Made to Stick – Book Review

Title:         Made to Stick
Subtitle:   Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Authors:  Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Rating:     Highly Recommended

This blog acts as an extension of my book Just Like That! How to Get Anything You Want because it’s all about helping you get even more of what you want. The book Made to Stick does just that.

The Secrets of Making Your Message Stick

“A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”

Mark Twain

The book Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die analyzes the nuances of what elements to put in a message to make it memorable.

There are 6 principles that make a message memorable:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

Before I begin, I must mention the cover is undeniably clever; the colour and that amazing duct tape is truly a work of art (even better in real life). It caught my eye and all who saw it, over and over. Well done to all involved.

Made to Stick is a well researched book with umpteen entertaining stories illustrating the 6 principles. The stories give you working examples of each principle and are powerful in ensuring the reader understands them. The book teaches that people remember stories not statistics, so it makes sense that authors Chip and Dan Heath follow their own advice and use stories to teach these principles.

I especially appreciated the Curse of Knowledge concept, which rippled all the way through the book. This is something that occurs when we forget what it’s like not to know what we know, it’s for that reason we sometimes ‘bury the lead’ i.e. we know so much we want to share it all. Made to Stick teaches you how to transform your ideas and to beat the Curse of Knowledge. While writing Just Like That! How to Get Anything You Want, I constantly came up against the Curse of Knowledge, except at the time I didn’t have a label for it. I was aware that while I already lived and breathed this knowledge, life would be very different for someone who was yet to experience these ideas working in their life. It’s a tricky issue to overcome and having rules on how to do so is most welcome.

A small downside if you can call it that: Chip and Dan’s flow of the book is ideal, their analysis and layout is superb, insightful and refreshing, except that I found myself unable to quickly recall the key points at the end of each chapter/principle, even though there were heaps of stories. This was frustrating. I was becoming so involved with each story I lost the bigger picture. Just me perhaps? (I tend to read 3-4 books at the same time and this may have created the issue) Once I realized this was happening I took notes on each principle, thereby supplying myself with a summary for each. So it probably would’ve been helpful if Chip and Dan had supplied a summary at the end of each principle, reminding the reader what is key i.e. a quick revision. Needing to take notes does not detract from the book however, as it’s something I generally do. Made to Stick genuinely captures the vital nuances of what it takes for a message to stay memorable.

An added benefit of the book Made to Stick in my opinion is that while it will aid your ability to get your point across without ambiguity, it will also raise your awareness while listening. To this end I found myself being alerted to news items where these principles were employed to manipulate the public, most noticeably used by politicians, surprise surprise. I rather think that most of us would choose instead to use these strategies to benefit all concerned.

Made to Stick is a book worth revisiting several times and a highly recommended read for anyone who has a message to deliver. That would be most of us.

And There’s Free Stuff…

This week Chip and Dan are offering free their latest book “The Myth of the Garage and Other Minor Surprises”.

on Kindle, on the Nook, on iPad

or download “The Myth of the Garage” here free on PDF (see their other free resources here too).

Buy Made to Stick

Buy “Made to Stick

“Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”

Chip Heath and Dan Heath

ISBN-13:                978-1-4000-6428-1

Publisher:              Random House (2008)

Hardcover:            322 pages

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