My “go to” book of the year, the one that I have recommended to all my friends and the one I am now recommending to you is “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath. Imagine the scenario (they did):

A guy is away on business and he goes to the hotel bar for a drink. An attractive fellow guest buys him a drink and they start talking….

…next thing he finds himself waking up in a bath filled with ice. As his eyes focus he sees a note on the mirror in front of him that reads, “ring 999 immediately.” Looking around he sees a phone on the floor and he rings for an ambulance. When he talks to the operator and explains the situation she seems surprisingly calm and asks him to reach behind him and tell her if there is a tube protruding from his lower back. He reaches around and confirms that there is.

“There is a gang of organ thieves operating in the area and I am afraid to say that you have had one of your kidney’s harvested. Stay calm and don’t worry because an ambulance is three minutes away.” 

Now this is a sticky idea. In an hour, a day, or a week (or in my case a year) after hearing it you are likely to remember the three key ideas: a stranger, an ice bath, a stolen kidney. But what makes it stick? The Heath Brothers talk about “six principles of Sticky Ideas”: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. So let’s look at the Kidney Heist story.

Firstly it’s a) Simple and is told as a b) story (you can make anything up based around the key facts: in the story I first heard the guy had to ring 911). It was certainly c) unexpected (I didn’t predict that the guy would turn up in an ice bath minus one of lose his kidneys) which in turn sparked d) an emotion (mild revulsion and horror I suppose in my case), it has e) credibility (after all I’m telling it, it happens in a familiar setting and the ambulance operator is involved). Finally it has concreteness (a guy bought drugged drink wakes up in an ice bath without a kidney). Now while the entire story is a fabrication it has longevity. Also, will you be accepting a drink from a handsome/beautiful stranger? I bet you would think twice now!

I will leave you to discover the rest of the book…which you can buy from here (and other good bookshops both in the high street and on the internet).