The one sentence summary

Elevation, insight, pride and connections contribute to defining moments that have disproportionate impact, so by paying attention to these you have a stronger chance of being able to engineer them.


  • Certain experiences have extraordinary impact, and we can be more impactful as leaders and as people by recognizing and creating more of these moments.
  • We need to think in terms of defining moments. These are made of:
  • Elevation: they rise above the everyday.
  • Insight: they rewire our understanding of ourselves in the world.
  • Pride: they capture us at our best – achievement or courage.
  • Connections: they are social and are strengthened because we share them with others.
  • Thinking in moments means marking transitions, commemorating milestones, and filling pits – our lowest points.
  • To elevate a moment, you need to boost sensory appeal, raise the stakes, and the break the script.
  • We tend to remember the best, worst and last moments of an experience and forget the rest.
  • We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but most alive when they’re not.



  • An annual Forrester survey gets 120,000 people to rate their customer experience from 1 (very bad) to 7 (very good). Companies spend 80% of their effort on Plan A – to eliminate negatives by boosting customers on 1/2/3 up to 4. But Plan B, elevating the 4/5/6s to a 7, creates 9x the value because the happiest people in any industry spend more, and there are dramatically more people in the feeling positive zone.
  • Pret a Manger give their staff license to give customers spontaneous gifts. 28% of customers have now had something for free.
  • Southwest airlines calculated that the extra revenue from customers who had heard staff jokes on board, was over $140m a year – enough to buy two new planes.
  • There is a recognition gap between bosses and staff: over 80% of supervisors claim they frequently express appreciation to subordinates, but less than 20% of subordinates say so.
  • Purpose matters more than passion. People with low purpose and passion are in the bottom 10th percentile of work performance. Low purpose and high passion only raises it to 20. High purpose raises low passion to 64, and high on both means 80+.
  • Only half of customer ratings in call centres apply to the current call – the other half is based on how they have been treated previously.


  • A fair bit of this material is available from social studies elsewhere.