How to Build a Domino Tower

A domino is a small square tile with one or more spots, also called pips, on each side. It’s normally twice as long as it is wide, which makes it easier to stack the tiles. A domino’s value, or “rank” or “weight,” is determined by its number of pips. A domino with more pips is considered to be heavier than a domino with fewer pips. Dominos are used in a wide variety of games. The most basic Western game is a block-and-draw set for two to four players, in which the pieces are stacked on each other to form a line that can be topped by the heaviest domino (which has the highest total pip count).

Lily Hevesh has been fascinated with dominoes since she was 9. She began by collecting a traditional 28-piece set and then moved on to creating her own domino designs online. Her YouTube channel, Hevesh5, now has more than 2 million subscribers. She has built structures that topple over 300,000 dominoes and even helped set a Guinness World Record for the largest domino display in a circular arrangement. Hevesh says the key to her projects is understanding physics and the laws of motion. “Gravity is the biggest factor,” she explains. This force pulls a domino that has been knocked over toward Earth, sending it crashing into the next domino in a chain reaction that takes several nail-biting minutes to play out.

Another physical phenomenon that Hevesh is keen on is friction, which slows the speed at which a domino slides and hits the floor. The smoothness of a surface, as well as its temperature and moisture content, also affects how quickly and easily a domino falls. For example, plastic dominoes on a glossy surface will fall differently than wooden ones on a rough surface.

In addition to experimenting with physics and domino sets, Hevesh has learned a lot from her customers. She and her predecessor, former Domino’s CEO David Brandon, made a point to listen to complaints about the company’s pizza and delivery service and respond accordingly. They spiced up the menu, added new locations, and teamed with crowd-sourced auto designers to create a colorfully modified Chevrolet Spark that’s capable of transporting pizzas and other products for delivery.

Hevesh’s takeaway from these lessons is that it’s important to focus on the dominoes that have the greatest impact, and to let them carry the weight of other tasks. “Domino actions are high leverage actions that serve as triggers for a series of other actions,” she explains. “Think of them like a script, where you execute one action and then the next action is automatically executed as a result.” For instance, she advises that if you’re trying to start a habit, pick a small, manageable task that will help move other habits forward, such as exercising or preparing for a meeting. Keep doing these good dominoes and watch them lead to bigger accomplishments. For example, writing an essay may seem daunting, but if you break it down into the small steps needed to complete it, such as researching and writing an outline, it becomes much more doable.