Book Review: Made to Stick

Made to Stick, By Chip and Dan Heath

Man, oh, man, this book was excellent. It was a recommendation by my library brother-in-arms, B-Money. This book is basically about making ideas stick in people's minds. How do you make people remember? How do you make people care? The book was great and it's value, for writers especially, is on par with On Writing Well. The book is VERY well-written (as it should be), clear, concise and it also provides little "clinics" to highlight good, bad and okay messages. Plus, there are a mountain of great anecdotes and examples.

The rest of this review contains the notes I took on the book. Highly, highly recommended for everyone that has a message: public relations, teachers, organizations, etc, etc. Pretty much everyone that needs to connect with others - meaning everyone.

Emotion chapter - If people are analytical, they are less charitable. If people are made to FEEL first, they're more charitable. Essentially, if one is asked to be analytical first, chances are they will care less. An excellent example is the Truth anti-smoking campaign versus Big Tobacco's anti-smoking campaign (big surprise, huh?). This example illustrates that helping teens rebel against "the man" (Truth campaign) is more effective than asking them to "Think. Don't smoke." (Big Tobacco's campaign). The Truth campaign has been successful in greatly reducing teenage smoking, because the campaign encourages teens to stick it to The Man (in this instance, Big Tobacco). In essence, sticking it to The Man is way cooler than thinking. Indeed.

There is a discussion of the overuse of terms and how people get desensitized. Some great examples are: relativity, unique and sportsmanship. I liked how one of the books anecdotes changed "sportsmanship" to "honoring the game", which is brilliant. Again, this little tweak helped a guy who's in charge of a coach's clinic to decrease technical fouls and bad (parental) behavior in a number of sports leagues in California. "Honoring the Game" is much more concrete and less cliche than "Be a good sport" or something like that.

Page 198 talks about how Texas had to figure out how to decrease roadside pollution. They came up with "Don't mess with Texas" and getting the attention of the macho, gun-wielding, truck-driving Texans. Roadside pollution decreased 29% in one year and 72% over the next five. Winner: Texas.

Stories chapter - This passage made me smile. It's about a guy that at first is upset because a group of business guys' attitude changes from crappy to open when they realize how good HIS idea is...

"...he thought a happier thought 'How wonderful! They've stolen my idea! It's become their idea!'"

This made me think of all types of things: plagiarism, blogging, web code and open source software. And it also made me think that, yes, if someone wants your idea, that means it must be pretty good. If someone is willing to make it theirs, it's sweet and essentially puts you in the drivers seat. Ideas start free and help you take off, start a project, business, etc. And then better ideas form.

One last interesting piece of info: there is almost no correlation that emerges between "speaking talent" and the ability to make ideas stick. The people who were captivating speakers typically do no better than others in making ideas stick. Basically, many good speakers can be mistaken for good bull****ers. A great example includes a bunch of Stanford kids who think they're sweet, but turns out their ideas are about as sticky as cooking oil.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in this book. There are so many fascinating stories and examples that this blog just can't do it justice. Read this book. Period.

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