: The Tipping Point
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
It might just be pop science, but this is a fascinating study about how trends and social epidemics happen. What makes a particular shoe suddenly popular? How does a book become a best-seller? Why are so many students pulling Columbines at their schools? Gladwell details some interesting studies that reveal unexpected answers. For example, violent crime in New York City went down dramatically after a crackdown on graffiti. Getting rid of graffiti was expensive and many were against it figuring it was a minor offense, but the results were astounding. It turned out that the presence of graffiti gave thugs confidence that even worse crimes also wouldn’t be punished. After all, if the cops couldn’t stop graffiti, how could they stop purse snatching? But once the graffiti was gone, low-lifes were much more hesitant to commit violent crimes. There are dozens of other examples of unorthodox solutions to problems, and the idea of the book is that you can learn from others and employ the same techniques in your own situations. For example, one woman was having little success with her campaign educating women about breast cancer. The women who showed up for her seminars were already interested in the subject. She wanted to reach the uninformed. Most people would assume an expensive advertising campaign would be the only way, but her non-profit organization had very little money. So she came up with a brilliant idea: instead of advertising, she picked a select group of women and focused her education efforts on them. Who did she pick? Hairdressers. Sure enough, once those hairdressers had been educated and trained in how to convey the important message about breast cancer, they promptly told all their clients about it! And since the presentation was casual and presented as friendly chatter, the retention rate of the information was fantastic. The number of women going in for mammograms skyrocketed. And the cost of the program was hardly anything. So thinking differently, and influencing the right group of influential people is much more effective than spending gobs of money on ad campaigns that are just going to be ignored anyway. Great book.