Made to Stick

made-to-stick-chip-and-dan-heath

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus news stories circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas—entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians, and journalists—struggle to make them “stick.” 

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds—from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony—draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick will transform the way you communicate. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures): the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of the Mother Teresa Effect; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice.

Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas—and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

Author: Chip and Dan Heath

Amazon | Goodreads

Rating: 5/5

I am always looking for ways to learn new things, especially as it helps me get closer to accomplishing my professional goals. As a result, I’ve read a lot of books in this “self-help-for-business” genre. At this point, I sometimes feel like I’ve read all the advice before. This book pleasantly surprised me; all of it was engaging and entertaining as well as educational and thought-provoking. I learned something new and related the lessons back to my experiences with every turn of the page.

In my full-time job, I create a lot of content. And I do that for a company that does something typically perceived as boring—insurance—in a way that is actually fundamentally different from everyone else. We have a business model and structure that is specifically intended to fix the things people hate about insurance, and we are purpose-driven and passionate. We have a story to tell, and a message that resonates with people when (if) we can do a good job of telling it. Working for a great company is the easy part (usually…). Making others understand—and care about—that greatness is the hard part.

So many quotes hit home for me. Some are:

“The hard part is weeding out ideas that may be really important but just aren’t the most important idea.”

“People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.”

“To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from ‘What information do I need to convey?’ to ‘What questions do I want my audience to ask?'”

“One important implication of the gap theory is that we need to open gaps before we close them. Our tendency is to tell people the facts. First, though, they must realize that they need these facts. The trick to convincing people that they need our message, according to Loewenstein, is to first highlight some specific knowledge that they’re missing.”

I borrowed this book from the library, but I think I’m going to purchase a print version so I can re-highlight, dog-ear, and reference it later. It truly motivated me to go to work and try to put this advice into practice.

No wonder this book is so widely read. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to pick it up!

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