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Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – A Review

Having trouble getting your ideas accepted? I read a book that can help you. You can read the review or just go out and get the book, I recommend it. “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” There is a link ‘below the fold.’

Yes, some readers got what they needed from the tweet about this post or the line above. Following one of the examples in the book, I made sure to not bury the lead. The authors at one point paint a picture related to journalism. They talk about how the good journalists give you everything you need right up front in the “lead”. If you want to read more, you can and add flesh but you don’t have to if you are busy. Sure, they may not have as many people reading to the end but everyone who reads to the end of the lead has the main point, great illustration.

Made To Stick – A Review

How did I find the book?

A friend of mine, Jon DiPietro who blogs at Domesticating IT, suggested I read this book. He runs a software business, is active as a leader in industry groups and spends a lot of time helping folks with social networking/media needs. He suggested it to help with presentations or blog content and as a fun read.

Who is the audience?

A wide audience can benefit from reading this book. A few examples could be instructors wanting to reach students; marketers wanting to entice, not annoy; presenters hoping to trigger an action; pastors wanting to leave a flock with the key thought; or non-profits wanting to convert interest into volunteers or donations. Those audiences share some goals:

  • They need to reach people.
  • (with the right message)
  • They need to convey a main point. (something I’ve blogged about prior to finishing this book)
  • They don’t want to annoy their audience away from the action item.
  • They want something good to come from their idea.

This is not a, “what will it take you to get into this car?!” kind of book. It borrows from urban legends, cognitive science, and teaching experience to show genuine people how to better accomplish the goals within their ideas.

What did I like best?


Each major point had real world stories of the principle in action; great examples of the concept in action in varied settings. For example, did you know how the Dr. who discovered that Ulcers were caused by H. Pylori bacteria finally got people to believe him? You will and it is fascinating (and disgusting!)

Case Studies

There were case studies asking you to compare messages for different goals. By looking at these in each chapter you clearly see the major theme of that chapter in the real world. You can actually see that you are learning as the lesson echoes in your head while you investigate the task.


I’m a sucker for a good mnemonic, one that is simple, relevant, and memorable enough to use later. That friend Jon who suggested this book created a great example when he suggested internet marketers get bare – BARE (Be Authentic, Relentless and Everywhere.) In the book the Authors touch on their mnemonic in every chapter (in fact the chapter layout is arranged in this order). The device follows its starting letter with its simplicity – SUCCESs or Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories)

The Bad

This is a book that I have a hard time finding the bad in. Perhaps the fact that isn’t geared towards technical presenters/bloggers could be a turn off to some, though I believe the points are just as applicable. I suppose the only other complaint I can find is that I should re-read and better apply the lessons. Not the authors’ fault, they follow the SUCCESs pattern and hooked me, I just want to (need to?) go further with it.


I suggest that anyone who succeeds or fails based on effective communication check out the book. Be it day to day communication trying to get a point out to your team or management or if you are trying to make sure people leave a technical presentation with some important concepts understood this book should help. You can get “Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” on Amazon for about $17 new at the time of this post’s writing. The authors (Chip and Dan Heath) also blog at HeathBrothers.Com


I want to thank Jeremiah Peschka and Brent Ozar for some recent blog posts on writing. This post was written a couple months ago and scheduled. After re-reading some of the concepts in this book and the above linked posts from Jeremiah and Brent, a lot of words were trimmed from this post and the heading was trimmed. Thanks, gentlemen! Great timing also with their posts and the PASS call for speakers opening soon. This book will help me prepare my abstract and, if selected, sessions.

Article by Mike Walsh

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3 thoughts on “Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die – A Review”

  1. Pingback: Jon DiPietro

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