The one-sentence summary

One imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world.



  • Little things can make a big difference
  • Explains and defines the “tipping point” – the moment at which ideas, trends and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire
  • Just as one sick person can start an epidemic, very minor adjustments to products or ideas can make them far more likely to be a success
  • The overall message of the book is that, contrary to the belief that big results require big efforts that are beyond the capacity of the single individual, one imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world


  • It is optimistic in outlook and suggests that individuals can make a significant contribution. It cites the example of Paul Revere who, in 1775, overheard a conversation and rode all night to warn Americans in Boston that the British would attack in the morning. The Americans were ready and defeated them
  • The three areas (below) are a good working template for all communications:
  1. The Law of the Few – the idea that the nature of the messenger is critical
  2. The Stickiness Factor – the quality of the message has to be good enough to be worth acting on
  3. The Power of Context – people are exquisitely sensitive to changes of time, place and circumstance


  • The three areas aren’t that original – they are roughly similar to medium, message and target audience
  • It is easy to get distracted by the three groups of people who may start a tipping point: Connectors (people who know a lot of people), Mavens (those who accumulate knowledge, but are not persuaders), and Salesmen (people who are very persuasive). These may be more relevant to PR than paid-for communication
  • It is quite American, with many examples relating to the USA (for example, how removing graffiti reduced the crime rate in New York in the eighties). Thought is needed with regard to application elsewhere
  • Even if a marketing strategy overtly sets out to create a tipping point, they are so idiosyncratic and hard to predict that it might not work