Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2017). The power of moments: Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact. Uxbridge Road, London: Penguin Random House UK.

Review by Michael Cersosimo, Loyola Marymount University, [email protected]

The subtitle of this book poses a question.  Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact?  In their book, Heath and Heath attempt to answer this question.  The opening pages of the book set up a recurring theme of defining moments.  Everyone has them in their life, but the authors explore why we remember some moments and not others.  Furthermore, they explore the idea of whether these moments just happen, or can they be more intentional.  They argue we can create them rather than leave them to serendipity.

The book breaks down moments into four main themes: elevation, insight, pride, and connection (Heath & Heath, 2017).  Most of these moments are positive or peaks, but sometimes they can negative or pits.  The authors explain that the focus of this book is more positive, so the majority of examples in the book fall in that category.  Each of these themes makes up a chapter where the authors further break down ways to create each of these moments.  This makes the book a rather quick and easy read.  Some defining moments may have fallen in one of these categories, but others may have more than one.  Occasionally, a moment may have all four, which authors resistantly nickname EPIC moments.

Heath and Heath (2017) claim, “Moments matter.  And what an opportunity we miss when we leave them to chance!  Teachers can inspire, caregivers can comfort, service workers can delight, politicians can unite, and managers can motivate.  All it takes is a bit of insight and forethought” (p. 16).  The following chapters are framed through stories of people from around the world from a variety of settings and backgrounds.  The stories leave the reader with a range of emotions as some of them are very personal and it is difficult not to get too emotional at certain parts.  Heath and Heath are exceptional storytellers.  These stories provide examples of how these moments are created and how people can think in moments.  Some of these moments can be very simple and others require more time and commitment. In addition, some moments are free and unproduced, which may arise every day.  The goal is to change a person’s mindset and start thinking in moments.

One of the great qualities of this book is it can apply to professionals from any field.  Reading the different stories of defining moments challenges the reader to apply it to their own situation.  The reader may ask themselves, could he or she do something similar?  It is very motivating in that way. Looking through an advising lens, it potentially could be a great tool for advisors at any postsecondary institution.  The book relates well to the NACADA core competency in the relational component specifically “create rapport and build academic advising relationships” and “plan and conduct successful advising interactions” (NACADA, 2017).

“Academic Advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which all students have the opportunity for one-to-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution” (Habley, 1994, p. 10).  For this reason, advisors are presented with a unique opportunity to create defining moments through NACADA core values of caring, commitment, and empowerment with their students due to this one-to-one interaction (NACADA, 2017).  How do advisors change their mindset and challenge themselves, so their students know their relationship with their advisor is not purely transactional?  “Defining moments lead to countless positive and measurable outcomes, but in our judgment they are not a means to an end. They are the ends” (Heath & Heath, 2017, p. 256).

This may mean collaborating with colleagues to enrich a student program or initiative, celebrating student milestones and transitions, or being supportive and encouraging to a student in a difficult time.  All these examples Heath and Heath argue could create a defining moment based on the stories provided in their book.  “Once you realize how important moments can be, it’s easy to spot opportunities to shape them” (Heath & Heath, 2017, p. 253).  This book is a way to empower advisors to prioritize thinking in moments and take action.  That is when experiences can have an extraordinary impact.


Habley, W. R. (1994). Key concepts in academic advising. In the Summer institute on academic advising session guide (p. 10). Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2017). The power of moments: Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact. Uxbridge Road, London: Penguin Random House UK.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved             from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved             from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx.

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