Book Review: Made To Stick

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Communicating ideas and, frankly, persuasion are becoming more vital in the work place. I’ve grown to realize this in the past few years. Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath is a wonderful book summarizing the best concepts around making your ideas stick in other people’s minds.

If I had to give a singular tweet for a review, it would be this:

Abstraction is the luxury of the expert. The Curse of Knowledge prohibits simple concreteness.

It really does come down to that. Remember that you had to gain a lot of expertise to come to “The Answer”, but then that time and expertise works against you when telling others about it. You can communicate effective strategy or make an idea stick by focusing on the “Telling Others” part, not finding “The Answer” precursor.

There were some really good nuggets in the book:

  • Good metaphors are generative
  • Metaphors are the Holy Grail of simplicity (pretty meta)
  • A way to keep people’s attention is to create a need for closure
  • Language is often abstract, but life is not
  • Concreteness is the root of making ideas stick. So what is concreteness? If you can examine something with your senses, it’s concrete.
  • Belief is one thing, but to persuade action, people have to care
  • The one reliable way of making people care is invoking self-interest
  • Features aren’t emotional, but benefits are
  • If you’re a great spotter, you’ll always trump a great creator
  • Strategy is a guide to behavior; thus a bad strategy is one which doesn’t drive action

Mostly, the book provided great anecdotes and analysis on: Keep it simple, keep it concrete, tell great stories, be unexpected, emotional, and credible.

I strongly recommend the book to everyone. It’s a quick, valuable read.