A friend of a friend of ours is a frequent business traveler. Let’s call him Dave. Dave was recently in Atlantic City for an important meeting with clients. Afterward, he had some time to kill before his flight, so he went to a local bar for a drink. He’d just finished one drink when an attractive woman approached and asked if she could buy him another. He was surprised but flattered. Sure, he said. The woman walked to the bar and brought back two more drinks — one for her and one for him. He thanked her and took a sip. And that was the last thing he remembered.
Rather, that was the last thing he remembered until he woke up, disoriented, lying in a hotel bathtub, his body submerged in ice. He looked around frantically, trying to figure out where he was and how he got there. Then he spotted the note: don’t move. Call 911.
A cell phone rested on a small table beside the bathtub. He picked it up and called 911, his fingers numb and clumsy from the ice. The operator seemed oddly familiar with his situation. She said, “Sir, I want you to reach behind you, slowly and carefully. Is there a tube protruding from your lower back?”
Anxious, he felt around behind him. Sure enough, there was a tube. The operator said, “Sir, don’t panic, but one of your kidneys has been harvested. There’s a ring of organ thieves operating in this city, and they got to you. Paramedics are on their way. Don’t move until they arrive.”
You’ve probably heard the Kidney Heist tale before. There are hundreds of versions in circulation, and all of them share a core of three elements: (1) the drugged drink, (2) the ice-filled bathtub, and (3) the kidney-theft punch line.
This passage comes directly out of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. In this book, the Heath brothers explain what make stories and urban legends “stick”. They go on to explain that there are five components. The stories must be:
Stories are very power things. In fact, they are the most powerful thing known to man when convincing someone to take action. In the book A Leaders Guide to Story Telling, Stephen Denning explains that a research study was done to determine whether stories, facts/figures or a combination of stories and fact/figures are the most influential determinant in convincing a personal to take action. My fist inclination was to think that a combination of both stories and facts/figures are the most influential determinants in convincing a person to take action. I was wrong. A simple story alone is, in fact, the most powerful propellant known to man in convincing a person to take action. Coupled with the Heath brothers five sticky components, you might just have a chance at convincing even the most stubborn to take action. To do what you want them to do. Whether you are a health practitioner trying to convince your patient to take their health into their own hands, an organizational leader looking to inspire the masses or a salesman trying to close a big deal, a “sticky story” will definitely do the trick.