August 15, 2013

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

This is the ninth installment of our book reviews project designed to introduce you to books that Cydcor team members find especially valuable.  This review is by Megan, Cydcor technology consultant, and is the first review she has done for us.

Title: The Tipping Point; How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Description of the book: The Tipping Point is a succinct look at that moment where a marketing campaign becomes a success. What does it take to make something viral on the web? According to Gladwell, it’s very much like how a disease becomes an epidemic. All it takes is one person, a small and targeted push, to make a campaign a success.

Why should you read this? I highly recommend the Tipping Point to anyone in sales, but it’s also just an incredibly enjoyable look at human nature and how we function as a society. One gets the feeling that Malcolm Gladwell is one of those people who just really enjoys diving into data and research, and he definitely brings the reader along for the ride.

My favorite part: My favorite part of the Tipping Point was his description of the 1967 small world experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram. Basically, Milgram distributed almost 200 letters to students in Nebraska and asked them to try to get them to a stockbroker in Boston by passing it to people that they knew and asking them to do the same.

The study found that it took an average of six people to deliver each letter. But, more interesting, of the letters that came through to the stockbroker a vast majority passed through a single person, a travelling salesman.

This illustrated one of Gladwell’s points, that success of any social epidemic is dependent on a few important types of people. That salesman was one of those types of people, a connector.

We all know connectors in our lives. They are people who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making connections, a sort of hub in the middle of social wheels. But the reason why this resonated with me so much is that my mother is clearly one a connector, and reading the Tipping Point helped me understand why she has been so successful, and some of the struggles that she has experienced.