Friday, September 18, 2009

Make your idea stick


In the book Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell ( my review ) says "stickiness" of an idea is an important criteria for the idea to tip.

"Made to stick" by Chip Heath & Dan Heath, is an offshoot of the stickiness chapter of Tipping Point where the authors  analyze how and why ideas stick. They have even formed a mnemonic for it - SUCCES. Each one by itself will not guarantee your idea to stick - but if rightly applied together, the probability of your idea sticking is higher.

Simple : For an idea to stick, it has to be simple.For that you need to tear apart the unnecessary layers and go to the core of it.

Nike - Just do it.
FedEx - The World on Time
Audi - Vorsprung durch Technik ( ok this is an exception, and being Audi they can make anything stick :) )   Jokes apart it explains very well what Audi does - when tranlated it means - Advancement through technology.

Unexpected : The idea should rattle the listeners up. It should break pre conceived notions. Anything unusual is sticky.

When Apple launched Macbook Air, Steve Jobs pulled the Macbook Air out of an envelope in his keynote address.  He did not dish out the numbers about the weight or the thickness of the laptop. Just that image - the unexpectedness of a laptop coming out of an envelope was enough to establish the product in everyone's mind - the thinnest laptop in the world.

Concrete : If your idea is abstract or vague or is like a puzzle, the probability of it sticking is hard. It should be direct and should not have any ambiguities about it.

Ratan Tata made a statement a couple of years back - "We will produce a car under Rs. 1 Lakh". It was a concrete statement with no ambiguities. It motivated his team to build this car and they launched a car - with 4 doors which is quite safe, efficient and adequately powerful. All this for under Rs 1 lakh - an incredible feat.

Credible : The idea to stick needs to have the  backing of credible people. Quoting customer testimonials is the best example in this regard. If you notice most of the products will proudly present the awards, experts comments and opinions in their website and product brochure.

Emotional : We associate emotions to every incident,thought,object. If an idea generates emotion in your listener, then the probability of the idea being remembered and spread is higher. Try recollecting your favorite TV commercials - the successful ones will invariably appeal to one emotion or the other.

Stories : No one remembers facts, but we all remember stories. We all remember the moral values found in the stories of Panchatantra, Ramayan and Mahabarath. Imagine if we were just sermoned on just the moral values - will we remember any?

The book is filled with lots of anecdotes and case studies.  You will never get bored reading  this and it will give you many ideas to make your idea stick :)

Some quotations from the book :

"In Hollywood, people use core ideas called 'high-concept pitches.' You've probably heard some of them. Speed was 'Die Hard on a bus.'"

"Becoming an expert in something means that we become more and more fascinated by nuance and complexity. That's when the Curse of Knowledge kicks in, and we start to forget what it's like not to know what we know."

"Stories are like flight simulators for the brain."

"The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Conspiracy Theories - Part I

I do not have the bandwidth to research - so listing out the news articles I keep coming across which are suspicious in a reporter can pick it up and run with it and hopefully win a Pulitzer or something !

1. Force India finishing 2nd, 4th

I love Formula 1, and I love India and I am quite pleasantly surprised seeing Force India finish in the podium. Well actually I did not "see" because I do not have sports channels at home - so read the news. But I am tempted to subscribe again and see the race and the Ads and be an "eye-ball" once again.

The conspiracy here is - with Ferrari once again in the dumps ( how it was prior to Schumi days ), Indian fans have lost interest in F1 - majority being Ferrari fans. And with a 200 million tv viewing population - which is almost the size of European continent, F1 cannot afford to lose India. So suddenly Force India who never finished a race is on the podium..hmmm !!

2. Ms.Nigeria/Ms.Venezuala/Ms.Phillipines winning Miss World

This has been my pet conspiracy theory from the day Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen won the pageant. This is a no brainer.

Who sponsors these events? The beauty products.
How does beauty product enter a new market? By letting one of the Aishwarya Rais win.

The Miss World trophy conveniently migrates from one country to another - dictated by the market. So when there is a dip in sales, soon you will see another Indian winning Miss World.

3. Moon landing

There are many websites and books on this topic. NASA even commissioned a book to be written saying its all bull, we did land on the Moon - but later for some reason cancelled this project.


1. Why have we not landed in the moon again - even after 40 years? We have sent robots to Mars - but why did we not try for the moon?

2. After seeing the failure of Chandrayaan I learnt that the moon's gravitational pull is not uniform and the satellite needs constant course correction. Then there is the sun flare and other extremities of space which a satellite built in 2008 could not handle. What is amazing is 40 years back NASA sent a satellite to successfully land on the moon, someone gave a grammatically incorrect statement, and got back alive. Hmm...

3. We have very powerful telescopes that can peer at stars some millions of light years away. Why cant we turn this on the moon - the closest object we have - and try to find the foot print, the flag and other objects dropped by the man on the moon?

Guess this much is enough for my first edition...!

My dear netas - you deserve business class

Our poor netas, who have already sacrificed some good professions like farming, medicine, engineering, business, law, stock trading, IT etc - for the greater good of the country, and for serving the downtrodden of this nation - are being punished by forcing them to travel in economy class. What sacrilege.

No one is there to speak in support of our netas - and they will not protest but will accept this quietly - because their humility does not allow them to protest. So I am taking up their cause in this post. No they did not pay me - our netas will never do such a thing.

Why our netas deserve business class and private jets:

1. Stress

They take so much stress. From the build up to getting a party ticket, fighting for votes, then the horse trading and finally they become ministers. And still it is not over, they have to ward off allegations of corruption, nosy reporters, RTIs, PILs - and somehow manage to find time to serve the masses.

And you expect them to be herded like cattle in economy class? Give them a break.

2. Seats are too small

Have you not seen the photos of our netas? Because they take enormous stress and the long hours they put in every day - they are a little bigger than an average Indian. They simply cannot fit in an economy seat. Please do not ask them to go join a fitness club. There is not enough time in a day.

So if your seat is next to them - in economy class, you are better off sitting on the floor. Fight for them to go business class to save your ass ( literally speaking ).

3. Entourge

Do you think our netas travel alone? They will have a bunch of IAS, IPS, SAS, CRM, CBI, ABC, GHI officials accompanying them all the time. Putting all of them in a private jet is cheaper than buying tickets for each one of them in an economy flight.

So my dear fellow countrymen - don't you agree - our Netas deserve business class and private jets. Don't believe what the media is saying and don't join them in celebrating the suffering of our poor netas.