6 Takeaways From “Made to Stick”

Authors Chip Heath & Dan Heath sure wrote an incredible book applicable for teachers, advertisers, storytellers, and anybody else with a message they’re trying to convey. There are 6 core ideas you need for SUCCESS. Simplicity. Unexpectedness. Concreteness. Credibility. Emotional. Stories. Chip & Dan use questions to give readers an idea of the type of content to expect in each section. I’ll provide both the questions, and answers, saving you some valuable reading time you could actually spend reading this book because it would be worth it.


1. Simplicity. 

“How do you strip an idea to its core without turning it into a silly sound bite?”

What’s the bottom line? “If we do nothing else during tomorrow’s mission, we must ______” OR “The single, most important thing that we must do tomorrow is ______” Be simple. Find the core of your message and get that across.

2. Unexpectedness.

“How do you capture people’s attention…and hold it?”

Don’t be so predictable. Think of Nordstrom. Here are a couple examples of Nordstrom workers being amazing, “The Nordie who ironed a new shirt for a customer who needed it for a meeting that afternoon.” “the Nordie who cheerfully gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy’s” AND “the Nordie who refunded money for a set of tire chains – although Nordstrom doesn’t sell tire chains.” 


3. Concreteness.

“How do you help people understand your idea and remember it much later?”

Stick to the core. Stay grounded. “Biology students try to remember whether reptiles lay eggs or not. Biology teachers think in terms of the grand system of animal taxonomy.” Essentially, if the test question is ‘Reptiles lay eggs: True or False?’ abstract thoughts such as that of taxonomic classifications are not concrete enough. “Novices perceive concrete details as concrete details. Experts perceive concrete details as symbols of patterns…They want to talk about chess strategies, not about bishops moving diagonally.”


4. Credibility.

“How do you get people to believe your idea?”

“The researchers carefully tested the arguments with and without vidid details to ensure that they had the same perceived importance.” Basically, the details were not relevant to the function of the story, yet researchers were testing their role in argumentation. “Even though the details shouldn’t have mattered, they did…They boosted the credibility of the argument.” If you can see a picture, it’s easier for you to imagine the scenario, thus making the message with vivid details more believable and thus, stick!.


5. Emotional.

“How do you get people to care about your idea?”

Think of Mother Teresa. No, not my grandma! The one who said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” Chip & Dan describe, in a request for charity donations for the well-being of children world-wide, a more effective advertising campaign would be to share the story of one young child rather than a statistic. This way, we can relate to one rather than trying to understand the whole.


6. Stories.

“How do you get people to act on your idea?”

Jared from Subway.


Leave a Reply