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Book Review: Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

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This book can change your life. 

Communication 101 or how to get people to remember your point of view.

Urban legends are life lessons in how to reach out to other people.

Three declarative statements… three leads to an article… three different yet valid ways that could very well be 'the one' to encourage you to read this book.

In Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath look at the ins and outs of why some ideas flourish yet others wither on the vine. Part human nature study, part history lesson and practical wisdom acquired by both experience and experiments, Stick examines how to make your idea stand out in a crowd. 

Before stopping right here, assuming that this book must be geared for those in advertising and that it is not for you, think again.  This book, which is an easy-to-absorb read and entertaining as well, is for anyone out there who has a concept that they want to share. Yes, those in publicity can benefit from Made To Stick – that's a given.  But we all have ideas; scientists, teachers, businessmen, journalists and even parents want to impart their life's knowledge to their offspring.  Their guidelines can help anyone achieve those goals.

The Heaths have put together six principles on what makes a concept 'sticky,' i.e. memorable. They are: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories.  That's right, SUCCESs. 

To get these points across, it only takes one look at any of the many Urban Legends that, with the advent of our computer age, have taken on a life of their own. Stick  starts off with one such myth, the "Organ Thief" cautionary tale. This is the story that revolves around someone, typically a friend of a friend, who takes a step off of their morality path and pays for it in the end with the loss of a vital body part. It's simple: a guy walks into a bar. Unexpectedly, he's approached by a beautiful woman offering to buy him a drink. It is concrete and credible… even if you've never been in a bar, you surely must know at least one person who has. It evokes the fear that can arise from participating in even the most mundane of actions. It tells a story.

Using this legend to begin their book brings home the point of just why this book is for 'everyman.' It, like the rest of Made It Stick, is written in a friendly, almost breezy manner that sucks the reader into wanting to know more. This is not a journal that talks down to its readership, as many self-help and text books tend to do.  Nor does it take a complex pre-course of study to understand where it's coming from and how to make it work for you. It's the combined talents of it's two authors and a love for what they do that makes it all happen.

Brothers Chip, a professor of organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and Dan, consultant to Duke Corporate Education and a former researcher at Harvard Business School, have both made the study of mankind, what makes us tick and how we all communicate (in various forms) their own life's work. Back in 2004 they made the realization that, while they had taken different routes, they were really going in the same direction… so why not see what would happen if they worked together on a project. Three years down the line and voilà! – Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die is published and available at book vendors both brick and mortar as well as online.

This book comes highly recommended by my personal patroness, Our Lady of Truly Impressive First Lines That Never Blossomed Into Full Book Form.

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  • GL Hauptfleisch

    Nice review–and an appealing Patron Saint, too.

  • tink

    Thanks G!!

    LOL…I could probably fill a whole book just with my all-to-numerous first-liners that had great potential.

    Maybe with the help of this book and a blessing from my patroness it’ll happen some day!!

  • Laura

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I cited this article in my own book review. Thanks!