Captivology by Ben Parr
March 02, 2015
Ben Parr's Captivology teaches us how to grab, and more importantly maintain, people's attention in an increasingly distracted world.
Ben Parr's work in Captivology: can help. He obviously can't do the work for you, but he will give you a thorough understanding of the most important element while doing it: capturing people's attention and focusing it on what you have to offer. And he'll help you not only how to compete for this valuable resource amongst others, but against the multitasking habits of the very people you're trying to reach—habits that all studies on the subject say make them more prone to distractions and irrelevant information.
If you want to capture attention for your ideas, your work, or your product, you will not only have to compete against countless people and companies who are vying for the same attention you are, but you'll have also need to fight against the very unproductive habits that we have all developed to manage our attention in the midst of overwhelming stimuli. Attention is scarce and fleeting. You better figure out how it works, what people naturally pay attention to, and why.
So Parr dives deep into both the "science and practical techniques" of attracting and maintaining attention. After briefly explaining "The Three Stages of Attention" in Chapter 1*, he devotes a chapter to each of the attention triggers he has discovered. And, because we are offering up free books here, I thought I'd go a little "meta" and look at the "Reward Trigger."
There are two kinds of rewards: extrinsic and intrinsic. Parr tells an interesting story of effective extrinsic rewards with a story about Scopely—"a Los Angeles based mobile and social game publisher"—whose bonus to new recruits and those that refer them includes eleven thousand dollars wrapped in bacon and a custom tuxedo (no word on if female recruits, if there are any, have an alternate option). But he concludes in a discussion about, and with, Daniel Pink, that the best motivations to an audience and in the workplace are intrinsic. And those kind of rewards aren't something you can necessarily give, but things you simply have to allow freedom for.
[W]hile there are many paths to an intrinsic reward, the most important thing you can do to give that to your audience—and thus capture their attetnion—is to understand the key motivations of your audience and then help facilitate their journey to an intrinsic reward. You can't "give" somebody personal satisfaction in their job, for example, but you can give them the freedom they need to achieve an intrinsic reward.
I like to believe that you're reading this and will be back in the future because of this reality. 800-CEO-READ can't make you better at your job, but we can give you "the freedom" to do it yourself. That freedom comes through the books we offer. While most people would shrink from the assignment to read a book for work, you're here because you know the time you put into a book now will make you more effective and efficient in your job and save you time in the future. The freedom comes through your increased knowledge at your job, and your knowing that you're damned good at doing it, which leaves more confident, free from stress, and free to give your full, undivided attention to other areas in our life when you're away from work, knowing that you did your job well when you were there.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters last year, said something that nearly brought me to tears: "The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom." She was talking about a set of larger issues involving literature and an author's role in a free society, but I think it can apply to our work lives, as well—especially in what motivates us. And although I hope what we offer you here helps you find the financial profits you need to stay in business, I like to think we're really in the business of offering freedom, and not just because we're offering free books.
Speaking of which, we have twenty available.
*If you'd like to read more before throwing your virtual hat in the ring, we have posted an excerpt from the book about the three kinds of attention—short, medium, and long—and Super Mario's mastery of all.