That’s Intriguing #116: If You Want to Succeed, You Must Intrigue


If You Want to Succeed, You Must Intrigue

“I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.” – TV anchor Diane Sawyer

There is also no substitute for capturing and keeping attention for the projects we care about.

I learned this, the hard way, the first year of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, which I emceed every Labor Day weekend from 1992 – 2009.

We did something unheard of at that time. We gave authors an unprecedented opportunity to jump the chain of command and connect, face-to-face, with publishing decision-makers.

To put this in perspective, many writers spent their entire career mailing out manuscripts and proposals, only to never hear back or to receive one rejection letter after another.

So, to sit across the table from Random House Sr. VP Robert Loomis, (whose clients include Maya Angelou and Woody Allen) and discuss your novel; to get feedback to your screenplay from legendary Hollywood directors; these were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

What we didn’t anticipate was few of the authors knew how to intrigue decision-makers in their work..   The agents and editors would start with, “Tell me about your book or screenplay.”

The writers would open their mouth and out would come, “Wah – wah- wah – wah.” The longer they talked, the more confused the decision-makers became.  And confused people don’t say yes.

Many authors failed to get a “yes” that first year . It wasn’t because their projects didn’t have value; it was because the  authors didn’t know how to communicate that value so agents and editors got it and wanted it.

It was heart-breaking to see those authors’ dreams go down the drain. They had spent months or years on their proposals, manuscripts and screenplays. I could only imagine how painful and frustrating it was to see their hopes dashed.

I thought, “SOMEBODY needs to do something about this.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized, “I’m as much a somebody as anybody; I’ll do something about this.”

So, I crystallized everything I’d learned on how to quickly, compellingly and convincingly communicate the value of your work into a book titled, POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything.

That book was published around the world, received endorsements from Ken Blanchard, Jeffrey Gitomer and Seth Godin, and has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, BusinessWeek, INC and on MSNBC.  More importantly, it’s helped people create million-dollar brand names, best-selling titles and award-winning marketing slogans.

Getting Attention Isn’t Enough.  If You Want to Succeed, You Must Intrigue

“Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

Guess what though?  The problem of capturing and keeping people’s interest has not gone away, it’s gotten worse.

In February 2014, Harvard Business School researcher Nancy Cohen revealed goldfish, yes, goldfish have longer attention spans than we humans do.  Nine seconds to our eight.

A Newsweek cover article in March 8th, 2011entitled Brain Freeze said we’re so saturated with information, (aka INFObesity) our brains are shutting down.

Clearly, people are stuffed with INFObesity and suffering from Attention Bankruptcy.

It’s getting increasingly difficult to earn the attention of people who have the power to hire us, fund us and refer us.   At any given moment, they have dozens of things competing for their attention.  They can check their smartphone.  Look out the window. Picture what they’re going to fix for dinner.

What’s that mean? To successfully capture and keep people’s interest, we have to be more intriguing and relevant than everything else competing for their attention. Which is why I’ve created I.N.T.R.I.G.U.E,, an innovative step-by-step process that helps you give and get quality attention so you can connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

There is NO Connection without Attention

“Only connect.”- Novelist E. M. Forester

I believe, at my core, that E. M. Forester’s advice to “Only connect” is true. When we look back at the end of our life, what will matter is, “Did we genuinely connect with the people important to us?”

Yet so often, despite our best intentions and efforts, we don’t connect. And if we don’t learn how to be intrigued and be intriguing, our business priorities will never succeed at the level they deserve. Our dreams will go down the drain and we’ll never reap the rewards of mutually-satisfying conversations and successful communications.

That’s why I feel a sense of urgency about this.  If you do too, contact us to explore how we can offer a program for your association or convention that teaches your members or employees how to ethically capture, keep and pay attention so everyone benefits.

Or, if you are working on a book, TED talk, presentation, proposal or brand and would like to consult with Sam to brainstorm/strategize how best to make what you care about maximally intriguing, contact us at  We look forward to hearing from you.

Until then, check out our daily Facebook posts that showcase intriguing people, intriguing companies and intriguing communications that show how and why choosing to give and get quality attention is an ROI – Return on Intrigue – for all involved.

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