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.