The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting take on the idea that “things happen for a reason”. Gladwell’s reason for these things is a unique perspective. If you enjoyed Freakonomics, you will enjoy The Tipping Point.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference takes us through many real life examples to prove out the subtitle. Each chapter is like a sitcom. The book has several stories seamlessly interwoven around the same general theme, and circle back to tie them together at the end of each chapter as grand finales. The stories make sense in the middle too, but Gladwell would be remiss if he didn’t dumb it down each chapter to really drive the point home.
What lies behind these examples are the types of people that make these things happen. This is where Gladwell attempts to be a teacher. He wants you to ask yourself which category you think you fall into. But that’s the limit of the self-reflection he strives for.
The Tipping Point is philosophical (Gladwell is a writer for The New Yorker, after all) with concrete examples and studies. Gladwell makes points about things that would look otherwise meaningless, but shows that they were critical to the person or the event succeeding or failing. Those seemingly meaningless things are basically “the tipping point”.
The Tipping Point is an easy and entertaining to read. It contains a lot of short stories. Gladwell occasionally refers back to earlier stories, but you can almost pick up the book anywhere and not feel lost, much like sitcoms of the past.
Finally, the book is not as actionable as it is philosophical. If you could take a moral from the story it would be that if things aren’t working well don’t give up and just try a new approach. Sometimes the tipping point comes from somewhere completely unexpected.