Book:  The Tipping Point

Author:  Malcolm Gladwell

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point : how little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little, Brown.

"Ah Ha" Moments and Key Takeaways:​​

  • Economists often talk about the 80/20 principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the "work" will be done by 20 percent of the participants. When it comes to epidemics, though, this disproportionality becomes even more extreme: a tiny percentage of people do the majority of the work. (pg. 19)

  • The Stickinees Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes. (pg. 25)

  • The line between hostility and acceptance, in other words, between an epidemic that tips and one that does not, is sometimes a lot narrower than it seems. (pg. 132)

  • In order to be capable of sparking epidemics, ideas have to be memorable to move us to action. (pg. 139)

  • Broken Windows theory: If a window is broken and left un-repaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread sending a signal that anything goes. In a city, relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder, etc. are invitations to more serious crimes. This is an epidemic theory of crime. It says that crime is contagious - it can start with a broken window and spread to an entire community. (pg. 141)

  • The impetus to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not coming from a certain kind of person but from a feature of the environment. An epidemic can be reversed, can be tipped, by tinkering with the smallest details of the immediate environment. (pg. 142)

  • There are certain times and certain instances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior merely by changing the immediate details of their situation. (pg. 155)

  • Human beings invariably make the mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of the situation and context. (pg. 160)

  • Once you catch a criminal you can try to help him get better - put him in therapy, try to rehabilitate him - but there is very little you can do to prevent the crime from happening in the first place. (pg. 167)

  • What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior in the face of the right kind of impetus. We are powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us. (pg. 259)

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