|Chapters Links||Summary Text|
Based on their research, there are six traits that sticky ideas have in common. (It’s like discussing the attributes of a great basketball player. You can be pretty sure they have some subset of traits like height, speed, agility, power, and court sense. But you don’t need all of these to be great, and having them doesn’t guarantee greatness. But if you’re going to choose to draft someone, it’s best to have as many of these in common as possible.)
Sadly, the Curse of Knowledge consistently confounds our ability to create ideas using these principles.
JFK made this statement: “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.”
Goal of the book is to improve your creativity and give you a checklist.
Strip ideas down to their core, to its most critical essence.
This books says there are two steps to making your ideas sticky:
Southwest Airlines Intent, a core, is “We are THE low-fare airline.” It guides how they filter their ideas.
Burying the lead – journalists use an inverted pyramid structure – the most important info (the widest part of the pyramid) is at the top
Remember that if you say three things, you’re not saying anything, when it comes to the core.
Uncertainty, even irrelevant uncertainty, can paralyze us.
Simple messages are core AND compact!
When you say three things, you say nothing, When your remote control has fifty buttons, you can’t change the channel anymore.
How to get people to remember your messaging?
A schema is a collection of generic properties of a concept or a category.
Good teachers start with lots of schemas, like “Let’s say that you grow apples and I grow oranges….”
People are tempted to tell you everything, with perfect accuracy, right up front, when they should be giving you just enough info to be useful, then a little more, then a little more.
So analogies make it possible to understand a compact message because they invoke concepts you already know (see above)
Some analogies are so useful they don’t merely shed light on a concept, they actually become platforms for novel thinking
Generative Metaphors and Proverbs both derive their power from a clever substitution: they substitute something easy to think about for something difficult.
The first problem of communication is getting people’s attention.
Must understand two essential emotions that are commonly provoked by sticky ideas:
Our schemas are like guessing machines; they help us predict what will happen and how we should make decisions
So when our guessing machines (our schema) fail, we are surprised.
But we must avoid gimmickry; the surprise must be related to our core idea.
Surprise isn’t enough; we also need insight, otherwise, we can just end up frustrated.
So to be surprising, an event can’t be PRE-dictable; in must be POST-dictable: the twist makes sense after you think about it.
Bottom line: To make our ideas stickier, you must break someone’s guessing machine, and then fix it. And the easiest way to avoid gimmickry surprise and ensure that your unexpected ideas produce insight is to make sure you target an aspect of your audience’s guessing machines that relate to your core message.
So a good process is:
Telling stories is a great way to replace or reinforce someone’s schema about something.
Think about how you can give someone’s schema a swift kick!
Replace numerical facts with percentages, and draw comparisons to things people already are familiar with
So build interest by first identifying the schema and then breaking it directly.
To keep people’s attention, Mysteries are powerful, Robert Cialdini says, because they create a need for closure.
Mystery is not created from an unexpected moment, but from an unexpected journey.
Robert McKee, a screenwriting guru, says “Curiosity” is the intellectual need to answer questions and close open patterns. Story plays to this universal desire by doing the opposite, posing questions and opening situations.”
In 1994 George Loewenstein said Curiosity happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge.
The news-teaser approach can be used with all sorts of ideas in all sorts of contexts
But how to overcome people’s confidence?
Unexpected ideas, by opening a knowledge gap, tease and flirt.
Concreteness allows a message to persist, like using images – visual is huge for this.
We need more fables.
Convert abstract concepts into something more tangible: 5 landscapes is more more concrete than 2 million acres; V8 is more concrete than high-performance; world-class services is more abstract than a Nordstorm employee ironing a shirt.
Abstraction is the luxury of experts; concreteness helps the novices.
Studies have shown that people are better at remembering concrete, easily visualized nouns, such as bicycle and avocado, versus abstract ones, such as justice or personality.
Sticky ideas are stuffed full of concrete images.
Memory is like velcro; one side has thousands of hooks, the other side has thousands of loops
We slip so easily into abstraction because the difference between an expert and a novice is the ability to think abstractly: jurors are struck by lawyers’ personalities and details and rituals; judge instantly weigh the case against the abstract lessons of past cases and legal precedent.
It can feel unnatural to speak concretely about subject matter we’ve known intimately for years.
We don’t want to “dumb things down”; rather, we want to find a “universal language” that everyone speaks fluently.
I think sometimes the simpleness can be too simple: “build the best passenger airplane” is too simple; you must have some details on this like how far to fly, number of passengers, etc.
Using the senses can help concreteness.
Concreteness creates a shared “turf” on which people can collaborate.
Props work well also.
Melissa Studzinski, brand manager for Hamburger Helper in 2004: “Now when I’ve got a decision to make about the brand, I think of the women I met. I wonder what they would do if they were in my shoes. And it’s amazing how helpful it is to think that way.”
Authority lends credibility. There are two main kinds:
There is also “Anti-authority”.
Statistics are rarely meaningful in and of themselves.
The Sinatra test: “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” An example passes the Sinatra test when one example alone is enough to establish credibility in a given domain.
Testable credentials – asking customers to test a claim for themselves – can provide enormous credibility boost.
For people to take action, they have to care.
It’s not about hitting their emotional buttons, it’s about making people care.
We don’t have to create emotion; we can just piggy-back on existing emotions.
But if we want people to care, we’ve got to tap into the things that people care about, like Jim Thompson did with the phrase “Honoring the Game” and thus reducing technical fouls and game ejections.
Another reliable way of making people care is invoking self-interest.
John Caples, who wrote the headline “They Laughed when I Sat Down at the Piano…But When I Started to Play!”, says “First and foremost, try to get self-interest into every headline you write. Make your headline suggest to readers that here is something they want.”
Tangibility, rather than the magnitude, of the benefits makes people care
In summary, how do we get them to care about our ideas?
In the last few chapters we’ve seen that a credible idea makes people believe, an emotional idea makes people care, and now we’ll see that the right stories make people act.
Mentally simulating past events is much more helpful than simulating future outcomes
So maybe, instead of visualizing future success, we visualize the steps that led us to where we are currently at.
Mental simulation works because we can’t imagine events or sequence without evoking the same modules of the brain that are evoked in real physical activity. When you imagine a flashing light, you activate the visual area of the brain, for example.
Mentally simulating an event helps us think of things that we might otherwise have neglected. Picturing a potential argument with our boss, imagining what she will say, may lead to having the right words available when the time comes.
Mental simulation can also build skills
A story is also powerful because it provides the context mission from abstract prose
Jared Subway story on the SUCCESs checklist:
Jared reminds us that we don’t always have to create sticky ideas. Spotting them is often easier and more useful.
How to spot them?
There are three basic plots in stories the authors found in more than 80 percent of the original chicken soup for the soul collection.
The Connection Plot: about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap – racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, romance or otherwise.
The Creativity Plot: involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a long standing puzzle, or attacking a problem in an innovative way.
If you’re telling a story at the company Christmas party, use the Connection Plot; If it’s at a kickoff party for a new project, go with the Challenge plot; If you want to inspire creativity, use the Creativity Plot.
The goal here is to become aware of these plot types so when you hear stories, you file them for proper use later, and we don’t need to make stuff up.
Springboard stories tell people about possibilities
When you tell someone direct instead of thru a story, you’re hitting them between the eyes, but the problem is most listeners respond by fighting back.
Springboard stories help people focus on potential solutions, going into a problem-solving mode.
Stories, by themselves, almost always embody the SUCCESs framework
So how do we spot stories that we can use? Maintain a a deeply ingrained sense of the core message you want to communicate.
You don’t have to be a great idea creator; instead, be a great idea spotter.
Speaking and Sticking:
There’s almost no correlation between “speaking talent” and the ability to make ideas stick.
Villains of stickiness:
Finally, the SUCCESs checklist is not hard, but it’s neither natural or instinctive: it requires diligence and awareness.
Problems getting people to pay attention to a message
Problems getting people to understand and remember
Problems getting people to believe you or agree
Problems getting people to care
Problems getting people to act