How to Turn Attention into a Cash Flowing Asset
What is an asset?
The answer probably isn't what you think.
I learned this important lesson when I was 15, after I read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", by Robert Kiyosaki. The book had a huge impact on me, because it opened my eyes to what was happening around me and showed me how wealth is actually created.
I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood. Everyone I knew worked for their money. We woke up early, punched in, worked 8 hours a day, and got paid in relation to how much we worked.
Rich Dad Poor Dad showed me that wealth is created through non linear income. Meaning the amount you make is not directly connected to how much you work.
This is where I learned the true definition of an asset.
Many people think that their houses are assets, and in some cases they can be, but in most cases, houses are liabilities. The same is true for your car, your jewelry, your clothes, and even your education.
Assets put money in your pocket and liabilities take money out of your pocket.
It is important to understand how wealth is created because it will help you conceptualize and understand how to position your business.
Once you learn the true power of asset creation, you will see how collecting and earning attention is actually the center point of your business.
Below is an important visual on the cashflow of poor people, middle class people, and rich people.
Poor people work a job, and then their income immediately goes to their expenses. Taxes get paid first, then their rent, food, transportation, etc.
Middle Class People
In many cases, middle class people are even worse off financially than poor people, because their lifestyle is entirely funded on bad debt. Middle class people work a job, then their paycheck immediately goes to pay off their liabilities, and then the money leftover gets spent on expenses.
Middle class people usually continue to stack up liabilities over time. This means they get more credit cards, buy bigger houses, and have crippling student debt.
Rich people don't work for their money. Instead, rich people acquire assets which generate income for themselves. In turn, rich people use that income to acquire more assets which generates more income and generates more assets.
So, coming full circle, an asset is equity or ownership in something that generates income and puts money in your pocket.
Rich people don't work, rich people acquire assets. And assets put money in your pocket.
Why Attention is the Asset
Since the book was written, an entire new asset class has emerged.
The asset class is attention.
You are constantly deciding what it is you want to pay attention to.
Do you read this article? Do you listen to that podcast? Do you scroll on Twitter? Do you go into a coffee shop and read the menu? Do you listen to someone speak to you? Do you stare off into space and zone out?
If we revisit the cashflow quadrant of rich people, we can see that the assets listed are tangible. Traditionally, when we think of an asset, we think of ...
a percentage of a business
a piece of intellectual property
a product that is sold
Now that we all live in digital worlds, we must now realize that attention is within itself an asset class that will generate income.
In fact, it's arguable that attention is the most powerful asset class ever. If you mix attention with leverage, you can see revenues and profits at scale that has bever been seen before.
In order to build a foundation for your business, you first must build a foundation of attention.
How to Truly Make the Best Use of Attention
It is possible to generate income through attention alone. This is what "influencers" do. They monetize their attention directly, either through product placements or advertising. And you could do this, if you want.
But, I want you to realize that attention is actually a leverage point. To be truly successful, it's better to use the attention to sell products or services.
If an email list (or social media following, or a blog that gets traffic, or a YouTube channel) is the attention, than the money is made by selling products or services to your audience.
For example, Kylie Jenner is a billionaire because of her makeup brand, Kyle Cosmetics.
The Rock makes most of his income through his Tequila brand, Teremana.
Using a personal example, Copyblogger has an email list of 130,000 people, but the revenue comes from selling access to The Copyblogger Academy.
Do you understand the difference?
Attention is great, but attention within itself is only a fraction of the value. You want to use the attention to sell something, which is really where you will see the revenue growth and profits that will be completely life changing.