The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

One Sentence Summary

Tipping Points can be caused by the right people, with the right information, in the right context; all we have to do is find those variables.

Two Main Takeaways

  1. If content isn't sticking or getting through to an audience, don't change the content. Change the way the content is delivered.
  2. Having a clean work space, providing a loving home, being in a nice, clean neighborhood, and enjoying where we work - anything about our environment has a much more dramatic impact than what we think or what we say.

Chapter 1: The Three Rules of Epidemics

  • Epidemics are the function of people who transmit infectious agents, the infectious agent itself, and the environment in which the infectious agent is operating
  • The Tipping Point is the moment of Critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point
  • The Law of the Few -
  • One very influential persons hops on a trend, or gets a lot of people sick, starting the epidemic.
  • The Stickiness Factor -
  • There are specific ways of making information memorable. Simple changes can be made to the presentation and how information is structured that make a huge difference on the impact of the message
  • The Power of Context -
  • The context in which people incur a stimuli has a massive impact on how that person responds - not necessarily the stimuli itself.
  • Humans are a lot more sensitive to the environment than we think.

Chapter 2: The Law of the Few

  • There are very few people who have enough influence and impact to tip an epidemic. But those who do, start waves in things they pursue.
  • The messenger matters. They're the ones who make something stick

Chapter 3: The Stickiness Factor

  • Sesame Street started telling stories more and in the stories were lessons taught. They found the more they taught things in narrative form, the more kids remembered the lessons
  • The ideas in Sesame Street were not profound. Instead, the understood how they presented the messages and lessons was what meant a kid remembering the lesson or not. Changing the way information is presented can have a massive impact on how well things stick.
  • There are people out there who can start epidemics, you just have to find them - The Law of the Few. There is also certain ways to package information that makes it irresistible and will move people to action, you just have to find out what that is - The Stickiness Factor

The Power of Context (Part One)

  • The Broken Window Theory - Criminologist James Q. Wilson and George Kelling; Argued that crime is the result of disorder. Therefore, if broken windows in homes go un repaired for certain lengths of time, people will assume there is no order and crime will be inevitable.
  • Following that rule, epidemics can be tipped by tinkering with the smallest form of environment or context
  • Fundamental Attribution Error - When interpreting other people's behavior, humans overestimate character traits, and underestimate the importance of the situation and context one is in.
  • The best person in the world could steal money if in the right circumstance and context. On the opposite end, the worst person in the world could change depending on the situation and circumstance they're in.
  • The immediate context of behavior is more important than the context of your thoughts

The Power of Context (Part Two)

  • Small, close-knit groups have the power to magnify the epidemic of a potential message or idea.


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