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Made to Stick Summary

Here’s the Made to Stick summary. Learn the vital principles of winning ideas. Why do some ideas stick and others don’t? Find out now.


Made to Stick authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath explain how sticky messages work. Why do they spread? Why do people remember them easily?

They explain it in an easy to remember formula which is SUCCES. It stands for Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. I’ll discuss some of them in this summary.

About the Authors

Chip Heath teaches courses in business strategy and organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has experience working with clients such as Google, Gap, and American Heart Association.

Dan Heath founded Change Academy that helps social sector leaders to make more impact. He worked as a researcher and case writer for Harvard Business School.

Aside from Made to Stick, they also wrote Decisive and Switch. You can know more about them through their website.

Main takeaways: Made to Stick Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from their book:

  1. Keep it simple and concrete.
  2. Make your ideas credible.
  3. Use stories.

Keep it simple and concrete

We don’t like complicated ideas. Simple ideas are much better. They stick easier and they can connect with more people.

Simplicity is one part of the SUCCES formula to make ideas stick. Focus on the essentials. Remove the things that are not important. When writing an article, stick to one essential idea. Focus on the core message. And keep it simple.

If a reader needs to use extra mental processing power to understand what you’re saying, you failed. Keep your message simple. Make it easy to understand in just one read.

Aside from Simplicity, also apply Concreteness. Use the human senses so you can connect with your readers. Encourage people to use their imagination when reading your work.

Concrete ideas work better because they’re easier to understand. People can instantly connect with what you’re saying. Avoid using abstract terms such as happiness, justice, personality, excitement, and more. Instead mention specific things that describe what you’re saying. Say the color of the clothes, the texture of a surface, and other things.

Make your ideas credible

Credibility is one of the Cs in SUCCES formula. People believe what is credible. That’s why statistics do well in catching our attention. Just start with “85% of Filipinos suffer from …” and people will continue reading.

You can also add credibility to your statements by mentioning authority figures. Scientists and successful entrepreneurs often add a lot of credibility to an article or video.

Some people also mention research studies that support their claims. They find relevant studies that can frame their statements in a positive light. The key here is to borrow others’ credibility to make your statements strong.

Just be careful. Make sure there’s truth in what you’re saying. Don’t twist the facts. People can easily search online about what you said.

Use stories

Stories is the last S in the SUCCES formula. Stories are much easier to remember than facts. That’s why use stories as much as you can with your articles and social media posts.

Why do we like stories? That’s because we always feel the compulsion to know what’s next. We also easily connect with stories because of the characters in there.

We use empathy while reading stories. We feel like we’re the protagonist in a certain narrative. We feel their struggles. We also feel their victories.

How can you start creating stories that relate to what you have to say? You can start with using the Challenge Plot. It’s where you have a major challenge you have to overcome. People will start rooting for you if they know you’re having an obstacle.

You can also tell stories how you connect with people or how people connect with each other. Readers like these stories because they are genuine, warm, and personal.

Aside from Simplicity, Concreteness, Credibility, and Stories, you can also learn the following from the Made to Stick book:

  • Why should you use Unexpectedness to make your ideas thrive
  • How to push people’s Emotional buttons to build connections
  • The stories (others are funny) that demonstrate the power of ideas
  • Why sharing the numbers and telling the stories are very different
  • How to make more impact with your core message

My personal takeaways

The book explains a simple and easy to remember formula. SUCCES is truly what make ideas stick.

The principles are obvious for some. But just a few apply them in the real world. People forget that the purpose of a message is to connect with people. It’s not to impress someone or appear intelligent.

If we apply the SUCCES formula, we make an impact. We can reach more people. That will help our causes to spread, especially if they’re worthy and helpful.

Buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link

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