Made to Stick Delivers
A book review from the author of PowerPhrases!


Did you know that the Great Wall of China is NOT visible from outer space? Did you know that there’s no truth to the idea that we use only 10% of our brains? Did you know that cases of candy tampering on Halloween are actually almost non-existent? I didn’t either. Who knew? And the next question is...why do so many false ideas stick?

More importantly, how do you get your good ideas to stick?

Chip and Dan Heath wrote Made to Stick to tell you - and to show you – exactly how. It’s a sticky book. I’m a communications author – I usually scan communication books. I studied this one.

Made to Stick says sticky ideas are simple. I could have told you that. One of my favorite statements is: “A PowerPhrase is as strong as it needs to be and no stronger.” Yet the authors’ chapter called Simple captures the essence of simplicity in a way I never have. It takes the reader through the process marketers and other communicators go through to cut to their “core message.”

Made to Stick says sticky ideas are unexpected. They illustrate this with an example from journalist Nora Ephron’s school days. The teacher assigned students the task of writing an article about school officials’ plans to attend a conference. Once he reviewed the homework, he charged that the students missed the key point . What point was that? There would be no school that day. Hello! I missed that point too, but I’ll be more alert to what the key points are in the future.

Made to Stick says sticky ideas are concrete. I teach that too. I talk about how our reptilian brain needs concrete words and images to make abstract ideas real. I found the examples of how marketers make their ideas concrete to be…concrete.

Two gems. Did you know that you’ll benefit more from studying how you got so poor than from visualizing you’re rich? In a post -The Secret- world, that might come as a surprise.

That gem came from the chapter about the power of stories. The Stories chapter offers a reason I hadn’t considered to explain why stories are so effective. Stories engage the “little voice” in your listener’s head that thinks they’re supposed to argue with you. The authors state, “When you hit listeners between the eyes, they respond by fighting back. If you make an argument, you’re implicitly asking them to evaluate it…” Stories bypass that little voice.

Made to Stick is well-written, fun to read, and very sticky indeed.
The authors practice what they teach. That provides the added benefit of being able to experience what you’re reading about. It’s a great read. Get it, read it, and keep it handy for the next time you have an idea you’d like to get to “stick.”

And while you’re building your communication library, check out my book PowerPhrases! too.

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Meryl Runion and Speak Strong (SpeakStrong) provides Power Phrases (PowerPhrases) and other tools to help you improve communication skills at work and at home. You can read more about her at

Meryl is the author of six books on communication that have sold over a quarter million copies worldwide, including Speak Strong, PowerPhrases!, How to Use PowerPhrases, Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, and How to Say It: Performance Reviews. You can reach her at 719-684-2633, or by email:

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