Book Review: Made to Stick

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Title: 
Made to Stick
Author: Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Genre: Nonfiction Business
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: December 18, 2006
Pages: 291
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: May 5, 2019

Goodreads Description: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – The instant classic about why some ideas thrive, why others die, and how to improve your idea’s chances–essential reading in the “fake news” era.

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus news stories circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians, and journalists–struggle to make them “stick.”

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony–draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick will transform the way you communicate. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures): the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of the Mother Teresa Effect; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice.

Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

My Review: I work in the medical field and one of the researchers recommended this book to me after we had taken some required work trainings on communication and excellence. I unfortunately did not get a lot out of those work trainings, but I did get much more out of Made to Stick and immediately recommended it to my husband who is a university professor.

The authors focused on expanding on their six principles to making ideas “stick”:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotions
  6. Stories

One of the most helpful tips when you are trying to share information or convince someone of an idea is to not stray too far from the core point. I especially enjoyed when the authors stated that just because you have a “sea of information”, you do not have to share it. I have definitely experienced sitting in classes or book clubs, where conversations start moving further and further from the original point that you forget where the conversation began and why.

I like how the authors used real work examples of companies and ideas to confirm their basic principles. It really helps you grasp the importance of these principles and why they will work.

This was an interesting and insightful read. As mentioned, I have already recommended it and think that it is most helpful for entrepreneurs, professors, and anyone who needs to share and communicate ideas on a regular basis.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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Book Review: The Power of Habit

9781400069286_custom-401a0d258f36abc0afccb673d3bab1de7926e20e-s6-c30Title: The Power of Habit
Author: Charles Duhigg
Genre: Nonfiction Self-Help/Business/Psychology
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Pages: 375 pages
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: April 17, 2019

Goodreads Description: A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

My Review: I chose this audiobook from the library, because it was a recommended read in some of the time management books I’ve been reading lately. Perhaps, if I would have read the Goodreads description, I may have thought twice before reading this. I really thought it would be equal parts scientific research and the actual building of habits, but it is about 98% about the scientific research and those examples really dragged on and on. Even though I understand the reason for discussing the role habits play in businesses and social movements, I just found that I didn’t really care. I couldn’t relate my every day life to these studies. I thought this would be about the importance of habit-building AND a how-to guide. I was wrong. Although, to be fair, he did give some helpful everyday pointers at the very end of the book in the Appendix. I just didn’t care about everything that came before. I don’t care what Febreze or Starbucks does. Also, did the author have to include such horrifically graphic details during the hospital section and the underground fire story? I don’t feel that discussing the drilling into a guy’s head or burning flesh adds anything to this book.

That actually leads me to the most disappointing part of this read for me, which was that I stopped understanding what the point of the book was. If it was just to point out that everyone has habits in work and life, then well done. Because the author gives examples of both positive and negative habits, I found that I was confused on whether habit-building is a positive thing to do or a negative thing to do. I constantly thought about just not finishing the book, but I kept hoping that there would be something useful to me or interesting, but there really wasn’t. Despite the high ratings this book has, I was not a fan.

My Rating: ♦ ♦

Book Review: Bad Blood

bad-bloodTitle: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Author: John Carreyrou
Genre: Business, True Crime
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: May 21, 2018
Pages: 299
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: March 3, 2019

Goodreads Description: The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

My Review: Bad Blood is the fascinating story of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her startup company Theranos. This book is basically a manual on what not do when starting a company. Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t start a company just because you want to become a billionaire.
  2. Start a company in a field you have expertise. If you are creating medical tools, you might need more than two years of science classes at a university.
  3. Using scare tactics is not a great way to win loyalty in your fellow employees.
  4. Don’t believe just any science data – look specifically for peer-review publications that outline extensive research and testing.
  5. Lying about your product is not only morally wrong but could lead to fatalities.
  6. Even if you serve on the board of a fraudulent company and advocate fake technology, you can still get a job as President Trump’s Secretary of Defense.

Journalist John Carreyrou’s research finally led to the closing of Theranos, criminal charges against Elizabeth Holmes, and justice for the individuals and families who suffered because of Holmes and her fake technology. It is still shocking that it took more than a decade to do so. I really wanted the book to include a “where are they now” section. The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking that it would make a fantastic Hollywood movie. Guest what? It is in fact going to be a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. YES!!!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

20 Years of Travel #7: Dubai

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The 20 Years of Travel series continues with my trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). This trip made my list simply because it was such a unique adventure for me that really took me out of my normal travel comfort zone. I decided to go visit a friend from grad school that lives and works in Dubai. I had never been to the UAE or anywhere in the Middle East, so I had a lot to learn about the culture. While I did travel there on my own, I was fortunate to have my friend with me for much of my time in Dubai.

Since Dubai has become a major trading and business hub between Europe and Asia, it has become an appealing travel destination for tourists because of its skyscrapers, theme parks and resorts. However, in reality Dubai is a location where women are treated as 12764762_185284661846101_4258686595052618337_oinferior to men and should always be accompanied by men. Luckily my friend informed me of this and gave me some tips for traveling by myself in Dubai, starting with my arrival at the airport. My friend was working, so I was on my own for the day and was going to be meeting her at the largest mall in the world: The Dubai Mall. I thought about taking a taxi, but my friend informed me that for my safety, to look for pink taxis. Pink taxis are for women with women drivers. I waited for a while for one to show, but didn’t see any so I decided to take their Metro train, which has a stop at the Mall. It was very convenient. At the Dubai Mall, I was able to find a baggage check on a lower level for my bag, so I could wander the mall without carrying any heavy luggage. I had a lovely meal too that afforded me the amazing view of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), which is pictured above.

When my friend and I met up, she had gotten us At the Top tickets to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa. This was high on my bucket list, as I would truly be on top of the world. It was fantastic experience. When you get to the observation deck there is a lounge and waiters passing out juices, which was a good idea, since the altitude could definitely affect people and eventually started to make me a little sick. We went outside and realized quickly that that may not be a great idea, as there was a lightning storm and we were right below the spire. It was an amazing view though. At the base of the Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Fountain, which is worth a stop. It is similar to the fountain outside of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, where at certain times there is a water and light show that follows along to a song. The show was magnificent.

DSC3932If you are looking for an interesting meal to try while you are in Dubai, I would suggest having a camel burger. As a stereotypical American, I will try anything that might look like a hamburger. It was not bad at all. I would, however, not try the camel milkshake. That was pretty disgusting.

If you are looking for a good educational and cultural experience, I would check out Sheikh Mohammed Centre for DSC3947Cultural Centre for Cultural Understanding. It is a collection of museums that contain a wide variety of historical artifacts. There is a coin museum and a pottery museum. Here you can learn a lot about the history of Dubai. It was always a huge trading port. Abu Dhabi was the big oil city, but in the 1960s a smaller amount of oil was discovered in the waters near Dubai. Prior to the discovery of oil, one of Dubai’s biggest exports were pearls. Divers would comb the floor of the waters around Dubai for mollusks that would produce these pearls. Besides history and economics, you may also find some art galleries that are worth a stop.

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When you think of animals in Dubai, you may think only of camels, but there is a huge wildlife sanctuary near the downtown area called Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. In this peaceful setting, you can view thousands of birds, including flamingos.

Another fun thing to do, which you will most likely experience if you are staying at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm is to ride the _DSC3995Palm Jumeirah Monorail. The views are stunning as you head directly for the Atlantis Hotel. Even though we were not patrons of the Atlantis Hotel, we decided to stop there to have a look around, and so I could see my very first Gold ATM (pictured on the left). I really never believed that those existed, and stood there trying to figure out if I could get a gold bar home with me – I did not attempt this.

If you are looking for additional fun family things to do in Dubai, you should check out the waterparks and Ski Dubai. Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates and is an indoor ski resort. Even if you do not ski, it is worth checking out.DSC3906

Nighttime is stunning in Dubai. Besides checking out the Dubai Fountain at night, you can view the unique, five-star hotel: Burj Al Arab (pictured on the right). Even if you are not staying at the Burj Al Arab, you can still try to get restaurant reservations there, but you should think of doing that well in advance of your visit to Dubai. Another good evening stop is the Global Village (pictured below). It is a large outdoor world market that is lit up at night. There are places to eat and of course….camels. At the end of the evening there is a lovely firework display.

I loved Dubai and can fully understand why my friend continues to call this her home. This is also an exciting time as the city prepares to host World Expo in 2020-2021. A few side notes to new travelers to the area:

  • Be careful what you take pictures of. You can get arrested for taking pictures of planes, accidents, and other people without their consent.
  • In some local eateries, men eat on the ground floor or a special area, where women and families eat in a different designated area.
  • The division in restaurants also is applied in other areas. For example, if you are taking a bus to Abu Dhabi, women and families stand in a different line from the men.
  • Wear respectful clothing.
  • Solo female travelers, heed my friend’s warning about taking taxis with male drivers. If you are assaulted in the vehicle, the courts would say that it is your fault for getting into a male-driven taxi without a male escort. This has been such a prevalent problem in the area that taxis in Abu Dhabi now have cameras installed in them.

Find more tips before you travel to Dubai here. Dubai was not like traveling around Europe or the US, and that is part of the reason I liked it. I think it is a special and unique place in the world.

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