Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

My notes on “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath

S.U.C.C.E.S.s: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible Stories41hMTwhl6IL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_


  • Not dumbed down or sound bites
  • Find the core fo the idea
  • “The curse of knowledge” if you say 3 things you say nothing
  • Simple = core + compact, forced prioritisation
  • To make a profund idea compact use flags – “tap the existing terrain of your audience”
  • Schema’s are a collection of generic properties of a concept or category
  • Higher level schemas are composed of other schemas. Analogies are great
  • The goal is to write a proverb


  • Mostly we can’t demand attention, we must attract it. How? Break pattern
  • 2 essential emotions: Surprise & Interest
    • Makes us want to understand why our schema failed, we pay attention
    • But it must reinforce your core message or it’s useless. Produce insight
  • Fix the audiences guessing machine
    • Eg Nordstrums policy isn’t just “the best customer service” they tell stories to staff about refunding snow tires when they don’t even sell them!
  • An “aha!” experience sis much more satisfying when preceded with a “huh?”
  • A schema change takes a moment “bang!”, a mystery is a journey
  • Curiosity is when we feel a gap in our knowledge. It’s painful
    • This gap is more painful than walking away from a bad movie
    • Story’s pose questions & open situations. That’s how news headlines previews are written


  • Be concrete, not abstract
  • Give examples, use analogies
  • Memory is like velcro
  • A credit card has one hook, your childhood home has gazillions
  • Memory is not a filing cabinet


  • Details enhance credibility. Vivid details
  • Statistics are rarely meaningful or memorable
    • They should be used to illustrate relationships
    • Help people remember the relationship Eg BB gun bullets in a bucket represent the worlds nuclear warheads
    • Only with scale & context do they make sense
  • External credibility: authorities and anti-authorities
  • Internal credibility: statistics, examples


  • Analytical thinking hinders emotions Eg providing statistics when giving to Rwanda. Eg2 “think, don’t smoke”
  • Putting “you” in headlines is good, asking the reader to visualise themselves using the product or sponsorign the child is better
  • Self interest appeals work, but so do group interest appeals, and identity appeals
    • Who do they think they are? Who do they want to be?
    • Eg: “don’t mess with Texas”


  • Stories provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act)
  • Visualising success doesn’t work as well as visualising the event
  • Visualising can produce 2/3rds of the benefits of actual physical exercise
  • Visualising ourselves in a vivid story is the next best thing to being there
  • Most common plots:
    1. Challenge plot (Eg David v Goliath, Jared from Subway)
    2. Connection plot (Eg a relationship that bridges a gap in race, class, ethnicity Eg Romeo & Juliet, Titanic
    3. Creativity plot (longstanding puzzle, mental breakthrough, innovation Eg MacGyver)

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