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Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die Hardcover – January 2, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Unabashedly inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling The Tipping Point, the brothers Heath—Chip a professor at Stanford's business school, Dan a teacher and textbook publisher—offer an entertaining, practical guide to effective communication. Drawing extensively on psychosocial studies on memory, emotion and motivation, their study is couched in terms of "stickiness"—that is, the art of making ideas unforgettable. They start by relating the gruesome urban legend about a man who succumbs to a barroom flirtation only to wake up in a tub of ice, victim of an organ-harvesting ring. What makes such stories memorable and ensures their spread around the globe? The authors credit six key principles: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories. (The initial letters spell out "success"—well, almost.) They illustrate these principles with a host of stories, some familiar (Kennedy's stirring call to "land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth" within a decade) and others very funny (Nora Ephron's anecdote of how her high school journalism teacher used a simple, embarrassing trick to teach her how not to "bury the lead"). Throughout the book, sidebars show how bland messages can be made intriguing. Fun to read and solidly researched, this book deserves a wide readership. (Jan. 16)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—While at first glance this volume might resemble the latest in a series of trendy business advice books, ultimately it is about storytelling, and it is a how-to for crafting a compelling narrative. Employing a lighthearted tone, the Heaths apply those selfsame techniques to create an enjoyable read. They analyze such narratives as urban legends and advertisements to discover what makes them memorable. The authors provide a simple mnemonic to remember their stickiness formula, and the basic principles may be applied in any situation where persuasiveness is an asset. The book is a fast read peppered with exercises to test the techniques proposed. Some examples act as pop quizzes and engage readers in moments of self-reflection. The book draws on examples from teachers, scientists, and soldiers who have been successful at crafting memorable ideas, from the well-known blue eye/brown eye exercise conducted by an Iowa elementary school teacher as an experiential lesson in prejudice following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., to conversations among Xerox repairmen. Readers who enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's Blink (2005) and The Tipping Point (2000, both Little, Brown) will appreciate this clever take on contemporary culture.—Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Essentially, sticky ideas are never a matter of happenstance, but all share six common traits. With a keen understanding of all six traits, you will be able to produce stickier ideas and subsequently revitalize the way you express yourself and transform those whom you lead with positive results.
Made to Stick empowers anyone with the right insights and the right message to make any idea “stick.”
The book proceeds linearly through the sticky blueprint: the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S. Hence, in order to make an idea sticky it has to be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and tell a story. The peculiars of each trait are explored in comprehensive detail within each chapter. Generally speaking even though this book is 250+ pages, it is a very quick read.
Made to Stick is one of three books written on transformative change by the Heath brothers. The other two books are Switch: How to change things when change is hard and Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work. There are many areas of cross-over between the three selections, and I have derived the most value from each book after considering it in context of all three. Hence, Made to Stick helps you to start your journey with a bold idea that anyone can latch onto. Switch reveals how to materialize that idea into tough environments. Finally, Decisive equips you with the tools to navigate fuzzy terrain in the midst of your path to something revolutionary.
That's a highly unlikely story, but might make for a great presentation for a new restaurant, commercial, or advertising campaign. In fact, if you read this review, the only thing that might stick is the image of some roasting piece of meat. You might even smell the fat cooking and sizzling over the flames... and so, ideas, especially those which we can visualize, stick.
Of course, this is just one element presented in the book, and a far better job is done explaining exactly why ideas stick (and others don't). But is this book for you?
In short yes, it's good for everyone. However, I'd say three key groups of people can get the greatest benefit from this book: writers, marketers, and teachers.
I've left leaders [business mainly - though any kind really] out of this because I think anyone that subscribes to the simple paradigms established in this book put the three categories above before leadership, or at the very least, know they are essential for good leadership.
Ultimately, Made to Stick is a book about communication. More specifically, a book about communicating ideas, and doing so effectively. While by most accounts it comes across as common sense (all easily followed principals do), there is still loads of advice presented with practical application.
Of course, most people will pick this up in likely expectation of changing their organization, or finally being heard. The examples in the book lend themselves to this quite well. However, the reality is often, even with the most noble of intentions, one person won't affect change, even with ideas that stick.
As the book puts it, the curse of knowledge, or really the curse of knowledge past (my take on the book's established villain).
So what is one to do? I say start in places where you do have influence, or as least some semblance of that. The ideas are quite practical within our homes, small groups, and even friendships. That is, those areas where we have [some] current, control over our message.
If you are so blessed to have this in your current place of work (the three groups mentioned previously are most apt to implement the philosophies in my opinion), I think you will find quick wins that will seed, later, much grander victories.
Others may experience over time they develop habits that slowly erode their mind's sensitivity. The inevitable pain and disappointment of moments such as delivering your ideas at a business meeting or a conference have caused you to set up walls around your mind. Much of this is understandable. But, there's no way around the truth: your mind is out of tune with confidence it was created to maintain. As we live in community, communication is the way for us to feel the unity. The book is even greater because the authors, Chip and Dan Heath, apply their SUCCESs theory onto practical situation to help readers understand more clearly. Without the SUCCESs rule, some kinds of communications might ease our conscience temporarily but would do nothing to expose the deeper secrets we carry and deliver. And, it might be the secrets that keep our minds in turmoil. Worse, this kind of communication could actually fuel destructive behavior rather than curb it. The rules the authors explain in this book might seem the things you would feel that you already know. But, these are the things you could easily ignore. The book is a great reference to keep you on succeeding the efficient deliverability of your ideas.
When you needed to deliver your message in a brief and compact way, how would you prepare to deliver it to your audiences or readers? Simplicity is the key and first step to make a message sticky to others. Making it simple does not mean that you need to bring out your most important idea. It is critical to find the core. According to the authors, "finding the core isn't synonymous with communicating the core." But, that simplicity must come with its value. Like the metaphor of a company for the employees to be encouraged, your message needs to be simple and important to make your message remain not just in your mind but others as well.
"We can't demand attention. We must attract it" says the authors in the book. In order to grab people's attention, your message may be attractive with unexpectedness. Breaking a pattern could be one way. For example, the old emergency siren was too monotonic to stimulate our sensory systems and therefore failing to attract our attention. As the siren gets systematically and audibly improved, people hear much brighter and more stimulating sound and therefore being aware of some situation. In order to catch people's attention, you need to break the ordinary patterns. According to the book, "Our brain is designed to keenly aware of changes." The more you learn knowledge, the greater the knowledge gap you would get. Because we sometimes tend to perceive that we know everything, it's hard to glue the gap. However, curiosity comes from the knowledge gaps, so these knowledge gaps can be interesting.
Humans can hallucinate and imagine what we've experienced in visual, audible, or any other sensory pathways. When we use all our sensory systems to visualize ideas or messages, then the ideas get much more concrete. As an example the authors provide in this chapter, "a bathtub full of ice" in the Kidney Theft legend is an example of abstract moral truths that makes it concrete.
When you are a scientist, you believe more in the things that are scientifically proven or that are referred to many other studies or to the words or the theories that the well-known scientist has established. That much, credibility makes or deceives people believe your ideas. Both authorities and antiauthorities work. We present results, charts, statistics, pictures and other data to make people believe. "But concrete details don't just lend credibility to the authorities who provide them; they lend credibility to the idea itself."
What's in it for you? It is a good example of the power of association. Sometimes, we need to grab people's emotion. It does not mean tear jerking, dramatic, or romantic. It means that your idea must pull out people's care and attachment to it. However, we don't always have to create this emotional attachment. "In fact, many ideas use a sort of piggybacking strategy, associating themselves with emotions that already exist (Made to Stick)." People can make decisions based on two models: the consequence model and the identity model. The consequence model can be rational self-interest, while the identity model is that people identify such situations like what type of situation is this?
Have you seen and heard the story of the college student from the Subway campaign? He's the guy who lost hundreds of pounds eating Subway sandwiches. The story inspires people and even connects to people's real life. Like the book, Made to Stick, also presents a lot of stories to deliver and to help readers understand in each chapter, stories allow people to understand how your idea can affect or change their mind.
Close the book and think for a moment before you start reading. How are things with your mind? Chances are, you've never stopped to consider your mind. Why should you? There are interviews to prepare for, meetings to blow others' mind with your amazing ideas, and moments you need to bring up emotional attachment with your family or your friends. If you are all caught up with these things and ask yourself this, "how are things?" "How have I dealt with those situations?" Before you go reading, you first need to dispel a commonly held myth about communication. You need to understand your old habits would die hard. And, like any habit that goes unchecked, over time they come to keep disturbing you to make your ideas sticky. Try to use the clinic part in each chapter. It will enhance your understandings, and you will improve your skills to make your ideas survive. If you really want to understand much deeper, as you read the book, look up some informative articles about the anatomy and physiology of the brain. It will help you. According to the book, your ideas must simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories. Try to apply these rules into your next presentation. I was not a good organized speaker. When I adjusted my mind with these rules to prepare my presentation recently, an amazing thing happened. I am the leader of the young adult ministry of a small local church. At almost every meeting, I needed to make the members understand what and why we need to awaken ourselves and other people; they barely paid attention to what I was saying. Even they seemed understanding, but once they returned to their home or to their life, they forgot what I emphasized. However, with the rules I learned from the book, the members started showing their interests in what I say and paying good attention to it. It works!
Part of our confusion in delivering ideas stems from a misapplication of the rules we think we already know for persuasions. The notion that all confusions can be reduced down to a single underlying problem may strike you as a case of oversimplification. However, with the book, Made to Stick, you will track and be ready for your next presentation. When I was looking for a neuroscience book, Made to Stick was one of the recommended books related to neuroscience. The book is easy to follow, and it is really made to stick! If you are looking for a scientifically texted neuroscience book, this is not the book for you. However, this book will stir up your curiosity about neuroscience as a fundamental connector to higher neural knowledge. Simply, highly I recommend.
Most recent customer reviews
That's the second book by Chip and Dan Heath that I've read. Both are excellent and insightful books.Read more