Focus to Win: Nobody Buys Your Drinks When You’re Last Place

By Barry Pruitt


Change is accelerating, competition is stiff, and employee engagement is measurably low. How can you Focus to Win: Nobody Buys Drinks When You're In Last Placepossibly make headway in a growing company in this environment? How can you cope with the multitude of internal and external information and distractions that are competing for your mind space and energy? As I slowed down to think about the answer, I realized that an expert in removing life clutter could help with the foundation of my question.

So, I went to Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less and the creator of and contributor to, a popular blog with tens of thousands of subscribers, and one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet. Babauta is considered by many to be one of the leading experts on productivity and simplicity; his top-selling productivity e-book: Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System, has sold thousands of copies.

Here's what Babauta had to say:

Q."Simplify" has certainly become a mantra for our times, and your life story (and writings) are great examples of that concept. Do you think the current economic climate has played a role in your success?

A. I started Zen Habits before the economic recession, and the message of simplicity that I wrote about then caught on pretty well. I think with the increasing complexity of our lives and the technological world around us, people are craving a message of simplicity, no matter what the economic climate. That said, in a time when people are being forced to scale back, there has undoubtedly been a surge in interest in my message.

Q. With all of your interactions on a daily basis, do you see any microtrends or changes in the "simplicity" movement?

A. When I first started reading about the simplicity movement, it was more focused on frugality and doing things with the least impact on our environment. And while those are still important topics in the movement, there is definitely a trend toward finding ways to slow down and do less and avoid being overwhelmed by technology and information overload. There is also a trend towards finding ways to use simplicity to achieve your goals, which is something I've been able to do.

Q. Of all the articles you have written (and your books and various ancillary materials), what would you say has been the most impactful message for your readers? Does that change with the kind of reader (demographic)?

A. Every reader is looking for something different, but there seem to be two messages that seem to resonate most for the majority of my readers:

  1. Focus on one thing at a time and clear away distractions to become more effective, and
  2. Focus on what you're doing now so that you enjoy it more fully.

Both, of course, are related messages - different sides of the same coin. And both are in alignment of our methodology to focus on a few things and get them done well. I’m intrigued by the way small adjustments make a measurable difference in winning and losing in business. Leo’s thinking on #2 and the focus on what you’re doing now is in alignment with a Barry survey that has been proven true year-over-year for 15 years. Nobody buys your drinks when you’re in last place. Nope, they buy drinks to celebrate with the winner and the winner gets free TV interviews, the best hotel upgrades, moved up to first class, and many more accommodations. The loser sits in the back of the plane, unnoticed and overlooked. The first place band, business owner, or sports player is invited to sit up front and enjoy the free drinks and snacks – perhaps even a meal, while last place sits anonymously in a purchased seat – and may have to pay for even a nibble.

Focus on one thing at a time, clear away distractions and focus on what you're doing now. Before you know it, someone will be buying your drinks! Be thirsty, my friends - Barry.

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Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images 

Editor's note: This blog was originally published on July 12, 2016, and has been updated.

Barry Pruitt


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images