Want to make a difference? Read Made to Stick

Posted on April 14, 2010

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This book will make you a better communicator

I just finished reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.  Wow, what an eye-opening book!

Reading this book and putting its lessons into practice will make anyone better at communicating.

Do you remember the urban legend about razor blades in halloween treats, or the one about the traveler who visits strange bar and wakes up in a tub of ice after having his kidney removed?  How about the idea of Disney cast members – or the idea of Nordstrom employees (Nordies) who went way above and beyond the call of duty to serve their customers?

Made to Stick (subtitled Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die) is about how stories, ideas, and concepts stick to our minds and hearts and memories. How urban legends develop and why they stick around.  How marketers and educators can develop messages that appeal to cynical audiences and motivate tough customers.  It’s wonderful for writers and bloggers – after all, who wouldn’t want to increase the chance that people will read and listen to and absorb the words we put together? But its message also could make a difference for parents or children or spouses or friends or managers or employees who are struggling to get their message across.  It could work for profitable mega-corporations and tiny nonprofits.

The lessons of the book are built around six principles for SUCCESs:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

and the quest to conquer the villain – the Curse of Knowledge.  The book contains great examples and anecdotes about how each principle helps ideas and messages become ‘sticky,’ some interesting analysis of particular examples and how they were improved or changed to make them more effective.

I borrowed this book from the library, but there were so many things I wanted to follow up and try that I’m going to buy it.  I may be a little late coming to Chip and Dan’s party (Made to Stick came out in 2007 and the Heath brothers have already published a follow-up, called Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard) but I’m a true believer now.

Give it a read.  It’s well written and, if nothing else, it will make you think.  Enjoy!

Ami

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