The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto principle, better known as the 80/20 rule, asserts that 80% of our success is derived from 20% of our efforts. In short, focusing on the stuff that matters should be a priority as it drives the results. One way to ensure you are practicing the 80/20 rule is to do the following:

  1. Make a list of the top 5 things that consume your time.
  2. Circle the one that drives the most results.
  3. Focus on spending more time doing the item you circled.

For me, the top priority is clear: To get booked for more keynote and motivational performances to large audiences. To go from 25 annual stage performances to 70. This was my “growth” and my way to help empower others from the stage.

The main source of our revenue is delivering entertaining and educational (i.e., edutainment) performances on stage for businesses, schools, governments, conferences, and others. In order to afford the luxury of embarking on this 12-month focus project, we first had to double the number of our performances.

How You Can Apply the 80/20 Rule

Having a focus on sales was ironic for me. It took me a long time to realize that a large part of my role in our organization is sales. I thought my job was to make. To make the book. To make the podcast. But you see, whether we think it or not, we are all in sales. Whether trying to convince our spouse to fix a leaky faucet or attempting to ask our boss if we can work from home on Fridays, we are in sales. Or, perhaps you’re a scientist trying to get additional funding for your research. Or someone trying to get a friend to attend church. The PTA volunteer trying to raise money for the school field trip is also selling. Or, maybe you’re trying to convince your dad to stop smoking. The old adage that we are all in sales is an old adage because it’s true.

And you know who’s really good at sales? Kids. Your four-year-old daughter Bella asks for cotton candy and you say no initially and then proceed to say no twenty more times to her incessant prodding. Yet, guess what? Fifteen minutes later—after constant pleas and badgering—guess who’s enjoying fluffy pink goodness? Good old Bella. Girl Scouts selling cookies are some of the world’s greatest salespeople.

As you embark on your own focus project, my advice is to tackle the area that will have the most impact first. If you don’t, you will find it nearly impossible to allocate the proper amount of focus to this project. Leaders always ensure that the most critical leg of the chair is always taken care of; otherwise, you will most certainly land on your ass.




If this post helped you, please feel free to share with a friend and check out The Focus Project.

Now available on Amazon.

For more information on focusing on what matters most, check out the Super U podcast.

About the Author: Erik Qualman

Often called a Digital Dale Carnegie and The Tony Robbins of Tech, Erik Qualman is a #1 Best Selling Author and Motivational Keynote Speaker that has spoken in 49 countries.

His Socialnomics work has been featured on 60 Minutes to the Wall Street Journal and used by the National Guard to NASA. His book Digital Leader propelled him to be voted the 2nd Most Likeable Author in the World behind Harry Potter's J.K. Rowling. Qualman is a sitting professor at Harvard & MIT's edX labs.

His latest book What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube is a Pulitzer Prize nominated work.
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