How to Redsicover the Lost Art of Focus

by / ⠀Personal Branding Startup Advice / April 9, 2012

It’s so easy to go after everything (or everyone) at once, wear ourselves out, and say we’re giving our best. But there are two things life (and failure) has taught me:

  1. Activity doesn’t always equate to productivity–1000 sales calls means nothing without sales
  2. Not everyone likes me

The first is pretty self explanatory, but what do I mean about the 2nd?

It’s simple: not every one is going to like you. They’re not going to like you, your company, your cause, your products, and/or services…no matter how much you think they should.

Sucks, but its true!

Hence, the lost art of focus. Understand, when I say focus it’s more than the danger of multitasking…its spending time with those who want what you have. And less time with those that don’t.

Deep huh?

I know its sounds simple and almost elementary, but how many hours do we waste time with those people who seem “interested?” Or who want “more info?” A quote? Or who want to run it by their partner, spouse, dog, cat, and pet fish before they make a decision? Oh and their psychic just to make sure it’s in their future?

The Greatest are Those With a Focus

Those truly effective salespeople, startups, game changers, and world changers are those who understand this lost art. For instance:

  • When an unknown author named Tim Ferriss decided to promote his book he focused his efforts. He called successful authors and asked them how they promoted their books. They gave him two answers: radios and bloggers. Since radio was losing its influence he decided to rely on bloggers. He went to a blogger event, met the ones he wanted to meet, established relationships, and then asked them to do a review. They did. And with the book becoming the #1 New Times, the #1 Wall Street Journal, and the #1 Businessweek bestseller the rest is history.
  • When Mel Gibson decided to market The Passion of the Christ he focused his efforts. When he approached movie executives about producing the movie nobody wanted to go near it. So Gibson decided to fund it himself using $30 million of his own money. Not having much money left to marketing (it usually costs $40 million for marketing, he only had $15 million) he tried an unconventional approach: letting pastors see it for free.  They started small–showing only a few pastors, but it grew exponentially. One of the final screenings was at Willow Creek Church. After the showing, Bill Hybels took the stage and spoke for the 5,000 pastors in attendance: “All right, what do you need us to do?”  And with $611,899,420 in gross sales the rest is history.
  • When a Baptist preacher named Rick Warren decided to market his book  Purpose-Driven Life he focused his efforts. Years before he wrote his first book, Purpose Driven Church and followed it up with a website: Pastors.Com. The membership of the website grew to 85,000 pastors who saw Warren as trusted advisor. He enlisted their help with the PDL book–asking them to conduct the “40 day campaign” in their churches. 1200 agreed to it. He gave away copies of the $20 book for $7 to churches and congregations that agreed. Within two months, those spokespeople pushed sales to $2 million, then to 30 million copies by 2007 and the rest is history.
  • When an unknown author named William P.Young decided to market his book The Shack he focused his efforts. He and two freelance editors–Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings–were rejected by traditional publishers and decided to publish it themselves. They introduced it to the the Christian Community through a series of podcasts–described as “an ever expanding conversation among those thinking outside the box of organized religion.” With only $300 spent on marketing these unknowns, with no national platform,  had a book that has sold into the millions, and the rest is history.
  • A site by the name of Pinterest focused their efforts in the beginning. The site went largely unnoticed by the tech press until a few months ago.That’s because they didn’t take the usual route of Web-based startups: romancing early adopters and technology journalists trying to go mainstream. Instead, they grew a devoted base of users — most of them female — who enjoy “pinning” items they find around the Web. But it indeed crossed over and is even used for business.
  • When an pop artist by the name of Lady Gaga found success it was through focus. She did everything she could to break through: schmoozed with music execs, performed where ever she could, had doors slammed in her face, begged to have her music played on the radio, was cut from a label, and was told she wouldn’t make it. But the turning point for her was her acceptance by the gay community. Once they accepted her, they championed for her, and she championed for them. And the rest is history.

Forget the mainstream, focus on fans.

Sometimes its so easy to want the masses, and ignore fans. But since a true fan is worth 10,000 strangers sometimes it makes sense to turn away from the crowd and treat your fans like royalty. And the truth is: real power comes from having 1000 true fans.

But let me ask you: who are your fans? What do they look like? Why do they like you? Do you spend most of your resources, time, and energy on them? And why not?

Mike Holmes is the author I Shall Raise Thee Up: Ancient Principles for Lasting Greatness. He is a blogger teaching Biblical Startup Strategies . And he is the founder of the group STARTUPS.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.