The most effective actions are within the reach of everyone

Can anyone make a leap to surprising new heights of career and/or business success with better focus?

In short, yes. This is the mental tic tac to which Erik Qualman devoted his new book titled The Focus Project.

After I finished reading The Focus Project, I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with Erik and he graciously agreed to conduct a quick interview for

Jenan: In your book, you say that focusing is similar to getting in better shape.

On a personal level, what are two or three simple mental ‘workouts’ that need no gym memberships (think push-ups or jogging) that a person could start doing today to improve their focusing abilities?


  • Take breaks outside and in nature. This helps your focus. Even just looking at the color green improves your focus.
  • Single-task instead of multi-task. When we multitask our IQ drops up to 15 points, it negatively impacts our health, and ironically it does the exact opposite of what we hope — we get less done when we multitask.
  • Meditate. It helps grow the grey matter in our brain that helps focus, so whenever you can, try to meditate — even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes.

Jenan: On an organizational level, development of powerful focus is one of the main jobs for leaders in any organization. Could you please name a few business leaders who are focusing the efforts of their organizations well right now?

Erik: Take a look at Zappos. They realized that their business wasn’t selling shoes, it was customer service. Hence, founder and CEO Tony Hsieh put the focus on service. He moved millions of dollars out of marketing and placed it into customer service. This allowed reps to solve any customer issue of $100 or less without asking a supervisor.

Jenan: Because working days aren’t often governed by calendars and clean reasoning, let’s talk about storytelling for a minute. Could you name a couple of stories/anecdotes in which an investment in focusing made someone more fulfilled or successful?

Erik: A story that comes to mind is one from Warren Buffett, in which he credits the book that was instrumental in helping him focus his efforts.

“There is a book by arguably the greatest baseball hitter to ever live—Ted Williams. The book is called the ‘Science of Hitting.’ In the book, Williams has the strike zone broken into 77 squares with a picture of him at-bat. If he waits for the pitch in his sweet spot he will bat .400 whereas if he has to swing at the lower corner he will bat .235.


In investing there are no umpires to call strikes on me. So essentially I’m in a ‘no-called strike’ business which is the best business to be in.


I can look at a thousand different companies (think baseball pitches) and I don’t have to be right on all of them or even fifty of them. I can simply pick the ball I want to hit. The trick to investing is to watch pitch after pitch go by and wait for the one right in your sweet spot and if people are yelling ‘swing you bum!’ … you ignore them.


Over the years you develop filters and set up a circle of competence. I stay within that circle of competence and I don’t worry about things outside that circle. Defining what your game is, where you will have an edge, is enormously important.”

People weren’t yelling “swing you bum,” but they were urging Warren to invest in technology stocks during the .com boom of the late 90s. However, Warren knew that tech stocks were outside his circle of competence, and that he’d not have an advantage. When the .com crash occurred, Berkshire Hathaway was in a strong position because Warren had remained focused on waiting for the pitches that would be in his sweet spot.

Jenan: Thank you and take care until next time, Erik!

Oct 20, ’20