Monday, July 12, 2010

Glad(well) You Asked

I'm currently obsessed with Malcolm Gladwell.

His first book, The Tipping Point, is about how certain factors aggregate to cause things (epidemics, fashion trends, things) to spread like wildfire.

Blink is about how we think in those nanoseconds before we begin consciously thinking about something.

Outliers is about why some people succeed far beyond others.

What the Dog Saw is about, well, all kinds of stuff, actually.

Since you may not want to compulsively read a single author until you've chewed up and shit out everything he's written, let me give you the Cliff Notes.

1) Never, and I mean NEVER, make the cops chase you.

The action of chasing someone elevates their pulse to 175 beats per minute, at which point they're no longer physiologically capable of rational thought and if you go to scratch your balls, their instincts will scream, "He's got a gun!!!" If you're lucky, they'll just beat the living daylights out of you. If you're unlucky, they will turn you into a human swiss cheese.

2) Heinz ketchup is a perfectly balanced food.

(Taste-wise. Nutrition-wise, despite the Reagan administration's beliefs to the contrary, not so much.)

Apparently it manages to not only romance the sweet/sour/salty/bitter sensing areas of our tongues, but also to woo our sense of umami, the perception of "heft" that we need for a complete taste experience.

3) If you want your baby to become a professional athlete, plan his/her birth early in the year.

Kids who are at the upper end of the age range for sports leagues far outperform kids at the lower end. Consequently, they are chosen for the All Star teams and get more practice, better coaching and more game-time than younger kids. Something like 75% of all professional hockey players in Canada were born in January, February, and March.

4) If you want to market a product via word of mouth, you need to know Connectors, people who have gift for acquaintanceship.

Gladwell provides a list of 250 surnames and says the average middle-aged person knows about 40 people with one of those names and Connectors know double or triple that amount. (I knew about 30.) But, given the fact that The Tipping Point was published in 2000, today you can probably skip the test and go straight to Facebook. I have a paltry 77 Facebook friends, while a friend from high school, who worked as a TV news anchor in Indianapolis for many years, has a whopping 2,360.

Crap. If I'd known how things were going to turn out, I would have kissed her ass more when we were in high school.


  1. I love him too! I am a Connector, although I must be a slacker Connector because I don't have anywhere near 2500 facebook friends :) I haven't read his latest book but #1 is good advice...I try never to make a police officer chase me, in fact I try real hard not to run at all :)

  2. It all sounds very interesting and worth a further look. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Gladwell gave a talk in Edinburgh recently. After reading some of his work and watching his TED videos, I was so disappointed by the event, which lasted only an hour and focused entirely on research for Cancer drugs. I'm still interested in some of thing things he writes about but I'll certainly skip the next live event on offer. :(

  4. Interesting ! I'll keep #2 in mind when I serve the fries!!

  5. I haven't yet read his books, have heard of him, and would love to know more!

    With a September birthday, should I just scrap being a good tennis player in this life?


  6. He sounds interesting..ah Facebook..I am not certain how many friends I have..are you supposed to keep track?? I AM A FAILURE AT FACEBOOK..I am curios if I am a connector or not..I hope I can find out is killing me not knowing :)

  7. Sadly I am not a connector..even though my last name is listed..too many of my husbands cousins were girls..I did know a few my total was 32 or some paltry sum:(

  8. I thought I had too few FB friends too, so I friended some just to up the count. Some didn't accept me! Many who did live boring lives. The rest have too many children and pets.

    Your high school friend, however, must post some real teasers to have such a following :)

  9. A good lit friend finished several of those books, so I have to check them out, as she really spoke highly of them-

    As far as how many friends you have on an electronic piece of machinery, well first- how can they seriously manage to follow them all and still have a well managed personal life with a job? if one is on the computer all the time? I have heard that celebrities hire people to manage this, then how can it be a 'personal' relationship?

    Second, I have enjoyed getting away from the computer more. I am on my way out to pick berries for some sauce I am going to make, and in the gym, and social life is busier. I only use facebook for immediate area people and Texas friends- I also would rather have my face writing and reading a good book, and not the good book of my childhood, lol, oops sorry thumpers, but just sayin'

  10. I recently read "Sh*t My Dad Says" and every page had a laugh!

  11. And I used to think everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten. (hey, wasn't that a book?)

    Actually, everything I ever needed to know I learned in my 30's!

  12. So you can add me to your list of new blog friends (a la the Madtexter). I don't know how useful having and acquaintance with the 'surname' Dollface will be for you, but just humor me anyways.
    I <3 Gladwell too. I was so juiced to find out that he grew up in Canada! - G


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