A Review of The Tipping Point, a Book by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point

Here’s how Malcolm Gladwell describes the Tipping Point:

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.

In The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell gives valuable insight on how human behavior relates to business.  He shares example after persuasive example of various scientific theories in action, explaining what we can do to deliberately start positive epidemics of our own.  I found them to be utterly fascinating and true.

What is the epidemic you want to spread?  What is the word-of-mouth movement you want to start?  Perhaps you’re a teacher that needs to get a point across.  Or you’re a parent trying to bring out the best in your kid.  Maybe you want to launch your business idea or you are trying to grow your personal brand.  Perhaps you want to increase awareness around a cause that is near and dear to your heart.

The Three Rules of the Tipping Point


1. The Law of the Few



Mavens accumulate knowledge and provide the message.  They love to help and are teachers at heart.

They share good deals that they find.  They take you shopping.  They know where the bathroom is in the store.

The unique value of mavens isn’t just what they know, but that they want to share it with others.  The fact that they want to help, for the sole purpose of helping others, happens to be a very effective way to gain someone’s attention.  If a Maven makes a recommendation, you would ALWAYS follow it.  You know that they know their stuff and that they have no ulterior motive.


Connectors take the Maven’s message and spread it.  They are intensely social people who have an amazing ability to make friends from all walks of life.

They remember their first grade teacher’s name and the phone number of their best friend from childhood.  Their energy, self-confidence, and anti-snobbery gives them a footing in so many different worlds.  And they can bring all those worlds together.

The unique value of connectors is their ability to naturally originate a word-of-mouth movement.  The closer an idea comes to a Connector, the more power it has to spread.


Salesmen take the Maven’s message and persuade us when we are unconvinced.  Salesmen are charming, enthusiastic, and utterly likable.  Because they are just plain happy.

They are naturally magnetic and extraordinary storytellers – we can’t help but to be drawn to them, to listen to their stories.

Salesmen are as critical to a word-of-mouth movement as Mavens and Connectors.


2. Stickiness Factor

Stickiness means that a message makes a lasting impact.  You can’t get it out of your head.  Sure, Mavens can provide the message, Connectors can spread it, and Salesman can persuade it… but unless the message is memorable, it won’t grab attention.

This can be especially difficult now, given all the overwhelming pleas for attention in today’s market.  We encounter tons of noise – online ads, vast amounts of email, and spam spam spam.  You just have to find the way to craft your authentic message to separate yourself from this clutter and compel your audience to action.


3. Power of Context

Our environment is a large factor that drives our behavior.  In the book, Malcolm cites research and gives examples of the Power of Context in action.  These three concepts were fascinating to me:

Broken Windows Theory

If a window is broken and left unrepaired, 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 from the building to the street, sending a signal that anything goes.

Channel Capacity

Our natural channel capacity limit is 7.  We can only handle so much information at once, and once we pass a certain threshold, we become overwhelmed and tune out.

Social Channel Capacity

Our social channel capacity is 150.  To have groups drive a contagious message, they need to be below 150 members.  If more, the group has a hard time agreeing and acting as one.


Diffusion Model

The diffusion model outlines how an idea or product moves through a population.

  • Innovators – the adventurous ones
  • Early Adopters – opinion leaders, the respected, thoughtful people who watch and analyze what those wild Innovators were doing and followed suit
  • Early Majority – deliberate mass, who would never try anything until the most respected tried it first
  • Late Majority – skeptical ones, who finally cave in
  • Laggards – the most traditional of all, who see no urgent reason to change

All sorts of ideas and products fail because they weren’t transformed from what makes perfect sense to an Early Adopter into one that makes sense to an Early Majority member.

To be successful, you have to employ Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen to translate the message of the Innovators into something the rest of us can understand. 


My Key Takeaways

I’m applying most of these concepts to developing my personal brand, as I develop my blog as my platform.

  • Identify the Mavens, Connectors, and Salespeople in my niche.  Be myself, hope they’ll see my authenticity, and let their natural talents fly.
  • Try to make my name and my message sticky.  Still working on this, but my domain name has a ring to it and is easy to remember, right?!
  • Never let my blog go un-maintained, resulting in abandonment, unsubscribes, and apathy – ala Broken Windows Theory.  That means no broken links and a regular blog post schedule.
  • Never have more than 7 blog categories, per Channel Capacity limit.  Otherwise, folks will tune out.
  • Identify groups in my niche with less than 150 members, reaching out to them.
  • Know my niche audience, where in the Diffusion Model they lie, and do my best to simplify for and relate to them.


Have you read The Tipping Point?

What’s your favorite concept and how are you implementing in your life?


By Angela

I'm passionate about creativity, productivity, and business. I'm a planner at heart, a small town girl, a wife and mom of two. I LOVE to make things with my own two hands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.