In Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, they expand on Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of a sticky idea.1 One of the things that strengthens a message’s ability to resonate with a learner/listener/customer is if the claim is credible. One path to credibility is by way of their Sinatra Test:

In Frank Sinatra‘s classic “New York, New York,” he sings about starting a new life in New York City, and the chorus declares, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” An example passes the Sinatra Test when one example alone is enough to establish credibility in a given domain. For instance, if you’ve got the security contract for Fort Knox, you’re in the running for any security contract (even if you have no other clients). If you catered a White House function, you can compete for any catering contract. It’s the Sinatra Test: If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.2

This is so easily understood and unforgettable. I really enjoy the way the Heaths write and teach. I recommend all their books, especially if you’re only interested in reading one treatment of a topic.

  1. As the Heath Brothers point out, Gladwell is telling a story, and they seek to make his idea actionable. ↩︎

  2. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip & Dan Heath, p. 151↩︎