Powerful insights about building long-lasting work.
"Chances are those companies will still exist in ten years. Whatever changes I will have to make to this book in later editions, I have little doubt that, barring some tragedy, the Pantry, Shawshank , Iron Maiden, and Zildjian will still be going strong. They are examples of a phenomenon known in economics as the Lindy effect. * Named after a famous restaurant where showbiz types used to meet to discuss trends in the industry, it observes that every day something lasts, the chances that it will continue to last increase. Or as the investor and writer Nassim Taleb has put it, “If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. . . . Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy.”
"We must set out, from the beginning, with complete and total commitment to the idea that our best chance of success starts during the creative process. The decisions and behaviors that bring you to creating the product—everything you do before you sit down to build whatever it is you’re building—trump any individual marketing decisions, no matter how attention-grabbing they turn out to be. And, as we’ll see later, those creative decisions can be critical marketing decisions in themselves."
"If you are trying to make something great, you must do the making: That work cannot be outsourced to someone else. You can’t hire your friends to do it for you. There is no firm that can produce a timeless work of art on your behalf for a flat fee. It’s not about finding the right partner, the right investor, the right patron—not yet anyway. Collaboration is essential, but if this is your project, the hard work will fall on you. There is just no way around it."
"Creating is often a solitary experience. Yet work made entirely in isolation is usually doomed to remain lonely."
"One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten as a creator was from a successful writer who told me that the key to success in nonfiction was that the work should be either “very entertaining” or “extremely practical.” Notice they didn’t say, “Should be very fulfilling to you personally” or “Should make you look super smart” or “Capitalize on some big trend.” Those concerns are either secondary or implied. It’s better to be focused on those two timeless use cases of enjoyability or utility."
"When it comes to feedback, I think Neil Gaiman’s advice captures the right attitude: “Remember: When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”"
"Positioning is what your project is and who it is for.
Packaging is what it looks like and what it’s called.
The Pitch is the sell—how the project is described and what it offers to the audience."
"In my definition, a platform is the combination of the tools, relationships, access, and audience that you have to bring to bear on spreading your creative work—not just once, but over the course of a career. So a platform is your social media and the stage you stand on, but it also includes your friends, your body of work, the community your work exists in, the media outlets and influencers who appreciate what you do, your email list, the trust you’ve built, your sources of income, and countless other assets. A platform is what you cultivate and grow not just through your creative work, but for your creative work, whatever it may be."
About our [in]ability to understand other people.
"One word: construction. You are consciously aware of your brain’s finished products—conscious attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and feelings—but are unaware of the processes your brain went through to construct those final products, and you are therefore unable to recognize its mistakes."
"The problem with a lens is that you look through it rather than at it, and so your own perspective doesn’t seem unique until someone else informs you otherwise."
"Our impressions about the minds of others seem to reflect the world we observe. Stereotypes, in this way, seem like mirrors. But our stereotypes about other people can also affect the world we observe, and in this way can also act like magnets. Our belief that groups are opposed to each other may push those groups even further apart in our minds than they are in reality, leading to stereotypes that exaggerate genuine differences between groups. Our belief that groups differ can also push the targets of these stereotypes to behave in ways that are consistent with them."
"The more unpredictable an object, the more mindful it appears."
A great introduction about our power [and responsibility] to influence other people's behavior.
"A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions."
"...small and apparently insignificant details can have major impacts on people’s behavior. A good rule of thumb is to assume that “everything matters.” In many cases, the power of these small details comes from focusing the attention of users in a particular direction."
"Libertarian paternalists want to make it easy for people to go their own way; they do not want to burden those who want to exercise their freedom. The paternalistic aspect lies in the claim that it is legitimate for choice architects to try to influence people’s behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier, and better."
"A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."
Great insights for crafting impactful messages and campaigns.
"By “stick,” we mean that your ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact—they change your audience’s opinions or behavior."
"PRINCIPLE 1: SIMPLICITY
How do we find the essential core of our ideas? A successful defense lawyer says, “If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.” To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short is not the mission—sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.
PRINCIPLE 2: UNEXPECTEDNESS
How do we get our audience to pay attention to our ideas, and how do we maintain their interest when we need time to get the ideas across? We need to violate people’s expectations. We need to be counterintuitive. A bag of popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day’s worth of fatty foods! We can use surprise—an emotion whose function is to increase alertness and cause focus—to grab people’s attention. But surprise doesn’t last. For our idea to endure, we must generate interest and curiosity . How do you keep students engaged during the forty-eighth history class of the year? We can engage people’s curiosity over a long period of time by systematically “opening gaps” in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.
PRINCIPLE 3: CONCRETENESS
How do we make our ideas clear? We must explain our ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. This is where so much business communication goes awry. Mission statements, synergies, strategies, visions—they are often ambiguous to the point of being meaningless. Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images—ice-filled bathtubs, apples with razors—because our brains are wired to remember concrete data. In proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language: “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” Speaking concretely is the only way to ensure that our idea will mean the same thing to everyone in our audience.
PRINCIPLE 4: CREDIBILITY
How do we make people believe our ideas? When the former surgeon general C. Everett Koop talks about a public-health issue, most people accept his ideas without skepticism. But in most day-to-day situations we don’t enjoy this authority. Sticky ideas have to carry their own credentials. We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves—a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas. When we’re trying to build a case for something, most of us instinctively grasp for hard numbers. But in many cases this is exactly the wrong approach. In the sole U.S. presidential debate in 1980 between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Reagan could have cited innumerable statistics demonstrating the sluggishness of the economy. Instead, he asked a simple question that allowed voters to test for themselves: “Before you vote, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
PRINCIPLE 5: EMOTIONS
How do we get people to care about our ideas? We make them feel something. In the case of movie popcorn, we make them feel disgusted by its unhealthiness. The statistic “37 grams” doesn’t elicit any emotions. Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. Sometimes the hard part is finding the right emotion to harness. For instance, it’s difficult to get teenagers to quit smoking by instilling in them a fear of the consequences, but it’s easier to get them to quit by tapping into their resentment of the duplicity of Big Tobacco.
PRINCIPLE 6: STORIES
How do we get people to act on our ideas? We tell stories. Firefighters naturally swap stories after every fire, and by doing so they multiply their experience; after years of hearing stories, they have a richer, more complete mental catalog of critical situations they might confront during a fire and the appropriate responses to those situations. Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation in the physical environment. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively."
Good insights to help spread products, messages, and ideas.
“There are lots of examples of things that have caught on. Yellow Livestrong wristbands. Nonfat Greek yogurt. Six Sigma management strategy. A certain gym will be the trendy place to go. A new church or synagogue will be in vogue. Everyone will get behind a new school referendum. These are all examples of social epidemics. Instances where products, ideas, and behaviors diffuse through a population. They start with a small set of individuals or organizations and spread, often from person to person, almost like a virus.”
“So if quality, price, and advertising don’t explain why one first name becomes more popular than another, or why one You-Tube video gets more views, what does?”
“With an incredible array of collaborators I’ve examined things like
“Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.
Principle 1: Social Currency
How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky. Just like the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, what we talk about influences how others see us. It’s social currency. Knowing about cool things—like a blender that can tear through an iPhone—makes people seem sharp and in the know. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders. We need to leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others.
Principle 2: Triggers
How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas? Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. Peanut butter reminds us of jelly and the word “dog” reminds us of the word “cat.” If you live in Philadelphia, seeing a cheesesteak might remind you of the hundred-dollar one at Barclay Prime. People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so the more often people think about a product or idea, the more it will be talked about. We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.
Principle 3: Emotion
When we care, we share. So how can we craft messages and ideas that make people feel something? Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared. So rather than harping on function, we need to focus on feelings. But as we’ll discuss, some emotions increase sharing, while others actually decrease it. So we need to pick the right emotions to evoke. We need to kindle the fire. Sometimes even negative emotions may be useful.
Principle 4: Public
Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? The famous phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” captures more than just the human tendency to imitate. It also tells us that it’s hard to copy something you can’t see. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular. So we need to make our products and ideas more public. We need to design products and initiatives that advertise themselves and create behavioral residue that sticks around even after people have bought the product or espoused the idea.
Principle 5: Practical
Value improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word. But given how inundated people are with information, we need to make our message stand out. We need to understand what makes something seem like a particularly good deal. We need to highlight the incredible value of what we offer—monetarily and otherwise. And we need to package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.
Principle 6: Stories
What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in? People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But just like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons. Information travels under the guise of what seems like idle chatter. So we need to build our own Trojan horses, embedding our products and ideas in stories that people want to tell. But we need to do more than just tell a great story. We need to make virality valuable. We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.”
About the process that products/services, mainly digital, use to develop habits/addictions in us
“Cognitive psychologists define habits as, “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues:” things we do with little or no conscious thought. [v] The products and services we use habitually alter our everyday behavior, just as their designers intended. [vi] Our actions have been engineered.”
“Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions. [vii] A habit is at work when users feel a tad bored and instantly open Twitter. They feel a pang of loneliness and before rational thought occurs, they are scrolling through their Facebook feeds. A question comes to mind and before searching their brains, they query Google. The first-to-mind solution wins.”
“A trigger is the actuator of behavior — the spark plug in the engine. a website link, or the app icon on a phone.”
“The exciting juxtaposition of relevant and irrelevant, tantalizing and plain, beautiful and common, sets her brain’s dopamine system aflutter with the promise of reward. Now she’s spending more time on Pinterest, hunting for the next wonderful thing to find. Before she knows it, she’s spent 45 minutes scrolling.”
“Having a greater proportion of users returning to a service daily, dramatically increases Viral Cycle Time for two reasons: First, daily users initiate loops more often (think tagging a friend in a Facebook photo); second, more daily active users means more people to respond and react to each invitation. The cycle not only perpetuates the process — with higher and higher user engagement, it accelerates it.”
“Remember and Share