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.

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.