Even if I am the last person to read The Tipping Point I still found many of its ideas fresh and engaging, and also they’re very relevant to approaching how we use and perceive mainstream products and ideas. Just as with The Engagements, one of my favorite aspects of The Tipping Point was the meta-awareness it inspired in me. While I was reading I thought more broadly about why I respond to the ads and trends that I do (um, just bought these shoes…that would be me hanging off the side of the bandwagon) and how I too am susceptible to group think.
I also really liked thinking about the Connectors, Mavens and Salespeople in my life. My friend Jill knows just about everyone on this planet and meets new people all the time. She’s forever telling me about meeting someone on a plane that went to school with her parents, or running into someone in Paris who was neighbors with her best friend in elementary school (who she definitely still keeps in touch with because why not?!). Gladwell writes, “Sprinkled among every walk of life, in other words, are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances.” Yes, she is obviously a Connector. My Uncle Ken is insanely smart. Insanely smart. And he has so much product awareness and is so in tune with how to get the best deal that my aunt calls him Dr. Coupon. He is the most obvious Maven in my life. A friend I know from graduate school, Amber, is the Salesperson I can come up with most quickly. She is incredibly persuasive and can convince you to want things you never thought you’d be interested in. Not surprisingly, she’s had a career in social media and advertising and is now the CEO of a social media company that aims to increase business awareness and strengthen customer loyalty via persuasive advertising.
The Tipping Point may be well over a decade old, but its principles are still very much a part of today’s global marketplace. Perhaps, even more so considering how quickly ideas spread due to today’s advanced technology. One of my favorite quotes comes at the end of the book when he’s talking about small changes creating a big impact. Gladwell writes:
A critic looking at these tightly focused, targeted interventions might dismiss them as Band-Aid solutions. But that phrase should not be considered a term of disparagement. The Band-Aid is an inexpensive, convenient, and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. In their history, Band-Aids have probably allowed millions of people to keep working or playing tennis or cooking or walking when they would otherwise have had to stop. The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost.
I’ve always regarded Band-Aid solutions as temporary and ineffective, but I appreciate Gladwell’s insistence that sometimes they are the best solution. You wouldn’t perform surgery on a paper cut, right? Why go to such extremes to fix a relatively minor problem? This idea, I believe, can be translated to many facets of our day-to-day. I wouldn’t say that I blow things out of proportion, but I do tend to analyze problems or challenges to an extreme. Furthermore, I’m not a pessimist, but I do get bogged down in the negative and fixate on what can go wrong if I’m feeling particularly unprepared or vulnerable in a situation. For example, the graphic below accurately sums up how I felt right before our move to Bern or before any big shift actually:
That’s all to say that I like the Band-Aid solution and I think I’ll be turning to it more often when I’m feeling weighed down by the relative significance of a problem. So much of it (i.e. the problem) is a construct that ends up becoming self-sabotage, no? Two thumbs up for the Band-Aid.
Have you read The TIpping Point? Any thoughts on the matter? It’s a great read for anyone interested in social and cultural epidemics and learning more about the process of trend generation. I’d encourage anyone in a creative field to read it as it will invite illuminating discussions about how humans interacts with new ideas and scenarios.
(second image via)