How to Make Ideas Stick – Review Made to Stick

Content is King, But How Do You Make Ideas Stick?

All bloggers will tell you content is king. How do you make ideas stick? Why do some ideas survive and others die? That is the question that Chip and Dan Heath asked themselves as they wrote this book.

Before I tell you about the book, let me tell you why I read it. At the end of June, as I assessed my blog, I faced some apparent failures.

Winston Churchill once said, ““Success is the ability to go from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.”

I Guess My Ideas Don’t Stick Enough

So to address the failures of Always Write (me), I turned to Jon Morrow’s course “Serious Bloggers Only” SBO. Without ever looking me in the eye, he told all his students and me,

“If you’re a beginning blogger, it’s important you accept one immutable fact: You don’t know shit. Not just about blogging and WordPress and all the technical tomfoolery, but about your audience, your topic, the authorities in your space, or even how to write. You might think you know something, but trust me, you’re totally blind.”

Since I’m not a beginner, I brushed that insult off and headed to my office to complete three to four month’s work in one month. Easy peasy!

Not so much!

The first assignment is to read three books. Morrow gave us about one hundred books to start. This one, Made to Stick, Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, stopped me in my tracks with the first story. Here is my recalled version of the story which I read three weeks ago. Memory test #1

The First Sticky Story

A salesman sat at a bar and was just about to go up to his hotel room when a beautiful young woman approached him. They talked for a few minutes, and she offered to buy him a drink. Normally he wouldn’t have, but it was the end of a long tour, and he enjoyed the treat. The next morning he woke up in a bathtub of ice and a plastic tube sticking out of his back.  A cell phone sat on the tub next to his side and a note that said, “Don’t move! Call 911!

Maybe you’ve heard this story or some version of it. I had not. My mouth hung open as I anticipated what happened to the salesman.

Before you condemn my storytelling ability, I want you to know that I NEVER tell jokes, not because I’m not funny, but because I can’t remember the punch lines. Trust me, I know the punchline, but I want you to read the book.

Is that enough? Are you sold? Can I stop now?

You, Too, Can Make Ideas Stick – Tell Great Stories

The purpose of this book is to help improve your storytelling ability so that you don’t bore people to death. Of course, YOU don’t bore people to death.

Ryan Holiday tells his readers, “The world is boring, but the news is exciting.”

Made to Stick Chapters

So a blogger’s perennial duty is to make boring everyday life into exciting news. Through Made to Stick the Heath brothers give us transferable skills so we can. We learn chapter by chapter.

Introduction – What Sticks?

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Epilogue – What Sticks?

Reference Guide

Have you ordered the book yet?

Before you answer let me tell you another story from the Introduction. A woman did her doctoral thesis based on an experiment of tappers and listeners. Tappers had to tap out a familiar song; listeners had to name it. Most couldn’t. Her job was to find out why and the Heath brothers applied it to writing memorable stories. If you have never tried this, try it. My husband recognized the song right away, but another friend did not. He said my rhythm was off. In my head, it sounded just right. The song was Happy Birthday.

The point was that we don’t always express our points clearly to someone who can’t read our mind. We’re playing the script inside our heads, but they can’t hear it. Heath called it the curse of knowledge.

No Brainers? Think Again

Although the Heaths’ ideas are not new, the authors’ vivid stories illustrate how much we can do with very little boring raw material to make it saleable. The next report I bring you will talk about the consequences of doing just that.

Those chapters look like no brainers. You knew all those tricks, didn’t you? I did

Don’t be smug. Read on.

A story from chapter two. Setting: Day One 9th grade journalism class.

“They (the students) would write the lead of a newspaper story. The teacher reeled off the facts: ‘Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquia in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.”

What would you write as the lead? Those are the facts and the young journalists got down to work. They came up with things like,

“Governor Pat Brown, Margaret Mead, and Robert Maynard Hutchins will address the Beverly Hills High School faculty Thursday in Sacramento…”

The teacher had paused before he went on.

“Finally he said, ‘The lead to the story is There will be no school next Thursday.'”

Were you surprised? I was. Will I remember it? Probably.

Do you want to be a better content writer or are you good enough?

Are you at least curious enough to see if you have everything together?

Amazon Author Biographies

Chip Heath

“Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on business strategy and organizations. He is the co-author (along with his brother, Dan) of three books. Their latest book, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work was published in spring of 2013 and debuted at #1 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list and #2 on the New York Times. Their 2010 book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, hit #1 on both bestseller lists. Their first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, spent two years on the Business Week bestseller list and was an Amazon Top 10 Business Book for both editors and readers.”

“Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who are fighting for social good. He is the co-author, along with his brother Chip, of two New York Times bestsellers: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

A graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard Business School, he lives now in Raleigh, NC.”

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Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe -Female Reproductive System- OUTSHINING OVARIAN CANCER by Karen Ingalls

Attention women! You may not be at the stage you are thinking about ovarian cancer. However, cancer doesn’t respect people. If these symptoms sound familiar, have a check up.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Smorgasbord Health 2017

This was first published last year but it is a message that is important and should be repeated regularly. My thanks to Karen for sharing her story and also the symptoms all women should be aware of.

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the reproductive system. Karen is an ovarian cancer survivor and therefore supremely qualified to write this article.. The post carries an important message about understanding how our bodies work and how we should be on the alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary.

OUTSHINING OVARIAN CANCER  by Karen Ingalls.

photo-on-2-14-16-at-139-pm-crop-u6133I am a retired registered nurse and had very limited education about gynecological diseases and cancers. From working in hospice I only knew that ovarian cancer is the deadliest one of all gynecologic cancers. My journey and initial diagnosis with ovarian cancer is not an unusual one.

I had gained a few pounds and developed…

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Book Marketing on a Shoestring Review by D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye reviewed Book Marketing on a Shoestring on her blog. It’s a book that she recommends that all indie writers should have on their bookshelves.  She shares thorough highlights of each chapter Have a look. Let me know what you think.

Book Marketing

Today’s book review is on one of the best books I have ever read on everything to do with marketing our books, from platform building to publishing and marketing, a cornucopia of information, Marketing on a Shoestring by Doris-Maria Heilmann.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Doris’ work, she is one of the pioneers in the Indie marketing business for 30 years. Doris is a book publishing consultant and coaches writers privately and runs several public seminars. She is also the owner of the well-known website, Savvybookwriters.com, a site that I couldn’t recommend enough for all writers to be following for her ongoing tips and updates about what’s current in the publishing world.

Book Marketing on a Shoestring – How Authors Can Promote their Books Without Spending A Lot of Money

book marketing

Get This Book on Amazon! 

Blurb:

No Money? No Problem!  Success as an author, especially when creating your platform in social media and establishing your brand, using the tools described here, is almost free. It’s all about where to find readers, book bloggers, and reviewers and how to connect with them.
A book marketing checklist in the last chapter will provide you with a useful timeline. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the book marketing possibilities. You don’t have to do it all in a week, a month, or even a year.  These are single steps you can take, one by one, to build your audience.

You Never Get a Second Chance for a Good First Impression!
The goal of this book is to show you the professional, yet inexpensive way of publishing a book and how to build your readership, no matter if you self-publish or sell your manuscript to a traditional publisher.

PART ONE
Explains why book marketing is important – and rewarding and how readers will find your book among millions of others. You will also learn about the difference between marketing and selling through ads.

PART TWO
In this chapter, you will evaluate your current publishing and book marketing situation. You will learn, in chronological order, the basics to start your author platform, find out which social media accounts are effective, and how to present your book and yourself professionally.

A Word About D. G. Kaye

My good friend Debby writes prolifically from her heart. Even more, she promotes other authors both on her blog, DG Kaye Writer and on through social media. The G in her name must stand for Generous. You will want to spend time and get to know her.

Read more

Why Do Sunflowers Have Necks?

sunflowers
Why do sunflowers have necks? The little guy on the left has a tired neck.

The Annual Day of the Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) at the Woodlake Botanical Gardens started at 7:00 am to compensate for the July 1st heat in California’s Central Valley.

Journey Through the Garden With Me

As the temperature soared towards the 102-degree mark, I wished I’d arrived before 8:30 am. Even the presence of Bravo Lake on the other side of the chain link fence did not slow down the upward march of the thermometer bubble.

sunflowers
One mile walk through Woodlake Botanical Gardens. I’m walking along Bravo Lake, but you can’t see it. Maybe if I was a sunflower and could stretch my neck up high enough I could see the water.

Before I reached the wall of the sunflowers, sweat already poured into my eyes washing away makeup. A stinging reminder that I had forgotten to wear the bandana Olga Jimenez gave me dripped down my forehead.

sunflowersNormally I walk the mile-long path in the 14-acre gardens. Olga Jimenez drove up pulling what looked like a hay wagon. She smiled up at me from her shady seat in the utility vehicle.

sunflowers
Olga Jimenez drives visitors around the park

“Hop in! You look hot already.”

Before I could dribble all over her All-Terrain-Vehicle, Olga reached into her magic stash of cures and wound a pink and white bandana into a long cord.

“Lean over,” she said and wrapped the cord under my bangs, behind my ears and tied it under my hair in the back of my head. This gringa (white woman) avoided the camera but welcomed the relief in spite of how my bangs stood out at all angles. There are some advantages to carrying the camera and being old enough that you don’t care if you are not in every picture!

All Aboard the Sunflower Train

sunflowers
Sunflowers were not the only beauties displaying their colors at the Day of the Sunflower.

“I want to drive you to the end of the pathway so you can take pictures of the sunflowers going the other way. Did you know that sunflowers turn their heads?”

She kept talking like she hadn’t just dropped a bombshell of information. I never saw a flower that turned its head. I’ve seen them fold up at night.

sunflowers“First, we’re driving up through the zinnias. I’ll stop,” Olga turned and told the rest of the passengers.

sunflowers

Woodlake Botanical Garden Founders

Olga and her husband, Manuel have planted gardens all their lives. He specialized in row crops at UC Davis and became a farm specialist for the University of California Davis for many years.

sunflowers
A beautiful row of cabbage

In addition to sunflowers, the Woodlake Botanical Gardens grows many food crops from corn, tomatoes, and artichokes to apple, pear, peach, fig and banana trees. Only volunteers work in the garden. Most of them are students.

sunflowersOn the way back to the start of the Sunflower Walk, my friend Monica approached.

sunflowers
Monica Pizura of Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast

Cooled down from the bandana, I gave up my shady spot in the front seat and hopped on the hay cart to take unfettered pictures as we drove.

“Hey Monica, “Do you know why sunflowers have necks?” I asked her as she climbed in.

“Is this another one of your lame jokes, Marsha?”

sunflowers“No, Monica. It’s a legitimate question.”

“Ok, so they can stretch them and see over the other plants.”

sunflowers“Good guess, Monica. But no. It’s so they can turn their heads.”

“Really, why do they do that?”

I couldn’t tell her. Maybe I could have Googled it, but I wanted to save what little phone battery life I had left for photographs. As we drove along the walking path, I had a chance to visit with the developers of the Tulare County Treasures website, Shirley, and John.

sunflowers
Tulare County Treasures members, Shirley and John.

We drove right past rows and rows of sunflowers without stopping.

“You’ll want to take pictures going the other direction, so you don’t have to shoot into the sun,” Olga called back at us as she ambled along going less than three miles an hour.

I could have jumped off and walked along beside the mini-train, but it was fun to sit and visit and dangle my legs as we rolled along. Every once in a while I felt my foot bounce against the wheel.

sunflowers“It’s odd, but the sunflowers do not seem as pretty going this direction,” I said to my new friends.

“They don’t seem very friendly, do they?” Shirley asked.

“No, they don’t.” John agreed. “I wonder why.”

“Maybe they’re shy!” I surmised.

sunflowers
Hiding behind the blueberries was a grove of peach trees. Some of the group deserted.

Olga stopped the ATV, and we jumped off. Most of us jammed towards the blackberries. The seedy purple berry jettisoned tiny bursts of flavor onto our tongues. A few of the group disappeared.

Blackberries grow in clumps of three. The largest one, the bull, is the prize. So engrossed in the plump blackberry “bulls” I failed to notice that the crowd had moved to the blueberries.

The blueberries fell off the vine into our hands as we tickled their bellies with our fingers. Some of the berries tasted sweet, some a little more tart. Before we left the fruity oasis, some of the party walked back to the wagon train with peach juice dripping off their chins.

sunflowers
San Joaquin blueberries, I think.

We got to the end of the trail, and she turned the hay wagon around. My face was cool as a cucumber.

“You’re getting pretty brave sitting in the sun back there. How’s that bandana working for you?”

“It’s magic! I need one for my nose, too! Olga, what do you mean, the sunflowers turn their heads?” reminding her that she left me hanging at the start of the path.

sunflowers
The bees love the sunflowers.

“When sunflowers grow, they face the sun. As the sun changes position during the day, the baby sunflowers turn to face it and follow it 180 degrees. That’s called heliotropism.”

“Helio for the sun,” Monica added.

“And tropism means that a plant or organism turns in response to an outside stimulus,” Olga finished.

sunflowers“It doesn’t look like they’ve moved any since we got here. Sunflowers are still not very friendly.” I said.

“As they get older, their necks get stiff just like ours, and they quit turning. Then they face east,” Olga said.

“Thanks, Olga, I’m feeling a little stiff-necked looking all directions to see all the gorgeous things growing here,” I said.

If you enjoyed this post, and I hope you did, please sign up for my Traveling and Blogging Near and Far Newsletter mostly for local interest.

How to Use Sunflowers

Almost everyone has eaten roasted sunflower seeds. Did you know you can make sunbutter? It’s similar to peanut butter but better for you.

I haven’t tried it. I hope it’s not like Vegemite. HGTV says you can use it like a jam or even as a substitute for cream in pasta sauces. Some people use it as a dipping sauce.

All you need are four cups of raw seeds, a stove, food processor and some oil (I’d use olive oil) and light seasoning like salt and possibly something sweet like honey. A doctor told me about Truvia, so I use that whenever I could use sugar, at least in amounts under a quarter of a cup.

Don’t buy pre-roasted sunflower seeds. Roast the raw seeds in a skillet for about 2 minutes. Tossing them keeps them from burning. Grind them into a powder for about 10 minutes. They start to turn to oil. Add a sweetener and keep going until the mixture looks like peanut butter. If it is not oily enough, add from one to four tablespoons of olive oil until it reaches the consistency you like.

Be sure to visit these two Photo Challenges for more exciting journeys.

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How to Write Great Content Fast

By Victoria Greene

Are you a content writer who’d like to be able to work a little faster? No matter how good you are, there are always little ways to grease those cognitive wheels and work a little faster. Next time you’ve got an article you need to get out the door as quickly as possible, these tips could make the job a little easier. Have you ever thought about content curation? And did you know that there is software you can use to limit distractions? It’s true. Here are even more ways to write great content fast.

content marketing

Borrow Ideas

Are you struggling to come up with a plan for your next article? Well, the chances are that somebody will have already written something very similar to you in the past. The internet is a big place, after all. Why not find a similar article and use it for inspiration?

This can be a good way to fuel the creative fire. However, there is a difference between borrowing ideas and stealing them. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Copy-pasting: Never ever. This is theft and will be spotted as duplicate content. Do not copy and paste any part of an article.
  • Rewriting a single article: If you find a good article on the same subject, don’t just rewrite that one article. Cherry pick the best ideas from a range of other posts and allow them to springboard your own ideas, otherwise, you’re just copying someone else’s work.
  • Borrowing images: Borrow and recycle ideas that you find in other articles, yes, but do not do the same with images. Images can have all kinds of copyrights attached to them and if you borrow an idea and an image from another source, the fact that you gleaned inspiration from them will be quite obvious.

Use Editing Software

When you’re in a hurry, you might have less time for editing. In these situations, it can be beneficial to have editing software installed on your computer. Here are a few examples of the more popular editing software options:

  • Grammarly: This is very comprehensive. Not only does it check your spelling, but also (as the name implies) your grammar. It can be installed in your browser, meaning it will work with all CMSs too. What makes this even more appealing is that it can be used for free.
  • After the Deadline: This will not only highlight any typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar issues but will also make suggestions about how you can make your writing more readable. It also considers different contexts in which certain things might be erroneous.
  • Hemingway: If you’re after something that will actually edit your work (as opposed to just spotting typos and grammar issues) then Hemingway is what you’re after. It helps you to avoid using a passive voice and highlights words that could be removed (among other things).

 

Small Things Make All the Difference

If you’re looking for further advice for speeding up the writing process, the following tips might be useful:

  • Disconnect the internet: This only applies once you’ve finished your research. With so many fun and exciting things to see online, it’s easy to get distracted. It might be worth disconnecting and doing your writing on Word.
  • Turn off your phone: Even with the internet switched off, your phone can still receive messages or reminders to play whatever app you’re currently addicted to.
  • Find the right environment: Maybe the reason you’re finding it hard to write is that you’re on the sofa in your pajamas and you’ve got the TV on. You’ve got to have a proper work environment. Go to a library or set up a proper desk in your apartment.
  • Eat some food: If you’re struggling to write or to think of ideas, perhaps it’s because you didn’t have any breakfast? Coming up with ideas and writing them down coherently takes up a lot of brainpower, which requires a lot of energy. Fuel your thoughts with healthy meals.

 

Motivate Yourself to Achieve Great Things

If all else fails, one thing I find to be a powerful motivator is imagining my project once it’s complete. Whether it’s that Mailchimp email shot, the product descriptions for your online storefront, the first few blog posts for a new WordPress site or anything else – imagine it all finished. Imagine the pride and happiness. It could all be yours – all you have to do is start writing.

If you want to get your writing speed up, this should help you to do so. Another option you might like to consider is hiring a virtual assistant – they can help you with a lot of the smaller tasks associated with blogging and content writing. If you’re keen on VAs, you might like to consider supporting Always Write in helping to provide VAs with the training they need. Whatever you do, whether it’s just making sure you eat properly or going all out on a piece of editing software, you’ll find there are lots of ways to speed up the writing process.

What do you find helps you write faster?

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Victoria Greene is an e-commerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to help them blossom. She loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with the world and encouraging entrepreneurial dialogue.