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The Power of Moments Book Summary – Chip and Dan Heath

What you will learn from reading The Power of Moments:

– How to identify key moments in peoples lives

– How to generate moments that people will remember 

– How to use moments to improve your business 

The Power of Moments Book Summary:

The power of moments book summary is the playbook to creating memorable moments in peoples lives. The book is based on a key insight:

People don’t remember events as a whole, they remember particular moments.

In this book Chip and Dan Heath explore why this happens and how you can use this insight to create memorable moments in your life and the lives of those you love. If you’re interested in creating great memories. Read on.


We don’t remember experience as a whole, but me remember particular moments:

That’s because research has found that in recalling an experience, we ignore most of what happened and focus instead on a few particular moments.

Instead, we seem to rate the experience based on two key moments: (1) the best or worst moment, known as the “peak”; and (2) the ending. Psychologists call it the “peak-end rule.

The surprise about great service experiences is that they are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.


The popsicle hotline is the perfect example of a memorable moment.

At the magic castle hotel in Los Ageles, they have a poolside phone called the popsicle hotline. Where you can call and order a popsicle for relaxing poolside. Although this a small gesture it is a highly memorable moment.

The Popsicle Hotline is one of the moments that defines the trip. And it was an engineered moment—the kind of moment that other hotels fail to conjure.



Two Elements of creating memorable Moments:


Elevation and insight.

Elevation: Moments of elevation transcend the normal course of events; they are literally extraordinary.

Insight: Defining moments rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world. In a few seconds or minutes,


Look to common celebrated moments to help you identify what moments are:

Every culture has its prescribed set of big moments: birthdays and weddings and graduations, of course, but also holiday celebrations and funeral rites and political traditions. 

They seem “natural” to us. But notice that every last one of them was invented, dreamed up by anonymous authors who wanted to give shape to time.


How to Think in moments:

Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled. That’s the essence of thinking in moments.

“thinking in moments”– is recognising where the prose of life needs punctuation.



Transitions are classic occasions for defining moments. Many cultures have a “coming of age” ritual, like the bar and bat mitzvah or the quinceañera.

That logic shows why the first day of work is an experience worth investing in. For new employees, it’s three big transitions at once: intellectual (new work), social (new people), and environmental (new place). 

Shouldn’t every organization in the world have a version of this First Day Experience?


Create a landmark moment for transition:


To elevate a moment, do three things: First, boost sensory appeal. Second, raise the stakes. Third, break the script.

One simple diagnostic to gauge whether you’ve transcended the ordinary is if people feel the need to pull out their cameras.

Interesting insight – Familiarity and memorability are often at odds.


Time perception and surprise:


In other words, surprise stretches time.

This is the intuitive explanation for the common perception that time seems to accelerate as we get older. Our lives become more routine and less novel.

“We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.”


Adding Insight:

At a rehearsal dinner, you tell a funny story about the groom that also reveals something about his character. That adds insight to a social experience.

People who joined and then left a cult, alcoholics who became sober, intellectuals who embraced communism and then recanted. Baumeister said that such situations were often characterized by a “crystallization of discontent,”


Key Concept – Crystallisation of discontent – how to change people?

This three-part recipe:

(1) clear insight

(2) compressed in time and

(3) discovered by the audience itself

This provides a blueprint for us when we want people to confront uncomfortable truths.

To get people to moments crystallisation of discontent you to create self-insight sparked by “stretching.” To stretch is to place ourselves in situations that expose us to the risk of failure.


What do great Mentors do?:

High standards + assurance.

What great mentors do is add two more elements: direction and support. I have high expectations for you and I know you can meet them. So try this new challenge and if you fail, I’ll help you recover.

A mentor’s push leads to a stretch, which creates a moment of self-insight. What can be counterintuitive about this vision of mentorship is the part about pushing. It requires the mentor to expose the mentee to risk.



Regardless of how skilled we are, it’s usually having our skill noticed by others that sparks the moment of pride.

“Chorus was supposed to be my favorite thing,” she said. “My family said I could sing, but the teacher said I couldn’t. So I started to question everything.”

Researchers have found that if you conduct a gratitude visit, you feel a rush of happiness afterward—in fact, it’s one of the most pronounced spikes that have been found in any positive psychology intervention.


Create Milestones to increase motivation:

The common goal to “get in shape” is ambiguous and un-motivating.

We can level up: 

LEVEL 1: Order a meal in Spanish. 

LEVEL 2: Have a simple conversation in Spanish with a taxi driver. 

LEVEL 3: Glance at a Spanish newspaper and understand at least one headline. LEVEL 4: Follow the action in a Spanish cartoon. 

LEVEL 5: Read a kindergarten-level book in Spanish.


We have a desire to hit milestones:

(One of your authors will sometimes walk laps around his bedroom at night in order to clinch 10,000 steps for the day. Absurd but true.) We all love milestones.

The desire to hit milestones elicits a concerted final push of effort. To finish the marathon under 4 hours, you sprint the final quarter mile.

Then people tend to share proud moments of achievement: barriers overcome, victories won, successes earned.

As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”

Managing fear—the goal of exposure therapy—is a critical part of courage


Standing up gives others courage:

What teens may not realize is that if they resist drugs or alcohol, they will make it easier for others to resist, too.

One study found that 85% of workers felt “unable to raise an issue or concern to their bosses even though they felt the issue was important.”

That act of dissent bolstered the other participants’ resolve.

The good news is that if even one person is brave enough to defy the majority, we are emboldened. We’re not alone anymore. We’re not crazy.



But for groups, defining moments arise when we create shared meaning—highlighting the mission that binds us together and supersedes our differences. We are made to feel united.

“Laughter is more about relationships than humor,” Provine concluded. We laugh to tie the group together. Our laughter says, I’m with you. I’m part of your group.

Flamboyan’s research suggested that home visits could have profound effects on the parents’ engagement, which in turn could boost student outcomes.


What is Responsiveness:

Our relationships are stronger when we perceive that our partners are responsive to us.

Responsiveness encompasses three things: 

Understanding: My partner knows how I see myself and what is important to me.

Validation: My partner respects who I am and what I want. 

Caring: My partner takes active and supportive steps in helping me meet my needs.

When you describe a new interest or passion, your partner seems uninterested or dismissive (anti-validation).

Nonresponsiveness is corrosive. It deprives us of our individuality; we’re not seen or treated as special. Feel secure and children to feel supported; it makes people more satisfied with their friends; and it brings couples closer together.

Now it’s clear why: Generic documents are depersonalizing. — Here’s the same pamphlet we’re handing to everyone. Responsiveness is not compatible with a canned agenda.


Questions to see if your work place fosters Connection:

  1. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work? (Validation.)
  2. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person? (Caring.) 
  3. Is there someone at work who encourages my development? (Understanding. Caring.)


Baggage handling is responsive: It demonstrates understanding and validation of a customer’s frustrating past experience.

All the researcher had to say was, “I’m really glad this day is over—I’ve had a really hectic day. How about you?” That’s the high-intimacy comment!

So long as they matched the escalating cycle of vulnerability that Aron created. The critical realization, however, is that this cycle will not begin naturally.


Adding the Elements:


1: Break the script.

2: Boost sensory appeal, raise the stakes. 


1: Trip over the truth. 

2: Trip over the truth and stretch for insight.


1: Recognize others.


Take a high school student waiting for her college admissions decisions. Years ago, the decisions would arrive in the mail; now they’re as likely to come via email. But her emotions are the same. When the moment comes, her stomach churns.

-To its credit, MIT went even further, sending its acceptance packet in a tube stuffed with a poster,1 refrigerator magnet, and best of all, confetti! (Breaking the script)

Now, obviously Ohio State can’t send so many video messages, but smaller schools could, and shouldn’t they exploit that advantage?

STEPS to creating more powerful moments:

Target a specific moment and then challenge yourself:

How can I elevate it? Spark insight? Boost the sense of connection?

Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality.

Realizing they could ACT and then willfully jolting their lives in a new direction. They were not receiving a moment, they were seizing it.

Leaving thought — What if we didn’t just remember the defining moments of our lives but made them?