Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were speaking. A member of the audience asked “What is the key to your success?”  Without hesitation, both Bill and Warren responded “Focus”.

Focussed Sunlight

The Power of Focus

In 1985 Steve Jobs was sacked from the company that he founded. 11 years later he returned to a deeply troubled company. Upon arrival he found Apple had hundreds of products accross many business lines.  He reduced the entire product range of Apple down to 4 individual products.  Eventually he accepted 6 products.  Every person in Apple was assigned to one of these product groups – there were to be no cross product responsibilities – no room for excuses. Your product fails, you fail. You don’t get to jump ship. Today, Apple, the worlds most valuable company is focussed on 13 products: 2 laptops, 3 desktops, 4 iPods, iPhone, 2 iPads and Apple TV.

I have a tendency to start multiple projects.  I don’t naturally focus.  I don’t naturally do the last mile.

More Balloons

Seth Godin talks about two metaphors for starting projects:  Blowing up a balloon, or squeezing the plunger on a syringe.  It is easy to start squeezing the plunger on a syringe, but it receives increasing resistance as it progresses.  In contrast, as you blow a balloon, the first breath is the hardest.  If you get the first breath into the balloon, it is guaranteed that you will finish.  All the difficult, hard resistance is up front.

My problem with projects is that they are like syringes.  They are easy to start and face increasing resistance as I approach completion.

How do I make starting projects more like blowing balloons?  Move the hard, difficult part up front?

The difference between writing a book and writing a blog is that my blog provides regular sense of progress, my book seems to go from 95% complete to re-writing from scratch every 2 months.

On Focus:

10 responses to “Focus”

  1. […] the Olympics, nobody wins both marathon and 100m sprints. Focus.” This applies to business strategy in the sense you cannot be everything to everyone. You have […]

  2. […] In the Olympics, nobody wins both marathon and 100m sprints. Focus. […]

  3. […] you liked this post, you will also like Focus and The Urgent and the […]

  4. […] to focus (there is time for 1 single […]

  5. Yes Conor. Focus is the key as Steve Jobs said; and Seth made the metaphor to demonstrate that you need to blow first before you will suceed.

    But as you know there is also a mix of other ingredients in the recipe for success including vision, patience, sacrifice, and an absolute determination to succeed no matter what.

    The most important ingredient; the secret ingredient let’s say, is to accept and engage with constant CHANGE in the marketplace; think NOKIA or KODAK. It is not a quartely thing, bound by budgets and restraints. It is about looking ahead for events that will change, and responding quickly to meet market forces.

    All aspiring new businesses need a motivational and crazy leader – a thinker out of the box; the one who doesn’t conform. A maverick – the one who sees the future and will bet his or her own life on their dream.

    You know when I met you once for a coffee in the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona with my Mapmates idea it didn’t work out (we were in mobile 3G times then). I couldn’t get the financial backing despite all my efforts. The same idea today is now called Foursquare.

    But anyhow, you fail and you fall over many times (reminds me of Thomas Eddison). Then you try again and you get up and you try again! But I think you know that already.

  6. […] Focus – Don’t dilute energy; Never, ever, ever more than 5 Priorities, and 1 Un-Missable Priority. […]

  7. […] it’s under €3 million, put it on a single page. This forces you and your reader to focus only on what is really important. Additional information can be added as […]

  8. Hi Conor, thank you so much for sharing that. It is a ‘good reminder’. FOCUS!!!!
    I really need to keep that in mind.
    Have a great Xmas and an even more successfull 2013.

  9. […] How was your 2012?  Did you have a focus? […]

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