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What Separates the Ideas that Endure from Those That Fade? | Yale Insights

The results, published in Strategy Science, reveal that popular concepts tend to be affiliated with and similar to other popular concepts; that is, popular ideas often ride the coattails of other popular ideas. They also tend to be composed of like elements. “If a concept is new or unknown or both, then we find it benefits by appearing together with other famous concepts, and by covering similar ground,” Kovács says. “Specifically, ideas that do this appear more frequently in our data year over year.” “If you are an unpopular person or product or firm, then it pays to affiliate yourself with something similar and famous. But when you reach a certain level of popularity this affiliation can detract from your success. You should go your own way.” An important twist emerged in the results, though. As a concept gains in popularity, it starts to compete with other popular concepts: where once an idea benefited from this association, it eventually starts to suffer. This negative effect only occurs with concepts that are extremely popular, but the overall picture clarifies an intuitive notion. If it helps to attach yourself to well-known ideas when starting out, you must be sure to separate yourself at a certain point, as mentors and models eventually become competitors.