Book Reviews

Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

5. Made To Stick - Chip & Dan Heath

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 8/10

Date of reading: 23rd of January – 2nd of February, 2018

Description: Six principles which make an idea “stick” in people’s minds. The principles are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories


My notes:




“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?” ( :16)

“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.” ( :17)

“A biology teacher spends an hour explaining mitosis, and a week later only three kids remember what it is. A manager makes a speech unveiling a new strategy as the staffers nod their heads enthusiastically, and the next day the frontline employees are observed cheerfully implementing the old one.” ( :17)

“”A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings—combined!”” ( :19)

“This is an idea success story. Even better, it’s a truthful idea success story.” ( :20)

“r think about an elementary-school teacher. She knows her goal: to teach the material mandated by the state curriculum committee. She knows her audience: third graders with a range of knowledge and skills. She knows how to speak effectively—she’s a virtuoso of posture and diction and eye contact. So the goal is clear, the audience is clear, and the format is clear. But the design of the message itself is far from clear. The biology students need to understand mitosis—okay, now what? There are an infinite number of ways to teach mitosis. Which way will stick? And how do you know in advance?” ( :22)

“most effective and best-loved professors in the country: the calculus teacher who was also a stand-up comic; the biology teacher who was named national Teacher of the Year; the economics teacher who was also a chaplain and a playwright. Essentially, Dan enjoyed a crash course in what makes great teachers great.” ( :22)

“• The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that is visible from space. (The Wall is really long but not very wide. Think about it: If the Wall were visible, then any interstate highway would also be visible, and maybe a few Wal-Mart superstores as well.) • You use only 10 percent of your brain. (If this were true, it would certainly make brain damage a lot less worrisome.)” ( :23)

“• Why Nostradamus’s prophecies are still read after 400 years • WhyChicken Soup for the Soulstories are inspirational • Why ineffective folk remedies persist” ( :24)

“To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize.” ( :28)

“Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.” ( :28)

“Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.” ( :28)

“We can engage people’s curiosity over a long period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.” ( :28)

“In proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”” ( :29)

“Reagan could have cited innumerable statistics demonstrating the sluggishness of the economy. Instead, he asked a simple question that allowed voters to test for themselves: “Before you vote, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”” ( :29)

“Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. Sometimes the hard part is finding the right emotion to harness.” ( :30)

“The listener’s job in this game is quite difficult. Over the course of Newton’s experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 2.5 percent of the songs: 3 out of 120. But here’s what made the result worthy of a dissertation in psychology. Before the listeners guessed the name of the song, Newton asked the tappers to predict the odds that the listeners would guess correctly. They predicted that the odds were 50 percent. The tappers got their message across 1 time in 40, but they thought they were getting their message across 1 time in 2. Why?” ( :31)

“It’s hard to be a tapper. The problem is that tappers have been given knowledge (the song title) that makes it impossible for them to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge. When they’re tapping, they can’t imagine what it’s like for the listeners to hear isolated taps rather than a song. This is the Curse of Knowledge.” ( :32)

“It’s a hard problem to avoid—a CEO might have thirty years of daily immersion in the logic and conventions of business. Reversing the process is as impossible as un-ringing a bell.” ( :32)

“There are, in fact, only two ways to beat the Curse of Knowledge reliably. The first is not to learn anything. The second is to take your ideas and transform them.” ( :32)

“Contrast the “maximize shareholder value” idea with John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” Simple? Yes. Unexpected? Yes. Concrete? Amazingly so. Credible? The goal seemed like science fiction, but the source was credible. Emotional? Yes. Story? In miniature.” ( :33)

“In 1999, an Israeli research team assembled a group of 200 highly regarded ads—ads that were finalists and award winners in the top advertising competitions. They found that 89 percent of the award-winning ads could be classified into six basic categories, or templates. That’s remarkable.” ( :34)

“For example, the Extreme Consequences template points out unexpected consequences of a product attribute.” ( :34)

“The surprising lesson of this story: Highly creative ads are more predictable than uncreative ones. It’s like Tolstoy’s quote: “All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” All creative ads resemble one another, but each loser is uncreative in its own way.” ( :35)

“You want to invent new ideas, not new rules.” ( :36)




“”The trite expression we always use is No plan survives contact with the enemy,” says Colonel Tom Kolditz,” ( :37)

“The Army’s challenge is akin to writing instructions for a friend to play chess on your behalf. You know a lot about the rules of the game, and you may know a lot about your friend and the opponent. But if you try to write move-by-move instructions you’ll fail. You can’t possibly foresee more than a few moves.” ( :38)

“”You can lose the ability to execute the original plan, but you never lose the responsibility of executing the intent,”” ( :38)

“If we do nothing else during tomorrow’s mission, we must _________________. The single, most important thing that we must do tomorrow is ________________.” ( :39)

“o doubt this principle has resonance for people who have no military experience whatsoever. No sales plan survives contact with the customer. No lesson plan survives contact with teenagers.” ( :39)

“”A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”” ( :40)

“28 MADE TO STICK The reasons for Southwest’s success could (and do) fill up books, but perhaps the single greatest factor in the company’s success is its” ( :40)

“dogged focus on reducing costs.” ( :41)

“Herb Kelleher [the longest-serving CEO of Southwest] once told someone, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds. This is it: We are THE low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.” ( :41)

“What do you say?” The person stammered for a moment, so Kelleher responded: “You say, ‘Tracy, will adding that chicken Caesar salad make us THE low-fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas? Because if it doesn’t help us become the unchallenged low-fare airline, we’re not serving any damn chicken salad.'”” ( :41)

“Now, this core idea—”THE low-fare airline”—isn’t the whole story, of course. For instance, in 1996 Southwest received 124,000 applications for 5,444 openings. It’s known as a great place to work, which is surprising. It’s not supposed to be fun to work for pennypinchers. It’s hard to imagine Wal-Mart employees giggling their way through the workday.” ( :41)

“A new employee can easily put these ideas together to realize how to act in unscripted situations. For instance, is it all right to joke about a flight attendant’s birthday over the P.A.? Sure. Is it equally okay to throw confetti in her honor? Probably not— the confetti would create extra work for cleanup crews, and extra clean-up time means higher fares.” ( :42)

“After the lead, information is presented in decreasing order of importance. Journalists call this the “inverted pyramid” structure—the most important info (the widest part of the pyramid) is at the top.” ( :43)

“Forced prioritization is really painful. Smart people recognize the value of all the material. They see nuance, multiple perspectives— and because they fully appreciate the complexities of a situation, they’re often tempted to linger there.” ( :44)

“”It’s the economy, stupid.” This message would become the core of Clinton’s successful campaign.” ( :45)

“that Ross Perot, the third-party candidate for president in 1992, was getting positive attention for his stand on the balanced budget. Clinton said, “I’ve been talking about these things for two years, why should I stop talking about them now because Perot is in?” Clinton’s advisers had to tell him, “There has to be message triage. If you say three things, you don’t say anything.”” ( :46)

“But what if we can’t tell what’s “critical” and what’s “beneficial”? Sometimes it’s not obvious. We often have to make decisions between one”unknown” and another.” ( :46)

“Here’s the twist: The group of students who, like you, didn’t know their final exam results behaved completely differently. The majority of them (61 percent) paid five dollars to wait for two days. Think about that! If you pass, you want to go to Hawaii. If you fail, you want to go to Hawaii. If you don’t know whether you passed or failed, you . . . wait and see?” ( :48)

“Giving students two good alternatives to studying, rather than one, paradoxically makes them less likely to choose either. This behavior isn’t”rational,” but it is human.” ( :49)

“Sun Exposure: How to Get Old Prematurely (5) Skin damage from overexposure to the sun is like getting older: It is cumulative over the years and cannot be reversed. Once damage occurs, it cannot be undone. Most serious and lasting damage occurs before age 18. Fortunately, unlike aging, skin damage can be prevented. Sun protection should start early, particularly with children who enjoy playing outdoors on sunny days. (2, 3, 4) Tanning and burning are caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Ultraviolet rays cause sunburn, which is a temporary sign of deeper underlying skin damage. Sunburns eventually disappear, but the underlying damage persists and may eventually cause premature aging or skin cancer. (1) Ironically, a golden, bronze tan is often considered a sign of good health. But ultraviolet rays not only damage skin, they can also create vision problems, allergic reactions, and depressed immune systems. So instead of a “healthy tan,” perhaps we should call it a “sickly tan.”” ( :52)

“Across the fifty-five years of his tenure as publisher, Adams has had a remarkably consistent editorial philosophy. He believes that newspapers should be relentlessly local in their coverage. In fact, he’s a zealot about community coverage.” ( :55)

“In other words, finding the core isn’t synonymous with communicating the core. Top management can knowwhat the priorities are but be completely ineffective in sharing and achieving those priorities. Adams has managed to findandshare the core. How did he do it?” ( :55)

“He’s willing to be boring for local focus: I’ll bet that if the Daily Record reprinted the entire Dunn telephone directory tonight, half the people would sit down and check it to be sure their name was included. . . . When somebody tells you, “Aw, you don’t want all those names,” please assure them that’s exactly what we want, most of all!” ( :56)

“Ralph Delano, who runs the local paper in Benson: If an atomic bomb fell on Raleigh, it wouldn’t be news in Benson unless some of the debris and ashes fell on Benson.” ( :56)

“names.” Adams can’t be everywhere. But by finding the core and communicating it clearly, he has made himself everywhere.That’s the power of a sticky idea.” ( :57)

“That’s when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it’s like not to know what we know.” ( :58)

“Cervantes defined proverbs as “short sentences drawn from long experience.” Take the English-language proverb: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” What’s the core? The core is a warning against giving up a sure thing for something speculative. The proverb is short and simple, yet it packs a big nugget of wisdom that is useful in many situations.” ( :59)

“Our messages have to be compact, because we can learn and remember only so much information at once.” ( :63)

“J FKFB INAT OUP SNA SAI RS If you’re like most people, you probably remembered about seven to ten letters. That’s not much information. Compactness is essential, because there’s a limit to the amount of information we can juggle at once. Now turn the page and try the exercise again.” ( :63)

“There’s a twist this time. We haven’t changed the letters or the sequence. All we’ve done is change the way the letters are grouped. Once again, study the letters for ten to fifteen seconds, then close the book and test your recall. JFK FBI NATO UPS NASA IRS” ( :64)

“In Round 1, you were trying to remember raw data. In Round 2, you were remembering concepts: John F. Kennedy, the FBI, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, UPS, NASA, the IRS.” ( :64)

“So, to make a profound idea compact you’ve got to pack a lot of meaning into a little bit of messaging. And how do you do that? You use flags. You tap the existing memory terrain of your audience. You use what’s already there.” ( :64)

“Then we tell you what to change about it: It’s”supersized.” Your visualized grapefruit grows accordingly. We’ve made it easier for you to learn a new concept by tying it to a concept that you already know. In this case, the concept is “grapefruit.” “Grapefruit” is a schema that you already have.” ( :66)

“The use of schemas can sometimes involve a somewhat slower route to the “real truth.” For instance, physicists now know that electrons don’t orbit the nucleus the way that planets do. In reality, electrons move in “probability clouds.” So what do you tell a sixth grader? Do you talk about the motion of planets, which is easy to understand and nudges you closer to the truth? Or do you talk about “probability clouds,” which are impossible to understand but accurate?” ( :68)

“56 MADE TO STICK Herb Kelleher could tell a flight attendant that her goal is to “maximize shareholder value.” In some sense, this statement is more accurate and complete than that the goal is to be “THE low-fare airline.” After all, the proverb “THE low-fare airline” is clearly incomplete—Southwest could offer lower fares by eliminating aircraft maintenance, or by asking passengers to share napkins. Clearly, there are additional values (customer comfort, safety ratings) that refine” ( :68)

“Southwest’s core value of economy. The problem with “maximize shareholder value,” despite its accuracy, is that it doesn’t help the flight attendant decide whether to serve chicken salad. An accurate but useless idea is still useless.” ( :69)

“Accuracy to the point of uselessness is a symptom of the Curse of Knowledge. To a CEO, “maximizing shareholder value” may be an immensely useful rule of behavior. To a flight attendant, it’s not. To a physicist, probability clouds are fascinating phenomena. To a child, they are incomprehensible.” ( :69)

“A movie pitch, on the other hand, is destined to change. When a screenwriter is hired, the story will change. When a director is hired, the artistic feel of the movie will change. When stars are hired to play the parts, their personalities will change how we perceive the characters in the story. When producers are hired, the storytelling will become subject to financial and logistical constraints. And when the movie is completed, months or years later, the marketing team will need to find a way to explain the plot to the public in about thirty seconds—without giving away too much.” ( :70)

“In Hollywood, people use core ideas called “high-concept pitches.” You’ve probably heard some of them. Speed was “Die Hard on a bus.” 13 Going on 30 was “Big for girls.” Alien was “Jaws on a spaceship.”” ( :70)

“As another example, imagine that you were just hired to be the production designer on the new film Alien. It will be your job to design the spaceship where most of the movie takes place. What does it look like? If you knew nothing at all about the movie, you might sensibly start by looking at old spaceship designs. For instance, think of the cool, immaculate interior of the EnterpriseonStar Trek. Then your boss tells you that the vision for the movie is “Jaws on a spaceship.” That changes everything. Jaws was not cool or immaculate. Richard Dreyfus navigated around on a rickety old boat. Decisions were rushed, slapdash, claustrophobic, anxiety-ridden. The environment was sweaty. As you think about what made Jaws tick, your ideas start to take shape: The ship will be underdeveloped, dingy, and oppressive. The crew members will not wear bright Lycra uniforms. The rooms will not be well lit and lintless.” ( :71)

“For example, Disney calls its employees “cast members.” This metaphor of employees as cast members in a theatrical production is communicated consistently throughout the organization: • Cast members don’t interview for a job, they audition for a role. • When they are walking around the park, they are onstage. • People visiting Disney are guests,not customers. • Jobs are performances;uniforms are costumes.” ( :72)

“They are “sandwich artists.” This metaphor is the evil twin of Disney’s”cast members.” It is utterly useless as a guide to how the employee should act.” ( :73)

“Proverbs are the Holy Grail of simplicity. Coming up with a short, compact phrase is easy. Anybody can do it. On the other hand, coming up with a profound compact phrase is incredibly difficult. What we’ve tried to show in this chapter is that the effort is worth it—that “finding the core,” and expressing it in the form of a compact idea, can be enduringly powerful.” ( :74)




“A flight attendant named Karen Wood faced exactly this situation and solved it with creativity. On a flight from Dallas to San Diego, she made the following announcement:” ( :75)

“If I could have your attention for a few moments, we sure would love to point out these safety features. If you haven’t been in an automobile since 1965, the proper way to fasten your seat belt is” ( :75)

“to slide the flat end into the buckle. To unfasten, lift up on the buckle and it will release. And as the song goes, there might be fifty ways to leave your lover, but there are only six ways to leave this aircraft: two forward exit doors, two over-wing removable window exits, and two aft exit doors. The location of each exit is clearly marked with signs overhead, as well as red and white disco lights along the floor of the aisle. Made ya look!” ( :76)

“(And if a well-designed message can make people applaud for a safety announcement there’s hope for all of us.)” ( :76)

“The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern. Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns.” ( :76)

“t if getting attention had been Wood’s only concern, she wouldn’t have needed to be so entertaining. She could have gotten passengers’ attention just as easily by starting the announcement and then suddenly pausing in midsentence. Or switching to Russian for a few seconds.” ( :77)

“How do I get people’s attention? And, just as crucially, How do I keep it?” ( :77)

“stickier. But can you generate “unexpectedness”? Isn’t”planned unexpectedness” an oxymoron?” ( :78)

“The Enclave ad, like many other Council ads, capitalizes on the second characteristic of sticky ideas: Unexpectedness.” ( :79)

“Surprise makes us want to find an answer—to resolve the question of why we were surprised—and big surprises call for big answers. If we want to motivate people to pay attention, we should seize the power of big surprises.” ( :81)

“But, to be satisfying, surprise must be “postdictable.” The twist makes sense after you think about it, but it’s not something you would have seen coming.” ( :83)

“Before Kelleher, an average staffer’s guessing machine might have predicted, “We want to please our customers in a low-cost way.” After Kelleher, the guessing machine was refined to “We will be THE low-cost airline, even if it means intentionally disregarding some of our customers’ preferences.”” ( :84)

“(1) Identify the central message you need to communicate—find the core; (2) Figure out what is counterintuitive about the message—i.e., What are the unexpected implications of your core message? Why isn’t it already happening naturally? (3) Communicate your message in a way that breaks your audience’s guessing machines along the critical, counterintuitive dimension. Then, once their guessing machines have failed, help them refine their machines” ( :84)

“You can imagine the surprise, if not shock, that these stories provoke in new Nordstrom employees. “Wrap a gift from Macy’s! I don’t get it. What’s in it for us?” These stories attack the unspoken assumptions of customer service, such as: Service stops at the door of the store. Don’t waste your time on someone who’s not buying. Once you close a sale, move on to the next prospect.” ( :86)

“A journalists gets the facts and reports them. To get the facts, you track down the five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why. As students sat in front of their manual typewriters, Ephron’s teacher announced the first assignment. They would write the lead of a newspaper story. The teacher reeled off the facts: “Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.”” ( :87)

“Finally, he said, “The lead to the story is ‘There will be no school next Thursday.'” ( :88)

“Ephron recalls. “In that instant I realized that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the point. It wasn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it meant. And why it mattered.” For the rest of the year, she says, every assignment had a secret—a hidden point that the students had to figure out in order to produce a good story.” ( :88)

“How do we get people’s attention? And how do we keep it?” ( :92)

“80 MADE TO STICK How can we account for what is perhaps the most spectacular planetary feature in our solar system, the rings of Saturn? There’s nothing else like them. What arethe rings of Saturn made of anyway?” ( :92)

“And then he deepened the mystery further by asking, “How could three internationally acclaimed groups of scientists come to wholly different conclusions on the answer?” One, at Cambridge University, proclaimed they were gas; another group, at MIT, was convinced they were made up of dust particles; while the third, at Cal Tech, insisted they were comprised of ice crystals. How could this be, after all, each group was looking at the same thing, right? So, what wasthe answer?” ( :93)

“Eventually, after many months of effort, there was a breakthrough. Cialdini says, “Do you know what the answer was at the end of twenty pages? Dust. Dust. Actually, ice-covered dust, which accounts for some of the confusion. Now, I don’t care about dust, and the makeup of the rings of Saturn is entirely irrelevant to my life. But that writer had me turning pages like a speed-reader.”” ( :93)

“”Well, the Aha! experience is much more satisfying when it is preceded by the Huh?experience.”” ( :93)

“Cialdini began to create mysteries in his own classroom, and the power of the approach quickly became clear. He would introduce the mystery at the start of class, return to it during the lecture, and reveal the answer at the end. In one lecture, though, the end-of-class bell rang before he had time to reveal the solution. He says, “Normally five to ten minutes before the scheduled end time, some students start preparing to leave. You know the signals—pencils are put away, notebooks folded, backpacks zipped up.” This time, though, the class” ( :93)

“was silent. “After the bell rang, no one moved. In fact, when I tried to end the lecture without revealing the mystery, I was pelted with protests.” He said he felt as if he’d discovered dynamite.” ( :94)

“Mysteries exist wherever there are questions without obvious answers.” ( :94)

“Mystery is created not from an unexpected moment but from an unexpected journey. We know where we’re headed—we want to solve the mystery—but we’re not sure how we’ll get there.” ( :94)

“Robert McKee, the screenwriting guru, uses this example to illustrate the concept of a “Turning Point.” McKee knows something about how to hold an audience’s attention. His screenwriting seminars play to packed auditoriums of aspiring screenwriters, who pay five hundred dollars a head to listen to his thoughts.” ( :95)

“In McKee’s view, a great script is designed so that every scene is a Turning Point. “Each Turning Point hooks curiosity. The audience wonders, What will happen next? and How will it turn out? The answer to this will not arrive until the Climax of the last act, and so the audience, held by curiosity, stays put.” McKee notes that the How will it turn out? question is powerful enough to keep us watching even when we know better. “Think of all the bad films you’ve sat through just to get the answer to that nagging question.”” ( :95)

“Curiosity, he says, happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge.” ( :96)

“One important implication of the gap theory is that we need to open gaps before we close them. Our tendency is to tell people the facts. First, though, they must realize that they need these facts.” ( :97)

“These are sensationalist examples of the gap theory. They work because they tease you with something that you don’t know—in fact, something that you didn’t care about at all, until you found out that you didn’t know it.” ( :97)

“86 MADE TO STICK C L I N I C This year we set out to answer a question: Why do people M E S S AG E 2: under thirty-five, who make up 40 percent of our audience, provide only 10 percent of our donations? Our theory was that they didn’t realize how much we rely on charitable donations to do our work, so” ( :98)

“we decided to try calling them with a short overview of our business and our upcoming shows. Going into the six-month test, we thought a 10 percent response rate would be a success. Before I tell you what happened, let me remind you of how we set up the program.” ( :99)

“To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?”” ( :100)

“But Loewenstein argues that the opposite is true. He says that as we gain information we are more and more likely to focus on what we don’t know. Someone who knows the state capitals of 17 of 50 states may be proud of her knowledge. But someone who knows 47 may be more likely to think of herself as not knowing 3 capitals.” ( :101)

“Arledge died in 2002. During his career, he became the head of ABC Sports and later ABC News. He founded the Wide World of Sports,Monday Night Football, 20/20,andNightline. He won thirtysix Emmys. The tool kit he developed for NCAA football stood the test of time. The way to get people to care is to provide context. Today that seems obvious, because these techniques have become ubiquitous. But this avalanche of context started because a twenty-nineyear-old wrote a memo about how to make college football more interesting.” ( :104)

“Mendeleyev and his long, passionate quest to organize the elements.” ( :104)

“Mendeleyev and his long, passionate quest to organize the elements. In this way, the periodic table emerges from within the context of a sort of detective story.” ( :104)

“it may be necessary to highlight some knowledge first. “Here’s what you know. Now here’s what you’re missing.” Alternatively,” ( :105)

“Innovation: “Sony will create the most advanced radios in the world.” Here’s the idea Ibuka proposed to his team: a “pocketable radio.”” ( :106)

“Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard followed a month later.” ( :108)




“One suspects that the life span of Aesop’s ideas would have been shorter if they’d been encoded as Aesop’s Helpful Suggestions—”Don’t be such a bitter jerk when you fail.”” ( :111)

“Here’s what TNC did: Instead of talking in terms of land area, it talked about a “landscape.” A landscape is a contiguous plot of land with unique, environmentally precious features. The TNC set a goal of preserving fiftylandscapes—of which twenty-five were an immediate priority—over a ten-year period. Five landscapes per year sounds more realistic than 2 million acres per year, and it’s much more concrete.” ( :114)

“avoided the trap of abstraction—saving 2 million acres per year—by converting abstract blobs on a map into tangible landscapes. TNC realized, wisely, that the context had grown more ambiguous, and the solutions had grown more ambiguous, but that their messages could not be allowed to grow more ambiguous. Concreteness is an indispensable component of sticky ideas.” ( :116)

“To see this, we can start by studying math classrooms in Asia. We know, from the news over the years, that East Asian children outperform American children in, well, just about everything (except the consumption of fatty foods). This is especially evident in math. The math skills of Americans fall behind those of Asians early—the gap is apparent in the first grade, and it widens throughout elementary school.” ( :116)

“For instance, consider this question by a Japanese teacher: “You had 100 yen but then you bought a notebook for 70 yen. How much money do you still have?” Or this question, posed by a teacher in Taiwan: “Originally there are three kids playing ball. Two more came later, and then one more joined them. How many are playing now?” As she talked, she drew stick figures on the board and wrote down the equation 3 + 2 + 1. Notice that these teachers are explaining abstract mathematical concepts by emphasizing things that are concrete and familiar— buying school supplies and playing ball.” ( :117)

“Using concreteness as a foundation for abstraction is not just good for mathematical instruction; it is a basic principle of understanding. Novices crave concreteness.” ( :118)

“Or maybe you’ve experienced the frustration of cooking from a recipe that was too abstract: “Cook until the mixture reaches a hearty consistency.” Huh? Just tell me how many minutes to stir! Show me a picture of what it looks like! After we’ve cooked the dish a few times, then the phrase “hearty consistency” might start to make sense.” ( :118)

“Let’s skip to the modern world and another timeless and beautiful domain of expression: accounting. Put yourself in the shoes of an accounting professor who has to introduce accounting principles to college students. To a new student, accounting can seem bewilderingly abstract—the income statement, the balance sheet, T-accounts, accounts receivable, treasury stock. No people or sensory data in sight.” ( :119)

“Borthick, decided to try something radically different. In the fall of 2000, Springer and Borthick taught a semester of accounting using, as a centerpiece, a semester-long case study. The case study followed a new business launched by two imaginary college sophomores, Kris and Sandy, at LeGrande State University. Kris and Sandy had an idea for a new product called Safe Night Out (SNO),” ( :119)

“CONCRETE 109 to remember different kinds of things. • Remember the capital of Kansas. • Remember the first line of “Hey Jude” (or some other song that you know well). • Remember the Mona Lisa.” ( :121)

“• Remember the house where you spent most of your childhood. • Remember the definition of “truth.” • Remember the definition of “watermelon.”” ( :122)

“A teacher from Iowa named Jane Elliott once designed a message so powerful—tapping into so many different aspects of emotion and memory—that, twenty years later, her students still remember it vividly.” ( :123)

“Sue Ginder Rolland said, “Prejudice has to be worked out young or it will be with you all your life. Sometimes I catch myself [discriminating], stop myself, think back to the third grade, and remember what it was like to be put down.”” ( :125)

“as an important but abstract bit of knowledge, like the capital of Kansas or the definition of “truth.” She could have treated prejudice as something to be learned, like the story of a World War II battle. Instead, Elliott turned prejudice into an experience. Think of the “hooks” involved: The sight of a friend suddenly sneering at you. The feel of a collar around your neck. The despair at feeling inferior. The shock you get when you look at your own eyes in the mirror. This experience put so many hooks into the students’ memories that, decades later, it could not be forgotten.” ( :125)

“The reason is simple: because the difference between an expert and a novice is the ability to think abstractly. New jurors are struck by lawyers’ personalities and factual details and courtroom rituals. Meanwhile, judges weigh the current case against the abstract lessons of past cases and legal precedent. Biology students try to remember whether reptiles lay eggs or not. Biology teachers think in terms of the grand system of animal taxonomy.” ( :125)

“The manufacturing people were thinking, Why don’t you just come down to the factory floor and show me where the part should go? And the engineering people were thinking, What do I need to do to make the drawings better?” ( :127)

“Should both parties learn greater empathy for the other and, in essence, meet in the middle? Actually, no. The solution is for the engineers to change their behavior. Why? As Bechky notes, the physical machine was the most effective and relevant domain of communication. Everyoneunderstands the machines fluently. Therefore problems should be solved at the level of the machine.” ( :127)

“The moral of this story is not to “dumb things down.” The manufacturing people faced complex problems and they needed smart answers. Rather, the moral of the story is to find a “universal language,” one that everyone speaks fluently. Inevitably, that universal language will be concrete.” ( :127)

“When Boeing prepared to launch the design of the 727 passenger plane in the 1960s, its managers set a goal that was deliberately concrete: The 727 must seat 131 passengers, fly nonstop from Miami to New York City, and land on Runway 4-22 at La Guardia. (The 4-22 runway was chosen for its length—less than a mile, which was much too short for any of the existing passenger jets.) With a goal this concrete, Boeing effectively coordinated the actions of thousands of experts in various aspects of engineering or manufacturing. Imagine how much harder it would have been to build a 727 whose goal was to be “the best passenger plane in the world.”” ( :128)

“. “Almost everything we do is visceral and visual,” Keith Yamashita says. The “product” of most consulting firms is often a PowerPoint presentation. At Stone Yamashita, it’s much more likely to be a simulation, an event, or a creative installation.” ( :129)

“C o n c r e t e Brings Knowledge to Bear: White Things Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and find a way to time yourself (a watch, a spouse who likes to count, etc.). Here is a do-it-yourself test on concreteness. You’ll do two brief fifteen-second exercises. When you’ve got your supplies ready, set your timer for fifteen seconds, then follow the instructions for Step 1 below. step 1 instructions: Write down as many things that are white in color as you can think of. stop. Reset your timer for fifteen seconds. Turn the page for the instructions for Step 2.” ( :131)

“step 2 instructions: Write down as many white things in your refrigerator as you can think of. Most people, remarkably, can list about as many white things from their refrigerators as white anythings. This result is stunning because, well, our fridges don’t include a particularly large part of the universe. Even people who list more white anythings often feel that the refrigerator test is “easier.”” ( :132)

“A few days later, Kaplan got a call from Kleiner Perkins. The partners had decided to back the idea. Their investment valued Kaplan’s nonexistent company at $4.5 million.” ( :134)

“with one teaspoon of salt and eight teaspoons of sugar—the ingredients for Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) when mixed with a liter of water. When he met with the prime ministers of developing countries, he would take out his packet of salt and sugar and say, “Do you know that this costs less than a cup of tea and it can save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives in your country?” Quick: How solvable is this problem? COMMENTS ON MESSAGE 2: What are you going to do tomorrow to start saving these children’s lives? Grant’s message brings you to the table, helps you bring your knowledge to bear.” ( :137)

“Grant’s message does sacrifice the statistics and the scientific description that add credibilityto the PSI message.” ( :137)

“Grant’s message does sacrifice the statistics and the scientific description that add credibilityto the PSI message. But, as the director of UNICEF, he had enough credibility to keep people from questioning his facts.” ( :137)

“Checklist Message 1 Message 2 Simple – Unexpected – Concrete – Credible – Emotional Story – -” ( :138)

“Studzinski visited three homes, and the experience stuck with her. “I had read and I could recite all the data about our customers,” she says. “I knew their demographics by heart. But it was a very different experience to walk into a customer’s home and experience a little bit of her life. I’ll never forget one woman, who had a toddler on her hip while she was mixing up dinner on the stove. We know that ‘convenience’ is an important attribute of our product, but it’s a different thing to see the need for convenience firsthand.”” ( :139)

“The insight to simplify the product line—along with other key insights concerning pricing and advertising—sparked a turnaround for the brand. At the end of fiscal year 2005, Hamburger Helper’s sales had increased 11 percent.” ( :140)

“T he same philosophy is just as useful for ideas that are more transcendent. The Saddleback Church is a very successful church in a suburb of Irvine, California, that has grown to more than 50,000 members. Over the years, the church’s leaders have created a detailed picture of the kind of person they’re trying to reach. They call him”Saddleback Sam.” Here’s how Rick Warren, the minister of the Saddleback Church, describes him:” ( :140)

“”Most of our members would have no trouble describing Sam,” Warren says.” ( :141)

“To be simple—to find our core message—is quite difficult. (It’s certainly worth the effort, but let’s not kid ourselves that it’s easy.)” ( :141)




“The reason for the lack of acclaim was simple: No one believed them. There were several problems with the bacteria story. The first problem was common sense.” ( :143)

“In the fall of 2005, Marshall and Warren received the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work. These two men had a brilliant, Nobelworthy, world-changing insight. So why did Marshall have to poison himself to get people to believe him?” ( :144)

“Another example of drawing credibility from antiauthorities comes from the Doe Fund in New York City, an organization that takes homeless men—the John Does of our society—and turns them into productive citizens through counseling, drug rehabilitation, and, most important, job training.” ( :148)

“It’s worth reminding ourselves that it wasn’t obvious that Laffin or Dennis would be effective authorities. Thirty years ago, an antismoking campaign like Laffin’s would probably not have happened.” ( :148)

“The use of vivid details is one way to create internal credibility—to weave sources of credibility into the idea itself. Another way is to use statistics. Since grade school, we’ve been taught to support our arguments with statistical evidence. But statistics tend to be eye-glazing. How can we use them while still managing to engage our audience?” ( :153)

“The final twist was the demonstration—the bucket and the BBs, which added a sensory dimension to an otherwise abstract concept. Furthermore, the demonstration was carefully chosen—BBs are weapons, and the sound of the BBs hitting the bucket was fittingly threatening.” ( :155)

“What did stick was the sudden, visceral awareness of a huge danger—the massive scale-up from World War II’s limited atomic weaponry to the present worldwide arsenal. It was irrelevant whether there were 4,135 nuclear warheads or 9,437. The point was to hit people in the gut with the realization that this was a problem that was out of control.” ( :155)

“It’s more important for people to remember the relationship than the number.” ( :155)

“58 percent of respondents ranked the statistic about the sun to the earth as “very impressive.” That jumped to 83 percent for the statistic about New York to Los Angeles.” ( :156)

“He reports the poll’sfindings: • Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why. • Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals. • Only one in five said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals. • Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals. • Only 20 percent fully trusted the organization they work for.” ( :156)

“Then Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics. He says, “If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.”” ( :157)

“S tatistics are a good source of internal credibility when they are used to illustrate relationships. In the introduction of this book, we discussed the example of the CSPI’s campaign against saturatedfat-loaded movie popcorn. The relevant statistic was that a mediumsized bag of popcorn had 37 grams of saturated fat. So what? Is that good or bad?” ( :158)

“These possibilities are examples of why writing about statistics filled us with anxiety. Particularly in the realm of politics, tinkering with statistics provides lucrative employment for untold numbers of issue advocates. Ethically challenged people with lots of analytical smarts can, with enough contortions, make almost any case from a given set of statistics.” ( :159)

“All of us do it. “I scored sixteen points for the church basketball team tonight!” (Not mentioned: twenty-two missed shots and the loss of the game.) “I’m five feet six.” (Not mentioned: The three-inch heels.) “Revenue was up 10 percent this year, so I think I deserve a bonus.” (Not mentioned: Profits tanked.)” ( :159)

“When it comes to statistics, our best advice is to use them as input, not output. Use them to make up your mind on an issue. Don’t make up your mind and then go looking for the numbers to support yourself—that’s asking for temptation and trouble.” ( :159)

“It was early morning. Bethany was in the ocean lying on her board with her arm dangling in the water. Suddenly, a deadly fifteen-foot tiger shark seized her arm. Violently, he jerked and yanked it until her arm was ripped right off of her small body. Seconds later the shark and her entire arm were gone, and Bethany was left alone on her board surrounded by bloody water. Imagine that you are forced to combat these vivid stories. Maybe you’re the publicity director of the Save the Sharks Foundation, or maybe you’re trying to convince your junior high school daughter that it’s okay to go to the beach. How do you do it? You’ve got the truth on your side—attacks are very rare—but that’s no guarantee that people will believe you. So what source of credibility do you tap to get people to believe you?” ( :160)

“This message is also based on statistics published by the M E S S AG E 2: Florida Museum of Natural History: Which of these animals is more likely to kill you? A SHARK A DEER The deer is more likely to kill you. In fact, it’s 300 ANSWER:” ( :161)

“Fortunately, Jain had a powerful credential ready. Safexpress had handled the release of the fifth Harry Potter book—every Potter book in every bookstore in India had been delivered there by Safexpress, an insanely complicated delivery: All the books had to arrive in stores by 8 a.m. on the morning of the release. Not too early, or the bookstore owners might try to sell them early and the secret would be blown; and not too late, or the bookstore owners would be irate at lost sales. Also, the Potter books needed the same piracy protections as the studio’sfilms—there could be no leaks.” ( :164)

“But there is something extraordinaryabout being the company that carries completed board exams and the latest Harry Potter book.” ( :164)

“McDonough tells a story that passes the Sinatra Test.” ( :165)

“Finally, the chairman of one firm, Ciba-Geigy, said okay. McDonough and Braungart studied 8,000 chemicals commonly used in the textile industry. They measured each chemical against a set of safety criteria. Of the chemicals they tested, 7,962 failed. They were left with 38 chemicals—but those 38 were “safe enough to eat,” according to McDonough. (Note the concrete detail—”safe enough to eat”—plus a statistic that establishes a relationship—a tiny number of good chemicals out of a larger number of toxic chemicals.)” ( :166)

“This story is remarkable. Think about all the memorable elements: The impossible mission. The elimination of all but 38 of 8,000 chemicals. The factory’s water turned so clean that Swiss inspectors thought their instruments were broken. The scraps were transformed from hazardous waste into crop insulation. The idea that this fabric was “safe enough to eat.” And the happy business result— workers made safer and costs down 20 percent.” ( :167)

“Get ready to make a few predictions. Which of the followM E S S AG E 1: ing events kill more people: Homicide or suicide? Floods or tuberculosis? Tornadoes or asthma? Take a second to think about your answers.” ( :171)

“A few weeks before the NBA season begins, all the rookie players are required to meet in Tarrytown, New York, for a mandatory orientation session. They’re essentially locked in a hotel for six days: no pagers, no cell phones. The rookies are taught about life in the big leagues—everything from how to deal with the media to how to make sensible investments with their new riches.” ( :174)

“The next morning, the rookies dutifully showed up for their session. They were surprised to see the female fans in front of the room. The women introduced themselves again, one by one. “Hi, I’m Sheila and I’m HIV positive.””Hi, I’m Donna and I’m HIV positive.” Suddenly the talk about AIDS clicked for the rookies. They saw how life could get out of control, how a single night could cause a lifetime of regret.” ( :175)




“Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” In 2004, some researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to see whether most people act like Mother Teresa.” ( :177)

“Nope. The people who received both letters gave $1.43, almost a dollar less than the people who got the Rokia story alone. Somehow the statistics—evidence of massive human suffering in Africa— actually made people less charitable. What was going on?” ( :179)

“Then both groups were given the Rokia letter. And, confirming the researchers’ theory, the analytically primed people gave less. When people were primed to feel before they read about Rokia, they gave $2.34, about the same as before. But when they were primed to calculatebefore they read about Rokia, they gave $1.26.” ( :179)

“Everyone believes there is tremendous human suffering in Africa; there’s no doubt about the facts. But belief does not necessarily make people care enough to act. Everyone believes that eating lots of fatty food leads to health problems; there’s no doubt about the facts. But the belief does not make people care enough to act.” ( :180)

“Rather, the goal of making messages “emotional” is to make people care. Feelings inspire people to act.” ( :181)

“You can’t watch the Truth ads without getting angry at tobacco companies. After the ads began airing, Philip Morris invoked a special Big Tobacco “anti-vilification” clause to have the spots yanked from the air.” ( :181)

“What is the “Think. Don’t Smoke” campaign about? Er, thinking. It’s the Analytical Hat. Remember what happened with contributions to Rokia when donors were asked to think analytically before donating?” ( :183)

“So the movie reviewer, in the quote above, was comparing Rashomon’s “relative truth” to Einstein’s theory of relativity. But Einstein’s theory of relativity wasn’t designed to say that “everything is relative.” In fact, its actual meaning was essentially the opposite. The theory was designed to explain how the laws of physics are identical in every frame of reference. From Einstein’s view, things don’t look unpredictable; they look surprisingly orderly.” ( :184)

“It’s a way of making the point that the Game and its integrity are largerthan the individual participants. “Honoring the Game” is a kind of sports patriotism. It implies that you owe your sport basic respect. Armstrong wasn’t being a “good sport”; he was Honoring the Game. And Honoring the Game also works for people other than players. It reminds anyone that sports is a civic institution. It’s unseemly to mess with an institution. It’s dishonorable.” ( :188)

“He sat at his typewriter and pecked out the most famous headline in print-advertising history: “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano . . . But When I Started to Play!”” ( :189)

“vious year: “My Husband Laughed When I Ordered Our Carpet Through the Mail. But When I Saved 50% . . .”” ( :189)

“He says, “First and foremost, try to get self-interest into every headline you write. Make your headline suggest to readers that here is something they want. This rule is so fundamental that it would seem obvious. Yet the rule is violated every day by scores of writers.”” ( :190)

“• You Can Laugh at Money Worries if You Follow This Simple Plan • Give Me 5 Days and I’ll Give You a Magnetic Personality . . . Let Me Prove It—Free • The Secret of How to Be Taller” ( :190)

“How You Can Improve Your Memory in One Evening • Retire at 55” ( :191)

“”The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments (the world’s best seed!) that they forget to tell us why we should buy (the world’s best lawn!).”” ( :191)

“spell out the benefit of the benefit. In other words, people don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter-inch holes so they can hang their children’s pictures.” ( :191)

“EMOTIONAL 179 Teachers are all too familiar with the student refrain “How are we ever going to use this?” In other words, what’s in it for me? If the” ( :191)

“WIIFY was that algebra made students better at video games, would any teacher hesitate to say so? Does any teacher doubt that students would pay more attention?” ( :192)

“”Don’t say, ‘People will enjoy a sense of security when they use Goodyear Tires.’ Say, ‘You enjoy a sense of security when you use Goodyear Tires.'”” ( :192)

“Some readers have said that at first they didn’t see any difference between the two appeals. The difference is subtle. But go back and count up the number of times the word “you” appears in each appeal.” ( :193)

“The homeowners who got information about cable subscribed at a rate of 20 percent, which was about the same as the rest of the neighborhood. But the homeowners who imagined themselves subscribing to cable subscribed at a rate of 47 percent. The research paper, when it was published, was subtitled “Does Imagining Make It So?” The answer was yes.” ( :193)

“Imagine that Save the Children incorporated this idea into its pitches for sponsorship. Right now the pitch is “You can sponsor Rokia, a little girl in Mali, for $30 per month”—a pitch that is already successful. But what if the pitch was expanded? “Imagine yourself as the sponsor of Rokia, a little girl in Mali. You’ve got a picture of her on your desk at work, next to your kids’ pictures. During the past year you’ve traded letters with her three times, and you know from the letters that she loves to read and frequently gets annoyed by her little brother. She is excited that next year she’ll get to play on the soccer team.” That’s powerful. (And it’s not crass.)” ( :194)

“You couldn’t fill your Aesthetic needs until your Physical needs were taken care of. (In Maslow’s world, there were no starving artists.)” ( :195)

“The chasm between ourselves and others opens again. Most people say No. 3—an appeal to Learning—would be most motivating for them. Those same people predict that others would be most motivated by No. 1 (Security) and No. 2 (Esteem).” ( :197)

“But from the perspective of the identity model of decision-making, turning down the popper makes perfect sense.” ( :203)

“more like this: “I’m a firefighter. You’re offering me a popcorn popper to get me to view a film on safety. But firefighters aren’t the kind of people who need little gifts to motivate us to learn about safety. We risk our lives, going into burning buildings to save people. Shame on you for implying that I need a popcorn popper!”” ( :203)

“then go on to remind them that people don’t lift weights so that they will be prepared should, one day, [someone] knock them over on the street and lay a barbell across their chests. You lift weights so that you can knock over a defensive lineman, or carry your groceries or lift your grandchildren without being sore the next day. You do math exercises so that you can improve your ability to think logically, so that you can be a better lawyer, doctor, architect, prison warden or parent. MATH IS MENTAL WEIGHT TRAINING. It is a means to an end (for most people), not an end in itself.” ( :206)

“There are also appeals to our feelings for cuddly wildlife, such as the campaign starring a cartoon owl who says, “Give a Hoot—Don’t Pollute.”” ( :208)

“What Texas needed to do was reach people who weren’t inclined to shed tears over roadside trash. The profile of the typical litterer in Texas was an eighteento thirty-five-year-old, pickup-driving male who liked sports and country music. He didn’t like authority and he wasn’t motivated by emotional associations with cuddly owls. One member of the Texas Department of Transportation said, “Saying’please’ to these guys falls on deaf ears.”” ( :208)

“Syrek knew that the best way to change Bubba’s behavior was to convince him that people like him did not litter.” ( :209)

“Texas Department of Transportation approved a campaign built around the slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas.”” ( :209)

“Too-Tall Jones steps toward the camera and says, “You see the guy who threw this out the window . . . you tell him I got a message for him.” Randy White steps forward with a beer can and says, “I got a message for him too . . .” An off-camera voice asks, “What’s that?” White crushes the can with his fist and says threateningly, “Well, I kinda need to see him to deliver it.” Too-Tall Jones adds, “Don’t mess with Texas.”” ( :209)

“The message of the campaign was Texans don’t litter. Notice that the celebrities are valuable only insofar as they can quickly establish the schema of “Texas”—or, more specifically, of “ideal, masculine Texans.” Even people who dislike Willie Nelson’s music can appreciate his quality of Texan-ness.” ( :210)

“73 percent of Texans polled could recall the message and identify it as an antilitter message. Within one year, litter had declined 29 percent.” ( :210)

“Even if a second-rate copywriter had been hired, and the slogan had been “Don’t Disrespect Texas,” the campaign would still have decreased cans on Texas highways.” ( :211)

“So far we’ve looked at three strategies for making people care: using associations (or avoiding associations, as the case may be), appealing to self-interest, and appealing to identity.” ( :211)

“Duo Piano group: (Clearly taken aback). Wow . . . The piano is this magnificent instrument. It was created to put the entire range and tonal quality of the whole orchestra under the control of one performer. There is no other instrument that has the same breadth and range. And when you put two of these magnificent instruments in the same room, and the performers can respond to each other and build on each other, it’s like having the sound of the orchestra but the intimacy of chamber music.” ( :212)

“come up with a message that made other people care? You’d think that a group devoted to the duo piano would be in the best position of anyone on earth to explain the value of the music.” ( :213)

“But the Curse of Knowledge prevented them from expressing it well” ( :213)

“Why?” By asking “Why?” three times, the duo piano group moved from talking about what they were doing to why they were doing it.” ( :213)

“Jane Fulton Suri, a psychologist at IDEO, said that when the hospital staff was shown the video it had an immediate impact. “Thefirst reaction was always something like ‘Oh, I never realized . . .'” Suri says she likes the word realized. Before the hospital workers saw the video, the problem wasn’t quite real. Afterward, she said, “There’s an immediate motivation to fix things. It’s no longer just some problem on a problem list.”” ( :214)

“T his realization—that empathy emerges from the particular rather than the pattern—brings us back full circle to the Mother Teresa quote at the beginning of the chapter: “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”” ( :215)

“How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical Hats.” ( :215)




“This story was collected by Gary Klein, a psychologist who studies how people make decisions in high-pressure, high-stakes environments. He spends time with firefighters, air-traffic controllers, powerplant operators, and intensive-care workers. The story about the baby appears in a chapter called “The Power of Stories,” in Klein’s book Sources of Power.” ( :217)

“Medically, the story related above teaches important lessons. It instructs people in how to spot and treat the specific condition pneumopericardium. More broadly, it warns medical personnel about relying too much on machines. The heart monitor was functioning perfectly well, but it couldn’t substitute for the insight of a human being with a simple stethoscope. These medical lessons are not particularly useful to people who don’t work in health care. But the story is inspiring to everyone. It’s a story about a woman who stuck to her guns, despite implicit pressure to conform to the group’s opinion. It’s an underdog story—in the hierarchical hospital environment, it was the nurse who told the chief neonatologist the right diagnosis. A life hinged on her willingness to step out of her “proper place.”” ( :218)

“The story’s power, then, is twofold: It provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).” ( :218)

“In the last few chapters, we’ve seen that a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. And in this chapter we’ll see that the right stories make people act.” ( :218)

“T h e Un-passive Audience” ( :220)

“When children say “Tell me a story,” they’re begging for entertainment, not instruction.” ( :220)

“But “passive” may be overstating the case. When we read books, we have the sensation of being drawn into the author’s world. When friends tell us stories, we instinctively empathize. When we watch movies, we identify with the protagonists.” ( :221)

“When we hear a story, our minds move from room to room. When we hear a story, we simulate it. But what good is simulation?” ( :222)

“When people drink water but imagine that it’s lemon juice, they salivate more. Even more surprisingly, when people drink lemon juice but imagine that it’s water, they salivate less.” ( :224)

“No one has ever been cured of a phobia by imagining how happy they’ll be when it’s gone.” ( :224)

“Not surprisingly, mental practice is more effective when a task involves more mental activity (e.g., trombone playing) as opposed to physical activity (e.g., balancing), but the magnitude of gains from mental practice is large on average: Overall, mental practice alone produced about two thirds of the benefits of actual physical practice.” ( :225)

“Jared had a serious weight problem. By his junior year in college, he had ballooned to 425 pounds. He wore size XXXXXXL shirts, the largest size available in big-and-tall clothing stores. His pants had a 60-inch waist.” ( :230)

“Subway franchise close to campus. He launched into his description of the mystery eater, and about one sentence into the description the counter worker said, “Oh, that’s Jared. He comes here every day.”” ( :232)

“Krause decided to make the spots for free. He said, “For the first and only time in my career, I gave the go-ahead to shoot an ad that we weren’t going to be paid for.”” ( :233)

“Note how well the Jared story does on the SUCCESs checklist:” ( :234)

“These are not trivial actions. This behavior is not routine. How many great ideas have been extinguished because someone in the middle—a link between the source of the idea and its eventual outlet— dropped the ball?” ( :236)

“Warren Buffett likes to tell the story of Rose Blumkin, a woman who manages one of the businesses that he invested in. Blumkin is a Russian woman who, at age twenty-three, finagled her way past a border guard to come to America. She couldn’t speak English and had received no formal schooling. Blumkin started a furniture business in 1937 with $500 that she had saved. Almost fifty years later, her furniture store was doing $100 million in annual revenue. At age one hundred, she was still on the floor seven days a week. She actually postponed her one-hundredth birthday party until an evening when the store was closed.” ( :237)

“Buffett says, “She demonstrated to the court that she could profitably sell carpet at a huge discount and sold the judge $1,400 worth of carpet.”” ( :237)

“The Chicken Soupseries has become a publishing phenomenon, with more than 4.3 million books sold and thirty-seven Chicken Soup titles in print, including Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, and Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul.” ( :237)

“Aristotle believed there were four primary dramatic plots: Simple Tragic, Simple Fortunate, Complex Tragic, and Complex Fortunate. Robert McKee, the screenwriting guru, lists twenty-five types of stories in his book: the modern epic, the disillusionment plot, and so on. When we finished sorting through a big pile of inspirational stories—a much narrower domain—we came to the conclusion that there are three basic plots: the Challenge plot, the Connection plot, and the Creativity plot.” ( :238)

“the underdog story, the rags-toriches story, the triumph of sheer willpower over adversity.” ( :238)

“The key element of a Challenge plot is that the obstacles seem daunting to the protagonist.” ( :239)

“The American hockey team beating the heavily favored Russians in the 1980 Olympics.” ( :239)

“The American hockey team beating the heavily favored Russians in the 1980 Olympics. The Alamo. Horatio Alger tales. The American Revolution. Seabiscuit. The Star Warsmovies. Lance Armstrong. Rosa Parks.” ( :239)

“The story begins with a lawyer who approached Jesus with a question about how to get to heaven. The lawyer was more interested in testing Jesus than in learning from him. When Jesus asked the lawyer whathethought the answer was, the lawyer gave a reply that included the notion “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus accepted the lawyer’s answer. Then the lawyer (perhaps wanting to limit the number of people he’s on the hook to love) says, “And who is my neighbor?” In response, Jesus told a story:” ( :239)

“”A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. “A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”” ( :240)

“This is what a Connection plot is all about. It’s a story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap—racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise.” ( :240)

“If you’re telling a story at the company Christmas party, it’s probably best to use the Connection plot. If you’re telling a story at the kickoff party for a new project, go with the Challenge plot.” ( :241)

“The Creativity plot involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a long-standing puzzle, or attacking a problem in an innovative way. It’s the MacGyverplot.” ( :241)

“One employee, frustrated by the average four-year product life cycle, said, “It was taking us longer to introduce a new product than it took our nation to fight World War II.”” ( :241)

“While on an off-site customer visit, the team members tied a sample of each material to the back bumper of their rental car, then drove around the parking lot with the materials dragging behind. They kept this up until the police came and told them to knock it off. The verdict was that the new plastic composite held up just as well as the traditional metal. Decision made. In the history of the Grinder Team, this story has become known as the Drag Test.” ( :242)

“We still need to get the right data to make decisions. We just need to do it a lot quicker.”” ( :242)

“hackleton came up with a creative solution for dealing with the whiny, complaining types. He assigned them to sleep in his own tent. When people separated into groups to work on chores, he grouped the complainers with him. Through his constant presence, he minimized their negative influence. Creativity plots make us want to do something different, to be creative, to experiment with new approaches.” ( :242)

“Guy faces huge obstacles and overcomes them— it’s a Challenge plot. Challenge plots inspire people to take on challenges and work harder.” ( :243)

“Each project was, in a sense, its own universe. A water-treatment guru in Zambia might have figured out a great way to handle local political negotiations, but he was unlikely to have the opportunity to share it with a highway-construction guru in Bangladesh. Neither manager would know the other existed, unless they happened to be in the same circle of friends or former colleagues.” ( :244)

“Immediately after the presentation, two executives raced up to Denning and began to bombard him with all the things he should be doing to get the program off the ground. Denning thought, “This is a very strange conversation. Up till ten minutes ago, these people weren’t willing to give me the time of day, and now I’m not doing enough to implement their idea. This is horrible! They’ve stolen my idea!” And then he had a happier thought. “How wonderful! They’ve stolen my idea. It’s become their idea!”” ( :245)

“In 2001, he wrote a very insightful book called The Springboard. Denning defines a springboard story as a story that lets people see how an existing problem might change. Springboard stories tell people about possibilities.” ( :245)

“message directly? Why go to the trouble and difficulty of trying to elicit the listener’s thinking indirectly, when it would be so much simpler if I come straight out in an abstract directive? Why not hit the listeners between the eyes?”” ( :246)

“respond by fighting back. The way you deliver a message to them is a cue to how they should react. If you make an argument, you’re implicitly asking them to evaluate your argument—judge it, debate it, criticize it—and then argue back, at least in their minds.” ( :246)

“But springboard stories go beyond having us problem-solve for the main character. A springboard story helps us problem-solve for ourselves. A springboard story is an exercise in mass customization— each audience member uses the story as a springboard to slightly different destinations.” ( :246)

“The monitors attended each panel, and each time someone told a story they jotted it down. At the end of the conference, the monitors compared notes and found that, as Klein said, they had compiled a set of stories that were “funny, and tragic, and exciting.” The group structured and organized the stories and sent the packet to the conference organizer.” ( :247)

“This story is one of our favorites in the book, because the dynamics are so clear. We’re not trying to portray the presenters as bad, ideahating people. Put yourself in their shoes. You’ve created this amazing presentation, summarizing years of your work, and your goal is to help people master a complex structure that you’ve spent years constructing. You’ve erected an amazing intellectual edifice! Then Klein’s crew approaches your edifice, plucks a few bricks out of the wall, and tries to pass them off as the sum of all your labors. The nerve!” ( :248)

“Stories can almost single-handedly defeat the Curse of Knowledge. In fact, they naturally embody most of the SUCCESs framework. Stories are almost always Concrete. Most of them have Emotional and Unexpected elements. The hardest part of using stories effectively is making sure that they’re Simple—that they reflect your core message.” ( :249)

“Stories can almost single-handedly defeat the Curse of Knowledge. In fact, they naturally embody most of the SUCCESs framework. Stories are almost always Concrete. Most of them have Emotional and Unexpected elements. The hardest part of using stories effectively is making sure that they’re Simple—that they reflect your core message. It’s not enough to tell a great story; the story has to reflect your agenda.” ( :249)

“Stories can almost single-handedly defeat the Curse of Knowledge. In fact, they naturally embody most of the SUCCESs framework. Stories are almost always Concrete. Most of them have Emotional and Unexpected elements. The hardest part of using stories effectively is making sure that they’re Simple—that they reflect your core message. It’s not enough to tell a great story; the story has to reflect your agenda. You don’t want a general lining up his troops before battle to tell a Connection plot story.” ( :249)




“As recounted by Ralph Keyes in his book on misquotations, Nice Guys Finish Seventh, the metamorphosis of Durocher’s quote began a year later. The Baseball Digest quoted Durocher as saying, “Nice guys finish in last place in the second division.” Before long, as his quip was passed along from one person to another, it evolved, becoming simpler and more universal, until it emerged as a cynical comment on life: “Nice guys finish last.”” ( :250)

“Giants, no more reference to seventh place—in fact, no more reference to baseball at all. Nice guys finish last. This quote, polished by the marketplace of ideas, irked Durocher. For years, he denied saying the phrase (and, of course, he was right), but eventually he gave up. Nice Guys Finish Last was the title of his autobiography.” ( :251)

“I n the “Simple” chapter, we told the story of the 1992 Clinton campaign and Carville’s famous proverb, “It’s the economy, stupid.” We mentioned that this proverb was one of three phrases that Carville wrote on a whiteboard. Here’s a trivia question: What were the other two? The other two phrases were “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t forget health care.” Those phrases didn’t stick.” ( :251)

“The surprise comes next. The exercise appears to be over; in fact, Chip often plays a brief Monty Python clip to kill a few minutes and distract the students. Then, abruptly, he asks them to pull out a sheet of paper and write down, for each speaker they heard, every single idea that they remember.” ( :254)

“The students are flabbergasted at how little they remember. Keep in mind that only ten minutes have elapsed since the speeches were given. Nor was there a huge volume of information to begin with—at most, they’ve heard eight one-minute speeches. And yet the students are lucky to recall one or two ideas from each speaker’s presentation. Many draw a complete blank on some speeches—unable to remember a single concept.” ( :255)

“the typical student uses 2.5 statistics. Only one student in ten tells a story. Those are the speaking statistics.” ( :255)

“Foreign students—whose less-polished English often leaves them at the bottom of the speaking-skills rankings—are suddenly on a par with native speakers. The stars of stickiness are the students who made their case by telling stories, or by tapping into emotion, or by stressing a single point rather than ten. There is no question that a ringer—a student who came into the exercise having read this book—would squash the other students.” ( :255)

“pose or clarity. Stripping out information, in order to focus on the core, is not instinctual.” ( :256)

“tendency to focus on the presentation rather than on the message. Public speakers naturally want to appear composed, charismatic, and motivational. And, certainly, charisma will help a properly designed message stick better. But all the charisma in the world won’t save a dense, unfocused speech, as some Stanford students learn the hard way.” ( :256)

“Here’s the rub: The same factors that worked to your advantage in the Answer stage will backfire on you during the Telling Others stage.” ( :257)

“Here’s the rub: The same factors that worked to your advantage in the Answer stage will backfire on you during the Telling Others stage. To get the Answer, you need expertise, but you can’t dissociate expertise from the Curse of Knowledge. You know things that others don’t know, and you can’t remember what it was like not to know those things. So when you get around to sharing the Answer, you’ll tend to communicate as if your audience were you.” ( :257)

“There is a curious disconnect between the amount of time we invest in training people how to arrive at the Answer and the amount of time we invest in training them how to Tell Others. It’s easy to graduate from medical school or an MBA program without ever taking a class in communication. College professors take dozens of courses in their areas of expertise but none on how to teach. A lot of engineers would scoff at a training program about Telling Others.” ( :257)

“Business managers seem to believe that, once they’ve clicked through a PowerPoint presentation showcasing their conclusions, they’ve successfully communicated their ideas. What they’ve done is share data. If they’re good speakers, they may even have created an enhanced sense, among their employees and peers, that they are “decisive” or “managerial” or “motivational.” But, like the Stanford students, the surprise will come when they realize that nothing they’ve” ( :257)

“said had impact. They’ve shared data, but they haven’t created ideas that are useful and lasting. Nothing stuck.” ( :258)

“For an idea to stick, for it to be useful and lasting, it’s got to make the audience: 1. Pay attention 2. Understand and remember it 3. Agree/Believe 4. Care 5. Be able to act on it” ( :258)

“there’s a reason they were reserved for the conclusion. The Curse of Knowledge can easily render this framework useless. When an expert asks, “Will people understand my idea?,” her answer will be Yes, because she herself understands. (“Of course, my people will understand ‘maximizing shareholder value!'”) When an expert asks, “Will people care about this?,” her answer will be Yes, because she herself cares. Think of the Murray Dranoff Duo Piano people, who said, “We exist to protect, preserve, and promote the music of the duo piano.” They were shocked when that statement didn’t arouse the same passion in others that it did in them.” ( :258)

“246 EPILOGUE 1. Pay attention: UNEXPECTED 2. Understand and remember it: CONCRETE” ( :258)

“3. Agree/Believe: CREDIBLE 4. Care: EMOTIONAL 5. Be able to act on it: STORY” ( :259)

“Pr o b l e m s getting people to pay attention to a message” ( :259)

“Pr o b l e m s getting people to understand and remember” ( :260)

“Pr o b l e m s getting people to believe you or agree” ( :260)

“Pr o b l e m s getting people to care” ( :261)

“Pr o b l e m s getting people to act” ( :261)

“The SUCCESs checklist is intended to be a deeply practical tool. It’s no accident that it’s a checklist and not an equation. It’s not hard, and it’s not rocket science. But neither is it natural or instinctive. It requires diligence and it requires awareness.” ( :263)

“There was Nora Ephron’s journalism teacher. Poor guy, we didn’t even mention his name. He told his class, “The lead is ‘There will be no school next Thursday.'” And in that one sentence he rewrote his students’ image of journalism. He inspired Ephron—and doubtless many others—to become journalists. A normal person with a normal job who made a difference.” ( :263)

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