So I was in Barnes and Noble and asked the clerk if he knew where the book Made to Stick could be found, and he said: “Yep, I know exactly where that one is!” He dashed over to a table and picked up this Home Depot orange book that had duct tape across its front.
He handed me the book and skittered away.
I was standing there eyeing the book when the voice of my penny-pinching friend Elizabeth spoke from the recesses of my mind: “Why buy it when you can go to the library?”
So, I put down the book and went to the library, which was the next block up.
Seeing that the one catalog terminal was taken by a home-schooling mom, I sauntered up to the librarian and asked: “Do you know if you have a book called Made to Stick?”
She said: “Yep, I know exactly where that one is!” (Cue Twilight Zone theme) She dashed away to a shelf, grabbed the book, and all but skipped back to me.
“How did you know where that book was?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s the book with the duct tape.”
Ah…It’s the Duct Tape, Stupid.
This is a book about duct tape. Well…sort of. It’s about creating and telling stories in such a way that they stick like that glorious gray adhesive strip in the mind of the hearer.
Okay…here’s a test. Why is it that we can hear an urban legend and repeat it almost verbatim several hours later but can’t remember the points we just read on the Powerpoint at work?
It’s the (narrative) duct tape stupid. (And, of course, I only mean the most non-perjorative ’stupid.’)
The brothers Heath have written a wonderfully accessible book that can help anyone who wants to tell a compelling and memorable story. Say you are 16 and you just came in past your curfew… say you are a preacher trying to convey the most meaningful point you’ve thought up since last Sunday… say you are a sales person. Shoot, say you are anyone. After all, aren’t we all trying to win others to our point of view, our product, our idea? Don’t we all want to be believed?
Sure, we could turn on the analytical argument. We could induce and deduce until the cows come home. We might sling some stats around. We might even create eye-catching Powerpoint slides… but really, how sticky are those communications?
The Heath brothers introduce a simple model to create a sticky story. It’s all in the acronym SUCCES. (Okay, the Heath brothers can’t spell.) The SUCCES model is rooted in the latest research in cognitive and social psychology. Further, the brothers come at their topic with years of experience in teaching and consulting and, well, convincing.
I once heard the great theologian Stanley Hauerwas claim that the world is out for your soul. What he meant by that was that everybody (and maybe most everything) is out to convince everybody of something. (I once debated a friend over salad about whether there ought to be missionaries. He said, “No one should go to another country and try to change another person’s way of thinking and living.” I replied: “Are you trying to convert me?” Think about it… Wasn’t he being some kind of missionary?)
Made to Stick is a fun read. As one who has been doing public speaking for 34 years, I can almost guarantee you—no matter how much you already know—that you will learn from this book.
If you want to speak in ways that are memorable, convincing and repeatable… well…
It’s the Duct Tape, Stupid.