Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Tipping Point

I have just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. As what he is aptly put it, he brings to the reader an intellectual adventure story.

The tipping point is about how little things can make a big difference. It is the magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.

In his little book, he painstakingly explained three rules of social epidemics.
1. The Law of the Few
2. The Stickiness Factor
3. The Power of Content.

1. The Law of the Few

It is not all that difficult to stand an epidemic. However, one will need to concentrate resources on a few key areas. In this case, the law of the few says that connectors, mavens and salesmen are responsible to starting word-of-mouth epidemics.

Connectors refer to people with many friends or many linkages. Mavens are those who are not just passive collectors of information but love to share and initiate discussion with others. As for salesmen, they are people who are very persuasive.

A key lesson which I learnt about persuasive people was the way they were able to "show" their emotions. And this is a paradigm shift in thinking. We normally think of expression on our face as a reflection of what we feel. In other words, emotion goes inside-out. Emotion contagion, though, suggests that the opposite is also true. If you smile, you will feel happy. If you frown, you feel sad. Emotion, in this sense, goes outside-in. One can really make used of this little information to stay happy - just by "faking it" until you really feel happy.

2. The Stickiness Factor

The stickiness factor underlines that there is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is to find it.

I loved the example of the tetanus shot information package to students. When it was just a brochure to students, the proportion of students who took the free shot was low. However, just by including a map of the clinic (in campus) and the operating hours of the clinic, there was significant increase in the take-up rate. The explanation was that the latter presentation shifted an abstract lesson in medical advice - a lesson no different from the countless academic lessons they received in their campus live - to a practical and personal piece of medical advice.

3. The Power of Content

The power of content is about our environment and also our limitation to relate to new information and to each other.

A good example of the environment is in Georgia Sadler's quest (a nurse) to start a grassroots movement towards prevention of diabetes and breast cancer among the black community in San Diego. When she tried to have talks after church seminars, she failed miserably as they were tired and hungry after the service. She needed a new context which she found in hair salon where she had a captive audience.

The second point is our limitation to relate to new information and to each other. We have trouble estimating dramatic, exponential change. We cannot conceive that a piece of paper folded over 50 times could reach the sun. We have problem relating to people when the number crosses 150. Re-framing the information and awareness are the keys to unlock our limitations.


It is another good book to read and ponder over. It makes me think that band-aid solution may be the panacea afterall. It is inexpensive, convenient and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. It solves a problem with minimum time, effort and cost. We have been conditioned to think that the true answers to problems have to be comprehensive and there is virtue in the dogged and indiscriminate application of effort. But there are times when we need a band-aid solution, a way that makes a lot out of a little, and that is what Tipping points, are all about.

It reinforces my belief that change is possible, we just need the right kind of impetus. With the slightest push, in the right place, things can just tip.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Indomitable Human Spirit

Do you dare to dream? And dream BIG?

Many people dare not do so as they fear failure and rejection. I will like to encourage you to dream like a child. Ultimately, the destination is not half as important as the journey there.

A few weeks ago, I read the book "No Journey Too Tough" by Dr William Tan. Dr Tan is a polio victim and as a result he could not walk. But rather than focusing on what he did not have and wallowed in self-pity, Dr Tan focused on what he has. He set big goals and achieved them. Among the many big goals is his dream to be a doctor. He was not accepted in the medical school in NUS and did a detour to first become a neuroscientist before pursuing his dream to be a full-fledged medical doctor.

His achievements do not stop there. He is also an established paralympic sportsman. His most amazing feat was to complete 10 marathons in seven continents in 65 days. Such a feat is tough even to able-bodied men and women like us, what's more for him.
Belief is such a powerful notion. In his book, there were times when he felt defeated and disheartened when things didn’t go the way he wanted. For mere mortals, it is easy to just give up. That is why 90% of people in life are ordinary - they make the easy choice to quit. I will like to encourage my readers to focus on the positive aspects of life and to keep trying no matter how tough the path in front seem to be.

Focus on what is great in your life, you will live an extremely happy and fulfilling life. I hope this blog post inspires you as much as it has inspired me to keep going for my dreams despite the odds.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Surviving Yet Another Period with Hubby Out of Town

The first time that my hubby was out of town for business trip was about 10 years ago. I had just given birth to our first newborn and he was barely two months old before my hubby went for business trip for about two to three months.

We did not have a maid so I moved together with my baby to stay with my mother then. Before we had children, I was alway longing for my husband's return as I would miss him dearly during such time. When the children came along, they filled the emotional gap. Though it was also tough juggling work and taking care of them without a maid and living as a nuclear family.

We still do not have a maid as somehow we manage to cope. During times when I am just too busy at work, they would have to learn to manage their time. Therefore when I could afford to take leave from work, on the top of my priority list is to get the boys to learn to be disciplined and plan their timetable for the next few days. A break from office does not mean a lazy day ahead though. I would be inundated with work at home. Fellow housewives would know that there are always tonnes of housework at home. I would be planning for and whipping up the next meal. Often I would be dog-tired by mid-day. I learn to give myself a well-deserved break by declaring an afternoon nap for all.

There is also a silver lining during such time.... I would have car to ferry the children to-and-fro school/student-care centre. When my hubby is around, due to his work nature, he will take the car. However, I am the main caregiver and I am in charge of fetching the children after school. It is neither easy nor efficient to get the two playful boys to follow you. The car helps a lot and saves quite some time, especially when I get caught up with work.

On the whole, such little episodes have enabled me to be a stronger and more independent modern woman. I know that I cannot do it by myself. I need my two boys to also take on some responsibilities. Though not at home, I know my husband miss us dearly. He too needs to take care of himself when your truly is not around. So we grow up stronger together.