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Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die [Hardcover]

Chip Heath , Dan Heath
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 2 2007
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 public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others–struggle to make their ideas “stick.”

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers 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.”

In this indispensable guide, 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 is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. 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.

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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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed the way I present to clients Sept. 26 2007
I work in advertising and I have never before read a book that so elegantly describes what we aspire to do when we create ads - we circumvent people's guessing DNA. After reading this book I was inspired to change the way I presented a creative concept to a client. Instead of walking through the benefits of the creative - design, style, simplicity, etc.. I walked in the room and did the unexpected - I told them their organization wasn't progressive enough to embrace our concept (which, by the way, was the gist of the creative). In effect, I circumvented their guessing DNA and got their attention, which is what the ads were designed to do. The presentation went off without a hitch and the client loved the idea. This book also served notice to our team to find the most poignant meaning in the facts (great example featuring Nora Ephron in journalism school).

This is a fantastic book for any executive who ever thinks she will ever inspire her workforce by issuing a statement that reeks of corporate-speak (i.e. managing the cost infrastructure to ensure profitability through multiple verticals, etc..), instead of keeping things simple - not dumbing down, but simple. Take it from a guy whose livelihood relies on keeping things simple - it's the most difficult thing to do.

Great read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Glenn Simon Inc TOP 500 REVIEWER
Jake, a young entrepreneurial friend of mine in the IT industry , was not seeing the results he expected from numerous and inventive marketing strategies. He had tried online, print and direct marketing with marginal results. His business wasn't faltering but wasn't soaring either. So after a slew of marketing books he came across this one- and it was all I was hearing about from him until I read it myself and the light bulb clicked.

Just like you were interested in Jake's story other people like stories, they want to relate to you and your product but if they can't they will find a company that they can relate to.

Chip and Dan Heath give great examples every chapter on how to improve your "Stickiness" with simple strategies. The most important being their coined,
"SUCCES" acronym:

S simple - don't lose your core message in a lot of pomp and circumstance
U unexpected - make your idea jump out and grab people's attention
C concrete - keep it easy to grasp vs. mind boggling statistics or huge numbers
C credible - is your idea believable?
E emotional - people react to emotion and it creates an empathetic bond
S stories - story telling is an age old form of communication

I have been able to use "Made To Stick" concepts in my business with great results. I used to feel that stories in real estate investing wouldn't interest anyone but I knew from the book that stories were useful, if not crucial, in creating and growing a business. Now by using my customer's concrete feedback blended with their credible testimonials and sprinkled with a little emotion I am able transmit their core experience (what they got out of working with us an how it translated to their bottom line) to reach a greater audience.

Danielle Millar, Glenn Simon Inc.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the most entertaining as well as one of the most thought-provoking and informative books I have read in recent years. Chip Heath and his brother Dan examine an especially important challenge to everyone who struggles to formulate and then communicate ideas that "stick": That is, ideas that "are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact - they change your audience's opinions or behavior." Extensive research indicates that each of us receives several thousand messages each day from various print and electronic media as well as from those with whom we have direct contact. These competing messages create "clutter" that is increasingly more difficult to penetrate.

Others have already explained why they hold this book in high regard. Here are three reasons of mine. First, the Heaths brilliantly explain how to nurture ideas that will succeed by penetrating the clutter and then sticking in a "noisy, unpredictable, chaotic environment." They stress the importance of simplicity (i.e. "finding the core of the idea"), of surprise to attract attention and then interest to keep that attention, of concreteness ("language is often abstract, but life is not abstract"), of credibility (hence the importance of verifiable details), of emotion (i.e. making people care), and of storytelling that provides stimulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act). The Heaths' own explanation of all this "sticks" because it possesses the same qualities to which the acronym SUCCESs refers: their explanation is guided and informed by Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories.

Also, I greatly appreciate the Heaths' use of real-world situations that demonstrate why some ideas "stick" and most others don't.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is the best book about communications I've read since I discovered Stephen Denning's work on telling business stories. I highly recommend Made to Stick to all those who want to get their messages across in business more effectively.

Imagine if people remembered what you had to say and acted on it. Wouldn't that be great? What if people not only remembered and acted, but told hundreds of others who also acted and told? Now you're really getting somewhere!

Brothers Chip (an educational consultant and publisher) and Dan (a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Business School) Heath combine to develop Malcolm Gladwell's point about "stickiness" in The Tipping Point. To help you understand what they have in mind, the book opens with the hoary urban tale of the man who ends up in a bathtub packed with ice missing his kidney after accepting a drink from a beautiful woman. That story, while untrue, has virtually universal awareness. Many other untrue stories do, too, especially those about what someone found in a fast food meal.

The brothers Heath put memorable and quickly forgotten information side-by-side to make the case for six factors (in combination) making the difference between what's memorable and what isn't. The six factors are:

1. Simplicity (any idea over one is too many)

2. Unexpectedness (a surprise grabs our attention)

3. Concreteness (the more dimensions of details the more hooks our minds use to create a memory)

4. Credibility (even untrue stories don't stick unless there's a hint of truth, such as beware of what's too good to be true in the urban legend that opens the book)

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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
An easy but compelling read with lots of useful suggestions for better communication.
Published 1 month ago by Gail Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile reading for small businesses looking for marketing tips.
Nothing earth shattering in this book, but still a worthwhile read for marketing novices.
Published 2 months ago by Allan Revich
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 principles why ideas stick in your head
One of my fav all time books. Why do some ideas stick in our heads and others don’t? Whether you are training people or selling a product, getting an idea to stick is paramount
Published 2 months ago by Greg Silas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book definitely "stuck" with me!
Published 4 months ago by Stacy Patricia
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked how they kept repeating things they had talked about ...
Eh... it's okay. I liked how they kept repeating things they had talked about in earlier parts of the book cause the repetition was necessary. Read more
Published 6 months ago by barefootmommy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, that keeps you entertained from page 1 ...
Great book, that keeps you entertained from page 1 to the end. Really breaks down ideas, and explains why certain ones stick and other's dont.
Published 8 months ago by Mikhail Levkovsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It's a great book! Thanks
Published 9 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this. Don't just read it
Well researched and eminently practical. This book itself is written in a "Made to Stick" fashion. The ideas and stories are definitely sticking in my mind. Read more
Published 10 months ago by minou
1.0 out of 5 stars Common sense, poor explanations and detached examples
This book was full of examples, the majority irrelevant and extremely dated, so much so that they seem very detached from the concept they are in fact trying to relate to. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Elaine Birbeck
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