ show Blue’s Clues, Gladwell explains how and why some ideas catch on while others fizzle. Gladwell puts these heady concepts across in a clear, readable style that makes them easy to digest and remarkably memorable. Though The Tipping Point was published in 2000, Gladwell’s ideas can help explain everything from the popularity of avocado toast to the worldwide rise of right-wing populism.
The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world. Gladwell's thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors "spread just like viruses do" remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of "word-of-mouth epidemics" triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened. (Paul Revere, for example, was a Maven and a Connector). Gladwell's applications of his "tipping point" concept to current phenomena--such as the drop in violent crime in New York, the rebirth of Hush Puppies suede shoes as a suburban mall favorite, teenage suicide patterns and the efficiency of small work units--may arouse controversy. For example, many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers' experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, "We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it." While it offers a smorgasbord of intriguing snippets summarizing research on topics such as conversational patterns, infants' crib talk, judging other people's character, cheating habits in schoolchildren, memory sharing among families or couples, and the dehumanizing effects of prisons, this volume betrays its roots as a series of articles for the New Yorker, where Gladwell is a staff writer: his trendy material feels bloated and insubstantial in book form.
Customer ReviewsSee All
not terribly scientific
I strongly recommend this read. Nevertheless, the author's style has a patina of trite, American suburbia. Like many news reporters, he makes unsupported deductions, conclusions which could just as easily be the opposite of what he claims. His reasoning is often ludicrously unscientific. He does, however connect some interesting facts which most, including me, wouldn't normally connect. He has a refreshing way of viewing seemingly banal situations to give rare insight.
Malcom Gladwell never disappoints. In another one of his careful analyses of correlation and causation in social dynamics, Gladwell delivers a unique dissection of the existing idea of Tipping Points. In a well structured format, he breaks down the three key factors that help identify when patterns “tip” into something inescapable. More importantly, he unpacks the details so that the concepts can be applied and not just understood. To that end I will try to use Covid as an allegory to explain the three key concepts.
Super Spreaders, so relevant to the containment of COVID. That 20% who 80 of the work or damage of propagating a social issue. Like the Butterfly Effect, a spreader acts as a rippling wave of small daily actions repeated blindly but putting the most people at impact based on our degrees of connectedness. Think of the popular person who seems to knows everyone; he or she passes it onto their social circle, who then pass it on to their networks.
Ideas that stick. When the wave hits the other 80%, it doesn’t simply wash over. The sand, sea urchins, and sting of the fast moving water stay with you the rest of the day. Ideas or issues are thus firmly implanted in the mind of all those it comes across. From a catchy jingle, to the latest hash tag challenge, or worse, a click bait conspiracy theory link haphazardly passed around social media. Those sticky ideas spread misinformation which only fuel the speed by promoting faulty logic.
Environmental conditions on the ground. As Gladwell puts it’ “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.” Japan’s and New Zealand’s respective successes in handling Covid maybe more cultural than anything else. Each country familiar with mask use, limited physical contact, strong group ties, and a deference to scientific guidance.
The challenge is how to devise campaigns for social change that target the right 20%, to have a meaningful impact from small actions, and stick once they hit the mainstream. That is the deeper meaning and go forward challenge you get from The Tipping Point. Along with more of Gladwell’s beautiful narrative style and illustrative examples from unique perspectives on stories new and old.
Gladwell’s insights and writing style are so compelling. This book is a delight.