Made to Stick

Made to Stick is the best non-fiction book I've read in a long time. It's jam-packed with interesting facts, useful ideas, and inspiring stories.

Made to Stick

Here are a just a few of my favorites:

Becoming an expert in something means that we become more and more fascinated by nuance and complexity. That's when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it's like not to know what we know. (p.46)
In Hollywood, people use core ideas called "high-concept pitches." You've probably heard some of them. Speed was "Die Hard on a bus." (p.58)
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..."finding the core," and expressing it in the form of a compact idea, can be enduringly powerful. (p.62)
The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern. (p.64)
When our guessing machines fail, surprise grabs our attention so that we can repair them for the future...Unexpected ideas are more likely to stick because surprise makes us pay attention and think. (p.68)
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. (p.85)
This realization - that empathy emerges from the particular rather than the pattern - brings us back full circle to the Mother Teresa quote..."If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will." (p.203)
How can we make people care about our ideas? We get them to take off their Analytical Hats. We create empathy for specific individuals. We show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about. We appeal to their self-interest, but we also appeal to their identities - not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be. (p.203)
The story's power, then, is twofold: It provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act). Note that both benefits, simulation and inspiration, are geared towards generating action. (p.206)
A review of thirty-five studies featuring 3,214 participants showed that mental practice alone - sitting quietly, without moving, and picturing yourself performing a task successfully from start to finish - improves performance significantly...Overall, mental practice alone produced about two thirds of the benefits of actual physical practice. (p.213)
Stories are like flight simulators for the brain. (p.213)
Stories have the amazing dual power to simulate and to inspire. And most of the time we don't even have to use much creativity to harness these powers - we just need to be ready to spot the good ones that life generates every day. (p.237)

You can learn more at This is a must-read for teachers, parents, saints, and anyone who cares about the enduring impact of their ideas.

Thanks for these wonderful nuggets from the book Peter. I'm sold.

Just days after I read your post my brother handed me the audio book. Breaking patterns and opening knowledge gaps can be incredibly powerful. I love the research and examples they included in this book. It's amazing to see how our brain is shaped by past experiences and certain contexts.

This book will definitely have an impact on anyone.