Focus And Attention Will Kill Your Fear

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A lot of what we do in marketing is fear based.

We don’t change things because we’re scared that they won’t deliver the same results. We do this even when those older strategies are simply a game of diminishing returns. It’s the reason why so many brands were so slow to understand and embrace online advertising. It happens to this day. What stops us from being scared? It’s a difficult question to answer, so all I can do is offer my own, personal, opinion. First, let me be honest: I still have fear. It happens often. Frequently, It happens as I sit outside of a boardroom waiting to pitch new business. It happens when big changes are afoot at Twist Image. It happens when a client calls and isn’t thrilled with something that is going on. I feel it when I stare at a blank screen. I feel it in my feet as I walk to take the stage. The difference is that I’m beginning to better understand the fear and how to make it quiet (I don’t think it ever leaves… and I think that it often keeps me sharp and attentive, as well).

What works?

In short, focusing on what I need to know and understand before heading into these meetings and scenarios is what works best. You have to give these moments the attention that they need. It may seem simple enough, but the fear dissipates as my knowledge and comfort with the material increases. So, fear is killed by focusing and putting the time in to dig deep and know the content. In fact, this isn’t just for something new. It’s for everything. You can spend the whole day floating through Buzzfeed, Facebook and Twitter, but what you will find is that you are not diving deep. You are skimming. It doesn’t matter how much you consume, it’s all about the depth of the work. It’s the reason that I focus a lot of my content consumption on reading books. Unlike blog posts or articles, I believe that books that are written well are designed to create a change from within for the reader. It’s a tall order, but it’s true. When a book (especially a business book) strikes those chords, something magical happens. We remember. We have notes. It makes us better. It changes us. When this happens, we share it. The best books don’t just sit on our bookshelves. We talk about them… we pass them along.

It’s a challenge.

Yes, in a world of tweets, shares, likes and following, the challenge for all of us is to create something that overcomes the superficiality of that simple and easy action lazy sharing. It’s easy to share a link you read on Facebook. It’s an effort to take a book and pass it on to someone that you know needs it. But, when you do pass that book along, it’s also a statement of how much time and attention that you have given to it. It’s something. Something more that what the digital channels provide. And yes, that kills fear, because you’ve put in the time to focus, to give a subject the attention and to spend time with it (and even pass it along).

Something new for you.

As I was thinking about creating content from a place of fear instead of doing it from a place of comfort (because of the focus and attention), one of my favorite people in the whole world, Seth Godin, announced his latest book. It’s called What To Do When It’s Yours Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn). It’s a different kind of book. Seth says it may even look more like a high quality magazine than a book, but it’s still a book. Plus, Seth wants you to buy a few copies. Not just to line his pockets (trust me, he doesn’t need the money), but because Seth wants you to spend the time and attention on this book… and then he wants you to share the ideas by passing some extra copies around (taking a cue from his classic business book, Unleashing The Ideavirus). The book won’t be available in a digital format (for now), and it’s on sale in it’s paper format until October 8th. Like all things Seth Godin, it is bound to sell out, so act fast. I know that I did. His books never let me down, and I just can’t wait to get a copy of this one to devour.

If you need more convincing or if you’re struggling with fear at work, this is what Seth has to say about it…    

In cased you missed it, this is a conversation that Seth and I had at the Google offices in New York City last year to launch my second book, CTRL ALT Delete: