Are you cool or are you crazy? How sociologists define healthy rebellion

Is coolness wearing a leather jacket and slicking your hair back? Or is it "a measured rebellion" within established boundaries? One big thinker tells us that being "cool" is sort of like a cult, at least from a sociological standpoint.

Are you cool? Senior Editor of The Atlantic Derek Thompson could probably tell you. He's hardly The Fonz, but he's established a definition of cool that holds up in a sociological way. He posits that coolness is a measured rebellion against an established mainstream, or societal norm. A good way to think of cool is how creative some kids could be by rebelling within the rules of a school uniform—it would be silly to show up naked, for instance, but how cool was the kid who popped his collar and wore sunglasses between classes? Super cool. Derek Thompson defines "cool" as bending the rules as far as they'll go without necessarily breaking them, and his talk with us is as fascinating as it is concise. Derek Thompson's latest book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.

Decoding popularity: Why successful people don't try appealing to everyone's tastes

History is littered with thousands of things that tried to appeal to everyone and yet failed miserably. If you want true success, try to appeal to a core group.

Senior Editor of The Atlantic, Derek Thompson, boils down the science of popularity. He suggests that the best way to reach as many people as possible is to appeal to their inherent outsider nature. Since the cultural mainstream is so fractured, you have to understand that - at best - you're going to reach perhaps 3% to 5% of people. Because out of 240 million Americans, just 4% of that is 9.6 million people. Derek posits that perhaps creators shouldn't appeal to the masses. Instead, he suggests, they should appeal to the niche. Derek Thompson's latest book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.