Attention scarcity

There’s now a dude at the front of the Virgin lounge in Sydney with a shoe polishing business. 

I love a shoe shine business as much as the next person – especially if it’s a kid in a movie with a cockney accent – and an airport lounge is as good a place as any to get a shoe shine. 

What I don’t love is the lounge advertising over their PA system. When I was in the lounge last week it seemed like every 20 minutes they were letting us know that “for a small fee” we could get our shoes shined. 

Interestingly this is at a time when many major airlines like British Airways, Etihad and Cathay have gone the other way, and implemented ‘quiet lounges’ where they don’t even announce flights any more. 

I think Virgin has undervalued our attention.

Herbert Simon (decision making expert and Nobel Prize winner) came up with the idea of an attention economy. Back in 1971 he wrote:

"in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it".

In other words if you are experiencing information overload, you are equally experiencing attention scarcity. 

And everyone has information overload. More so than ever. 

Which means attention is more valuable than ever. 

So value your attention highly. And more importantly treat the attention of your community, your tribe, your clients, your customers and your prospects like gold.

It’s worth a lot more than a shoe shine.