We are all attention whores.

You won’t agree with the facts and opinions laid out in this blog post- at least not right away.

 

And the reason you won’t is because of what the truth has to mean about you.

Which is ultimately how you’ll know that I’m right. You’ll probably follow each link in this article, watch every clip, flip every deck, read each quote, to get to the bottom of this journey I’m about to take you on.

But I can save you the trouble – the evidence supports what I’m saying, and so do the self-help “gurus”, psychology professors and brain chemistry scientists. Even the fact that you will investigate my claim supports its truth. It’s both that deep and that obvious.

So I’m telling you now. If you come to terms with this, accept it and understand it, you’ll never have a problem figuring out:

  1. what content to create
  2. how to get people to share it
  3. what makes those two things translate into money.

It’ll just become a matter of how fast your progress is and how well you manage the rest of life that gets in the way.

(Honestly those are my two main problems, dealing with my health and learning how to get around it to make the process go faster and faster.)

Here it is in a nutshell.

Everyone Craves Attention. Always.
And then MORE of it or Better Versions.

look-at-me-o

Obvious right?

If so, you’re not going deep enough yet.

(Unless you already have, years ago, and you’re reading this purely for the resulting chemical pleasure that your favorite type of attention can give you. Especially when you reply to this with an inside joke only you and other people who really get this will understand.)

On the surface this is SUPER obvious. Like Captain Obvious. If the world wasn’t full of attention whores, Facebook could not exist. (I don’t mean only women, or everyone except me.)

Bear with me and have a little patience.

Because at some point this fact, this obvious yet amazingly huge tiny little thing is going to click in your brain. and you. will. freak. out.

When at some point, while reading this or later on, it makes you say OH MY GOD I’M DOING IT WRONG, that’s how you’ll know you got it.

And it’s totally fine if you don’t for a while.

(It may take you a few days just to get through this monstrosity. It is SUPER long. But I think you’re worth the trouble.)

Not getting this for a while will make this process a little more difficult – but it’ll also be a bit more rewarding in the long run.

The harder this challenge is to you, the bigger a chemical rush you will get from your brain when you know you get it.

Believe me I know. I’m pretty smart and it took not one but TWO movies and five books over a 1 year period for me to really get this through my head and live by it.

I’ve read it takes longer the smarter you are, because in our nature as humans we like to complicate things, to make everything more difficult than it is. That’s why we all fall for seemingly obvious scams.

(That’s why this article is so long. For the life of me I can’t get how to say this simply without you missing this. It’s my 4th go at an article like this. The longer it is, the fewer read it, but of those, the more get it. Weird right?)

They think it cant be that old, and it can’t be that big, for so many people to have fallen for it.”

And yet this idea, this conundrum is as old as humanity itself.

It’s not harder than this:

99% of people and brands CRAVE – not just want, need or desire- CRAVE attention desperately, to the point of obsession, right NOW.

Most people, except the upper 1% of most fulfilled people on earth, are in the act of feeding their ego with attention, at this very moment.

Even if they’re asleep. We are addicted to the crack of ourselves.

Because the ego feeds constantly, all day and night long without ceasing, unless you learn how to check it, as well as how to get what attention gives you in other ways. We not only want to find out more information, we want to get credit for having shared it.

And the ultimate triple word score is Attention. The most basic form of love. Facebook and social media has made it so easy to feed our addiction.

And the very simple reason that most people need love in the form of attention is….. because most people don’t know any better way to feed their ego.

The ego constantly needs validation for the belief in what it thinks it is.

Just who in the hell does your ego think it is?

One of its jobs is to gather evidence to support the picture of your self-image – also known as validation. Which can be attained in the form of attention.

“I am pretty.” It decides. Then it doubts when seeing a picture of what it is not.

“Wait, am I pretty?” It questions itself.

It has you take a selfie to post to Facebook to decide. But we don’t want people to think we’re vain do we? Let’s ask specifically if the world likes our hair.

177 likes. “I AM Pretty!”

But am I still as pretty as I was five years ago?

And on it goes.

That doesn’t mean Ego is a bad thing.

Another job of your ego, its primary job even, is to be the negotiator between your id (the part of you who wants to instant gratification and happiness right now) and your superego (the judgmental know-it-all in your brain that like, won’t let you have any fun EVER because of like, bills or whatever *eyeroll*)

Without our ego, we could be completely rigid and structured, never having any fun, or always having fun with no regard for consequences like jail or starvation.

It’s when we get the ego confused with our actual identity that we start running into problems. But this is just reality for the majority of humans on earth.

Most people live their whole lives never realizing that if they had control over their ego, it wouldn’t need this constant diet of attention in its various forms, quantities and qualities.

Because most people think their ego IS them.

But it’s not.

beauty in the eyes of the beholder

It’s a sometimes irritating but potentially useful … subroutine of humanity, shall we say.

It’s the part of you that thinks it’s you, a competitor that lives inside your head, who can be controlled and put to your service to vastly improve your life.

It’s probably telling you right now that this isn’t true, just so it can stay in control.

We have this view of the Donald Trumps and Kanye Wests of the world as egomaniacs, that they are the only types of people who have ego problems.

This is the preferred construct. Because we all have egos, and none of us have total control over them.

Nearly all of us – 99.9% of us, truly- have less control over our egos than it has over us.

I’m not saying that seizing control over your ego will bring you health, wealth and happiness. Although it likely would.

Ego is the reason why we think we need to be wealthy and what we define as happy, as well as why we often do things that make us sick.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled….

the-usual-suspects-the-greatest-trick-the-devil-ever-pulled_design

Once I discovered that my ego was running my life, I rejected the idea violently, then eventually came to accept it.

After years of practice, I put my ego under my control most of the time – let’s say 70%. And it changed my life.

It’s my ego that tells me I have to be outraged that so and so posted such and such online and that I have to take a stand about it RIGHT THIS SECOND.

But if you think about it? Why do I? What would it change about the world to state my opinion?

The people who agree with me, will continue to agree with me. The people who don’t aren’t even going to listen.

Maybe you’ll get a person or two on the fence. But unless you are bringing value to them with your opinion– for what reason are you even stating your position.

Besides attention?

Checking my ego tells me I have more important things to do and that I don’t need to enforce my ego boundary.

That’s why we get so upset about people disagreeing with us online and feel that we absolutely MUST share our opinion when outraged.

I learned that my ego – like that of anyone else- thinks I need to address this issue immediately, in order to defend who I am against any invading “other” ideas.

Then to get attention about being right about having those ideas.

Because if I lose who I am then … some kind of world-ending catastrophe will ensue! (No. Ego-ending. But not world-ending.)

My ego thinks I need love in the specific form of attention, and the added benefit of external validation to show that I am me, and not something that is not me.

Because without being me who am I? If I don’t know who I am, what is my purpose?

And if I don’t show other people I am like them, my ego thinks they won’t love me. And without their love, why exist?

(Again, according to the ego.)

My true self can say “yes, we’re against racism/sexism/classism or whatever, but we don’t have to prove we are by responding to that post in this actual moment. Let’s get our work finished, see if we calm down, and then respond later.”

Then I can tell myself that I can get my serotonin rush from something other than getting attention via the feeling of importance that would come from winning that argument.

Or posting that selfie.

Or checking that notification before I finish writing a 5400 word essay.

One tiny example. But add those moments and detours up and you’re living twice the life everyone else is.

 

Just because I have more control over my ego than most people, doesn’t mean I don’t have one, or that I’m needlessly humble when the occasion doesn’t sincerely call for it. (Humility is inverted ego, not absence.)

It means my ego is a tool.

I know when to use it to remind me that I’m capable of solving a problem and pump myself up. And I also know when to stand down because my outrage is not about the issue at hand, but that I am feeling slighted.

Or that my outrage is well earned, but not an emergency.

Ego can be a good thing.

My Ego is YOUR Power Not Mine

As I write this now, my ego is craving your attention to my idea on two levels.

On one level, the ego-checked level, I hope you’re reading and enjoying this. Thinking that it would be of use to you is making me think of the future connection we’ll have.

That dopamine rush makes me happy and to experience more of that joy, it drives me to do my best. I’ll probably edit this three more times before publishing and twice after, in that effort.

My unchecked ego level hopes you’re in complete agreement – so I could get an additional approval boost to any attention I get- but will take utter disgust or outrage.

Because that will increase the quantity of attention, even if it’s the negative kind. To my ego attention is attention.

Most people think that the fact that you’re reading this somehow gives me power over you. It is wrong, backwards and the most fundamental thing most people do not understand about social media, marketing, public relations or sales.

You are empowered at the moment.

Yes, in some way, I got you to read this far.

But you’re the one

  • reading this,
  • choosing whether or not to share it,
  • deciding what to say if you do,
  • evaluating whether this is hogwash worth of a group laugh at my expense
  • or whether you want to be the first one to share this jewel with the people who pay attention to you.

Who PAY attention. Pay. It’s transactional.

We content creators don’t own attention. We don’t even lease it.

For decades, this has been bass ackwards- we who own companies believed we had power over our customers because we controlled what they could pay attention to- there were limited choices and access at that point, pre-internet or even just pre-social.

The world is now right again. More people who used to be at the whim of companies have the opportunity to own them. As such I believe more of society looks at these issues from both sides of the fence.

And what we’re now beginning to understand that it’s the consumer, the customer, the client, that enabled the corporation’s existence. What’s a company without clients or customers?

I hold your attention in this moment, yes. It’s the first A in AIDA, after all.

But rather than see you as a potential target or dupe, my approach to your attention is one of gratitude.

After all, it’s not my right to have it. I’ve been rewarded with it for giving you something of value- whether that’s entertainment or a life-changing realization remains to be seen, perhaps not for years.

And it is my ego that makes me want to share what I see as a gift with you.

Again, I have learned over the years how to check my ego, see myself as separate from it, and be in control of it. But I have one all the same.

Everyone does.

(We’ll talk specifically about your ego soon, and what that has to do with anything, I promise.)

We’re generally doing the opposite of what we should with attention

stop-interrupting

Companies, brands, freelancers want your attention so they can ultimately convert it to money.

We all know that.

But what we don’t act on is that the best way to get attention is to figure out how we can GIVE the most sought after form of attention.

Do you see it yet?

We spend so much time in marketing, social, PR, trying to figure out how to GET attention. It’s completely insane.

Because everyone wanting of attention is on the dominated side of the game.

As such, the highest level they can attain is to be King/Queen of Those Who Eat the Crumbs.

Because attention? That’s what everyone wants, even though everyone already HAS it. You can give or get attention. But most people want to get. And get again and again.

Now that there’s so much to pay attention to- way more than hours in the day- attention itself the most precious resource.

Not getting attention. Attention in and of itself.

Holding it, controlling it, being its point of origin, being the platform where it is delivered.

As a nation we can no longer manage our time and are giving up sleep, to be able to pay attention.

That’s why Facebook, Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn are now publicly traded.

They are attention providers – beyond that they are attention facilitators.

They have successfully redirected the commodity of attention. 

Away from blogs, websites, news sites, malls, even television and radio to an extent.

Then they added a layer on top of that- the ability for people to express approval or outrage about the things they are paying attention to so the people they most want attention from- can give them negative or positive attention about the things they’re calling attention to at any given moment, night or day.

In the mean time, think about this.

Attention was an abundant resource for a while before television, the internet and then social media came along.

Did you know that the industrial revolution reduced our work week by about 30 hours from 70 to 40 in the United States?

You’d think we would have replaced that time with noble pursuits. Started part-time businesses, expressed ourselves artistically, removed from the need to simultaneously make a living.

Not only have we become workaholics instead, extending the work week back to a much less productive 70 hours, we spend the 30 hours the shift should have netted us watching TV.

The average American spends four or five hours watching television, up from 2.8 less than five years ago.

Even at the old figure of 2.8 hours a day that would be 9.1 years of the average lifespan watching TV.

Meanwhile thousands and millions are spent for the attention we give away freely, in the form of ads, entertainment to put those ads in, content marketing and other ways to capture our attention.

On the other hand giving attention costs nothing but time. Depending on how you set it up, it can even take place just during television time.

We don’t even need to give our Undivided attention, just yet. It’s that scarce of a commodity, in perception.

So why are all our efforts focused on grabbing the least abundant side of attention?

If everyone is an attention whore on some level, why aren’t we giving them the thing they crave?

Am I writing this for you?

I might not be.

I’m sure that’s true for 70% of people reading this.

And that’s fine with me because I’m not big on going viral.

This is not for the majority of people. The first thing any marketer learns is that his or her market isn’t the whole world.

Most small businesses don’t need to reach millions to stay in business. We just need our thousands, hundreds or even dozens of clients to have an above-average income and a life that’s about more than just our work.

So this is not for the 71% of people who won’t even skim this well enough to see if it makes sense, or for the 1% that already know this and are already ridiculously happy or healthy or wealthy beyond what you or I could dream.

It’s for the 28% who know that something has been in front of their face every single day that they’ve been on this planet, and know that when they truly grasp this concept they will be focused, clear and free.

If you’re in that number, you’re slowly realizing

  • that I have not once said anything about you paying for anything,
  • that I haven’t mentioned any of my products or services,
  • that I have absolutely no reason to share this with you other than my belief that the more enlightened successful people there are in the world? The better it is for everyone.

If so, you are slowly starting to realize that the secret to EVERYTHING has been in front of your face this whole time.

Learn How to Make a Profit From Egos and Attention Whoredom in 217 minutes

In either case, I have a fun way for you to come to a conclusion that involves far less reading, and a lot more fun- if you like action pictures.

In fact, I’ll tell you what the films are now. The first is a somewhat obscure Guy Ritchie action picture called Revolver.

The other is the cult classic, The Usual Suspects.

The two together a metaphorical crash course on how to harness your ego, as well as understand other people’s egos, and how that can make you more money, no matter what you do.

If you get this, really truly on a gut level get this, you can then just stop reading, and go watch those films. For Revolver, that includes the credits.

And then come back and fill in the tactical details from the end of this article.

You can always find someone to build you the thing, or write the stuff, or create the widget.

If you prefer to read about it, and as a consequence have it spelled out to you more plainly, once you’ve done reading this monster, follow the links to other sites, look at the videos and flip through the slides I’ve included.

I’d start that journey with How to Become Keyser Söze, a tip I wrote for another business I own. But after the movies or finishing this post.

First with your permission I have to fulfill my promise from earlier and come back to the concept of your ego.

It’s the fastest way to help you understand the egos of others. (How ironic that I make a reference to something being fast this many words in.)

I’ll give you the basic concepts, then for a crash course, once you know what to look for, you can go and watch those two movies, or just keep reading. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen them – I won’t give away the endings but I do discuss some details.)

Who is Keyser Söze?


First, let’s deal with what the ego is. If you were the title character’s front persona, your ego would be Keyser Söze.

Think about that when you watch the movie again. When they say Keyser Söze, you think “checked ego”.

You keep that powerful, ruthless champion and defender of all that is you in check, and let a humbler presentation of yourself move within the physical world.

You can read up on Freud, the ego, the id and the superego for more detailed definitions, but in a nutshell, the ego is your construct of your own self-image.

That’s important to understand, which is why I keep repeating it.

It’s not Actually you, nor is it your Actual self-image. It’s who you think you are, who you intend to project. It’s your representative.

You look in the mirror and you don’t really see you. You see what your eyes can perceive of your physical self. With me?

Your mirror image of course isn’t ACTUALLY you.

When you think you are thinking to yourself in your own words, the sub-vocalization inside your head is likely in the voice of your ego.

It’s who that you THINK you are.

It’s who you’d describe if someone said to describe yourself, at least until you were aware that your ego isn’t you.

Most of the time – except for the fact that the ego runs on attention and approval- the ego isn’t a problem unless you’re a narcissist. In fact, it can be quite useful- your ego can keep  you in line if you’re prone to overreaction.

It can help you get your just desserts if your true nature skews overly modest.

In the Usual Suspects, Keyser Söze’s strategy for ruling the world is dependent on NOT having attention drawn to him.

He controls his ego.

He deflects attention and credit to others when it would suit his aims.

He and his public persona reject the spotlight, and give what should be their audience and community and credit to other people for their own behind-the-scenes gain.

He pays more than a job is worth, but will leave no stone un-turned if you cross him.

That’s why he runs his world.

That’s another key concept.

It’s not that he doesn’t have an ego. You see him walk the world as his ego right before the film ends. He just keeps it under control, using it only when it suits his needs.

Which brings us to re-emphasize- you aren’t actually your ego. You may think you are because no one ever told you that your ego and your identity were actually separate.

Mostly because your ego has you thinking it IS your true self.

… the greatest trick the devil pulled…

But you can control your ego, without losing sight of your true self.

We Are ALL Addicted to the Crack of Ourselves

Third thing, your ego loves attention.

It has a special affection either for quality – in the case of attention (likes, retweets, shares- this is where we are talking about social media) – or quantity (lots of joy or lots of outrage, ego badger don’t care).

You know how trolls love trolling and the chaos that ensues?

Just because they may desire anonymity doesn’t mean they aren’t caught up in their egos. They just prefer the volume of negative attention to the quality of the positive variety.

 

mr-r0bot-weareaddicted_500

Unlike Elliot (OR IS HE ACTUALLY MR ROBOT? I love that show) I don’t think this is a bad thing, the way we share online. It can be used for good, for activism, or just to give our egos a little boost.

It’s when we become obsessed and need selfie sticks to validate our existence that I start to see a problem.

It’s when we are online so much, so plagued with notifications and email alerts that we actually need to detox from social media that I see us all drowning.

In other words, it’s like alcohol.

Indulge if that’s your thing. But don’t get addicted.

How You Use This Information to Become Insanely Successful

Okay, assuming you have fact-checked me through my links and through your own independent evaluation of whether I just found links to agree with me, or have been doing this research for years and profiting from it, we can agree that we know the following from our discussion.

  1. Most people crave attention
  2. Most of us need this attention to feed our egos
  3. Most of us do not have our egos in check and that’s why we need attention
  4. This need is constant and ongoing if your ego is unchecked
  5. Attention is also now one of the scarcest things in the world- we lose sleep to pay attention to more things, and try to hack our ability to maximize the remaining time we have in our schedule from this loss
  6. Most companies try to capitalize on the commodity of attention but ultimately make the mistake of needing attention instead of giving it.
  7. The most successful companies of our time facilitate, provide or gather the ability to influence or control attention
  8. It is possible to keep your ego in check, and therefore, to go on a diet of sorts, from attention
  9. Once the ego is checked, you can emulate this success by becoming more of an attention provider than an attention junkie

So now that we know all this, how does it become profitable?

The primary thing you must do is nail your perfect audience and sincerely become part of their community. Don’t just build a hypothetical persona of the perfect customer or client for yourself. Go out and find the living prototype and find out everything about them.

If there’s one thing I would change about how I started my career, it would be that I wish I had sat down and talked to 15 people who I thought fit my customer persona, and narrowed it down to that perfect one, then only ever went after people just like them.

Making them as deliriously happy as I can.

It will be easier for you to Get some of them if you’re already one of them. If someone in your company isn’t one of them, you need to find one and empower that person to make what you sell irresistible.

Until them becomes us. Why the hell would you sell something you don’t covet in a state of damn near delirium?

This all centers around attention.

Before I ever made my product, I wish I had found some people who needed me as much as the nonprofits I started my career helping, and just paid attention to them.

Even if your business is 15 years old, you can do this now. Get customer support to follow up by phone, email or online with every person who signs up to your newsletter. No one does this.

(I know because I do this at random and people are SO surprised. I once did this with every single subscriber but it doesn’t quite scale.)

The second thing is to find all the best ways you can to communicate and reveal how what you sell eliminates pain or brings joy to people.

If your product doesn’t do one of those things, it’s not ready.

That doesn’t mean don’t ship- we’d all die waiting for perfection. It means keep developing as you sell, but with the help of the customer you want in your ear at all times. Open all avenues to criticism to a special handful of those folks.

Marketing used to be creating a fiction and selling it.

People wanted to be fooled, to be whisked away into an alternate reality that is better than their lives. Now, consumers are more empowered than ever to want the lives they have and attain fulfillment from them.

Therefore they don’t want you to create a fiction.

They want your help enjoying or fixing their reality.

Notice I said consumers, as in people who are able to consume.

We still have plenty of poverty and unequal opportunity to go around.

But we also have more ways to circumvent those things and more options for even marginalized people to build lives that can give them enough happiness that they don’t have to spend considerable time fantasizing about being movie stars.

I’m a black American disabled woman, and thank you very much my life is splendid compared to what it would have been had all this happened 20 years ago. I’d never survive in this economy if it wasn’t for the web.

Invite feedback. Then reply to all of it. It doesn’t scale.

But 90% of people probably won’t respond, and the 10% who do aren’t ever expecting to hear from you. So when you DO respond to follow up, you’ll be shocking and memorable, in a pleasing way.

Worst case scenario, everyone finds out you care. Name ten better problems to have- then go get them if you’d rather.

Third, map a path from where your community lives and breathes online to you. If you know what they love, you can find out where they are. If you can find out where they are, you can ask them things like who they trust and what they read, listen to and watch.

Most of the time, they tell you that in their profiles. If you know that you can find a way to be in in what they consume – but instead of just getting in their way while they’re trying to live their lives, you can become a part of what makes their lives better.

Just once, I want to go on YouTube, and instead of see a video clip that interrupts me while I’m watching my favorite YouTube show, I want to see one that makes my experience better.

If I’m watching a 15 minute comedy about being an Awkward Girl, maybe I want to find a site where I can meet other awkward people and talk about our misadventures.

if I’m Avon, I’m making a custom end bumper for every single popular makeup channel, and giving them to my affiliates to customize with a list of ideas. If I’m watching a makeup tips site I’m more likely to buy from them than the generic Walmart spot.

It would be great if people who randomly write me emails promising me better search positions on one of my sites, read that on the front page of that site is a blog post about the experiment I’m doing to see if I can learn from losing my rankings and regaining them.

Or on other sites saw that I already rank in the first 5 positions for the keywords they promise to help me with for just $3000 each.

Just last week someone on a conference call with me, him and the C suite tried to explain to me a concept I created. I hear it was very embarrassing for him later when he found out that’s why the company he worked for hired me in the first place.

Pay attention to people. You don’t have to stalk them to get the basics.

It’s flattering when someone quotes you back to yourself.

It’s nice when you say what you do for a living and someone mentions their awareness of an award your company won.

Focus just a little less on getting everyone to like, share, comment and tweet you, and more on hearing people. I’m not saying don’t share. I’m saying share without expectation and when you do, provide value.

Any second I’ll reach 6000 words on this essay. I know full well very few people will do more than scan the bullets and read the headers. I know this long-form writing is probably too in-depth to be appreciated by most people.

But you don’t want most people.

You cannot scale to most people.

It is Insane to constantly be pursuing that.

Instead, I want to be of deep and lasting value to ten people who will really appreciate having their eyes open to being the provider, rather than the recipient, of attention.

Ten people who will have their lives changed when they start a project that gets other people the attention they deserve for certain contributions they make to this planet.

It’s a bonus that those ten people will eventually bring me ten thousand. It’s a benefit I won’t see for at least 7 years.

Even if it never does though- even if I never touch more than those ten people, how is the few hours it took me to change their lives not worth it?

Wouldn’t it be worth it in your business too?

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