Book Review: The Tipping Point


“It is safe to say that word of mouth is still the most important form of human communication.”
–The Tipping Point

For those of us who make our living with our words, communication seems to be changing constantly.  Athletic departments and teams are rushing to put up Facebook pages and create Twitter accounts to stay up-to-date.  But it turns out that our (verbal) word still trumps all forms of social media…or so Malcolm Gladwell says in his book The Tipping Point.

The rundown:  The Tipping Point is about how epidemics start.  He talks about regular old epidemics of sickness, but his major focus is on social epidemics.  Like how certain books, cartoons, or clothes become popular.  In our youTube world, I suppose we’d say “viral” now to mean social epidemic.  For coaches interested in making an idea go viral on their team, this book could be helpful.

He identified three different types of people who are required for ideas to go viral: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

Connectors are people who operate in many different social circles and have a gift for bringing those folks together in a way that’s not awkward.  Mavens accumulate and share knowledge…they’re information brokersSalesmen are the folks who persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we’re hearing.

Recommended for:  Coaches who are interested in how teams work.  To me, Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen are almost like personality types.  If we’ve got what we think is a great idea or we’re planning on changing some things around on our team, identifying these key people on our teams will help us get buy in from the rest of the team.

Not recommended for:  Folks who don’t want to have to stretch for coaching connections.  This isn’t a book about coaching or about sports.  It’s about how to make ideas go viral.  If you’re looking for quotations to put up in your locker room, then this isn’t the book for you.

I enjoyed The Tipping Point, it made me think about my communication with my recruits, my current team, my alumni…everyone.  Gladwell is a researcher with a gift of making tedious information more interesting.  This isn’t my favorite book of his, Outliers was a game changer for me, but I highly recommend this one as we think about how to get our ideas across to others.

If you love to read books, keep checking back as I talk about three books that are great for coaches, but not made for coaches:  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, How to Grow Leaders by John Adair, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.