Chapter Two: The Law of the Few

Gladwell describes how all people were not created equal when it comes to their influence on others.  There are a “few” people with a “particular and rare set of social gifts” who are either Connectors, Mavens, or Salesmen.

Connectors know lots of people and create those small degrees of separation away from everyone (including Kevin Bacon).  On page 39, he provides a list of names to help gauge your own level of Connector status.  I was amazed at how much variation existed within the various groups where he gave this assessment.  I am curious, what was your number?  My number was 45.  It did help that one of the names on the list was Weber. 

I particularly liked how Connectors are described on page 51: “The point about Connectors is that by having a foot in so many different worlds, they have the effect of bringing them all together.”  Poor William Dawes, it appears he was out ridden by a Connector.

Mavens are those that accumulate knowledge on things and readily share it with the rest of us.  We trust their views on cars, appliances, schools, books, or even ice cream.  “They aren’t passive collectors of information…once they figure out how to get that deal, they want to tell you about it too.”  Page 62.

Salesmen, or those people who can persuade us and convince us are the last group.  These are individuals that can change our minds, and sometimes even get us to buy things (even if it is just an idea).  Gladwell describes communication with this groups as more of a dance.  Think about your last interaction with an actual salesperson, what did you like or not like about that interaction?

Which are you?  ConnectorMavenSalesmen?  Who are the Connectors, Mavens, or Salesmen around you?  Do these few influence you?  If so, how?  Let us know, and what you thought of this chapter, and remember to post on at least one other person’s post.

2 Comments on “Chapter Two: The Law of the Few

  1. My number was low–having Weber on the list definitely helped. Had there been a few French Canadian names, I might’ve done better.

    If Paul Revere hadn’t been as well connected, or if William Dawes had been better connected, the outcome in Lexington and Concord could have been quite different.

    I was fascinated by the subtle physical signs and movements that can do a lot to persuade us. Why resort to Jedi mind tricks when a smile and some head nodding will do? And yet, if a salesman overplays that, I’m done. No sale.

    • Iain, I am glad our last name helped! That particular list seems like it may play out better in various regions, I would be curious if you took the top 50 names in your city or state if you would have scored higher.

      The physical signs and movements reminded me of a TV show I watched were a mentalist (Keith Barry, on the show Deception) could influence the people he was interacting with and help lead them to pick a certain color or number. It seemed like “magic” at first, but he then explained how he essentially planted the answer into the minds of the participants along the way so “guessing” was simply stating what he has already planted. Amazing.

      We went to look at a few cars recently and it was fun to watch the sales people and how they interact with us. Some appear very natural and seem to be naturals, others are more like Hippos on ice skates. They have been trained, but seem less graceful than the natural ones.

      Thanks for the posts, I always appreciate your perspective.

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