Take a moment to give me your full attention.
Put your phone on Do Not Disturb, turn it face-down on the desk (or put it in a drawer). Turn off the pings and bloops and meeps of your computer. Close the door.
Rest your feet flat on the floor.
Now, breathe into your belly.
As you breathe in, visualise (if you don’t have aphantasia and can’t) a pearly, glowing swirl penetrating the soles of your feet and swooshing up to the inside of your cranium. As you breathe out, that pearly, glowing swirl disappears back into the floor.
Repeat that a few times.
Now, make this screen take over your entire desktop (if that’s where you are).
Focus is something completely magical. Thank you for taking the time to rest with me a moment, in a state of total, undivided attention.
If you’re like me, you’re probably addicted to dopamine. Hi. My name is Leticia. I’m a recovering workaholic, and a dopamine addict. My physical brain feels different when I get the dopamine I want. I know what I’m craving when I deny the addiction because I feel it in my body.
When you focus, you pay attention to one thing at a time. Just one thing. Just for the duration. Right now, if you’re a dopamine addict, you feel like this post is already too long. You’re wondering who’s sent you an email, whether you have a notification. You’re thinking about checking this or that thing, and god will she just get on with it.
The issue of focus isn’t something that afflicts us on a daily, personal basis. It’s also something that afflicts our businesses.
Just yesterday, in conversation with a fabulous woman who was Brutal Pixie’s first official client, I learned that when we were working together (we’re not now) she really struggled to refer me to other people.
She explained it like this:
‘You do so many things, because you can. And what you do for me won’t be what you do for someone else. And that’s awesome and brilliant, but then trying to explain it is impossible.’
She went on to explain that she got excited when I started selling case studies, because she felt in her soul that it was the right thing for me to be doing.
She said to me that it even occurred to her that that is what I was always doing for her business anyway. All of the brainstorming we had about story and people and representation; all of it was just a case study.
‘The trouble was, we didn’t know what it was called back then,’ she reflected. ‘You were way ahead of your time.’
Seems to be the story of my life: Too far ahead of the curve to make sense to people, not enough patience to hang around once everybody else catches up. I’ve discovered the new wave by then, and am trying to bridge the gap for people on whatever is the new thing that they (a) haven’t seen, and (b) aren’t yet cognisant.
Case studies focus everything about the business into one singular piece of work that is simple for others to understand. Here’s why:
they are research pieces, allowing you to get to the real thinking, voice, and motivations of your customers (which we otherwise bang on about forever)
they involve working to understand the true sales and decision-making cycle, without you getting in the way
they allow for conversation, discovery, and stumbling - together with your client - on the little nuggets of gold that you both know exist but can’t quite explain
they’re useful stories, with deep relevance at precisely the right time
they’re assets, which give you a meaningful focus for understanding content valuations, in dollar figures, because they form such a critical element of decision-making pathways for people.
My own resistance to bringing everything about the Pixie right back down to Ground Zero on this is because there’s so much more I can do for people. In terms of sales, though? Case studies make things simple. And simple gets sales.
Focusing right down on the things around you are truly as simple as putting your feet on the ground, and breathing yourself back to centred.
Focusing right down on the things in your business is truly as simple as finding that one thing that is a perfect illustration of your capability.
For me, the case study is a perfect storm of all of my personal capabilities. They’re also simple to scale, hand off to others.
My challenge this week has been facing that fact. The battle is far from over, too. As I pursue the creative problem that is Brutal Pixie’s replacement for one of its core publications, I’ve a feeling that focus will win the day.