Attention Economy | Mastering Attention For Profit

I’m gonna share with you one resource that you have in abundance that will determine how successful you are and how quickly you become successful.

I’m talking about attention.

The slap heard around the world was not only the most interesting thing to ever happen at the Oscars, but it also drew attention from almost every person on the planet and for what we are being bombarded with endless choices and information to consume.


Some academics have dubbed this hyper-reality where the sheer volume and frequency of content being shown to people and how extreme the content is, is rising exponentially.

It might feel like it’s becoming harder and harder to focus on what’s important and that’s because it is.

Google, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, Twitter, plus iPhone Samsung, and Sony, all these companies make their money by stealing your attention. Hell, I’m doing it right now.

From rich wealthy people in Hollywood with their bullshit drama to YouTube channel spats. Your attention is being pulled in a hundred different directions at once.

Facebook is flooded with ads from gurus telling you their information is more worthy of your time.

TikTok is filled with very, very bad financial advice broken into 30 seconds and three-minute bites as if anyone ever has made millions from 30 seconds worth of advice.

Crypto, NFT, blockchain, and hyper content posted all over Twitter from totally anonymous profiles with zero accountability captures your attention by telling you their futuristic predictions about the next big thing that you might miss out on.

That doesn’t even come close to the sheer number of emails that flood your inbox every single day. It’s a battle day in and day out to stay focused on the right thing.

Mark Manson in his course, the subtle art school says we are drawn to junk information because it is easy to consume, pleasing to read, and easy to watch.

On the other hand, nutritious information is long-form, analytical, and encourages deep engagement.

Attention is like hunger

When you are hungry, you are faced with an infinite number of options to say to yourself, and you know what the right choice is. But whether you make that choice is a totally different question.

You need to be intentional about the information that you also consume. This means making a conscious choice, not to consume low-value, emotionally charged, and cheap content that’s designed to pump you with dopamine.

When we read stories about celebrity affairs and watch videos with emotionally heightened characters, be they real or fake, our brain loves that shit. But all it does is feed your attention to other people or companies.

Make no mistake about it. This type of low-grade pig slop content is designed to take advantage of your emotions and control where you place your attention.

Attention is the most valuable currency in the world

Why? Because your attention is the most valuable currency in the world. Where you place your attention is where I’ll find your wallet.

Ever wonder why there are so many adverts on gossip and drama sites or channels it’s because advertisers know that emotionally charged people click ads and buy stuff. Gift shops are placed after the roller coaster because that’s when you’ll buy.

Instead, if you place your attention on healthier, longer-form researched content that is designed to challenge you, your attention is placed on yourself.

This is harder for large corporations to make money from so they don’t want you to do that.

Instead, they’ll do everything they can to draw your attention away from your own development and towards them and their platforms.

Intentional content consumption, both in terms of topic and context will make you feel better.

You are allowed to ignore the news. I haven’t watched it in years.

You don’t have to have Facebook messenger installed on your phone. You don’t need to check your emails.

Anyone who tells you that your attention should be focused on them or anywhere other than yourself is simply trying to control your future.

Building intentional connections

You are the average of the six people you spend the most time with. If you’re unhappy with your life, look at who you spend the most time with.

Just as the saying goes, all things being equal, people prefer to buy from their friends and all things being unequal, people still prefer buying from their friends.

The advice you take on board, the stories they tell their beliefs, and their values, all reflect back onto you.

Getting away from relationships that don’t serve you or make you feel good to be there is the fastest path to growth and success that I can think of.

As you grow relationships will bloom or fade old friends that you no longer share values with will pass into the background and those you connect with more will become closer.

Embrace this change and accept that it’s part of the growth process. Attachment to destructive relationships. We’ll consume all your attention and keep you away from growth.

Bad relationships are categorized by where you place your attention. Toxic relationships where all the attention is negative and does nothing, but make you feel worse are unlikely to get better.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s unfortunately true. I’m truly saddened at the number of people who refuse to leave bad relationships behind because they’re worried those people will think less of them.

Success follows attention

What you pay attention to grows. If you’re paying attention to your own success and your own growth, that’s what will bring you the results that you are looking for?

Social media is a very good fake friendship builder, too. Online forums, groups, and threads can make you feel like you’re connecting with the right people, but what are they feeding you with?

Is it worthy of high-quality content and ideas that help you grow or is it just more bullshit designed to heighten emotions and feed their attention monster?

Being thoughtful and purposeful about who you spend your attention on is as important as the type of content that you pay attention to.

How technology affects your attention

Finally, I want to talk about our use of technology and how it affects your attention.

When Google entered the phone marketplace it was because they knew that Samsung, Apple, and a few other players were ahead of them in the attention marketplace in one key area, our hands.

Google has our attention when it comes to search and video. Facebook has images and messaging but nothing beats owning the machine that people use every single day.

While they’re sold as productivity devices, entertainment devices, and devices to connect with people on a deeper level, they’re really just attention devices designed to convert a split second of boredom into revenue for other platforms.

But it doesn’t stop there. Your browser, the CRM software you use, your email inbox, all of it is designed to capture and hold your attention for as long as possible.

There’s a really interesting hack that you can employ if you feel like technology is infringing on your attention, more than you’d like.

Measure when you use a device and what you use it for.

A few months ago, I created a really simple spreadsheet to document my use of technology. I knew my goal was to spend more time being strategic and creative and constructive. I had a feeling however that my attention was being used in the wrong place.

I printed out a simple spreadsheet, a bit like the one you can see behind me, which had four columns, time activity, time spent, and goal.

What I did was document and measure the time I spent using technology, how it affected my attention, and if it was contributing to my longer-term goals and the results were very upsetting.

This wasn’t a planner, it was a recorder. And whenever I sat down to do work, picked up my phone, watched Netflix, or even checked my calories on an app, I measured the event.

The time measured when the event happened. The activity was what the event was such as looking at the phone to check emails or watching Netflix.

Time spent measured how long I spent doing that activity.

Goal measured whether this would move me either towards or contribute to my goals, which is green or detract from my goals, which was red.

For example, at 9:10 AM I checked my phone for emails or something. It took about three minutes and it detracted from my goals, which is why I colored it red.

While one row might be interesting. It doesn’t tell the full story because what happens before and after the event is what really matters.

For example, 9:00 AM is when I sat down to write more of my book. So I wrote down 9:00 AM, and the action was Google docs to write a book. I spent about 10 minutes doing it and I colored it green because it was contributing to my goal.

Then at nine 15, I sat down again to write more of my book, but my flow was broken. I essentially told the universe and myself that being distracted by my phone to do something that doesn’t help my goal is more important to me than the actual goal.

I measured these events for 21 days. It was brutal and hard work constantly measuring my activities throughout the day.

What’s interesting is that because I was recording it, I became more conscious of the activities I was doing, at least at the start, but reviewing the data helped me make some changes.

Now, my phone is on silent all the time and it’s not in the room when I want to do some work. Apps like click up, zoom, circle emails, and high level are all scheduled and done in blocks. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get lost in them switching backward and forwards thinking that you’re doing work.

The results are more content, more leads, and more sales. It was literally measurable when I changed where my focus was.

In surfing, one of the first things you are taught is your body goes wherever you are looking. So if you’re looking down at your feet, you will go. If you’re scanning the horizon looking into the distance, you’ll go in that direction.

If your head is constantly switching where it’s looking your body and therefore your results will follow. Essentially, staying still and making no progress because your focus is all over the place.

Look, the attention economy and its algorithms are unavoidable. We have to be careful where we place our attention. Otherwise, it’s controlled for us.

We must use technology to do business, connect with our audience and deliver great work, but being careful how we use technology will determine the results we yield.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.