Donald Trump understands it.
Donald Trump understands this.
Elon Musk understands this.
Lebron James understands this.
The next 14-year old YouTube millionaire understands this.
This Wealth Habit Would Have Got You Bullied In Middle School
“Attention-seeking”, once the reason for school yard bullies to descend on you, or for envious classmates (or irritated siblings) to pick on you, is now the most important skill for starting at the bottom and getting to the top.
Whether you’re a front line supervisor in a soulless factory, a starving generalist with a liberal arts degree, or an ambitious startup entrepreneur looking to conquer your industry, attention pays disproportionate dividends today.
Why Does “Getting Attention” Pay Disproportionately In Today’s Economy?
It has to do with the law of supply and demand … and how that law of economics translates the relationship between information, attention, and perceived value.
A few decades ago, Nobel Prize winning economist Herbert Simon made the following statement:
“A surfeit of information creates a poverty of attention”
He was describing information overload. More importantly, he helped us understand that an environment of pervasive information ubiquity makes the ability to get and keep attention (i.e. “celebrity”) very, very valuable.
When most people have too many choices of what to pay attention to, they focus on a few. Those relatively few people or brands that can command the attention of many people will get disproportionately high levels of power in the marketplace.
This is why Donald Trump is President. It’s why Elon Musk has gained billions in government subsidies and funding, and why Michael Jordan is a billionaire today.
It explains the wealth of entertainer Kim Kardashian and her little sister Kendall Jenner, and it explains how the musician Kanye West (Kim’s husband) could go from $53 million dollars IN DEBT to earning over $150 Million (and a BILLION DOLLAR BRAND) in RECORD TIME.
Attention is big business.
Significant parts of today’s advanced economies are built on the logic of an attention economy.
Industries ranging from movies, TV, media, publishing, direct selling, e-commerce, to professional service business, training and consulting franchises, and more, are built on the back of getting and keeping the attention of select audiences.
One of the “key lessons” I shared in my last post on how to succeed in 2020 was to run a positive “attention trade” account. In other words, “grab attention” … And keep it.
Of course, you’re probably saying to yourself, “That’s easy for those people. They’re famous. They’re celebrities. They’re entertainers. How does more attention help me?”
Attention Mastery For Non-Celebrity Entrepreneurs and Professional Practitioners
The first thing you should understand is that Attention isn’t just for celebrities anymore:
- If you’re an unemployed or under-employed generalist with a liberal arts degree and an undifferentiated skill set, harnessing attention can land you the job of your dreams. Or can put you in the right track.
- If you’re stuck in the “messy middle” of the corporate ladder, getting passed over for job promotions, learning how to harness attention flows could be the key to re-ignite and recharge your career trajectory or land yourself plum assignments and lucrative raises.
- If you’re at a personal financial crossroads and thinking of how to join the side gig economy or build a business from home, then perhaps the first thing you should learn is how to be comfortable attracting attention and directing it to your projects, your products, your profits. It’s a secret weapon for building a disproportionately successful online business.
- If you own or run a professional service firm or professional practice, learning to gain attention without appearing to be desperate for it, is a key skill for developing your book of business, attracting dream clients, and systematizing your profits.
There’s almost no endeavor that can’t benefit from your willingness and ability to attract targeted attention, keep it for awhile, and to direct it to your specific purposes. I have even mentored ministers and non-profit leaders on how to stand in the flow of targeted attention, and how to build a tribe from that attention to support a movement, a ministry or a charitable project.
Having said that, …
You Don’t Want To Sell Your Soul For Every Kind of Attention Either!
Not every kind of attention is self-enriching or soul-nourishing. Grabbing attention in a way that clashes with your core personal values will likely be a gross experience (cringe-y, slimy, and all that) that generates self-loathing or self-disgust.
The good news is, you don’t need to do anything crazy to grab attention in a profitable way. There are MANY ways to grab attention in healthy ways, WITHOUT self-degradation.
Here are some examples:
Public Advocacy & Cause Leadership
Publicly advocating for, or popularizing certain ideas, sparking conversations or bringing attention to previously neglected issues of societal or public concern. If you have a burden regarding a societal issue, you can blog about it, write op-eds to newspapers, develop research reports and contact media, or host a virtual summit or online membership community around that topic.
Developing innovative concepts and content of concern to a particular industry, market or business sector, and spreading your ideas via the typical means of publishing and media: publishing in trade publications and business magazines, authoring books, blogging and content marketing, podcasting, and webinar/seminar/stage speaking.
When you see someone build a massive audience via YouTube, or through a network of local meetups, you might ask yourself, “How did they do that?” Most likely, they identified a sliver of the population that have some defining characteristic in common. We refer to such a sliver as a “niche”. Niches can be defined based on common needs, wants, cultural affinity, identity, demographic attributes, or even business category (in the case of business niches). You can become a celebrity – within a niche – while remaining completely unknown elsewhere. (Media Empire Builder / Movie Studio Owner Tyler Perry was like that for many years).
Maven Business Models
A “maven” is someone who represents knowledge, expertise or wisdom in a particular domain. The word apparently is borrowed from Yiddish, and means, “one who knows”. I use “maven” to describe people in the “expert” or “thought leader” business. In the case of “maven business model”, it’s not just that you are a thought leader, author, speaker or influencer, but you also build a whole business around packaging and monetizing your intellectual capital.
Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You
This is drawn from the title of a book by Cal Newport. In my coaching, I highlight 2 divergent paths to becoming THAT GOOD.
Depending on the context, you can either be so masterful they can’t ignore you, or so innovative they can’t ignore you.
These are the 2 pathways. Mastery, is for domains where the rules of success are fixed and known. Innovation, is for those domains of success (like comedy, fiction writing, entrepreneurship or other creative endeavors) where mastery isn’t clear until after success is attained.
So you now have at least 5 pathways for attracting attention without necessarily sacrificing your dignity, your self-respect or your values.
What If I Just Don’t Care? (I’m Down For Whatever!)
On the other hand, if you’re pretty much open to anything, and if your personal values are more “expansive” (a.k.a. What the rest of us think isn’t that important to you, life is like a big game to you”), then in my next post, I’ll hook you up.
You’ll get some, um … “less conservative” … attention-grabbing methods you can work with. You won’t want to miss this!
Till Next Time.