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THE TIPPING POINT Powered By Docstoc
					                                          THE TIPPING POINT
                              How little things can make a big difference
                                           Malcolm Gladwell.

                   Hush Puppies, classic lightweight crepe sole – As un-fashion
                   as it was possible in all the 80’s and into 1994 to get. In the
                   60’s they sold millions every year. EVERYONE had at least
                   one pair. But they went WAY out of style and by 1994 were
                   all but dead, sales down to 30,000 per year. Wolverine the
                   company was thinking about phasing them out.

                   Its tipping point came late in 1994 or early 1995.

                   Two executives were in New York and ran into a fashion
                   stylist who told them that Hush Puppies were being bought
                   up out of little mom and pop stores and used stores and
                   where the in thing as clubs an bars in downtown Manhattan.
                   The guy told them that even Isaac Mizrahi was wearing
                   them. They had no idea who he was.

                   Things started to snowball.
                        In 1995 they sold almost half a million pair
                        In 1996 they sold 2 million pair
                        1996 won a fashion design award and the president
                           stood on stage with Calvin Kline to accept the

                   They exploded within a year. It all started by some kids,
                   whoever they were in the East Village and Soho. Kids who
                   were wearing them exactly because no one else was! A
                   couple of designer picked them up, more, more, bars, in,
                   and then the tipping point.

Understanding the TIPPING POINT is the best way to understand the emergence of fast
trends in fashion or crime or a book or teenage smoking. It is the history of an idea of what
creates rapid almost instantaneous change.

Three characteristics are present for all epidemics and all epidemics have a tipping point!

    1. Contagiousness - It is very much like a virus or epidemic.

    2. Little causes have big effects - Little changes in behavior unintended created big
       consequences. 20-50 maybe 100 kids started wearing Hush Puppies and a year
       later half a million were sold.

    3. Fast spreading, a dramatic moment. Not slow and steady but sharp changes

These describe fashion trends, changes in crime rate or crack cocaine trade or a measles
epidemic moving through a school. That dramatic moment of change is THE TIPPING
POINT. The critical mass.

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Now how does this take place? What makes it happen?

        Why do some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others do not.
        What can we do to deliberately start and control them.

An epidemic is a function of the people who are the transmitters, the infectious agent
itself and the environment in which the agent and the people operate.

A tipping point happens when anyone of those three change – 1,2 or in all 3


    1. The Law of the Few –The carriers, the transmitters

    2. The Stickiness Factor – The agent, the virus the message

    3. Power of Context – The environment in which the other two function.

ALL THREE ARE ALWAYS PRESENT. It is whether they are there in sufficient numbers and
strength to make it happen. It is how they interact that counts,


There are: connectors, mavens and salesmen


The midnight ride of William Dawes in 1776. Who ever heard of that?
No it is the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Where ever Revere want the bells range, the
towns leaders turned out, the drums rolled, the news spread like a virus, alarms where
raised throughout the region

But did you know that same night Dawes did the same thing on the other side of Boston
and in fact went to more towns and traveled a longer distance than Revere. Yet on his ride
the towns didn’t turn out, the people weren’t excited, the church bells didn’t ring, the
results were so discouraging that the revolutionaries thought some of the towns where
Tory towns.

A piece of extraordinary information spread like wildfire in one direction and didn’t in the
other. Luckily the British went out to Concord and were met and defeated by the militia.
ALL by word of mouth.

The reasons for the difference was in the two men. Revere knew everyone, was on 5 of the
7 revolutionary councils – only two were on that many, He knew everyone, had held many
posts, involved in all the actions, a wide group. He would routinely ride to Philadelphia
and New York and up to New Hampshire, met all the people. While Dawes knew a lot in
Boston he didn’t know many in the country side, he was uncomfortable, wasn’t recognized,

Six Degrees of Separation. You have all heard of that

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You are 6 degrees of separation from George Washington, three from Bill Clinton, four
from JFK – all because you now know me!

                   Stanley Milgram wanted to study how people were
                   connected the idea of the small world problem. He got 160
                   random names of people in Omaha Nebraska and mailed
                   them a package and asked them to get the package to a
                   stockbroker who worked in Boston and lived in Sharon Mass.
                   Each person was to send the package to someone they knew
                   that would get it closer to that person. And then the next
                   was asked to do the same thing. He found that most arrived
                   within 5-6 steps. THUS 6 DEGREES OF SEPARATION.

                   But they aren’t all equal. 24 responses came to his home, 16
                   from one person, a clothing merchant. The rest came to his
                   office and most of those came from two men. 160 people
                   sent out letters and those people sent out letters and over
                   half came to the same 3 people.

THUS, a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps and the
rest of us are linked to those special few – THE CONNECTORS.

Sprinkled among every walk of life are a handful of people with truly extraordinary knack
of making friends and acquaintances.


                   A classic study of Getting a Job by Mark Granovetter.
                   His study showed that about 60% got jobs through personal
                   contacts, 20% from ads and headhunters and 20% from
                   applications. Of those that used contacts a vast majority
                   [over 80%] had only WEAK CONNECTIONS with the
                   contact. MAKES SENSE. If knew well then relationships
                   narrow in what person knows all ready. With weak ones
                   they are in different worlds.


This holds for restaurants, movies, fashion trends or anything that moves by word of mouth.

So with Hush Puppies they found some connectors that made it happen just out


These are purposeful information gatherers. They accumulate knowledge. They know it
all. They are obsessed with getting the best deal or learning the details. They have lots of
information on products, prices and places. They are experts but they want to help you,
assist you give you information. More socially motivated.

They have knowledge and the ability to spread it around. But not a persuader. They are

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Connectors are the social glue, Mavens are the data banks, and Salesmen are the

A number of studies have been done, Here is one on students. READ [p 77]

What have all these studies told us.

    1. Little things can make a big difference.

    2. Non verbal cues are as important or more important than verbal cues.

    3. Persuasion often works in ways that we do not appreciate.


It isn’t enough to get the idea or the product or the information out there. If it doesn’t
stick then it won’t happen. Paul Revere vs. William Dawes.

Stickiness is something you know when you see it.

                   Sesame Street did something no other kids show did –
                   consistently increase reading and knowledge level among
                   pre-schoolers. It worked! interestingly Big Bird wasn’t in the
                   pilot, mix of fantasy and reality within a single scene was not
                   allowed by the experts and the show was failing. Big Bird
                   linked fantasy and reality and Big Bird made it very very
                   sticky and the mix did.

                   Later along came Blue Clues – an animated blue dog called
                   blue, Steve, a mail box called mailbox, a shovel called shovel
                   and a pail called pail were the only characters. Same
                   episode ran 5 days running. Within 6 months it trounced
                   Sesame Street. In a comparison with 60 items, Blue Clues
                   kids remembered 50 and Sesame Street kids remembered
                   35—for preschoolers it had stick.

What makes an ad work isn’t its humor or beauty but whether is sticks. Some of the most
successful are ads that are real hokey.

                   Columbia Record Club - You have seen them - get 20
                   records free, sign up for 100 years. A guy named
                   Wunderman was the genius behind it with his TV Guide and
                   Parade magazine ads.

                   Columbia wanted more class so they hired McCann Ericson.
                   Top NYC ad agency to design ads. Wunderman was not
                   happy. He offered a challenge: In 28 markets do the print
                   ads exactly the same. In14 run his TV ads and in 14 run the
                   classy ones from McCann.

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                   The only change made in all the print ads was that he added
                   a gold treasure box to all the print ads.

                   In his media ads he created these hokey ads that said, find
                   the treasure box in TV Guide or Parade and get a free
                   record. He ran them at 2 am, really cheap.
                   McCann’s were classy and 4x as much placed in prime time.

The results In the Wunderman markets sales up 80%. In the McCann classy ads markets
sales up 19%.

Why? The little things, the link of the gold treasure box to the print ads.

                   Two groups of students were given booklets to urge tetanus
                   shots – one mild and straightforward and the other really
                   scary. The high fear group said they would get shots more
                   than regular one BUT in ALL only 3% went and got shots.

                   They changed the ad and added a map to health center and
                   hours open. Same split between mellow and fearful.
                   Results, 28% got shots. MOST interestingly there was an
                   even split between fear and not fear ads. The map made
                   them sticky!

For an epidemic to happen, it has to be memorable, fierce,
There is a simple way to package information that will make it stick. Just have to figure it


So you need the right people to distribute it and get it accepted. YOU need a message or
a virus or a vehicle that is sticky, remembered. But not enough, it all has to have context,
the environment in which the other two happen is key.

The Broken Window Theory. An epidemic starts with the first stone. Crime is the perfect

                   Crime on the subways and in NYC had been growing rapidly.
                   Police were focusing on the major crimes and letting the
                   little stuff go. Nothing helped.

                   In the 1970 the NYC subways were a mess, crime, graffiti.
                   Crime rate in NYC in early 90s was high. Within a year it
                   started to fall and fall dramatically. A guy name William
                   Bratton was key. Head of Transit police and then NYC
                   police. He adopted the Broken Window Theory. He had
                   the police focus on the little things:
                           Subway – Graffiti, not the big stuff
                           Subways – Fare jumpers 1 out of 7 Not the big stuff

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                           Streets – Public urinating, throwing bottles,
                            “squeegee men[the guys that come up to cars to
                            wash windows at stop lights], Not the big stuff
                           Crime plummeted, criminals pay very close attention
                            to their environment

You can change the tipping point with the smallest details in fact they are almost always in
the smallest details

People act and respond differently in different environment. People can be honest in one
environment and dishonest in another, generous in one not in another. Believing in one
and not in another ROKEACH, a great researcher, found that people always carry two
attitudes when they are in any situation – an attitude about the object and an attitude
about the place/environment. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

                   Rebecca Wells wrote Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood in
                   1996. Sold 15,000 hardback. Normal readings had 7-10
                   people. 1997 the paperback came out and the first edition of
                   it sold 18,000 then in a few months sales reached 30,000.
                   Groups started coming to the readings and getting 8-10
                   books signed to different people, then mothers and
                   daughters, then three generations. Still not on best seller list.
                   Then in early 1998 it reached its tipping point, and went on to
                   48 printing and 2.5 million copies. Wells said she realized it in
                   northern California when she arrived at a readings with 700 to
                   800 people regularly.

                   The power of context in this case was book groups. Where
                   book groups were strong the book sold strong. It was talked
                   about and read and talked about, word of mouth through
                   groups. Groups, friends, peer pressure have a greater impact
                   than family on context and spreading epidemics.

Transactional memory - Much of our real memory is outside our brain but in our
environment. Two know more than each one, the interaction creates added memory

ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH IT CAN MULTIPLY. Simple but we almost always forget it.

        Remember it is the little things that make the difference.

        Getting people to talk about an idea or product isn’t enough, need the right
         people, the very special people

        Have a catchy theme or ad or visual product is nice but it isn’t enough. You have to
         have something that sticks. IT is in the little changes, little changes, small things
         that create the tipping point.

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        Even if you have all the perfect people and the stickiest product but if the
         environment or context in which it takes place is wrong, it won’t happen.

So remember an epidemic can’t happen unless all three but when you do have all three, it
will take off like a huge explosion, Hush little Puppy.

LIKELY FAIL” Don’t assume it is the big things, it is the little ones

                                                             And remember to “Think Sideways”

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