22 October 2010

Made to Stick: why some ideas survive and others die

"Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” is an sticky idea, it survived a long time and it exists in several languages. The book Made to Stick knows why – and it teaches you how to do the same. Made to Stick is for people who need to communicate (which should be all of us who don’t live in a cave while wearing a bathing suit made of bear skin). It is the best book I ever read about communication (I graduated in communication, I had to read my fair share of McLuhan and Walter Benjamin).

For the authors, the brothers Chip and Dan Heath, an idea is like Velcro: which is basically a lot of small hooks that connects to small rings. The more “hooks” and idea has, the more sticky it will be to the “rings” on our brains. And that is the best part of Made to Stick, it’s not about HOW to say (like with firm tone of voice, posture, use maximum 3 phrases in a Powerpoint, look people in the eye, bla bla bla). No, instead it helps us to DESIGN a great sticky message (WHAT to say).

The whole book is made to explain how to make an idea stick. They use a “system” called SUCCESs. Corny as it may sound, the SUCCESs thing is awesome and stands for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Stories. Again, they don’t look like much, but the explanation is really outstanding - mostly because they use their own principles to write the book, which means it is filled with juice examples, crisp and plain talk statements without corporate jargon, incredible stories and so on.

Made to Stick is somewhat like the Unleashing the Idea Virus book from Seth Godin, but useful in the day to day life for people that doesn’t need to know anything about communication or marketing. If the Idea Virus is about viral marketing, Made to Stick is about viral communication (even though they never use this term). An example of viral communication/sticky ideas are the urban legends, like the one that a guy wakes up in a bathtub filled with ice and without a kidney (see how sticky this idea is, you already know).

The book explains why the best teachers are the best, how companies can succeed by talking strategy, how the army uses the commander’s intent to overcome the problem that “no plan survives the contact with the enemy”, how sayings are so sticky even across languages, how to make people care, how to generate interest…

“Tell me which books you read and I will tell you how sticky your communication is”.


  1. Finally reading this book. It's totally great and interesting indeed!

    still waiting to get Linchpin from the library :))


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