Heath, Chip 1963-

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Heath, Chip 1963-


Born July 19, 1963. Education: Texas A&M University, B.S., 1986; Stanford University, Ph.D., 1991.


Office—Stanford University, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 518 Memorial Way, Stanford, CA 94305-5015. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


Writer, researcher, psychologist, consultant, public speaker, and educator. University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, assistant professor, then associate professor, 1991-97; Duke University, Fuqua School, associate professor, 1997-2000; Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behavior, 2000—. Guest on television and radio programs, including the Today Show.


(With James G. March) A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen, Free Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Gary Alan Fine and Veronique Campion-Vincent) Rumor Mills: The Social Impact of Rumor and Legend, Aldine de Gruyter (New York, NY), 2004.

(With brother, Dan Heath) Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals and scholarly journals, including Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Cognitive Psychology, Journal of Consumer Behavior, Strategic Management Journal, Psychological Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Author of regular column, Fast Company magazine.


Writer, educator, and psychologist Chip Heath is a researcher and professor of organizational behavior in the Stanford Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He holds a B.S. in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford. As an educator, he has taught at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. His classes cover subjects such as organizational behavior, strategy, negotiation, international strategy, and social entrepreneurship, according to a biographer on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Web site.

As an academic, Heath's research focuses on two major areas. The first involves the study of the decision-making process of groups, individuals, and organizations, and the mistakes that are made in reaching those decisions. The second, which serves as the foundation for much of his scholarly and popular writing, concerns theories of "what makes ideas succeed in the social marketplace of ideas, and how can people design messages to make them stick," the Web site biographer stated. Heath is interested in why some ideas, even far-fetched or unlikely ones, can succeed and persist, whereas good, well-thought-out ideas can fail to attract interest and take hold in the public's attention. This research forms the basis of one of Heath's classes, a popular elective at Stanford called "How to Make Ideas Stick." The Stanford Graduate School of Business Web site biographer noted that this class has been taught not only to students but to a variety of professionals, including venture capitalists, business managers, teachers, journalists, doctors, film producers, and product designers.

In collaboration with his brother, Dan Heath, Chip Heath is the author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Based in large part on Chip's research into the success or failure of ideas in society, the book explores the notion of sticky ideas, concepts and notions that survive and thrive in society at large. "By ‘sticky idea,’ we mean an idea that people understand when they hear it, that they remember later on, and that changes the way they think or act," the authors remarked to interviewer Robert Rogers in the Legal Times. "Stickiness is a high standard—how much can you recreate from what you read in the newspaper yesterday? And you probably couldn't fill an index card with what you recall from high school chemistry. So making an idea memorable is hard, but even that's not enough—it also has to be useful."

Chip and Dan Heath identify six integral characteristics of a sticky idea, which they summarize in the acronym SUCCESs. First, a successful sticky idea must be Simple, rendered down to its basic core so that it communicates its most important aspects in an easy-to-understand way. Second, the idea must be Unexpected, somehow out of the ordinary, attention-getting, and compelling. Third, the idea must be concrete, not abstract. "Abstraction is the enemy of stickiness. Sticky ideas don't promise better nourishment for untold millions, they put a chicken in every pot, a steak dinner on the table of Tom Everyman, or rice into the bowl of the wide-eyed African child whose name and life history are sent to you with a letter and photograph," reported a writer for the Stepcase Lifehack Web site. Details, morals, images, specifics and time and place, and other concrete elements help ideas become sticky. Fourth, a sticky idea must be Credible, or must originate with a credible, trustworthy source. Statistics, professional qualifications, or personal experience add credibility to ideas. Fifth, sticky ideas are Emotional. When people are given a reason to care about an idea, they are much more likely to remember it or act on it. Finally, successful sticky ideas convey Stories, narratives that prove or demonstrate the benefits of the sticky idea in a compelling or dramatic way. Through narrative, observers can discern the core of the idea in their own way and on their own terms, thus giving them greater ownership of the idea through the effort expended to comprehend its story. The well-defined human tendency to respond to the conflict and resolution at the core of a well-told tale also helps bolster the effectiveness of a sticky idea.

Making an idea simple enough to stick "doesn't mean dumbing down, it means finding the core of your message, the indispensable part of it," the authors told Rogers. "And that's painful, because it means you have to downplay or discard lots of really interesting and substantive points that aren't absolutely critical."

In addition to characteristics that make ideas more likely to stick, the Heaths also identify problems that will make an idea less likely to be absorbed and retained. One of these problems is what the authors refer to as the "Curse of Knowledge." The authors explained this concept to an interviewer on the How to Change the World Web site. "Lots of research in economics and psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become lousy communicators," they stated. "Think of a lawyer who can't give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question," the authors continued. "His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can't follow. And we're all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise." In this context, the Heaths report, knowledge can be a detriment rather than an advantage. "Here's the great cruelty of the Curse of Knowledge: The better we get at generating great ideas—new insights and novel solutions—in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly. That's why knowledge is a curse," they told the How to Change the World interviewer. Chip and Dan Heath suggest that this obstacle can be overcome by taking time to consider the essential message at the core of any idea, and applying the SUCCESs principles of stickiness to communicating that message. "The trick for us, when we're getting our ideas across, especially as professionals, is to move from the abstract level that we use to think about the world, down into a very concrete example that someone else might understand," Chip Heath told an interviewer in Information Outlook.

"Made to Stick is essential reading for anyone who deals with ideas—marketers and business leaders, of course, but also teachers, knowledge workers, designers, parents, clergy, copy writers, journalists, activists, authors, and so on," commented a reviewer on Stepcase Lifehack. New Statesman contributor Henrietta Clancy concluded, "This book is a gift to anyone who needs to get a message across and make it stick." The volume "offers solid instructions, a selection of exercises, and plenty of vivid real-world examples," noted John Ruddy, writing in Psychology Today. "Fun to read and solidly researched, this book deserves a wide readership," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. "The clear writing and myriad examples make the book highly readable, and overall, it scores well on the SUCCESs checklist: It's simple, includes unexpected ideas, offers concrete examples, draws on credible sources, covers a subject readers have an inherent interest in, and tells some good stories along the way," reported Jesse Scanlon on Business Week Online. Financial Executive reviewer Jeffrey Marshall concluded, "Well-written, easily digestible and at times inspirational, Made to Stick offers wonderful lessons about how to capture people's attention and get them to remember your message."



Advertising Age, May 14, 2007, Matt Kinsey, "A Book of Sticky Stories Too Exhaustive for Its Own Good," review of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, p. 42.

American Executive, December, 2007, "Sticky Ideas: Urban Legends about Kidney Thieves Stick, but Powerpoint Presentations Don't. The Authors of a New Book Explain Why," interview with Chip and Dan Heath, p. 14.

Black Enterprise, May, 2007, Alfred A. Edmond, Jr., "Sticky Situations: Find S.U.C.C.E.S.S. by Knowing Key Elements of Effective Ideas," review of Made to Stick, p. 125.

Booklist, November 1, 2006, Gail Whitcomb, review of Made to Stick, p. 11.

Business Horizons, January-February, 2008, Mimi Dollinger, review of Made to Stick, p. 75.

CMA Management, April, 2007, review of Made to Stick, p. 6.

Entrepreneur, January, 2007, Carol Tice, interview with Chip Heath, p. 21.

Financial Executive, March, 2007, Jeffrey Marshall, review of Made to Stick, p. 12.

I.D., June 1, 2007, Clive Thompson, "Glue Factory," review of Made to Stick, p. 98.

Inc., January, 2007, Mike Hofman, "Chip and Dan Heath: Marketing Made Sticky," interview with Chip and Dan Heath.

Information Outlook, November, 2006, "How to Make Your Idea Stick: It Takes More Than Knowledge to Craft a Memorable Message," interview with Chip Heath, p. 24.

Leadership, September-October, 2007, George Manthey, review of Made to Stick, p. 27.

Legal Times, February 19, 2007, Robert Rogers, "How to Make Your Arguments Really Stick," interview with Chip and Dan Heath.

Library Journal, February 1, 2007, Carol J. Elsen, review of Made to Stick, p. 83.

Marketing Management, November 1, 2007, R.M. Gordon, "It's the Stickiness," review of Made to Stick, p. 49.

McKinsey Quarterly, winter, 2008, Lenny T. Mendonca and Matt Miller, "An Interview with Chip Heath," p. 16.

New Statesman, January 29, 2007, Henrietta Clancy, "Ideas Factory," review of Made to Stick, p. 67.

Psychology Today, January-February, 2007, John Ruddy, review of Made to Stick, p. 32.

Publishers Weekly, October 16, 2006, review of Made to Stick, p. 45.

Sales & Marketing Management, March, 2007, review of Made to Stick, p. 41.

School Library Journal, March, 2007, Heidi Dolamore, review of Made to Stick, p. 246.

Supermarket News, May 14, 2007, Mark Hamstra, "Marketers Can Borrow from Success of Urban Legends," review of Made to Stick.

Teacher Librarian, April, 2007, review of Made to Stick, p. 52.

Time, November 6, 2006, Barbara Kiviat, "Are You Sticky?," review of Made to Stick, p. 27.

USA Today, December 28, 2006, Jacqueline Blais, "In Stick, Your Ideas Get the Glue," review of Made to Stick, p. 04D.


Business Innovation Factory,http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/ (September 7, 2008), profile of Dan Heath.

Business Week Online,http://www.businessweek.com/ (January 25, 2007), Jessie Scanlon, "Taking an Idea, Making It Stick; a New Book by a Stanford B-School Professor and His Brother, a Corporate-Education Consultant, Unravels the Mystery of Creating Sticky Ideas," review of Made to Stick.

How to Change the World Web log,http://blog.guykawaski.com/ (January 9, 2008), interview with Chip and Dan Heath.

Made to Stick Web site,http://www.madetostick.com (September 7, 2008).

Management Consulting News Web site,http://www.managementconsultingnews.com/ (September 7, 2008), "Meet the MasterMinds: Dan Heath on How Stick Ideas Make a Difference."

Stanford University Graduate School of Business Web site,http://gsb.stanford.edu/ (September 7, 2008), biography of Chip Heath.

Stepcase Lifehack Web site,http://www.lifehack.org/ (August 8, 2008), review of Made to Stick.

Wake Forest MBA Programs Web site,http://www.mba.wfu.edu/ (September 7, 2008), "Five Questions with Dan Heath."


Morning Edition, February 19, 2007, Renee Montagne, "The Secret behind Why Ideas ‘Stick,’" transcript of NPR Radio interview with Chip and Dan Heath.