In my short time back in the “big smoke” I have quickly become acquainted with graduate school. I must say that I am enjoying it. It has been exciting, overwhelming and fun. As the readings begin to add up, things like an internship or research ideas become daunting. But unlike other times in my life, I feel better prepared thanks to a few concepts that I learned this summer while reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
The book is based on epidemics. Gladwell explains the emergence of fashion trends, the rise and fall of crime rates, and how books become best-sellers, to name a few. One of the main principles is the Law of the Few and how epidemics rely on three types of individuals who are ultimately responsible for the eventual ‘tip’ or spike in popularity.
The first group of people are the connectors who, first and foremost, know a lot of people. You certainly know one yourself, and they often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Scattered throughout many interconnecting circles are people with an extraordinary knack for making friends and introducing like-minded people.
Secondly, there are those people who inform the Connectors. Gladwell calls them Mavens. The term is Yiddish and means one who accumulates knowledge. These people are the information specialists, price vigilantes and the ones who hold societies elites in check. They passively collect information and willingly share their knowledge without any expectation of gain in return. Because they are socially motivated, they lack one of life’s most fundamental skills, persuasion.
The third type of person is a Salesman. The Mavens provide the data, Connectors are the social glue and the Salesman convince those who are swaying in either direction. Most truly successful Salesmen/women aren’t necessarily selling the product or service, they’re selling themselves. It could be a powerful personality trait, energy, enthusiasm or charm as Gladwell explains.
Without any one of these people epidemics are unlikely. So as we begin to move closer to internships, MRPs and eventually graduation (believe it or not) I think it is important to not only become immersed into the information and opportunities around us, but also to share, connect and persuade others. If you are a Maven pass along your expertise, if you have a knack for Connecting, then connect; finally, if you are gifted in the art of persuasion, convince others to try new things or keep up with the latest technology.
All of Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas relate back to communication because without it, epidemics wouldn’t be possible. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth, visual communication or the gift of speech.