Having had some more time to read, I’ve continued to enjoy Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick.
My previous post on Made to Stick delved into some of the fascinating ideas in the front portion of the book. I’ve read more really intriguing stuff, and I’d like to share some of it.
There’s so much to be gleaned from the book, but let me pull this one idea out. With sticky ideas, “the audience gets a vote”. That means, the audience (which is the general public or whoever hears the idea) may:
· Change the meaning of your idea
· Improve your idea
· Retain some of your ideas and ignore others
For now, I’ll cover the first bullet:
Go back to 1946, during a baseball game between the Dodgers (and if I’m not mistaken, they were the Brooklyn Dodgers then) and the New York Giants. The Dodgers were in the lead in the National League, and the Giants were in seventh place. While Leo Durocher, the Dodgers coach, was mocking the Giants, one of the sportswriters then asked him “Why don’t you be a nice guy for a change?”
Durocher pointed to the Giants dugout, saying “Nice guys! Look over there. Do you know a nicer guy than (Giants manager) Mel Ott? Or any of the other Giants? Why, they’re the nicest guys in the world! And where are they? In seventh place!”
In Ralph Keyes’ book on misquotations Nice Guys Finish Seventh, it is written that the metamorphosis of Leo Durocher’s quote began a year later. Durocher was quoted by Baseball Digest as saying “Nice guys finish in last place in the second division.” As that not entirely correct quip was making the rounds of various reporters and sports fans, it gradually was shortened and simplified to what we know today as the cynical saying “Nice guys finish last”.
No more mention of the Giants, or being in seventh place. Not even any mention of baseball at all!
After denying he said that for years, (true, of course) Durocher finally gave in and titled his autobiography Nice Guys Finish Last. But it always irked him that his main idea didn’t last.
So, as you have read, the meaning of the idea was changed. But it has become one of the best known comments about life in general, from a cynical point of view.