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The Tipping Point

How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

By Malcolm Gladwell
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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point discusses why certain ideas, products and behaviors spread like epidemics and what we can do to consciously trigger and have control over such epidemics.

Key idea 1 of 10

Ideas spread like epidemics.

The spread of ideas, products and behaviors can be compared to the spread of a viral infection: for years, only a few people are affected (or infected), but then, within a short period of time, it becomes an epidemic.

Take the suede shoes made by Hush Puppies, which remained mere shelf-warmers until the mid‑1990s when suddenly they became a must‑have. Within just one year, sales figures jumped from 30,000 to 430,000 pairs; the next year, around two million pairs of Hush Puppies were sold.

The company itself had nothing to do with the epidemic. It all started when a couple of hipsters in Manhattan started wearing the shoes, which “infected” others with the idea and set off a trend.

Social epidemics share several of the same recurring characteristics as viral infections.

For example, subtle external changes can often strongly affect the transmissibility of a social infection, just as viral infections can spread more easily in the wintertime when most people’s immune systems are weaker.

In addition, both will eventually reach a Tipping Point: the point at which the critical mass has been reached and the spread can no longer be stopped.

Ideas spread like epidemics.

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