The Tipping Point Review
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Unabridged Audio Book: 8 CDs (approx. 8.5 hours)

According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point (and also the audio book’s narrator), little things can make a big difference. Sometimes, you can make a major change by altering one little thing. It’s like the butterfly effect, which asserts that the movement of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a tornado elsewhere in the world. But Gladwell isn’t talking about weather patterns. He’s talking about social patterns and business patterns—about crime and fashion and kids’ TV.

In his book, Gladwell tells several stories about how small changes brought about major phenomena. He talks about how a few kids in the clubs of New York brought Hush Puppies shoes from obscurity to high fashion. And he discusses how just one man—Paul Revere—could change the course of the entire American Revolution. Gladwell explains that one person can start an epidemic—spreading anything from a new fashion trend to an important message to a wave of crime. All it takes is a little word of mouth. To start an epidemic, all it takes is the right people and the right message. You need mavens—people who are experts in a certain area. You need connectors—people who know lots of other people. And you need salespeople—those who can sell their message to others, with just a few suggestions and some non-verbal communication. But you also need a message (or a product) that will stick.

The Tipping Point provides a plethora of illustrations about people (or businesses) who started an epidemic—and made it stick. Many of Gladwell’s points are pretty commonsensical, especially when it comes to the idea of word-of-mouth, but the stories are still interesting—and, sometimes, even inspiring. The book isn’t especially detailed or in-depth, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it makes for an interesting listen, without overwhelming you with facts and figures and statistics and details and buzzwords (which can be a little too much to handle if you happen to be listening to the book while trying to navigate through rush-hour traffic on your way to work). At the same time, though, Gladwell doesn’t offer a lot of proof to back up his theories, nor does he offer any concrete ideas for building your own business or getting your message across. He just offers stories about how other people made it work—and the tools that worked for them.

As an audio book, The Tipping Point has a few disadvantages. For starters, if you’re one of those people who like to take notes in the margins or highlight important parts of the text, you’ll be at a loss here. And it’s difficult to go back and re-listen to specific parts of the book, since there’s no track listing to refer back to. If you listen on your daily commute, you may not be able to pick up every detail, either—but you will get the general idea.

If you’re looking for concrete no-fail ideas that will grow your business or change your life, you won’t exactly find them here—though you will find plenty of interesting anecdotes. The Tipping Point is, however, a good starting point—and the audio version makes for an interesting way to pass the time in the car.

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