The Tipping Point Summary: Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point Summary

The Tipping Point Summary provides a free book summary, key takeaways, review, best quotes and author biography of Malcolm Gladwell’s famous self-help book. Malcolm Gladwell, a social theorist, tells how small moments lead to significant changes.

This bestseller book The Tipping Point made New York staff writer Gladwell a famous name. It was published in 2000. But, it still is among the top bestsellers on Amazon. Gladwell writes about concepts which still ring a bell. For example, clothing trends, famous ad campaigns, and cultural shifts have “stickiness.” They stay in your brain and influence how your act and buy. He also discusses social “contagion” and social “epidemics” noticeable by the spread of local attitudes/trends. For example, hipsters wearing Hush Puppies. Such waves spur widespread changes. They produce solutions both counterintuitive and conservative. Hence, they redefine what people consider reasonable.

The models Gladwell raises and the cases he cites all back his core theme. That is, the significant change may not always come slowly. It can even happen suddenly. Plus, it can rise from the influence of a select few tiny moments. This classic is a must read. Especially for people wanting to know how little events spur bigger ones. Plus, those who want to understand how social change gets to a tipping point.

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” 

The Tipping Point Summary


Gladwell’s classic simplifies social-science and academic study for a mass audience. Many of his theories become clichés. They’re as tough to free from common view as the theories they displaced. As he explains stickiness, you grasp that Gladwell is as sticky. In another classic book Outliers, he describes the idea of practice. That is to master in any area; one needs to put in 10,000hrs of practice. This idea also comes up in every leadership, business and self-help book. Many drew from this idea, and others repeated it. This is how a virus converts into a social epidemic. But, who is spreading the message is critical. Not anyone can spread a virus. It’s because not all get the respect for their opinions.

The virus to be spread or the messenger should’ve stickiness. Such stickiness is contrary to common expectations. The social virus may stick. For example, when hipsters made ordinary Hush Puppy footwear into the coolest possible shoes. How? Because they looked the opposite of what would remain. Hush Puppies were once very uncool. So much so that when cool people began wearing them, they built an aura of anti-cool. The message was simple. That is, “I’m so cool, I can turn uncool shoes cool.” Now that was a highly sticky idea.


Gladwell has a simple solution to understanding any social virus. Just see it as an epidemic. Ideas, styles, attitudes – anything imaginable – can spread like a virus. Someone says, sings, does or wears something. Somebody else loves and imitates it. Then some more people like and copy the same. Visibility starts building around this small center. And, suddenly, everyone is saying, singing, doing or wearing it. Take The Tipping Point as an example. Gladwell wrote this classic. His publishers showed it to high-impact people. They spoke about it in influential settings. Then more influencers appreciated it. So, when it finally came to stores, it already had a viral word of mouth. Some bought it because they had heard about its theories and were curious. Others bought it because everyone was buying it. You mightn’t know the exact time the book passed its tipping point. But when it became a bestseller, you knew the dominoes were off.

“Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen”

Gladwell’s verdict is that social virus spreads because influential people follow/promote them. Not anyone can make an event a social virus. Three types of individuals have the power the begin, spread and maintain social viruses. These are salespeople, connectors, and mavens. See this classic from the view of time that’s passed when it first published. It’ll tell you that Gladwell is all three types of people at once.

“To be someone’s best friend requires a minimum investment of time. More than that, though, it takes emotional energy. Caring about someone deeply is exhausting.” 


Connectors connect. They know many people. But, most importantly, they know the right type of people. That is other connectors. People connected with connectors respect their input. Take for example the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. This game requires you to connect stars with one another. Because they starred in a movie with someone who starred with Bacon. The game started because people consider Bacon as a connector. He has featured in some films. Hence, he acts like a human crossroad. But, Bacon isn’t the most connected movie star. Gladwell posts calculations from computer scientist Brett Tjaden. It reports that Rod Steiger networks with the highest number of stars in the least steps. But, no one sees Steiger as a connector. This shows an essential connector quality. That is, people need to network with you and think you network with others.

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Mavens are people who know too much about one thing. Or a lot about many things. But, others see and value them as experts who amass knowledge. Gladwell describes how information moves markets. Hence, mavens drive markets. When they act, others believe their actions to be credible. So, people follow mavens. This is partly because mavens like telling others what they’ve learned. But, mavens aren’t salespeople. Thus, they don’t push anyone. Their goal isn’t to make others behave as they do. Instead, they educate.

“Emotion is contagious.” 


Salespeople sell. When they like anything, they want others to follow it. As per Gladwell, they mightn’t be mavens or connectors. They might operate in small social circles. They might not even know why the thing they like is great. But, they push everyone to love what they want. Great salespeople can drive others to their preferences very effectively. In turn, their followers convert other people, and the cycle continues. A connector, salespeople or maven alone can’t convert a virus into an epidemic. All three types should accept and spread the virus in their way.

Evolving Style

There’s a difference in The Tipping Point and later works of Gladwell. It’s that of telling. As the cliché goes “you get three-decades for your first book. But just three years for your next one.” Gladwell’s sentences are complex and more extended in The Tipping Point.

In contrast to his later works, he’s less concise and wordier. He appears to be writing for readers as wise as him. That would make for a small group of readers. But, in his later works, his writing is simpler. His examples use more basic words. Here, he confuses the punchline at times. Instead, he starts writing around his core idea. It speaks about the stickiness of his ideas that the book became a classic. Hence, in many places, it mightn’t be his most elegant writing.

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” 

Enduring Concepts

Gladwell’s style may prove a little boring and complex. But, his ideas are irresistible. He examines how social forces spread. With his book, he took the task before Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. Still, his reasons for how trends become social patterns are applicable. Replace any social-media channels with his communication channels. You’ll find his ideas on how social viruses start and grow haven’t aged. Gladwell’s five classics, his speeches, and articles are proof of his creative work. His skills are apt for his era. He’s a smart and eloquent writer of simple descriptions of human behavior. Once he reworks them, such reasoning looks deep but stays accessible. That he continues this achievement book after book is a proof of his genius. Maybe not as a writer, but his skill for knowing what makes a bestseller. When you read a Gladwell book, you know what’s on offer. He’s excellent at maintaining and endorsing his brand.

When Gladwell Became a Tipping Point

After The Tipping Point, Gladwell became a household name. A brand and an adjective at the same time. “Gladwellian” is now a term for pundits and thinkers. People who use social science studies to reveal and explain the causes of trends. He’s built an identifiable persona and gained wide respect. Gladwell comes on TV shows, TED talks, and podcasts. He’s respected as a public genius. You can’t think of any other author who occupies his place. This classic was Gladwell launchpad. It started off as a New Yorker article which expanded into a book. It’s ironic that his first book talks about how social viruses expand fast. This is what happened to him too. All the ideas he raised in the book apply to his career too. The Tipping Point became Gladwell’s tipping point.

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The Tipping Point Review

If we look around us in the world, it can seem like the fixed and cruel place, and if push slightly at right will place then, it can be tipped. When I will going over challenging the time carrier wise later, I have found this book. Though there are many things achieved by me then, I felt I had put many efforts into doing little works, and it have not enough effects. This book guides us towards identifying the condition which brings little efforts for big chances and this book also identified how the interferences of these sources came about. The example of a tipping point is just like as the straw which breaks the camel’s back.

It is placed at where little modifications have big effects. This books study tells us about the different trends and fads which are preliminarily related to the study about the human behavior as well as it tells about the people who make them it acceptable and championship of the particular products. I have an interest in the book due to two folds which are. I had an interest in this book because it’s recommended to me and I had seen it in the most selling books. I also interested to know about how the ideas of the author of this book are similar to the advocate by the Church Growth experts.

This boom is also told about the pop sociology has built-in appeal regarding the idea of the superficial piece. This book tells about the when few people behaving differently little changes have big effects. For until critical mass the behaviors can ripple outwards to changing the world. Gladwell gave the ideas about products messages and behaviors which can spread virally as well as his residues the metaphor for following g the growth of the word of mouth epidemics. He initiated it for helping the three main types in which connectors and sociable personalities are included.

The Tipping Point Quotes

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” 

“To be someone’s best friend requires a minimum investment of time. More than that, though, it takes emotional energy. Caring about someone deeply is exhausting.” 

“Emotion is contagious.” 

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” 

“There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.” 

“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.” 

“There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” 

“A book, I was taught long ago in English class, is a living and breathing document that grows richer with each new reading.” 

“Acquaintances, in sort, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.” 

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.” 

About the Author

New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell is a New Yorker staff writer. He also wrote Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingOutliers: The Story of Success; What The Dog Saw: And Other Adventures and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.


Having read this The Tipping Point Summary, what do you think? Do you believe what the author said is true? Please feel free to share your thought with us!

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