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How to Make Ideas Stick – Review Made to Stick

Content is King, But How Do You Make Ideas Stick?

All bloggers will tell you content is king. How do you make ideas stick? Why do some ideas survive and others die? That is the question that Chip and Dan Heath asked themselves as they wrote this book.

Before I tell you about the book, let me tell you why I read it. At the end of June, as I assessed my blog, I faced some apparent failures.

Winston Churchill once said, ““Success is the ability to go from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.”

I Guess My Ideas Don’t Stick Enough

So to address the failures of Always Write (me), I turned to Jon Morrow’s course “Serious Bloggers Only” SBO. Without ever looking me in the eye, he told all his students and me,

“If you’re a beginning blogger, it’s important you accept one immutable fact: You don’t know shit. Not just about blogging and WordPress and all the technical tomfoolery, but about your audience, your topic, the authorities in your space, or even how to write. You might think you know something, but trust me, you’re totally blind.”

Since I’m not a beginner, I brushed that insult off and headed to my office to complete three to four month’s work in one month. Easy peasy!

Not so much!

The first assignment is to read three books. Morrow gave us about one hundred books to start. This one, Made to Stick, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, stopped me in my tracks with the first story. Here is my recalled version of the story which I read three weeks ago. Memory test #1

The First Sticky Story

A salesman sat at a bar and was just about to go up to his hotel room when a beautiful young woman approached him. They talked for a few minutes, and she offered to buy him a drink. Normally he wouldn’t have, but it was the end of a long tour, and he enjoyed the treat. The next morning he woke up in a bathtub of ice and a plastic tube sticking out of his back.  A cell phone sat on the tub next to his side and a note that said, “Don’t move! Call 911!

Maybe you’ve heard this story or some version of it. I had not. My mouth hung open as I anticipated what happened to the salesman.

Before you condemn my storytelling ability, I want you to know that I NEVER tell jokes, not because I’m not funny, but because I can’t remember the punch lines. Trust me, I know the punchline, but I want you to read the book.

Is that enough? Are you sold? Can I stop now?

You, Too, Can Make Ideas Stick – Tell Great Stories

The purpose of this book is to help improve your storytelling ability so that you don’t bore people to death. Of course, YOU don’t bore people to death.

Ryan Holiday tells his readers, “The world is boring, but the news is exciting.”

Made to Stick Chapters

So a blogger’s perennial duty is to make boring everyday life into exciting news. Through Made to Stick the Heath brothers give us transferable skills so we can. We learn chapter by chapter.

Introduction – What Sticks?

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Epilogue – What Sticks?

Reference Guide

Have you ordered the book yet?

Before you answer let me tell you another story from the Introduction. A woman did her doctoral thesis based on an experiment of tappers and listeners. Tappers had to tap out a familiar song; listeners had to name it. Most couldn’t. Her job was to find out why and the Heath brothers applied it to writing memorable stories. If you have never tried this, try it. My husband recognized the song right away, but another friend did not. He said my rhythm was off. In my head, it sounded just right. The song was Happy Birthday.

The point was that we don’t always express our points clearly to someone who can’t read our mind. We’re playing the script inside our heads, but they can’t hear it. Heath called it the curse of knowledge.

No Brainers? Think Again

Although the Heaths’ ideas are not new, the authors’ vivid stories illustrate how much we can do with very little boring raw material to make it saleable. The next report I bring you will talk about the consequences of doing just that.

Those chapters look like no brainers. You knew all those tricks, didn’t you? I did

Don’t be smug. Read on.

A story from chapter two. Setting: Day One 9th grade journalism class.

“They (the students) 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 colloquia in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.”

What would you write as the lead? Those are the facts and the young journalists got down to work. They came up with things like,

“Governor Pat Brown, Margaret Mead, and Robert Maynard Hutchins will address the Beverly Hills High School faculty Thursday in Sacramento…”

The teacher had paused before he went on.

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

Were you surprised? I was. Will I remember it? Probably.

Do you want to be a better content writer or are you good enough?

Are you at least curious enough to see if you have everything together?

Amazon Author Biographies

Chip Heath

“Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on business strategy and organizations. He is the co-author (along with his brother, Dan) of three books. Their latest book, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work was published in spring of 2013 and debuted at #1 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list and #2 on the New York Times. Their 2010 book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, hit #1 on both bestseller lists. Their first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, spent two years on the Business Week bestseller list and was an Amazon Top 10 Business Book for both editors and readers.”

“Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who are fighting for social good. He is the co-author, along with his brother Chip, of two New York Times bestsellers: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

A graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Business School, he lives now in Raleigh, NC.”

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10 replies »

  1. As I read this Marsha, I thought about why I have an aversion to tutorials. So often a vital step is omitted in the process attempting to be taught ~ the curse of knowledge. The teacher, knowing the process intimately, forgets the students need the steps between A, B, and C; they need A1, B1, and C1. It seems we bloggers sometimes forget that our followers not only aren’t mind readers, but also need to feel the same enthusiasm that caused us to write the post in the first place. Knowing how to grab a reader’s attention and hold it is vital to the success of any blog. I found this post enlightening ?♥


    • Thanks, Tina. I agree 100%. Even watching a video can be confusing because they might be using a different version or something isn’t the same on their screen as is on your screen. Teaching is difficult! Thanks for your comment. You summed up what is always the problem with teaching. Have you read the Heath’s book? It is well worth the read.


  2. Welcome, Marsha. My TBR is so huge right now that I’m in danger of being buried! But the book seems well worth the read, and I’ll squeeze it into the pile 🙂





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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