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Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
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278 of 301 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
With an entertaining blend of case studies and startling research, the Heath brothers lay out the critical elements of a sticky idea. They are--

1. Simplicity

2. Unexpectedness

3. Concreteness

4. Credibility

5. Emotions

6. Stories

As you might expect, the authors use these techniques to drive home their point. For example, in the chapter on stories, they talk about Subway's Jared campaign--quite a dramatic behind-the-scenes story besides being a near perfect example of storytelling in marketing.

Although these six elements seem like common sense, they are woefully underapplied in business communication. The authors state it well--

"Business managers seem to believe that, once they've clicked through a PowerPoint presentation showcasing their conclusions, they've successfully communicated their ideas. What they've done is share data."

Well researched, easy to read and hard to forget.
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232 of 254 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
If you are going to write a guide to crafting sticky ideas, your book had better embody your principles. Authors Chip and Dan Heath succeed admirably. What I love about "Made to Stick" is that it is not merely entertaining (though it is), it provides practical, tangible strategies for creating sticky ideas. Once you understand these recommendations, you can boil them down to a set of touchstone points to evaluate your own work. This sets "Made to Stick" apart from the work of Malcolm Gladwell, whom the Heath brothers cite as an inspiration. I enjoyed Gladwell's books but could not necessarily apply his ideas to my own work.

My review copy of "Made to Stick" is covered with highlighter. I am reading the book once through for pure pleasure, and then I am going back again to apply the ideas to evaluate the communications of a non-profit organization I am working for. "Made to Stick" challenges you to distill the essence of your message, to get back to core principles and to communicate them in a memorable way. Chip and Dan point out that as we become experts, we tend to use abstraction to define our ideas, and we lose our ability to communicate with novices. They teach us how to bridge that gap so that our ideas are once again accessible by everyone.

"Made to Stick" gives you the tools you need to revamp your own messages. It provides "do it yourself" conuslting in book form, which will be appreciated by activists, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes.
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The authors had been too humble to title their book "made (ideas) to stick" and regard it as a complement to the bestseller "Tipping Point" (pg13). IMHO, this is one of the best books on communication. Some may argue that the six principles (SUCCESs: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, stories) of sticky ideas are not unique. However, the samples and peripheral ideas presented are so intriguing. In short, a must read for all (who need to communicate). Highly recommended!

p.s. Below please find some favorite messages I found in it for your reference:-

Curse of knowledge: Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has "cursed" us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we cant readily re-create our listeners' state of mind. pg20
If you say three things, you dont say anything. pg33
Simple = Core + Compact pg45
Statistics arent inherently helpful; it's the scale and context that make them so. pg146
If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will. - Mother Teresa pg165
Why dones mental stimulation work? It works because we cant imagine events or sequences without evoking the same modules of the brain that are evoked in a real physical activity.......Notice that these visualizations focus on the events themselves - the process, rather than the outcomes. No one has ever been cured of a phobia by imagining how happy they'll be when it's gone. pg212
Picturing a potential argument with our boss, imagining what she will say, may lead us to have the right words available when the time comes.....can prevent people from relapsing into bad habits such as smoking, excessive drinking......can also build skills. pg213
If you make an argument, you're implicitly asking them to evaluate your argument - judge it, debate it, criticize it - and then argue back, at least in their minds. But with a story, you engage the audience - you are involving people with the idea, asking them to participate with you. pg234
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The ideas in this book are terrific. We kind of know some of Heath's principles: simplicity (well, we've heard about KISS forever), unexpectedness (there should be something shocking or at least edgy to make it dynamic,) concreteness (it can't be "mystery meat" you have be able to connect with the essence right away,) credibility (one has to get an initial feeling of "worthiness"), it has to excite, to have emotional as well as rational appeal, and stories help (well, we've heard about testimonials, and parables too). But here in this book Heath puts it all into focus so you have a concrete measuring scale to work with.

He illustrates his points with some good examples. How do you get big, bad truckers to stop littering the State of Texas? "Give a hoot, don't pollute" is too tame for these macho guys. So state officials came up with the slogan "Don't mess with Texas" and did TV spots with such consummate Texans as Ed Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and country music's Willie Nelson.

"Business managers seem to believe that, once they've clocked through a PowerPoint presentation showcasing their conclusions, they've successfully communicated their ideas," Heath writes. "What they've done is share data" Sticky ideas shock, move and convince us. "If you want your ideas to be stickier, you've got to break someone's guessing machine and then fix it."

I had read about Heath's research in Cognitive Psychology, Psychology Today, and Scientific American. Unfortunately not before I made two big mistakes. But, thanks to what I have since learned, I think I have been able to correct them.

I'm a board certified cognitive behavioral therapist who has had great success training people to re-wire their brains to quickly get out of the pain of depression by using simple mind exercises to switch their neural activity from the feeling part of the brain (the subcortex) to the thinking part of the brain (the neocortex). These exercises are based on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to re-wire itself as a result of changes in one's thinking and behavior. So far, so good.

I called the process Directed Thinking, successfully presented my research before the National Board of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, and got a trademark. BUT THE NAME WAS NOT CATCHY. The second mistake was letting my publisher use the title DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE. What I meant was that people had a choice TO GET OUT OF Depression but many people were insulted because they thought I was saying they chose TO GET depressed in the first place, and I wasn't around to explain when a prospective reader picked up the book at Borders. But I think I got Heath's message loud and clear. My second book is called BRAINSWITCH OUT OF DEPRESSION!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
You should buy this book if you want to improve your own communication or want to identify good stories and examples that will convey your message.

The authors of this book define a sticky idea as one that is communicated in a way that other people listen and care. Before you can do that, though, you need to know why it's so hard to do.

The authors suggest that one reason is "The Curse of Knowledge" which they define this way: "Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it's like not to know it." The Curse of Knowledge leads us in the direction of more abstraction and fewer stories, which make our communications less likely to stick.

The authors identify six key qualities of an idea that will make it sticky

They call the first quality simplicity. The idea is that you must identify your core message. This is the weakest section of the book. When the authors say, "simplicity" they don't necessarily mean "something that's simple." They really mean "core message," the most important single thing about your message and the only thing you should concentrate on getting across.

Alas, even with exercises, the authors don't do a good job of defining what this is. There is good advice here, but I still decided to think of "core" message as "topic sentence" and find help defining it in other books.

The core advice of the book is: "Identify your core message and then use the other five qualities as a kind of checklist to help you improve your message's stickiness." Here are the five checklist qualities.

Unexpectedness. You capture people's attention by breaking the pattern they expect. The authors spend a lot of time on this and leave out other methods of capturing attention like mentioning the name of the person or the group they belong to in the headline. As one guru has said, "You can increase the sales of a book dramatically by adding the words 'for women' to the title." Of course, if your audience is police officers, you would want to add "for police officers."

Concreteness. Use concrete examples and language. Our brains are wired to remember concrete examples. When I give a speech, folks may write down the statistics and lists, but they remember the examples.

Credibility. The kind of proof that people are likely to believe.

Emotional. For people to take action, they have to care, so you have to enrich your message with emotion.

Stories. Stories are the way that human beings have passed along both knowledge and lore since we crawled out of caves. Stories are where you bring together the other checklist qualities. The authors identify three basic plots that create sticky stories.

The bottom line for me is that after reading the book, I have specific knowledge tools that I can apply to my writing and marketing messages that will make those messages better.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This will be the best business book I'll read all year. I know that already. And if you need to communicate with other people (who doesn't?), it may be one of your top picks also.

Made to Stick has the telling subtitle, Why some ideas survive and others die. The main thesis is this: there are ways to package your ideas that allow them to stick in the minds of your audience. Building on a key concept ("stickiness") from Malcolm Gladwell's seminal book, The Tipping Point, authors Chip and Dan Heath uncover the anatomy of ideas that embed themselves into the minds and hearts of people.

The book is clearly written, very approachable, and filled with memorable examples that, of course, exemplify the main intent of the book. The principles outlined are nothing earth-shatteringly new, but they are presented in such a way as to provide a practical call to arms for more skillful and creative expression.

According to the authors, communication that sticks needs to maximize simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional connection, and the use of stories. When you think of some of the world's best communicators, you see the fingerprints of these practices all over their preserved productions.

This is a passion of mine - distilling down to the core idea and expressing it well, whether in writing, public speaking, teaching, or any other format. I see this skill as the key success factor in creating good branding - but I think the principle applies equally to training, copywriting, and even parenting. I recommend this book highly to anyone who seeks to communicate more effectively (hermits, therefore, may wish to explore other titles...!).
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109 of 135 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is getting a great deal more attention than Allison Fine's "MOMENTUM: igniting social change in the connected age," so up front I want to say I consider them BOTH to be extremely complementary to one another, and MUST READS for any social activist or political reformer, as well as for those crafting educational or corporate messages.

I cannot improve on Brian Bex Huf's review, which I voted for, but for the sake of coherence for those who are alerted when I do a review, here is the meat from Brian's review:

* Simplicity: the idea must be stripped to its core, and the most important concepts should jump out.

* Unexpectedness: the idea must destroy preconceived notions about something. This forces people to stop, think, and remember.

* Concreteness: avoid statistics, use real-world analogies to help people understand complex ideas.

* Credibility: if people don't trust you, they'll ignore you. In some cases, they will be openly hostile, which means they'll actively try to dispute your message!

* Emotional: information makes people think, but emotion makes them act. Appeal to emotional needs, sometimes even way up on Maslow's hierarchy.

* Stores: telling a story [gets] people into paying closer attention, and feeling more connected. Remember the Jared Subway commercials?

The book ends with a five page reference guide that persuaded me of the author's value as consultants. They have given us a low-cost book we can use our5selves, but I am also persuaded they are valuable as brain-stormers for those trying to craft transpartisan and electoral reform messages, so I am recommending them both to the leadership of Reuniting America.

LOTS of details and examples. Easily a five-star book with great social and political value.

Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age

The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Wow! Now I get it! Now I understand why the corporate world (in general) and information technology realm (in particular) are so ... hmmm ... challenged.

We struggle with ever-increasing complexity. We polarize into groups and teams that specialize in [this], or become experts in [that.] Communication breaks down, efficiency and productivity plummet, morale drops and chaos reigns.

Sound familiar?

By reading "Made to Stick," I learned why communicating ideas and concepts to other people is not as easy as we intuitively think it is. More often than we probably care to admit --- we talk, people hear, but our message doesn't resonate --- we ultimately fail to reach our intended goal to persuade, inform or entertain those around us. Our ideas and messages go in one ear and out the other.

How many times have you made an important point to a business client, or rushed through something with a co-worker that you thought was intuitively obvious, and walked away thinking "Hmmm, I don't think s/he got it?" or "Why is this problem so difficult to resolve?"

We sometimes forget, or have never been taught, that people don't always remember everything they hear, see or read. Only a small percentage of "content" actually gets through all the filters and barriers that our brains use on a daily basis to protect us from the sensory-overloading world that we live in.

"Made to Stick" will teach you how to recognize those message-squashing, idea-blocking impediments to effective communication. And guess what? It will do so in a way that is easy and dare-I-say fun to read.

Getting your thoughts and ideas to "stick" in someone's brain (aka "guessing machine") requires that we unlock many of the mysteries concerning how and why that wrinkly organ between our ears works. Without giving away the punch line, the authors of Made to Stick provide the keys to unlocking much of that puzzle, offering a powerful yet simple framework for making your ideas sticky, or spotting the elements that make some ideas more effective than others.

Just for fun, here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Becoming an expert in something means that we become more and more fascinated by nuance and complexity."

"Common sense is the enemy of sticky messages."

"Abstraction is the luxury of the expert. If you've got to teach an idea to a room full of people, and you aren't certain what they know, concreteness is the only safe language."

"And that's the great thing about the world of ideas --- any of us, with the right insight and the right message, can make an idea stick."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
10-word review: Excellent! A bit like Blink; less surprising, but more useful.

In school we study sentence grammar (nouns and verbs) and essay construction (topic sentences and such), but we don't really cover what I imagine the subject "rhetoric" contains: the structure of arguments and reasoning. This book picks up there, teaching a "grammar" of effective ways to communicate ideas. Once you read about these approaches, it's easy to start noticing them in messages and consulting them as a checklist.

For instance, let's examine their own book now: with the same material, they could have titled it "Proven Communication Methods" (boring). But they create a mystery, make us aware of a gap in our knowledge: why *do* some ideas stay with us longer than others? Now it's a provocative question, a much better framing for the content. (Lesson right out of Chapter 2.)

For instance: the book got me thinking about new ways to present about my own work. In Chapter 6, we learn that the desire to "experiment with new approaches" can be triggered by "Creativity plots"--anecdotes about people "tackling problems in innovative ways." Well, come to think of it: this very book is full of stories about people brilliantly shaping their messages. No wonder I felt creative.

In sum: helps you dissect and construct messages. For me, this one's a keeper.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you need to communicate ideas, if you are a businessperson, marketer, teacher, clergyperson, politician, parent or spouse, you need this book.

If you are a reader of Malcolm Gladwell, if you enjoyed any of Seth Godin's books, if you want to stay out of a bathtub filled with ice with one of your vital organs removed, you need this book.

Seriously, Chip and Dan have taken a concept that was briefly introduced in Gladwell's The Tipping Point -- the characteristics of ideas that are memorable and longstanding -- and turned it into a recipe book for constructing memborable stories.

The book is organized around a set of six powerful principles that anyone can use to transform themselves into more effective communicators. It's written with humor and real-life examples that make it a quick read, but also one that "sticks" with you long after you put it down.

Keep one for yourself and buy copies for everyone who inflicts PowerPoint presentations on you at work. You'll be glad you did.
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