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The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

How little things can make a big difference

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  • The tipping point is the moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a certain line and spreads like an epidemic.
  • The most common agents of change behind tipping points are:
    • The law of the few: infecting people and making them tip can be achieved by the influence of a small number of people with special skill sets.
    • The stickiness factor: changing the content of communication, by making a message so memorable that it sticks in someone’s mind and forces them to act.
    • The power of context: small changes in circumstance can be just as vital in reaching a tipping point.
  • These agents provide a direction for how to go about reaching a tipping point.
  • When we try to make an idea or product tip into virality we are actually trying to change the audience in a small yet critical way. We are trying to infect them.


  • The law of the few relies on people with unusual social gifts:
    • Connectors: people with a gift for bringing others together. They have the social skill to start a word-of-mouth chain.
    • Mavens: People who love to accumulate knowledge. We can compare them to data banks that condense their information into a message.
    • Salesmen: Persuaders!
  • Connectors bring others together and serve as social hubs. They have the capacity to relate to people and see their needs. Being intensely social and able to strengthen weak ties is one of their powers. The closer an idea/a product comes to one of these connectors, the more chance it has of achieving virality.
  • Mavens are information specialists that accumulate vast amounts of knowledge. They share their knowledge but do not try to persuade others. They merely act as a data bank. Their power resides in the fact that they can communicate so empathically that others are rapidly convinced by their expertise.
  • Salesmen are able to perceive the subtle, unspoken and hidden facts of our daily lives and use this to connect with us and convince us. They use our indifference to persuade us when we are unconvinced. Their effectiveness comes from the fact that small things matter just as much as big things, and they know that non-verbal interaction works just as powerfully as verbal – if not more so!


  • The stickiness factor is all about making messages more contagious. How do we reach as many people as possible and make them remember our message? The key to making messages stick lies in the smallest details of their immediate situation.
  • Making small but critical adjustments in how ideas are presented gives them the ability to overcome inherent weakness and make them memorable. If you pay careful attention to the structure and format of your message, you can dramatically enhance stickiness.


  • The power of context comes from the sensitivity of epidemics to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.
  • The contextual changes that are capable of tipping an epidemic are very different than we would usually expect because little things matter.
  • Tipping points can be reached by altering the smallest details of the environment in which people operate.
  • Once we are part of a group, we are all susceptible to peer pressure, social norms and influences that can get us involved with an epidemic. If you want to change people’s behavior, create a community for them.


  • How does change happen? What makes behavior tip?
  • When innovators come up with a new idea and gather their first followers – early adopters – the idea must be able to grow past them and expand to an early majority. Many ideas fail because they can’t form an early majority.
  • Connectors, mavens and salesmen are the people who take ideas from innovators and early adopters and make them understood and accepted by the masses.
  • To make an idea contagious, they lift some details and drop others to create more meaningful messages. With the slightest push in just the right place, the whole world can be tipped!

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