Are You A Paul Revere or William Dawes?

You know Paul Revere, but you probably don’t know William Dawes. They both left Boston with the same mission on April 18th, 1775: to alert others that the British were coming. Their message reached an area of 750 square miles by the next morning: an incredibly fast diffusion of information given the lack of communications technology at the time. But it was all because of Revere; Dawes was ineffective. You can see the diffusion here:

revere's ride

Revere is in every elementary school curriculum. Dawes is a historical nobody. The reason is that Revere had a far more potent network than Dawes.

Because of his involvement in the Boston Tea Party, Revere was well connected to key persons of influence along his route. He knew the right people to help him spread the message. Dawes, meanwhile, just knocked on random doors.

So Revere’s notoriety was the result not of a faster horse, but of a faster and more connected network. Networks are leverage. Revere told someone who then alerted all the right people in his village. Dawes told someone who often just went back to bed. This is classic “give me a lever large enough, and I can lift the world” stuff.

I write all this because the most important points of leverage in the financial writing world just turned 10 years old. Tadas at Abnormal Returns makes sure that readers around the world get access to some of the best stuff written on markets. A good message isn’t all that useful if no one hears it, and Tadas fixes that problem for so many of us.

If I’ve learned anything in the business world, it is that you should seek out and cultivate points of leverage. I am not naturally good at it, I but I force myself to do it because it is so effective. I encourage you to do the same. Thanks so much to Tadas for everything that he does, and happy 10th.


Source: Diffusion of Innovations, 5th edition.