Chip Heath & Dan Heath

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact

The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Do you have memories floating around in your head that cause you to wonder why they stuck longer than others? Most of the really important moments in our minds didn't happen by random chance. The majority of cherished memories were carefully constructed by grand architects of experience. Graduations, weddings, trips to Disney World. It's not a coincidence that certain occasions rocket themselves out of the humdrum realm of expectations and land straight onto the pages of our ever-running internally narrated autobiographies.

Take joy in knowing that because we can design the very moments we value, the elements that cause their ascension may also be applied to client interactions or even the way you pitch your next product.

The Four Elements

There are distinct characteristics that an event must contain in order for it to really capture our hearts and minds. A moment does not have to have all of the elements, but at least two is preferable:

  • Elevation - These moments we're attempting to construct should break the norm, rise above the familiar. Surprise can be a really powerful tool. Sensory pleasure is also key to establishing a memorable situation. Visual effect, sound, touch, taste, and smell can all work in harmony or individually to solidify that moment you want sticking around in someone's memory.
  • Insight - Defining moments should rewire our perception of ourselves or of the world. How is your moment going to be life-changing? Be clever. Be bold.
  • Pride - If you can gracefully appeal to someone's pride, then you are well on your way to building a lifelong memory. If you are playing the long-game, construct a series of milestones for your audience to achieve so that they can clearly incrementally build themselves up to a larger accomplishment.
  • Connection - The people you care most about often appear in your vivid memories. How can you bring others closer with the ones they hold dearest? How can you build a stronger community surrounding the constructed event so that they are able to share the gravity of the moment?

Double Edged Sword

It is important to note that the recipe for success we have in bullet points above is an equally potent recipe for disaster. The worst memories we have are made up of these same characteristics, just their more nefarious counterparts instead. These pitfalls are the kinds of memories we want to avoid in our own lives, and we also certainly want to avoid creating them in the lives of others, especially those we are trying to do business with. I mean really, who hasn't had a nightmare experience dealing with a business so bad that you have now sworn them off forever and ever, even if they were to end up the last business on earth? (Is that too far?) Point being, no one is immune to the occasional bad service. You know what a disaster in your industry can look like. Do what it takes to preemptively avoid those situations from occurring, and have a disaster plan for when things go awry organically. Safeguarding against really clear memories of bad events is just as important as designing the beautiful moments.

Pits or Potholes

Now that you've been shaken up by the mustache-twirling villainous version of what makes up our key memories, you want to jump straight into fixing every single hiccup with client experiences you are providing, right? Calm down. A brutal mistake that most businesses of every level end up making is trying to pave over every last little pothole instead of devoting their time to crafting moments that live in our memories as truly magical. Customers will forgive things being a little bit imperfect, a skosh rough around the edges. Fix the pitfalls, yes of course. The big problems absolutely must be addressed to avoid making those bad lingering memories mentioned above. However, not every blemish is a crisis. In the time you might spend on over-perfecting things that ultimately don't matter much, you could choose to redirect your energy to coming up with one or two extraordinary elements to your presentation that will leave the recipient singing your praises for years to come. This isn't wild conjecture, either, studies show that creating big moments is where the real money is. Solidifying your place in the hearts and minds of those you serve is going to keep you in business long after your competitors sink.

"Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action."


In The Power of Moments we are told time and time again to beware the soul-sucking force of reasonableness, and this is a trap that everyone is very prone to falling for. You have a great idea, everyone is on board with it, then the logistics start getting planned and corners get cut for cost and efficiency, until what you end up with is a plan that has lost all of the glamour and shine you began with. Stop it. Be unreasonable. There is so much beauty to be found in carefully executed excess. Creating that perfect moment for others is worth the expense, the time, the effort. If creating magic like that were easy, everyone would do it, and the charm would be lost. No one has ever been wowed by a moment of perfect reasonableness.

Future Wows

Authors Chip and Dan Heath have the Trig team considering how we can add more wow factor to our interactions with each other, our clients, and in designing our products and performing our services. This book is an excellent reminder not to focus on individual passions in team building but instead to identify a unifying purpose we can all strive for. In doing so all the individual passions can be aligned to work alongside each other in harmony. Read the book. Change the world. Think in moments.

Snag a copy from these retailers:
Barnes & Noble