Nordic Track Book Club Review: Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath was one of those top-selling non-fiction books that seemed to be everywhere for a while.  After skimming through it at the local Barnes and Noble I knew I’d enjoy it.  The book focuses on how to create ideas that stick.  A quick and fun read.  3-out-of-5 [NordicTrack] Ski Stars.



p.4 The operator said, “Sir, don’t panic, but one of your kidney’s has been harvested.”  Some ideas are inherently interesting, and some, inherently uninteresting. A gang of organ thieves, inherently interesting. Non-profit financial strategy, inherently uninteresting.

The Subway Jared campaign wasn’t created by Madison Avenue, but by a single store owner who had the good sense to spot an amazing story.

p.16 Six principles of sticky ideas: 1) Simplicity, 2) Unexpectedness, 3) Concreteness—concrete images like ice-filled bathtubs or apples with razorblades, 4) Credibility, 5) Emotions, and 6) Stories.

p.19 There is a villain in our story, the villain is called the Curse of Knowledge.  This book will teach you how to transform your ideas to beat the Curse of Knowledge.

p.27 What we mean by “simple” is finding the core of the idea. The hard part is weeding out ideas that may be really important, but just aren’t THE most important idea.

A designer knows when he has achieved perfection, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

p.44 Why has the Daily Record local newspaper been so successful?  Because of three things, “Names, names and names.”

p.60 Good metaphors are generative.  They generate new perceptions, explanations and inventions. For example, Disney calls its employees “Cast Members.” Subway has created a metaphor for it’s front line employees.  They are called “Sandwich Artists.”

p.64 The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: break a pattern.

p.82 Mystery is created, not from an unexpected moment, but from an unexpected journey. We know where we’re headed. We want to solve the mystery, but we’re not sure how we’ll get there.

p.91 Roone Artledge intuitively made use of Lowenstein’s gap theory when popularizing college football on ABC. How do you get people interested in a topic?  He pointed out a deficiency in their knowledge then filled in enough information to bridge the gap.

p.111 Your brain hosts a truly staggering number of loops. The more Velcro hooks an idea has the better it will cling to memory.  Your childhood home has a gazillion hooks in your brain.  A new credit card number has one if its lucky.

p.137 It can be the honesty and trustworthiness of our sources, not their status, that allows them to act as authorities.  Sometimes anti-authorities are even better than authorities.

p.168 We discussed how to convince people that our ideas are credible and how to make them believe. Belief counts for a lot, but belief isn’t enough. For people to take action they have to care.

p.177 We make people care by appealing to the things that matter to them.

p.206 The story’s power then is two-fold: It provides simulation on how to act, and  inspiration, or motivation on how to act.  Note that both benefits are geared to generating action. Stories are strongly associated with entertainment.  When children say “tell me a story” they’re begging for entertainment, not instruction.

p.243 The natural tendency is to bury the lead, to get lost in a sea of information.

p.246 For an idea to stick, for it to be useful and lasting, it’s got to make the audience 1) pay attention, 2) understand and remember it, 3) agree/believe, 4) care, and 5) be able to act on it



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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.