How fully I recommend this book: 6.5/10
Lesson 1: Ideas, products, messages, and behaviors are like viruses.
This may be the origin of the usage of “viral” to describe something that becomes very popular. Gladwell uses the virus analogy throughout the book to explore the “tipping point,” the point at which something begins to spread exponentially.
Lesson 2: The three elements of an epidemic.
- The Law of the Few: This is about who spreads the virus. Three types of people are crucial to any epidemic: Connectors (people who are connected to lots of people in different groups), Mavens (people who are experts and are passionate about sharing their expertise), and Salesmen (charismatic people who can affect those around them).
- Stickiness Factor: This is about the virus itself. How “sticky” is it? Can it be made stickier?
- Power of Context: This is about the context inhabited by the virus. Certain contexts are more conducive than others to the spread of a virus. Tiny contextual adjustments can make a huge difference in something reaching a tipping point.
Lesson 3: In relationships, proximity often trumps similarity.
“We’re friends with people we do things with.”
Lesson 4: What word of mouth actually is.
Word of mouth is not everyone telling everyone about something.
What word of mouth actually is: someone telling a Connector.
Then, the Connector tells all the people they know!
So, word of mouth is mostly accelerated by a few key Connectors, rather than by many people.
Lesson 5: Context can trump convictions.
“It’s possible to be a better person on a clean street than in one littered with trash.”
Gladwell’s research shows this, which surprised me!
Behavior and character are often times a function more of context than of convictions.
E.g.; Removing graffiti from the NYC subway system accelerated the precipitous drop in criminality in the city.
Lesson 6: Social channel capacity
Also known as Dunbar’s number, 150 seems to be the maximum number of genuine social relationships our human brains can maintain.
Military subgroups aim to remain smaller than 150. Same with hunter-gatherer villages.
Even a wildly successful corporation found that exceeding 150 people in a division or production plant often led to disorder and friction, so they now cap their groups at 150 and when the number of employees gets close to exceeding, a new group is created, and so on.
Lesson 7: Communication immunity.
The network effect would suggest that the more people participate in a network (social media, email, etc.), the more valuable the network becomes.
This, however, has a limit.
The more frequent the communication in a network, the more likely it is to create “communication immunity,” meaning that the messages in the network begin to lose importance, and traditional forms of communication, like a face-to-face conversation with a friend, gain more value.
E.g.; Email can texting can be overwhelming, so I have become more immune to those communication networks than to phone calls, which are more scarce and usually more important.
Lesson 7: How gossip is born.
Gossip is the result of a three-step distortion of reality:
- Reality is leveled, a process by which all kinds of details that are essential to understanding reality are left out.
- Leveled reality is sharpened, a process by which remaining details are made more specific.
- Leveled and sharpened reality is assimilated, a process by which the new constructed reality is changed so it can make more “sense” to those spreading the rumor.
Next time I hear any gossip, I will be sure to yell out, “Hey, stop spreading that nasty result of a three-step distortion of reality!”