The following is a compilation of two brief book reviews.

Made To Stick

ISBN: 1400064287

This book attempts to deconstruct why some ideas tend to stick (i.e. become viral) by giving you examples of sticky ideas and why they were effective. Tips include:

Mysteries are powerful, Cialdini says, because they create a need for closure.

[…]

Curiosity, he says, happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge. Loewenstein argues that gaps cause pain. When we want to know something but don’t, it’s like having an itch that we need to scratch. To take away the pain, we need to fill the knowledge gap. We sit patiently through bad movies, even though they may be painful to watch, because it’s too painful not to know how they end.

[…]

Knowledge gaps create interest. But to prove that the knowledge gaps exist, it may be necessary to highlight some knowledge first. “Here’s what you know. Now here’s what you’re missing.”

[…]

…try appealing to more profound types of self-interest.

Much of the book’s proclamations were hinged on dubious psychological “studies” that were mere surveys of college students in some contrived setting. The authors managed to find the most boring psychological anecdotes possible, which make you feel as if you’re reading a poor man’s Gladwell. It wasn’t until the epilogue did I feel a payoff when they presented a cheat sheet of sorts that gave an overview of their methods, with the most useful being  “use analogies.” Attach a story to your idea that increases the chance it will be remembered. This entire book could be distilled into a blog post that may give you an idea or two, but nothing more.

The two men who wrote the book are brothers Chip and Dan Heath. Does their name ring a bell to you? Probably not, and there are no clients of theirs that you know. In other words, the authors are essentially keyboard jockeys who haven’t created anything viral themselves, but have done “research” into the matter in the form of low sample size studies. I think I’m as qualified to write this book as they are.

In the end this is a boring pop psychology book that has caused me to decide never again to read a pop psychology book.

Read More: “Made To Stick” on Amazon

Tapped Out

ISBN: 159240619X

This is the story of an aging self-described beta male who decides to train and fight in an MMA match. The book chronicles his training, his trainers, and the arguments with his fiance, who doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. The book flies at a smooth pace and keeps you engaged, with many lol moments spread throughout.

For the average person, the initial reaction to getting hit hard in the face is to turn away. For the average fighter, the initial reaction is to get angry and try to return the favor. Both are mistakes. The proper response is to act as if you were never hit. Show no reaction. If your opponent sees either pain or rage, he will know he hurt you, and no matter how tired he is, it will turbocharge his battery.

[…]

“You see, you had to tap,” Magno said. “The fight is over and no one is hurt. Jiu-jitsu is the gentle art.”

“I see,” I said, rubbing my elbow. “And what if I hadn’t tapped out?”

“Then your elbow pop, pop, pops,” he said. “And you must visit doctor.”

[…]

Sitting back on the benches of the gym with my leg up and the ice bag strapped to my leg, Ryan wandered past me, stopped, and asked, “You all right?” It was one of the things I liked most about MMA fighters. They didn’t mind putting a little hurt on a teammate, but they never wanted to cause an injury. They wanted to win, often desperately, but not at the expense of permanent damage. They were in the hurt game, not the injury game.

There was even some game advice from one of his trainers who re-packaged the classic venue change move as “the bounce,” which greatly impressed the author:

“It’s called ‘The Bounce,’” Dennis started, slowly warming to his subject. “On a first date, most guys think up something elaborate, but at the end of the night it is still a first date and women have rules about first dates. Instead, I invite a girl out for coffee or something. Then I text some friends and arrange to go over to a bar and get some drinks. An hour later, I propose that she and I grab a bite to eat. Bounce, bounce, bounce. It’s not a first date; it’s three mini-dates. Women have different rules after a third date.”

“You’re an evil genius,” I said with admiration.

I didn’t like how supplicant and fearful he was of his fiance (in one part he describes how to buy the perfect engagement ring). Here you have an American guy taking a big risk to fight MMA but still grovels before a woman as if she is the only one left on Earth who will have sex with him. My other complaint is that the book was too short. For two years of training, the story flies too fast, introducing a series of characters that you don’t really feel invested in. Nonetheless, the book was entertaining and funny. I recommend it if you have any interest in martial arts.

Read More: “Tapped Out” on Amazon