Book Review: Made to Stick

June 12, 2020



GENRE Non-Fiction 

AUTHOR Chip Heath & Dan Heath



RELATED BOOKS One sentence persuasion, Influencers




Do you remember your school days? There were teachers, with whom you find a sense of connection. What they are delivering and what you are absorbing. And then there was another set of teachers, whose teaching always gone over your head.
Made to Stick discusses a similar instance when a doctorate researcher conducted a test on Stanford University students. She asked to guess a song(happy birthday) by tapping its beats on the table. Unlike expected, one in forty got the song. This was surprising as it was the easiest thing to get. Yes, it was easy, for the person who was tapping the beats because the tone was being played inside her head. This is called the Curse of Knowledge. It happens because the deliverer and the receiver aren’t on the same plane. That is why journals of scientists and researchers go unnoticed to the masses.

How to have an idea which is Made to Stick?

Robert Cialdini wanted to learn about astronomy. While searching, he found most of the articles were filled with jargon which was painfully boring. Then came something interesting, a question: How can we account for what is perhaps the most spectacular thing in our solar system, the rings of Saturn? How could three acknowledged institutions- MIT, Cambridge & Cal Tech came to different conclusions? The answer was dust. But the point is, it drawn the attention of layman Cialdini. He started digging more into it.
Here is the notable point: Making things Mysterious. If you want your ideas to stick, don’t put all of them in once. Create a sense of mystery to draw curiosity.


There was an advertisement for The New Enclave minivan. Initial pictures of its features. The following scene shows a happy family riding it with smiling faces. In the final scene, the minivan was hit by a car and was shattered. The screen turns black. A message comes “Didn’t see that coming?”
“No one ever does”. “Buckle up”. This advertisement wasn’t a car commercial but Road safety.
Another thing to jot down: Making things Unexpected. When you are about to inject an idea give them what they never expect.


Now the last lesson. Imagine a lady rings your bell. She is collecting donations for children who are starving in Africa.
Statement 1: Food shortage is affecting 3 million Malian children, please help them.
Statement 2: Any money you donate will go to Rokia. A seven-year-old who is desperately poor. Your financial support can reduce her suffering and many more like her.
Which statement will compel you more for donation? Reachers found the volume of the donation was almost double for statement 2.
Majority of the time you deliver a message you expect people to care the same way as you do. That doesn’t happen.
For your idea to hit deep inside your audience: It needs a personal touch. You need to create a simulation where people can experience empathy.



Made to stick is my first book in learning the art of persuasion. Yeah, that is my current area of interest in reading and watching, just completed the Mad Men series. Similar books are in the queue.

Chip Heath & Dan Heath has carefully used all his teachings in framing this book. I always enjoy learning from examples and here I found plenty of them in support of his points. Besides exceptional theories, writing is surprisingly simple and straight forward. Felt like the author was talking to me face to face. 
Secondly, these teachings should not be looked only as a tool for advertisers or for framing articles. Its scope reaches where you deliver your idea verbally or non-verbally. The last part was of studies conducted by the author. Further, if you are out of patience, read the eighth chapter and you will get the crux of the book.  I didn't find it interesting enough but this is a great book. Whether you like the idea of persuasion or not Made to Stick deserves your attention.




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