The Tipping Point

The world has always been right – little things can make a big difference. But it wasn’t until Malcolm Gladwell gave us the book The Tipping Point to teach is HOW little things can make a big difference. (Thank you to my mom for recommending and lending me the book)

I have to say that this is the longest period I have gone without writing a blog, the main reason is that I have been reading The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve also been researching and working on my next Toastmasters speech which you can look forward to later this week. But I would like to say that I finished The Tipping Point today and want to give you a Book Regurgitation post. If you are unfamiliar to this, I take notes whenever I read a book and mark the most important points along with making my own ideas and thoughts based off of what I read. You can click the “Book Regurgitation” category to see a couple of my other posts on books I have read.

What is most exciting is that if you like this post than you can really look forward to my future posts since I have a goal to read 25+ books this year, including all of the books on my book shelf that I have not made time to read. Before you continue, I will give you a heads up that I do not give a clear summary or a critique of the book, if you would like a summary version before you continue you can find it here. Better yet, you have already read the book and are wondering if I have similar thoughts or ideas related to it. Read on and let’s find out. As always, I hope to connect with you, so leave a comment about what you think (and pardon the pun of connect). Actually that’s a great place to start.

I am not a connector. Connectors, being one of the few that usher trends into epidemics of popularity. Or at least, I wasn’t. What I came to find is that I, you, everyone, holds the power to BECOME a connector. You should note that Gladwell never said that connectors were born the way they are, or mavens are raised a particular way to grow up to become a maven. They simply became what was at their core, but that does not mean that someone who is not a connector can’t become one or that someone who is a not a salesman can’t become one or, better yet, someone who is a maven can’t become a salesman too. “…the New Economy is going to lead us to rely more and more on very primitive kinds of social contacts. Relying on the Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen in our life is the way we deal with the complexity of the modern world.” I say, in addition to entering the social circle of Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen — BECOME a bit of each one. As Gladwell stated, we are currently relying on these connections, and will continue to rely on them more and more as the New Economy progresses. Since I am a person who likes to take care of all the tasks instead of assigning someone else, because I know I can do it better – I had to figure out how to become a Connector, a Maven and a Salesman. I do not want to rely on others to take each role. Here are three steps to become each one of the few.

Becoming A Super-Human Vector Of Popularity

Becoming a Connector

  • Open an excel spreadsheet and start inserting everyone you meet. Every business card you get, every teacher you have, every friend you are introduced to, and so on – put their names, contact info, and a description of how you can connect with them (how you met, how you know them, have a similarity). This is where the rule of 150 does not appear.
  • Remember, its the small things that count. Become a connector by getting out and interacting with people. When you are at the bookstore, observe what books people are reading and if you can make a connection. When you purchase something, use the clerk’s name and have them remember you. It is as much getting people to remember you, as it is remembering them. To become a connector, you have to put in two times the effort.
  • Life Optimizer created a fantastic list of how to become a master connector. The first two bullet points are the two biggest factors that I focus on, Life Optimizer hits everything else. View the 106 tips to Become a Master Connector

Becoming a Maven

  • Having a focus and a passion is only detailing the face value of a Maven. In order to truly become one, you have to become detailed. You have to narrow down your focus into one small subject and then expand on it. It’s like going up a family tree, taking one branch that does not make any other branches, and then making a tree from it.  You need to exploit every thought and idea and put them into your focus. If Mavens were Experts, they would call them that, but an Expert is the foster child to a Maven.
  • Book recommendation, Tribes by Seth Godin. In order to become a Maven, you have to have a following in each of your focuses; a select group of people that are connectors and salesmen.
  • Life Optimizer does it again here, How To Become a Maven (Mr. Know Everything)

Becoming a Salesman

  • Read, Listen, Write, Act. I constantly read books on selling, on success, on business, etc. Then I constantly listen to cd’s related to sales like Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, Jim Rohn, and so many others. Let’s just say I have more sales/motivation audio files than I do music on my iPod. I then write out my thoughts, new ideas, actions, reviews, etc in my blog or in my journal as I read and listen. Lastly, I go back and I act on all of the lessons I taught. No better way to become a better salesman then reading, listening, writing, and acting.
  • Actually there is, failing.
  • Yet again, I have to pull a resource from Seth Godin, check out some lens’ on Salesmanship at Squidoo

Reflections, Reactions and Tips

Other than coming up with ideas of how to become each one of the few, the chapters regarding the Law of The Few was much more stimulating to me. Although, It made me feel slightly dumb that I had not thought of categorizing the types of tippers into three small groups. Too often we believe that there are a thousand factors to a business’s success, when really, its tipping point is a matter of one or two small changes. From here on I am going to expand on the points that I noted while I read the book. I did my best to give you a little taste of everything in the book, my views, and the ability to comment on it.

  • I took the surname test and got a score of approx 41. Which was the average score of the test Gladwell gave to his friends and acquaintances, mostly journalists and professionals. He also gave the test to a group of health educators and academics at conference in Princeton, New Jersey and that group scored an average score of 39. It truly surprised me that I ended up knowing this many people, during the first 10-12 lines of names I scored very little. You can try this exercise yourself without getting the book by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.
  • “Gosh darn it,” Gau said, “if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed.” I noted this because of the tattoo on my back,”If you don’t try, you fail”.  I also love to think that I am similar to Tom Gau in the sense that I create a persuasive conversational dance with everyone I meet. It is for this reason that I feel I would make a great salesman. Despite my actions you can take to become each one of the few, it puzzles me what made Gau a perfect Salesman. What actions, thoughts, behaviors did he express throughout his life that pushed him in this direction. What was the Tipping Point for him in becoming One of The Few?

The next chapter regarded the stickiness factor, which refers to the unique quality that propels the phenomenon to become “stuck” in the minds of the general public and by collateral, influence their behaviors.

  • Gladwell uses the success of the TV shows, Sesame Street and Blues Clues to define all angles of the stickiness factor. It’s clear that a lot of his focus in explaining the factor is related to children and their TV shows. At the end of the book, Gladwell says to “use the thinking in this book to create something new” and I feel that the following will be my research into the stickiness factor. What makes self-development/motivational/inspirational/self-help/ videos sticky for adults? What would the distractor be? What do adults typically focus on? If it could be done on a larger level, having a 30 minutes motivational boot camp TV series, what are the small additions that would need to be to make it stick? Once I acquire more financial freedom, you can bet you will see a post that provides these answers – just as well as you will see me on my 30 minute motivational boot camp TV series each week. Do you have any ideas?
  • All the more interesting, a factor that is used in children’s TV shows would best be applied to the motivational boot camp series — repetition. Gladwell explains that the repetition that Blues Clues uses giving the children a sense of affirmation and self-worth. Two of the most powerfully positive stimulants one could experience. I personally never looked at repetition in this view, thank you Gladwell for bringing me into the light.

Which brings me to one of the biggest points of the book which is summarized in one sentence and not truly expanded on, so if you missed it here it is.

The tipping point is all about selling one idea at a time.

And the greatest part is that if you use the perfect “little things that make a big difference”, you only have to sell a total of a few ideas.

Now, while the Law of the Few and the stickiness factor were simple, straightforward and packed with specific evidence, Gladwell throws you a broad rule of the epidemic called The Power of Context. In these two chapters he establishes the fact that if the trend is not introduced at the right time, it is unlikely that the tipping point will occur.

  • The infinitely positive attitude I have, provided a nice lens when reading about the fact the minor seemingly insignificant quality-of-life crimes were the tipping points for violent crimes in the sense that if people saw broken windows and graffiti-stricken walls and trains, then they feel that they are less likely to get caught or be the one at blame. To make it positive, I saw it as the same for extreme success. It’s created by cleaning up the few negative behaviors you have, it is the smallest things that count. Just a reminder to not focus so much on creating progression of success and focus instead, on eliminating the few actions that are preventing you from reaching your goals.
  • Earlier I said that Gladwell stated that he wanted us to think of how the Tipping Point could apply to a situation in our lives. It keeps on coming up! This morning I was talking with my coworkers about the increase in heroin transactions in Madison, WI. If you have read some earlier posts of mine, you know that I live on the east side (the ghetto side), but you will also know that I found a diamond in the rough apartment complex and are actually a good 5 blocks away from all the bad areas of town. I felt a tad special at work when I brought up Gladwell’s example of the van that carried new needles to exchange with used ones. I will definitely keep some attention at the increase of heroin addicts in the city.
  • The second application of the Tipping Point’s take on the broken window theory happened when I saw someone litter – threw a wrapper out of the window. A smoker – who could have guessed? It was most likely the plastic wrapper that encased his pack of death sentences. The idea that if a town were to put into action a group of weekly garbage pickup volunteers, we would Tip the epidemic in the opposite direction. A perfect example is Earth Day, when thousands upon thousands of people volunteer their time to do street side cleanup. Do you notice that after Earth Day each year, the time it takes for garbage to accumulate takes longer. The more garbage there is, the more likely people will be okay with littering. It is like the rule of 72 in reverse, quickly multiplying the amount of garbage being littered. When you look at areas that have organizations that constantly pick up trash, they steadily have less trash to pick up. As much as I support the idea of prevention over clean-up, it was not until I read the Tipping Point that I understood that clean-up is a form of prevention.

  • As I have hopes to run for President in 2028, I was fascinated on the excerpt study on the fact the people voted more republican because the reporter smiled more when talking about the republican. Aside from the fact (which Gladwell explains further in his book) that people mimic motions of the body and facial movements of the person they are having a conversation with, people take it on an emotional level.
  • I tested the first factor of mimicking expressions a couple ways. The first was that I smiled more when my roommate came home or walked into the room. It was immediately reflected. No wonder they say smiling is contagious, but they forgot to expand it — every facial movement is contagious. In addition to smiling each time she walked in the room, I would also have a puzzled look, a weird look, a sweet luck, a mad look, all of them reflected. I also tested it out while walking up the street on the way home from my bus stop. Another person was walking on the sidewalk coming at me and we both put on a flat, tough, apprehensive looking face. We mimicked the expression of the other person.
  • One of the  most interesting points was when Gladwell took a look at “character” and “the mistake we make in thinking of character as something unified and all-encompassing”. This tendency is termed the Fundamental Attribution Error, which is a “fancy way of saying that when it comes to interpreting other people’s behavior, human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and context.” A way he goes about explaining this is in a test of cheating on a test. (What an oxymoron).
  • Why this test caught my attention was that I am working on a blog post about the difference between being smart and bullshitting a paper and being dumb and bullshitting a paper. I have had friends get upset that I received an A on a smartly bullshitted paper and have even had them call me a cheater for it. I wont lie, what they called me can be the truth sometimes. I have cheated on school work before — I can recall a time in World Geography class when I wrote the capital of each state on a piece of paper so that I only had to memorize where all the 50 states were and not their capitols. What would my peers say about my character? They would call me a cheater. But that is false. —

“Character, then, isn’t what we think it is or, rather, what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits, and it only seems that way because of a glitch in the way our brains are organized. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment. I have a lot of fun at dinner parties. As a result, I throw a lot of dinner parties and my friends see me there an think that I’m fun. But if I couldn’t have lots of dinner parties, if my friends instead tended to see me in lots of different situations over which I had little or no control — like, say, faced with four hostile youths in a  filthy, broken-down subway — they probably wouldn’t think of me as fun anymore”

So yes, I am a cheater in the environment and context of 9th grade world geography class during a test on all the states and capitols. I am not, however, a cheater in environmental science class, or at the workplace or at home. Thus, calling me a cheater falls under the Fundamental Attribution Error.  This is the reason why people can do terrible in school, but miraculous at the work place. It is why people may be dumb as hell, but are the greatest boxers in the world. You would call them neither, poorly educated or workaholics, nor would you say that a person has the brain capacity of a jellyfish or is a fitness expert. They are both, all of the above, and a whole lot of other things too. It is all a matter of context.

  • The second chapter on the law of context explains a 150 personal connection rule. I found it fascinating that a number could be pinned and as social as I am, I found that in each area of my interests, I can’t really connect with more than 150 people on a personal level. The concept also sparked an idea for my public speaking events. I will have networking before the event, but it will be divided into groups of a 125. Instead of having seats lined up in rows and all 2,000 people together, it would be broken up into sections. And since I plan on having two to three day seminars, the people would keep their same seats because they can feel comfortable with their group. If a person is too worried about what the other people around them are thinking about them, they wont be able to pay attention to the lessons I am speaking on. I am not only benefiting myself by breaking up groups into less than 150, but also benefiting the people themselves. In the sense, we are all the same, we cannot connect with more than 150 people in a the same group at once… it can’t reach that point of connection which is important in inspirational public speaking engagements.
  • To continue, the groups I would be speaking to, Gladwell would call the revolutionaries or innovators and early adopters. The ones willing to try it out and test it, to take the risk. These people would receive revolutionary changing ideas from me. The problem that Gladwell expands on is the chasm between the early adopters and the attitude of the early majority – they are incompatible. An idea or invention cannot spread easily between the two, and this is what I fear most. I am currently focused on connecting  with the revolutionaries instead of the early majority. It’s similar to a business plan, a person can have a plan to be successful in business, but they forget to plan their removal of the business equation – give someone else the hard work to do while you reap the profits and start on some new idea.

  • In the two matters of memory – rumors and mental capacity – I found the capacity factor the most interesting. It explains one person in a relationship does not need to maintain certain memories, because their partner will. I thought of my roommate and how much information I purposefully ignore because I know she will remember it, leaving me with more capacity to recall what I really want. A beautiful observation that I was unclear of until I read this book.
  • Something else that caught my attention –but I can’t read my handwriting to indicate the page number it was on– was the act of piggyback riding. It had to do with the AirWalk shoes. They used their marketing to target each upcoming epidemic. Now I want to bring an idea up with you that relates to this. Recently I have been offered a Financial Advising position and am going to turn it down. Despite their persuasions that all of the baby boomers are not turning 65+ and they are in desperate need to receive financial guidance, I disagree. This particular time of need is quickly declining as the baby boomers are soon beginning to die and the fact that they have never had any financial direction, and are very unlikely to take advice even though they need it. I will be turning down the offer in order to prepare for the next epidemic – when the 75+ trillion dollars of money that is being transferred from the elders to their young. It is these people that need the financial guidance and have the time and attention to handle the knowledge. I am going to piggyback ride the epidemic of wealth transfer as a way to promote and succeed in the world of financial advising.

The End of The Tipping Point (Or rather, the beginning of all the Tipping Points)

“She changed the context of her message. She changed the messenger, and she changed the message itself. She focused her efforts. This is the first lesson of the Tipping Point. Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas. “ “The theory of Tipping points requires, however, that we re-frame the way we think about the world.” “All of these things are expressions of the peculiarities of the human mind and heart, a refutation of the notion that the way we function and communicate and process information is straightforward and transparent. it is not. it is messy and opaque” “The Ivory soap 800 number is what I call a Maven trap”

These are brief statements I highlighted, from the conclusion onto the forward of the Tipping Point where Gladwell unleashes himself. The ideas, points, references, case studies that he shares at the end the book are truly remarkable. If you do not want to read the whole book, let this be your cheat – read the conclusion and forward.

Wanting to know if you are a connector? Or want to know about Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point and his other writings? You can visit his website here.

The book broken into my reactions –> Hmm, interesting, very interesting, wow, interesting, so true, hmm, seriously? Why didn’t I think of that before, interesting, so true, WOW…… it pretty much goes on from there and repeats. Saying this book is worth a read is an understatement.

Stay Positive and Three Cheers For The Law Of The Few – To the Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen

Garth E. Beyer