Books on the Counselor’s Nightstand

As members of the Society of Exchange Counselors, creativity is at the forefront of our daily thinking. But, how does creative thinking begin and subsequently become nourished over time?

I see that process as a “Journey of the Mind” which begins and ends with the things we read and experience every day. As our experiences vary by who we are and what we do each day so do the books we read to expand our horizons and keep our creative thinking on the cutting edge.

So, I got curious as to what books were on the nightstand of my fellow Counselors. Below is some information I gathered and thought I would share with Observer readers…

Enjoy your “Journey of the Mind”…

The Tipping Point:
How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

A Book Review

By Vicki Yeomans-Klein

Have you ever wished for an epidemic of tenants to swarm in on some project you have with high double digit vacancy? Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine, has the answer. In his book The Tipping Point: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference, Gladwell dissects the factors that cause viruses to become epidemics. Starting with a brief study of epidemiology the reader begins to develop a new view of change. Like epidemics ideas can be highly contagious. They spread quickly among a small group of people and once the tipping point is reached the idea explodes. Change is not gradual; it is sudden and often counterintuitive.

One child in a class is exposed to measles, suddenly every child in the class has measles, after a few weeks the measles epidemic is gone. Watch a speaker yawn and see what happens to the audience. In 1992, New York City had 2,154 murders and 626,182 serious crimes within five years the murder rate dropped 64.3 percent and total crimes had fallen almost 50 percent. In 1992 Hush Puppies, brushed suede shoes, were only worn by the fashionably challenged. In 1995 Hush Puppies won the award for best accessory by the Council of Fashion Designers. The president of Hush Puppies was on the stage with Calvin Klein and Donna Karan at Lincoln Center accepting a fashion achievement award.

The premise of the book is that all of these events can be explained as social epidemics. The characteristics of contagiousness and infectiousness do not just apply in the medical realm. Behavior can be transferred from one person to another just as easily as the flu or the measles.

One interesting aspect is Gladwell’s explanation of the nuances of successfully spreading ideas by word of mouth. William Dawes is a revolutionary figure forgotten by history. On the 18th of April in 1775, William Dawes rode south to call the revolutionaries to arms. Paul Revere rode north. Paul Revere became a legend, the subject of poems and movies. William Dawes is not even a trivial pursuit question. According to Gladwell, Revere was a “Connector” and a “Maven,” Dawes was an ordinary man with limited social connections. Gladwell not only describes the roles of Mavens and Connectors, he tells you how to find them.

Tipping Point contains many wonderful stories of products and events we all know, but Gladwell’s intent is two fold. He wants to show people how to make sense of the world. He spends a lot of time explaining how our minds process things and why some approaches take off when others die. Next he tries to show the readers how to start their own positive epidemics. He maintains that with minimal input an idea, a project or a product can get started and can spread quickly.

The book is a quick read, unless you find it so entertaining that you keep rereading sections aloud to the people around you, as I did.

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