I measure the quality of a business book by how much it makes me think and by how many ideas are sparked through the process of reading it. Over the years I have read notable books that did nothing for me in this regard and I have read books from unknown authors that generated all kinds of great ideas.
When I first heard of Jonah Berger’s book Contagious, I immediately bought it because it addresses some of the very things I think about most. I was not disappointed by the book at all. In fact, I would say that I made more notes and had more ideas sparked off this book than any book I’ve read in a long time. So on the “Seaver Good Book Scale” it’s a 10.
To get a taste of the book watch the clip of Berger’s Google talk below. His overarching premise is that there are six principles that cause ideas to spread and products to really take off. He created these STEPPS that, he suggests, can be replicated over and over again in your own situation. STEPPS stand for:
- Social Currency: We share things that make us look good.
- Triggers: Easily memorable information means it’s top of mind and tip of the tongue.
- Emotion: When we care, we share.
- Public: Built to show, built to grow.
- Practical Value: News people can use.
- Stories: People are inherent storytellers and all great brands learn to tell stories. Information travels under the guise of idle chatter.
Some people have suggested that his approach is more pop psychology than science, but whatever the case I found the book to be full of valuable information that sparked my thinking down several new paths. I’m don’t think everything can go viral and I don’t think he’s really making that promise in the book. He’s really just giving some great suggestions about how to get more people talking and how to ensure that you’re putting yourself in the best position for success possible. Again, there were lots of good ideas here. I fully recommend this book.