How to Make Your Ideas Stick: Book Summary of “Made to Stick”

As an entrepreneur, you want your business ideas to “stick” so that they can be easily understood and remembered by everyone.

Made to Stick” is a fantastic New York Times bestselling book that teaches you exactly how to do that by following a very simple formula.

I’ve read the book three times, and I’ve summarized the formula for you in this post.

Just remember SUCCESs

Ideas can be made to stick by ensuring that they have the following six traits: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and part of a Story (just remember the acronym SUCCESs).

The ideas don’t have to include every single one of those traits to stick, but the more traits they have, the stickier they become.

Here’s what each trait means.

1) Simple

“Simple” means finding the essential core of the idea. For example, with Southwest Airlines, the core tagline was about being “THE low-fare airline.” With Bill Clinton’s campaign, the core message was “It’s the economy, stupid.”

2) Unexpected

“Unexpected” means using the element of surprise to generate interest and curiosity. Steve Jobs didn’t go on and on about the features of the iPod. He simply said: “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

3) Concrete

“Concrete” means clarifying the message using sensory information to reduce ambiguity. People across different cultures and countries remember the lessons learned from Aesop’s fables because they are concrete (think of Sour Grapes from “The Fox and the Grapes”).

4) Credible

“Credible” means having the required credentials to make people believe or trust in the idea. Having credentials doesn’t just mean having specific academic or professional qualifications. It also means using statistics and social proof to back up your claims.

5) Emotions

“Emotions” means making people feel something to care about the idea. Mother Teresa knew that taking action to help poor people should be made personable. She stated that “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

6) Stories

“Stories” means making people act on the idea by saying it as part of a story. Subway sandwiches used the real life story of Jared Fogle, who dropped 100 pounds in three months following a Subway diet, to successfully market its fast-food business as a healthy option.

Be Wary of the “Curse of Knowledge”

Although those six traits sound easy to implement, there is a “villain” that prevents most people from delivering sticky ideas: the Curse of Knowledge.

The Curse of Knowledge is when you have deep knowledge about something that it becomes quite hard for you to communicate to other people what the essence of that something is.

In other words, the Curse of Knowledge is what inhibits you from easily putting yourself in other people’s shoes and explaining a topic to them.

So you need to always be cognizant of that curse because it will work against you.

How to Get a Free Copy of the Book

I was so impressed with Made to Stick that I’m actually going to be giving out a copy of it for free.

Even though I just summarized the main concepts of the book, it is still full of some amazing stories and examples that have left an amazing impact on how I communicate with my colleagues and friends.

The book even changed the way I interact with my daughter to help her remember ideas I would otherwise find difficulty explaining, and I really think it will help you communicate better.

Giving out a copy is a way for me to pay it forward and I thought it would be a cool way to connect with my readers.

However, because a few of you are not in the US and I don’t want to deal with the hassles of shipping, I’m going to offer the Kindle version of the book (currently valued at $13.99).

This way, I’ll only need your email address and you can download the book wherever you live (side note: you don’t need a Kindle device to read the book; you can use the free Kindle Reader software on your PC or the free Kindle App on your iPhone or iPad).

Here’s how you can get a free copy.

Leave a comment below letting me know what your own business idea is about.

The idea that I feel will “stick” the most will get a free copy of the book.

That’s it!

The business idea could be something that you are already working on, or something that you’re thinking of pursuing (and your idea could be about anything whatsoever).

Also, your idea doesn’t have to include every single one of the six traits above (it’ll be hard to squeeze in credibility and a story in a few sentences), but just use them as a guide to spur your creativity.

If you think about it, this is going to be a win-win for you even if you don’t get the free copy. You’ll force yourself to think about a non-boring way to express what your business is about, which you can always use as part of a tagline or elevator pitch later on.

Looking forward to your comments!


  1. Neither of those taglines are familiar to me. I remember Bill Clinton as a good president but a bad man (Carter was the reverse), and Southwest as the one that is run like a fleet of tour buses with wings, rather than the competition, who still suffer from the delusion that they are the airborne equivalent of Cruise ships; this has not been true since deregulation.

    Bottom line: serve your customers well, love what you do, employ good people and treat them like gold.

    • Hassan Osman says:

      Hey Wizard – thanks for the comment. Those examples were more about what “stuck” with people as opposed to a specific tagline.

      With Southwest, being “THE low-fare airline” is what helped the company employees make their decisions. An example given in the book is that when a marketing director approached the Southwest CEO about adding a fancy salad to the in-flight menu because customers wanted that, the CEO’s response was to ask her if adding a fancy salad would still make Southwest “THE low-fare airline,” to which she answered “No,” and didn’t end up including it.

      With Clinton, the “It’s the economy, stupid” phrase was what stuck with the American public and ended up being the core message of his campaign (read more here:'s_the_economy,_stupid). The authors talk about the fact that if he had said 3 things, he wouldn’t have said anything. That’s why the campaign ended up sticking to one simple phrase. Whether he was considered a good or a bad president is besides the point. The gist of what the authors are trying to say is that when you simplify a message to its core, like Southwest or Clinton, the message “sticks” better with your audience.

  2. We are still trying to figure out the exact message, so choose the one you like the most – or whichever gets me the free book :)…

    “The best GTD app”
    “The best productivity app on Windows 8”
    “The best productivity app”

    PS: site at and more info on my blog at
    “The poductivity app to free your mind”
    “Free your mind with taskorami – the best GTD app”

  3. My business idea is to create a marketplace for our music community in Dayton, Ohio for songwriters to connect to other communities, channels, opportunities outside of the traditional means. Its tough to make a living as an independent musician, and even getting exposure through alternative channels such as publishing and showcasing at festivals is harder and harder. I would like to create an opportunity to highlight our local artists as well as others in and outside the US to create “projects” that songwriters could collaborate on – ideally benefits for local charities or causes. I’ve done this ad hoc in a few places, and I think there is enough talent and drive just in SW Ohio that we could generate some really great media/public attention – which would help sell records, tickets, etc.

    Just need to make it sticky. :)

  4. Hey Hassan,

    Thanks for providing the inspiration to post a new post about our Artisans On Main project on my Hidden Island Paradise blog.