Take-Aways From The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is an informative read by Malcolm Gladwell where he seeks to unpack, understand and explain how ‘epidemics’ take off. Here, he really highlights how the smallest changes can make the greatest impact as he studies epidemics like ‘Sesame Street’, ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’, the start of the American Civil War, the success of the Airwalk sneakers, and other examples that help put into perspective the seemingly random success of both positive and negative epidemics.

As a marketing enthusiast, you can imagine this read was a gem for me, so much so that I had to read it twice, making notes along the way. Though published 15 years ago, there are still some relevant gems that I thought I would share with you.

There are 3 Rules concerning Epidemics:
Law of the Few
Stickiness Factor
The Power of Context

The Law of the Few

A few influencers are the ones who are responsible for and ignite the spread of an ‘epidemic’. These few can be categorised as follows:

1) Connectors – they are responsible for bringing together different worlds. They are able to translate a high-level concept or idea into a format that a broader audience can understand. Here, Malcolm Gladwell reiterates the six degrees of separation concept. What fascinated me, in addition to this, is the ‘the strength of weak ties’ especially in the context of, for example, employment. Sometimes the greatest opportunities arise from seemingly weak ties.
2) Mavens – these are knowledge accumulators. They aren’t just obsessed with information collection but also want to share it with others for their benefit.
3) Salesmen – these are powerful influencers. They can affect the emotions of others and are charismatic individuals.

The distinguishing factor between the three kinds of influencers is; “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue – they spread it… Salesmen (have) the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced.” (pg 70)

The Stickiness Factor

The ‘stickiness factor’ refers to memorable messaging and is:

– What makes a product/service/experience memorable to consumers

– About creating a message and interaction between consumer and product that makes it memorable. It makes consumers feel a part of the journey.

– Viewers aren’t just an audience, but become participants

Power of Context

Messaging cannot be received in isolation. In addition to the law of the few and the stickiness factor, an important consideration in communicating a product/service is the context. “Human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.”
– Our context and surrounds play an important role in how messages are received

–  The ‘Broken Windows’ theory is an example used to describe this with regards to crime

– The power of context also highlights, to me, the importance of image & its impact on how messages are recieved

The author provided some incredible insights that I found valuable. There are a lot of questions one could have seeing that his book is based on a lot of theories, but one cannot fault him as he does factually back his claims. Perhaps not a conclusive read on all aspects to do with epidemics, but in the age of the influencer, he does help to put into perspective a lot of elements that are relevant today. I admire his attention to detail and the immense amount of research that went into this short but relevant read.

Do you have any thoughts?


The Church Could Learn A Thing Or Two From Scandal

Photo Cred: The Weeklings

Photo Cred: The Weeklings

That may be a shock to many-a-system but it needed to be said. I recently read a piece on Shonda Rhimes – the mastermind behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and most recently, How To Get Away With Murder. She is also the media mogul behind ‘Shondaland’, the production house that keeps giving us such gripping television. In the piece I read on her, you can see that she is acutely aware of human behaviour and nature. She uses this intuition and understanding to create shows and characters that are real and that viewers can relate to. Reading this article got me thinking…

Shonda Rhimes is a great inspiration of mine but we do have our differences. She unapologetically develops characters with intensely uncomfortable novices and kryptonites that don’t quite sit well with some. I for one had to give up Scandal for a while as I found myself rooting for Olivia Pope’s adulterous and incestuous relationship with a married man who just happens to be the President of the United States. As a Christian, such behaviour and lusts are one of the many reasons we seek God and prayer – to be freed from these devices. Take a good look at Olivia and you too will see the torment she goes through as she grapples with right and wrong.

While I may not support or validate this behaviour, I have to tip my hat to the likes of Shonda, Matthew Weiner (creator of ‘Mad Men‘) and Beau Willimon (creator of ‘House of Cards‘). They have produced some of my all-time favourite shows. These creators, their writers, their actors and production teams manage to portray the realities of many individuals. Yes, they are often exaggerated, but people keep coming back because they resonate with our struggle as humans. I would not call myself a sadist, but I resonate deeply with the struggle of the human – just like the struggles of some of these characters.The struggle of pursuing goodness or wanting to get out of what we are naturally inclined to do and wrestle with – for me it speaks to what the Apostle Paul himself said:

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do.”| Romans 7:15

You see, I resonate with these characters because they share in a struggle that I too often struggle with – the desire to be better whilst possessing a sinful nature that keeps bringing you down.

I think sometimes in a church or religious setting, as we strive for members to seek out higher values that are instilled in the Bible, we create a culture of shunning others out and zero tolerance to the fact that we are human. In doing so, we don’t connect with the needs of people and what they need help with.

If we were to unpack the complexities of life as some of these shows do, we would be able to reveal some of the root issues people are suffering from and begin the journey to recovery. If we keep upholding this ‘I’m perfect and don’t need any help’ mentality, we will perpetuate cycles of people coming to church and leaving unchanged. Of people seemingly having Christ but not having the heart of Christ.

‘Christians are perfect right? They don’t have such issues or if they do, they deal with them at home.’ This is a great misconception of Christianity. It’s not to say we should air everybody’s dirty laundry, but we ought to keep things a tad more real. We ought to be helping communities and not skirting over issues.
I do not agree with television and pop culture for condoning and willfully accepting detrimental behaviour as an acceptable norm. Yes, it’s good to highlight these issues, but how do we curb them in a healthy manner – a manner in which God would have us deal with them? That is what is missing from television and media today.
I do not believe that the behaviour that does not fall in line with the teachings of the Bible should be celebrated, but who are we kidding? We are not righteous in our own might. Righteousness comes from God.

In the same breath, the church does need to learn to appeal more to the complexities of the human heart and mind. To identify and understand our shortcomings as they truly are and instead of Stevie Wonder-ing over them, seek out real and effective ways to help each other overcome through Jesus Christ. That would be true effectiveness on the part of the church.