Book Notes: Made to Stick


Idea should be so simple that nothing more can be taken away from it. It’s completely opposite of the conventional wisdom of enriching idea. Enrichment of idea with different features actually dilutes its core value.

Don’t bury the lead

If you have a few second to tell the idea, what part you would talk about. That part should be the core of the idea and should be conveyed clearly.

Compact & Meaningful

Ideas should be compact enough to be sticky and meaningful enough to make a difference. Make a positive difference to be exact. A counterexample can be “do not let a day go by without buying a shoe”. This idea is simple enough but adds no value.

  • A bird in hand is better than two in the bush
  • treat others, the way you would like to be treated

Counterintuitive Message

Find out what is counterintuitive about your message. Ideation is like story telling in which you have to violate the expectation of the audience. Shock them first by letting their guessing machine fail and then help them repair the machine. Move people from common sense to uncommon sense.

Gap Theory

People become more interested in something when they realize there is lack of gap in their knowledge. Let’s take example of treasure hunt. The explorer knows how to get to the first clue and then works hard to get to the treasure. If explorer is completely clueless, he/she would not be interested. If he/she knows all the clues like google maps, it would not be fun anymore.


Credibility is best built when the audience has freedom to falsify idea. Authors gave example of Wendy’s advertisement about “where’s the beef”. Wendy’s burgers had more beef than competitors and any customers could go and verify it (or attempt to falsify it).


Sometimes anti-authority works more than authority. Authors give example of a person who died due to cancer caused by smoking and how he became a symbol of anti-smoking campaigns. It was more effective than lame ads with the message “do not smoke”.

Human scale principle

Humanize an idea. Even if an idea is abstract, try to give it concrete form.

Sinatra Test

Sinatra test is about solving the toughest challenge. Once you do that, it acts as reference of your ability to solve other smaller problems. Using Sinatra’s words as per the authors “If I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere”.

Features vs Benefits

People do not care about the features of a product but what benefits it provides.



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Rishi Yadav

Rishi Yadav


This blog is mostly around my cloud-native & Environments-as-a-Service (EaaS) technology insights. I would throw some crypto wisdom here and there.