Skip to main content

The Tipping Point, storytelling, and good communication

I just finished The Tipping Point, which I really enjoyed. I doubt I have much new to add to the reams that has been blogged about Malcolm Gladwell's thesis, so I don't plan to comment on that. I did however try to think about why I liked the book so much (and immediately launched into Blink).

He does have a pretty interesting argument for how and why social epidemics happen. But I think what is just as important, if not more so, is the fact that he is very good at communicating. For one, he is a good, engaging writer. Knowing how to put a sentence (or a paragraph or a chapter) isn't enough though. He engaged and convinced me because he built the book on stories. Not just a compilation of anecdotes, but verifiable, detailed stories, with names mentioned and all. Taken together, he used the individual stories to build one coherent narrative in the book as a whole. It seems like a small thing, but it is pretty powerful. I try to think about my overall narrative (or, "what's the point,") when I write and present professionally and it isn't easy to do, especially since I am interested in so many things and see the connections between them. But to make others see the connections, one strong storyline is apparently all you need.

Comments

Alex,
I too loved The Tipping Point. I keep extra copies of that book so I can give them to my friends. I think the story that had the most influence on my was that of Lois Weisberg, the connector.
Patricia
Charu said…
I loved the book too - I could connect every story, every new term with someone I knew - either personaly or at work - for me that was the magic of that book - didn't like Blink as much though overall - but again Blink made me think of the number of times I have had an intuition about what is going on with the people / product I am researching - yet unable to form a concrete hypothesis or explain to the client!
Alex said…
I agree...sometimes I get into trouble because I can't articulate my rationale for something.

Popular posts from this blog

Anthropology and advertising?

I read an interesting article on trend forecasting today. I've always found this fascinating (and wonder how much anybody checks later to see if the forecasters were right). The only thing that bothered me about this one, and this is not new, is the claim that what they do is like cultural anthropology. This is not a diss on advertising, marketing, trend forecasting, or any of the other fields that claim to be like anthropology--these folks to interesting work.

I am just annoyed at the claim itself. Granted, we anthropologists are not always good at advertising ourselves...in that we offer a holistic approach, and theoretical insight based on our training. So anybody who observes people is now an anthropologist. Or is it just that Americans are so used to sound bites that they don't understand the nuanced differences in anything?

Sigh.

Kids Day and India

Last Friday was bring your kid to work day at Pitney Bowes. It's all very fun, begins with breakfast and a magic show, followed by tours for the older kids, then a big outdoor picnic. I was a tour stop, "Let's Travel to India." They put the kids in groups by age, since some of the stops are better for older or younger ones...I ended up with groups ranging from about 8-13 years old. It was fun but exhausting.

I figured the point was more fun than educational, so pretty much I set up a slide show to talk about the fact that we invent stuff by understanding how people live and work, and asking what they knew about India. Answers: lots of people, cows...Showed them pics of cellphones, malls and offices and lots of things that look pretty similar in India as in the US, then pictures of things that look different. Fun to see their reactions. They all noticed the Subway in the mall, and they all recognized the well in the village and understood what it was for and that…

Tweets and Yams

I originally signed up for Twitter (@lxmack) a while ago, but didn't really do anything with it--no tweets, no followers. Then had a couple of friends sign up to follow me...still didn't do anything. A few weeks ago I thought that I should give it more of a try...and I have to admit that I still don't get it.
I suppose I could come up with plenty of things to tweet about (the process of buying a new washer, the mystery of the blood in the house) but it seems time consuming and I am not sure who wants to know. My colleague John Braun very kindly encouraged me and gave some great advice, the most intriguing of which was his comment that Twitter can act like a group brain--ask a question and get an immediate answer.
On the flip side, I joined Yammer about the same time I tried to get active on Twitter. Best quick explanation of Yammer is that it's like Twitter for inside a company (you have to have a valid email address on your corporate domain), without the 14o character…