Chapter One: The Three Rules

The Law of the Few:  Well, there is nothing better when considering epidemic-like events than discussing the spread of STDs…but it does help make the case for how a few people can spread an idea or a product.  The 80/20 rule seems to apply well especially as Gladwell describes the characteristics of the few as how much more “sociable they are, or how energetic or knowledgeable or influential among their peers.”  (Page 21)  Think about people in your circles whose influence seems to outweigh the average person, do you listen to them?  Do they impact you?  Are you that person?

Stickiness Factor:  The ability for something to remain appears to be a key factor, essentially it has to “stick” with you in order to make the kind of impact Gladwell describes.  “Stickiness means that a message makes an impact.”  (Page 25)  What was the last thing that “stuck” in your head?  Was it a song, a commercial, a person, an event?

The Power of Context:  Understanding the situation people find themselves in is the last rule and states “that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem.”  (Page 29)  The “bystander problem” as described in this chapter was pretty alarming to me, and made me think about when I see an accident or lose power in the neighborhood.  I mostly assume someone has already called 911 or the power company and I don’t pick up the phone.  I do not always act because in context, there are so many people in the same situation, assumptions are easy to make.  Does the environment impact you?  How do you feel when you come home to a sink full of dishes, you witness an argument, or it rains on the day you planned that big outdoor event?

Gladwell is making the case, or perhaps building his case that these three rules need to be in place in order to pass the tipping point.  Have just one of these, and it is not enough.  You have two of them?  Sorry, you still need another one.  Can you think of an example of each rule in your own experience?  If so, please share it with the group.

As a reminder, please read a chapter each week, post a thought about the reading, and comment on at least one other person’s post. 

3 Comments on “Chapter One: The Three Rules

  1. Now I am going to disagree with my last post…or at least clarify. After I posted this, I began to think that my example was not a great one. The service was sticky, but I was trying to think of a message or something else that stuck with me lately. The last thing that I can remember really impacting me enough to call me to action (to buy a product, or at least take a look at it) was a glasses company online. Their sticky pitch to me was simple: affordable stylish glasses for me, and they give a pair of glasses away to someone in need. All of a sudden I am not just a consumer, but a humanitarian, right? Somehow this message of doing good while meeting my own need had a stickiness that called me to action. Action that included going to my eye doctor and getting a check up, and ordering glasses online.

  2. Iain, Good point, seems like the competition for our attention or to be the next sticky thing is great. I was trying to think about the last thing that really stuck with me…or held my attention. One recent experience was with my running shoes. I purchased them and they didn’t really work out and spent some time emailing with the company’s customer service and they reminded me that they did have a one-year warrantee on their shoes. I send the shoes back and they not only replaced them, but they gave me a better pair for my running style, even though they could have just sent me the same pair. They took the time to make sure I was in the right shoe, as well as that the shoe was not defective in anyway. I was completely impressed, and as a company they are pretty sticky now in my mind, and I am sure that will help me stick to them over the next 20 years of my remaining running years.

  3. I think we encounter the sticky, or the potentially sticky, every day. The next big news story–huge stickiness factor. But news has a short shelf life. How sticky does something have to be to really stick, to really stay lodged in our brains, to not be replaced by something just as sticky?

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