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Made to Stick

Cover of Made to Stick

Made to Stick

Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
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Mark Twain once observed, "A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on." His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health...More
Mark Twain once observed, "A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on." His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health...More
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Description-
  • Mark Twain once observed, "A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on." His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others--struggle to make their ideas "stick."

    Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In MADE TO STICK accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the "human scale principle," using the "Velcro Theory of Memory," and creating "curiosity gaps."

    In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds--from the infamous "kidney theft ring" hoax to a coach's lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony--draw their power from the same six traits.

    MADE TO STICK is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It's a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)--the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of "the Mother Teresa Effect"; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, MADE TO STICK shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

    "Fun to read and solidly researched, this book deserves a wide readership." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    I I N T R O D U C T I O N

    WHAT STICKS?

    A friend of a friend of ours is a frequent business traveler. Let's call him Dave. Dave was recently in Atlantic City for an important meeting with clients. Afterward, he had some time to kill before his flight, so he went to a local bar for a drink.
    He'd just finished one drink when an attractive woman approached and asked if she could buy him another. He was surprised but flattered. Sure, he said. The woman walked to the bar and brought back two more drinks--one for her and one for him. He thanked her and took a sip. And that was the last thing he remembered.
    Rather, that was the last thing he remembered until he woke up, disoriented, lying in a hotel bathtub, his body submerged in ice.
    He looked around frantically, trying to figure out where he was and how he got there. Then he spotted the note: don't move. call 911.
    A cell phone rested on a small table beside the bathtub. He picked it up and called 911, his fingers numb and clumsy from the ice. The operator seemed oddly familiar with his situation. She said, "Sir, I want you to reach behind you, slowly and carefully. Is there a tube protruding from your lower back?"
    Anxious, he felt around behind him. Sure enough, there was a tube.
    The operator said, "Sir, don't panic, but one of your kidneys has been harvested. There's a ring of organ thieves operating in this city, and they got to you. Paramedics are on their way. Don't move until they arrive."

    You've just read one of the most successful urban legends of the past fifteen years. The first clue is the classic urban-legend opening: "A friend of a friend . . ." Have you ever noticed that our friends' friends have much more interesting lives than our friends themselves?
    You've probably heard the Kidney Heist tale before. There are hundreds of versions in circulation, and all of them share a core of three elements: (1) the drugged drink, (2) the ice-filled bathtub, and (3) the kidney-theft punch line. One version features a married man who receives the drugged drink from a prostitute he has invited to his room in Las Vegas. It's a morality play with kidneys.
    Imagine that you closed the book right now, took an hourlong break, then called a friend and told the story, without rereading it. Chances are you could tell it almost perfectly. You might forget that the traveler was in Atlantic City for "an important meeting with clients"--who cares about that? But you'd remember all the important stuff.
    The Kidney Heist is a story that sticks. We understand it, we remember it, and we can retell it later. And if we believe it's true, it might change our behavior permanently--at least in terms of accepting drinks from attractive strangers.
    Contrast the Kidney Heist story with this passage, drawn from a paper distributed by a nonprofit organization. "Comprehensive community building naturally lends itself to a return-on-investment rationale that can be modeled, drawing on existing practice," it begins, going on to argue that "[a] factor constraining the flow of resources to CCIs is that funders must often resort to targeting or categorical requirements in grant making to ensure accountability."
    Imagine that you closed the book right now and took an hourlong break. In fact, don't even take a break; just call up a friend and retell that passage without rereading it. Good luck.
    Is this a fair comparison--an urban legend to a cherry-picked bad passage? Of course not. But here's where things get interesting: Think of our two examples as two poles on a spectrum of memorability. Which sounds closer to the communications you encounter at work? If you're like most people, your...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine In an age in which politicians and CEOs sell bad ideas every day, it's fascinating to learn what makes certain ideas attractive, or "sticky." Memorable ideas have simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotionality, and a gripping story line. With fascinating examples and compact writing, this audio is partly a technical manual on how to evaluate other people's ideas, partly a lesson on how not to let complexity and abstractness obscure communication. Charles Kahlenberg's comfortable pacing and grasp of the topic make his performance seamless--and so tuned-in to his listeners. He's energetic but not juiced, involved but not too intense. T.W. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath
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Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath
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