Book Notes: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why is it is so difficult to change? Whether it is our personal lives, our organizations, or our communities, real and lasting change is difficult. According to Chip and Dan Heath, the primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains. In their new book, Switch, they explain this conflict and, more importantly, how to overcome it to create the outcomes you want.

A 3D Photo of the Book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

You might remember the Heath brothers from their bestselling book, Made to Stick. I have personally read it through three times. It is must reading for professional communicators and presenters—or anyone who wants their message to be memorable.

In their newest book, the Heaths outline the psychology of change. They begin by explaining that our brain is comprised of two systems: the rationale and the emotional. Building on the work of psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, they employ the metaphor of a Rider on an Elephant. The Rider represents the rationale side of our brain; the Elephant represents the emotional side. When these two systems are in alignment, change comes rapidly and easily. When they are not, change is slow and difficult.

After the first chapter which describes the challenges of change, the book is divided into three sections, expressed as three action-steps necessary to effect change:

  1. Direct the Rider
    • Find the Bright Spots
    • Script the Critical Moves
    • Point to the Destination
  2. Motivate the Elephant
    • Find the Feeling
    • Shrink the Change
    • Grow the People
  3. Shape the Path
    • Tweak the Environment
    • Build Habits
    • Rally the Herd
    • Keep the Change Going

The authors use numerous, real-world examples to illustrate their concepts. I found these fascinating—and memorable. I also liked the “Clinics” they sprinkled throughout the book as “sidebars.” These provided hypothetical situations that give me a chance to apply what I had learned.

I have already begun to use many of the Switch principles in my own life and in my company. It is amazing how simple and effective they are. The book was an easy read and one that I will be going back to again and again. I have now added it to my list of top ten business books.

Just to prove how valuable I think this book is, I am recommending it to you despite the fact that it was not published by Thomas Nelson. It was published by Broadway Business, an imprint of Random House. They have graciously made 50 copies of Switch available to my readers.

Note: The give-away is over. I have already given away all the copies of this book. Everything below this note is left here for historical purposes, so that the comments make sense. I have also removed the links.

To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative. I really do read these comments and base my decisions on them.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. (Feel free to modify the actual text.) If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Friday, March 19, 2010, I will select 50 people, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of their comments. If you are one of those selected, Lindsey Nobles on my team will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from her, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do you want a copy of this book? If I give you a copy, do you promise to read it?
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.



  • @AndreaAresca

    I'd like to have this book, because YOU recommend it!
    Trust me, this is not flatter.
    As a long as I progress in my business and personal life, I realize more and more the value of recommendations of people I value and I trust. And when I have to allocate my resources (and choosing a book to read is choosing how to allocate my "limited" time) I think that following trusted people's advice is a wise thing.
    Other reasons (more on the subject of the book):
    - I'm eager to APPLY the principles of the book in my company and my communities, and firstly in my personal life.
    - I think the real-word examples can be a good source of illustrations for my sermons.
    My recent post Non fare 10 click di mouse per aprire un file!

  • Monica Bass

    I'm graduating from school this May and compiling my summer reading list. After graduation, I'm going into full time work as an editor and looking forward to reading books that will: 1) help me grow and 2) sharpen my writing/communication skills by example. And, yes, if I receive a copy, I will read it! Thank you for the book recommendation and for making it available.

  • Ben

    I am here at the eleventh hour to get in on your offer of a book. Made to Stick was an incredible book that challenged me as a communicator and leader. I want Switch because I believe that as a relatively young (36) leader one of my greatest responsibilities and challenges is guiding change to successfully build on the foundation of leaders before me yet change and adapt to be successful with the next generations. I want to learn to successfully Switch!
    Anxiously awaiting your response,

  • Julie

    Hi Michael,

    I am very interested in this book. I happened to come across this book because I am doing my final project from an article in Business Week promoting this book. I have to admit that I have not heard of either of the books "Made to Stick" and "Switch" or the authors for that matter. I am studing for my bachelors in accounting and one of my classes is an organizational behavior class and this is the class of my final project. I feel this book would help me understand better what I have just studied the past 11 weeks. I like how the authors used examples to get the point across. Needless to say our book didn't give as many examples. I also feel this book would help in the future should I ever be in a position of leadership and needing to help an organization go through any type of change.

    Thank you for your time.

  • rfbryant

    I want this book because I’m horrible at even saying change because I know the looks and groans it engenders around our church. There is much change needed and I know it can be done effectively, I just need to learn how.
    I’ve spied this book on Amazon and thought how I desperately need to read it, but haven’t been able to get it yet.
    Promise to read it? I promise to devour it, highlight the text, write notes and start sharing what I learn!

  • Kenny Goza

    I enjoy reading, especially books about leadership. I try to be a life-long learner, and anytime I have a chance to add value to my life I want to take advantage of the opportunity given to me.

  • Christopher Hopper

    Thanks for the opportunity, Michael. While I’m an avid fiction reader, I recently made a Dave-Ramsey-decision to read one non-fiction work a month for the simple reason of becoming a better leader. I owe it to the teens I herd. (And yes, I promise to read it). ch:

  • donhornsby

    Thanks for the opportunity to request the new book by Chip and Dan Heath. Their book, Made to Stick, was a helpful one for me. I have learned that it is essential for one to be constantly striving to improve. Additionally, we need to be students pursuing lifetime learning.

    I would humbly request their new volume in order to learn more – and therefore serve more effectively.

  • Lance

    I got to hear these guys speak last year, at a creative arts conference. They were very interesting, and made a lot of good points. I would want this book to see what new study they have found, or conducted. Also, I want to read what wow factor they have in store for the ending. The write in such a way that you want to skim past all the good stuff and read the wow.
    My recent post The Proof is in the Position

  • Tracie Henry

    Yes, I sure would read it!… I blog out everything and I would love for you to read it. I started seriously blogging after I started following you & reading your daughter's beautiful blog about her time in Africa. I admire you and your family because it was something I never had yet always wanted. Even now despite my financial means, I still pray for a house of my own for my daughter & I along with the ability to adopt as many children as I possibly can. I just wanted you to know I appreciated the book The Noticer, by Andy Andrews (that you sent to my home) it was one of the best books I've ever read & you and your family are just beautiful to me. Thank you so so much

  • Lance

    I got to hear these guys speak last year, at a creative arts conference. They were very interesting, and made a lot of good points. I would want this book to see what new study they have found, or conducted. Also, I want to read what wow factor they have in store for the ending. The write in such a way that you want to skim past all the good stuff and read the wow.
    My recent post The Proof is in the Position

  • Chris

    I am a business owner(painter/faux finishing), and I am transitioning into a new business(LMT). Who doesn't need a little direction, motivation, and shaping? I would love to read this book.

  • Graeme Codrington

    Michael, I'd LOVE a copy of this book. Made to Stick was excellent, and this book looks just as good.

    I am a keynote presenter and future trends analyst, and constantly in need of assistance to help me to help my clients and audiences to effect real change in their lives and businesses. We live in adaptive times, and any guide book that can offer some assistance will be well received.

    I'll blog about the book at and continue to rave about you and your work! (OK, I'd do that anyway, but still, it would be nice to feel part of a team in doing so :-).

    Pick me for a free book because I am probably the only South African living in London with three young daughters who has been married for 18 years and owns a Mac that will ask for one!

  • @johnwaldo

    It's time for a change (and I don't mean diapers, although when you spell diaper backwards, it spells r-e-p-a-i-d… just a thought!)

    Last week I facilitated a leadership retreat for 80 academic leaders for our college, from ten different campuses. Leadership development and leadership succession planning is on the horizon for us, which means CHANGE is a-comin'!

    I want to be part of influencing that change, and I think Michael's description of this book indicates it would be a great resource to use as part of our strategy. So, I'd love to get a copy and make the case how it can be part of our new emphasis as we "switch" to a new direction.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Rebecca

    If I get a copy, I promise to read it… yes! :) I've been living with "certain unpleasant things" for years because of the difficulty of change. I spent one summer "hiking in the mountains," praying for answers, and still found change to be far more difficult than anticipated. I'm looking for answers; I want to "direct the elephant, motivate the rider, and shape the path!" As a wife, mother, and youth leader in my church, I feel the need to be "at my best," so that I may serve the Lord most effectively. It's time for "Switch" in my life! Thank you for this opportunity!

  • David Mehrle

    I would love a copy of the book. I have just left the world of Student Ministry after 18 years and have taken a position of Sr. Minister. There are many changes in my personal life that have to be altered and I am trying to figure those out. Not to mention that other big change that has happened in my life through this transition is that I have moved from a church of 3500 to a church of 400. This has definitely created some interesting moments for me and my family. Life just is not the same in those two worlds.

    I believe that this book will help me understand how to make those changes work in my life and ministry and in a church that is trying to move forward. Thanks for the consideration!
    My recent post People suck…

  • Eric S. Mueller

    Sounds like a great book, Mike. I'd like a copy because I was dismissed from my job yesterday, and I have the opportunity now to make some changes in my life and career. I believe a book like this could help me chart a new course and create influence in whatever my next venture turns out to be.
    My recent post Dice TV: 3 Questions To Ask In A Job Interview

  • Michelle Davis

    I haven't had the opportunity to read work by the Heath brothers and now can't wait for the chance to read "Switch". As someone who leads a team of 350+ Direct Sellers I can imagine how influential this book can be for some of my team who are struggling right now. Any opportunity that I can give them to grow themselves and their team is always a plus! This book could affect not just myself, but many people who are working hard to support their families. Thanks for the post! And yes, I DO promise to read it!

  • jon marshall

    Jeopardy style response " What is i need it Michael" To quote someone i don't know( but in a hurry or i would google it like everything else " how do you breathe.. top response inhale, exhale and repeat …check)" Water rises to it own level" and i need to bust the dam! I feel like when I need to change in an area ,whether by want or need, it's like a set of people on a bicycle built for two. When one trying the other one is not and i just want to get them in sync. so thats it. ( and yes that was an awesome analogy and this is pre coffee! feel free to use it) Oh warm puppies or insert anything else that plucks the heart stings in order to pass along switch. thanks.. jonmarshall

  • Beccah Canada

    I have really been struggling with wether or not I should seek a new career. I am a successful sales person in the medical field. With all of the healthcare changes, internal restructuring, and some of the business decisions my company has made this year I am highly considering to seek employment else where. This book switch may help me have a light bulb moment. I am in diligent prayer as to what God wants me to do about this situation.
    I appreciate your consideration for me in receiving this book. I am also hoping to meet you at the Country Music Marathon as I am raising money for Powered By Hope like Gail is.

  • K. Venkatesh

    I want to read this book as I want to empower people and change in the organization I run. Change is the very essence of life. Personally, as an organization, we are undergoing a change and I want to take some practical tips from this book. Thank you.

  • Susanne

    I will do more than just read this book. I’ll implement its strategies to help me make changes in several aspects of my life that have been needed for a long while now. I don’t know if its a lack motivation, a resistance to change (even if I know it’s to make my life better), or a fear that I won’t stick with it that holds me back. But I’ve decreed 2010 the year of change for me, and I feel I’ve come across this book at just the right time. If I have a guide on this journey to making my life better, I hopeful I won’t get lost or side tracked. Maybe my destination isn’t as far away as it seems. There’re just a lot of stops along the way to get me there.

  • @its_susanne

    I will do more than just read this book. I'll implement its strategies to help me make changes in several aspects of my life that have been needed for a long while now. I don't know if its a lack motivation, a resistance to change (even if I know it's to make my life better), or a fear that I won't stick with it that holds me back. But I've decreed 2010 the year of change for me, and I feel I've come across this book at just the right time. If I have a guide on this journey to making my life better, I hopeful I won't get lost or side tracked. Maybe my destination isn't as far away as it seems. There are just a lot of stops along the way to get me there. My reason isn't as noble as others who are looking to help other people, but I need to help myself become better before I can help others. I feel stuck.

  • Malcolm Lanham

    I am in the beginning stages of putting together a church plant team. As we start down the journey of this adventure, there will be people that we currently attend church with that live were we are planting… And as my pastor said, they have been with him since our church began 12 years ago and they REALLY need to be a part of this church plant’s core team. They will really need to switch to this new journey that we will be starting. This book will me communicate the need to switch to them and what their roles can & should be with the church plant. YES, I will read the book… I will mark it up and I will rinse and repeat and do it again!

  • Ken Robinson

    Why would I want a copy of Switch? Easy really:

    1) I’m surrounded by friends stuck in dead end lives and don’t know how to move forward. I would love keys to hep them change.

    2). I’m surrounded by churches struggling to be relevant and clinging to deadwood practises that don’t save souls and impact culture. I want to change that too by helping them see their potential and become relevant.

    3). I love my children and I want to see them reach their potential…..there are things that need to change and as a dad I need keys to help them.

    Would I read it….yes,
    Would I do it…..yes
    Would I lend the book to others…. You better believe it! The book sounds awesome!

  • Peggy Gargaro


    My husband and I own a small business. This year I have set out to take my leadership skills to another level in all areas of my life. In doing this, I need to read more. I struggle with reading, because I was never taught the value in it. I would consider it an honor if you chose me to receive this book.

    Thank you

  • Jonathan Austin

    I am a software developer, but I do have to present new changes or ides to the team and to my boss. Just reading your post above was enough for me to believe that this book would be helpful for me. I would love to read it. Also, I would be willing to pass it on, so that we get a couple of people from the office to read it.

  • Santos Samayoa

    reading through your review of this book I was excited to read it! I always seem to be in constant change, but somehow find myself way behind in adapting to it. Examples thus far are receiving a new position at work, going to school, getting married (2 months ago) and soon to be a church planter out in Hawaii this June. all that to say…my life seems to be in constant change. I’m no stranger to change, so I feel like I would benefit from this book. Thank you for putting out great content.

  • Sandra

    I think my elephant might have had a rider breakfast and created it's own crazy path through the jungle.

  • Michelle

    I really would like to read this book because of my own journey. I find the elephant is quite large and possibly has its feet stuck in mud, and the rider is stubborn. Typically, when the two disagree, the rider has a tendency to beat on the elephant, and the elephant in turn sprays water on the rider. It's not a fun battle to watch, and I would like to see them work together. So yes, I will read the book. I'm looking forward to the day when the two DO get in alignment, so that together they could "run the race" with patience, and win.

    And of course, their alignment would do me well, since I am "switching" careers at this point in my life as well. Having been a math teacher for over 25 years, I am now finding my true calling is actually in fine arts. It's exciting, but also scary, to come to the realization that you've done what you've done all your adult life simply because you COULD do it, and not because that's what you SHOULD be doing. But then, pain is a monster that scares the elephant worse than a mouse could.

    Blessings to you!

  • jesse phillilps
  • Debbie

    I develop online training – it's a real change to come up with unique ways to convey information for folks who are used to classroom training. Hoping this book will help me look at things in a different way. Perhaps I can use it to inspire some of my corporate clients to do the same!
    My recent post Adobe InDesign 10th Anniversary

  • Paul Clifford

    I saw them speak last August. They'd arranged some pre-release copies for sale. After they spoke, I needed to hit the restroom. When I went to buy the books, they were all sold out. Looking forward to reading it.
    My recent post Speakers, Ohms & Amps Oh My

  • Stephanie Furness

    I'm often told that I tend to rationalize my emotions. But, being female, my intuition has led me here and I find it difficult to guide others through the process when they ask for help switching their habits. This book could definitely help me help others to the path.

  • Alex Baez

    I have been riding elephants all my life but just didn’t know that’s what I was doing. I would love to learn principles From Switch to better align with the elephants I’m riding to more effectively manage change.

  • Eric Michael Bryant

    Thanks for offering this book and other resources in the past!

    If chosen, I would not only read it, but I would review it and promote it through the sites where I contribute posts (,, and my site). If this book is as helpful as you describe then leaders of churches and non-profit organizations need to listen and apply these principles, especially since their mission is in essence all about change.
    My recent post Tim Morey & Renee Johnson Teleseminar (4/14)

  • Adam Avery

    I would like to read switch to gather insight on how to break away from a traditional church paradigm into an unconventional, non-traditional paradigm.

  • @bigcloudmusic

    Thank you for your offering. In everything I do, I seek to lead leaders and have an influence on not only my tribe, but also the culture. Resources from the Heath "guys" have already proven to be invaluable. I desire to be even better equipped so that I can be a better leader and influencer.
    My recent post Capturing the Culture

  • cory Holt

    I am going through a period of forced change in my life (I am unemployed and struggling). Anything that can help provide me direction in this time is always welcomed!

  • JD Eddins

    Right now I am in the process of implementing a major change at work. We are switching to an Electronic Medical Records programs that will hopefully make our jobs much easier. One of the issues is that as the case manager, it will automate about 70% of my job. While this will free me up to do other work at my company, it is also kind of scary to be uncertain about my job responsibilities once this change goes into effect in June. Not only must I address that, but I also have to work to increase the buy-in for our other employees as we move towards this change.
    My recent post Book Review: A Multi-Site Church Road Trip

  • Matt

    I'm in the midst of making changes in my life and to be effective I know I need to wield a scalpel, not a claymore. This book as popped up in my radar a couple of times now and I think it would be an effective lesson in making lasting change.

  • Alan Muehlenweg

    As a student pastor, Made to Stick has profoundly impacted how I teach and lead in student ministry and even in my personal life. It was the first book since high school that I did a book report over; not because I had to but because I did not want to forget anything! Based on my experience with that book and knowing the type of change required to be effective in ministry, I am really looking forward to reading this book!

  • CJW

    Why I want this book: I like the cover. It reminds me of my childhood invention (string run through straws, taped down where the wall met the celing) that allowed me to turn my light on while lying 10 feet away in my bed.

  • Mike


    I'd like to win a copy of the book for one simple reason – CHANGE! As a account manager / social media "evangelist" for my company and clients, change is something I deal with everyday both internally and externally. Honestly I think we face change in every aspect of our life everyday…….so help me change myself and lead change at the same time!

    Thanks – Mike

  • David C. Lannan

    I want this book because I believe in using every opportunity to grow personally so I can then help others grow. My only downfall is that I often have several books going at once … I really enjoy insights from you and I believe if you are promoting this book, it must be a worthwhile ministry tool.

  • Tracy Stoller

    There is a lot of buzz about this book! I can't wait to read it.

  • dljordaneku

    I would like to read Switch to help me overcome some personal health issues I have.

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