Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lesson 39: Where is your Tipping Point?

Eloise is in a book club, everyone!  I always thought the idea was cool, but I never really had the opportunity to join one.  No one sought me out, and I was not adventurous enough to seek one out on my own.  I read a few of Oprah's book choices for her book club, but never found the connection to them that other readers did.  Truthfully, Oprah, I found them, kind quite depressing.  When you get done with a book and feel like you want to jump off of a bridge, the book didn't really do anything for you.  Oprah is forgiven though, because she pointed me toward one of my favorite books of all time, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  Readers, if you haven't read that one yet, it is worth the time investment.  It is a beautiful story and one I plan to read again someday.  Maybe I'll suggest that one to my new book-lovin' peeps, because someone finally asked me to partake.  Yeehaw!

When I told my husband, who is not much of a reader (he is a math teacher), that I was joining a book club, this was his response:  "We can't afford it."  I was like, "There is no fee to join a book club."  For some reason he thought that a book club was like that thing in the Sunday paper ads that I joined 10 years ago--the Book of the Month Club.  The club mailed me books every month to read and charged my credit card which my husband hated.  I had books stacked up on my bedside table waiting to be read and the charges kept coming in and he made me stop.  Divorce or my books.  I did spend a day or two thinking it over, but decided it was in my best interest to cancel my Book of the Month membership. 

I explained to my logical-analytical-math-minded husband that a Book Club is a group of people who choose a book and read it over a couple of months time, then meet over dinner to discuss what they thought of the book.  There was this long pause, followed by a quizzical look, and then this response:  "For real?"  When I answered in the affirmative, my husband laughed and shook his head and said, "People really do that?"  My birthday is coming next week, so if you haven't sent me a birthday card yet and want to send me a sympathy card instead, go right ahead.

The Book Club choice was The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.  I highly recommend it if you like nonfiction and even if you are not a fan of the genre.  The subtitle of the book is "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference."  It is almost hard to classify the book, because I've never read anything else like it.  I decided to reference Malcolm Gladwell himself for clarification.  On his website he answered this question:  How would you classify The Tipping Point?  The following was his response which I think is a good hook for all of my readers:  I like to think of it as an intellectual adventure story. (Hooked, yet?)  It draws from psychology and sociology and epidemiology, and uses examples from the worlds of business and education and fashion and media.  (See what I mean?  Something for everyone).

WHAT'S THAT?? FASHION?   Cha-ching!  My sister Karen just read the word "fashion" and charged the book from Barnes and Noble on her credit card and it will be at her house in 3 days.  She'll never read it though and ask me what it's about in due time, only to tell her friends, "I read this really great book........."

The most interesting part of the book is about Gladwell's "Law of the Few."  This means in Eloise's terms, that in order for something to hook with people, to really make an impact--it depends on just a few people with a unique set of social gifts.  Gladwell categorizes these people into three types and calls them Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.  Given the fact that you are reading this blog, you are probably a "social type" yourself and I think you could classify yourself into one of Gladwell's categories.  Read them below to see if you fit into one of them.  The wording of the descriptions is paraphrased from an Amazon publisher's review.  The publishers have a little more fluency than I do tonight:

  • CONNECTOR:  people who "link up  with the world and have a special gift for bringing the world together.  They are people who have an extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances.  These individuals have social networks of over 100 people (so--how many facebook friends do you have?).  My sister Karen and her 819 facebook friends comes to mind right away.
  • MAVENS:  information specialists.  These are the people we rely upon to connect us with new information.  They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.  A maven likes to solve other people's problems.  I just realized that my mother isn't just annoying, she's only trying to help solve my problems for me--even as I turn 40 years old.  Thanks, mom--You're a MAVEN.
  • SALESMEN:  persuaders.  These are very charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills.  They tend to have the ability to make others agree with them.  They are good at using nonverbal cues to get people on their side.  Geez!  I thought that silent head nod and extended hand with a beer in it was just an invitation to drink.  Here, all along, my dad is a salesman--a salesman for Yeungling nonetheless, but a salesman just the same.
After completing the book in just a few days, I was left with the satisfaction of a better understanding of the world around me.  There is a science behind fads that I never even knew of before.  When Gladwell was asked on his website what he hoped readers would take away from the book, he responded the following:  One of the things I'd like to do is to show people how to start "positive" epidemics of their own.  The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and it can spread very, very quickly.    Kind of like Lessons From the Lamp Post's popularity in Slovenia.  I do have 29 followers, you know.  Not quite an "epidemic of positive thought" yet, but maybe tomorrow there will be 30.  All in due time, my friends, all in due time.

So, to answer my own question I put as this blog title, "Where is your Tipping Point?"  It better be on your bedside table.

Happy reading,

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