So, John finally took my suggestion to hire a helper, which gave him plenty of time to try to scoop my topic for the week. But, the joke’s on him. I’m turning it around. He wants to help you learn how to focus, and now I’m going to tell you how overrated focus is!
One of the best parts of becoming an Amazon seller and working with FBAMaster has been the people. I have acquaintances from all over the country, indeed the world, who talk to me on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s people a thousand miles away handing me $400. Other times it’s having cyclical arguments about circumcision, cussing, or corporal punishment (avoid alliteration, always!). You never know what you’re going to get with people!
Never is this more true than with Joey, known to others as Joseph J Bonacia, and known to still others as the guy who is attempting to get the FCC to start policing FB due to his risqué comments! Borrowing from Churchill, Joey is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He’s a sharp guy and if you’re not familiar with him you can find him in just about any FBAMasters discussion or ever at the EbayMasters group. He reached out to me this past week and asked a question that I think is relevant to a lot of people:
I’d do OAX and if I don’t find anything I feel like I’m wasting my time so I’ll look for some books with Chris tool and I’ll find a couple but when it slows down I’ll do something else with so many options I’m having a hard time staying focused I was wondering if you might have a tip.
I have a habit of answering questions with more questions. So, I interrogated Joey a bit to try to drill down to figure out where the issue was. He told me about how he could listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson speak for ten hours, but he’d bounce between sourcing tasks like a pinball. In some ways, it reminded me of the post that Chris Wilkey wrote about his ADD. (I have no idea if that would apply to Joey or not and I won’t pretend to be qualified to even have an opinion — it just reminded me of it.) We talked for a bit more before I came up with my response and the thesis of this post:
I don’t think the secret is to ‘fix’ it, but to manage it.
Don’t get me wrong: everybody has room for improvement and if there are easy fixes that you can incorporate into your life to make you more productive or to have better focus, then sure, you should implement those. But, I also think that there is something to be said for learning to be the best YOU, rather than trying to figure out a way to become someone that you’re not. Let me give you an example: I have terrible sleep problems and I have since I was in Jr. High. I have an irregular schedule. In my early twenties, I was only sleeping every 2 in 3 nights, and there were no drugs involved! Now, trust me, I agree with all of the experts who say to turn the computer and TV off by 7, go to bed by 9, and wake up by 5a.m. Early to rise and I’ll be happy, wealthy and wise. The early bird gets the worm. Add your own hackneyed phrase here. I agree with them all. But, it’s just not my personality type. Not only do I have irregular sleep cycles, but I also happen to be a night owl who gets my best work done long after most people have gone to sleep. I spent a long time failing at conforming to a traditional sleep schedule, but at least at this point I’ve learned to embrace it. Rather than change who I am, I’ve tried to manage it. I don’t just stay up watching House of Cards all night. I get shipments done, I write blog articles, I connect with East Coast people before their morning gets too busy, etc. I’ve also gone into a profession that gives me the freedom to work non-traditional hours. For me, this has been far easier and far more productive than trying to force-change my sleep schedule ever was.
So, back to Joey. What would managing this look like for him? I asked him another question:
When you start sourcing, do you have goals or do you just kinda go with it?
Now, naturally, when a person with a tendency for distractions just “[goes] with it” then it’s not really surprising that he ends up being pulled in a dozen different directions. I added this:
Listen, this gig has a little bit of a rush to it, but it isn’t all fun and games. There are slow and boring parts. But if you set some parameters for how you’ll manage those times, I think you’ll do better.
But, of course, if it were as simple as saying “Joey, focus on sourcing” then he would have done it already. So, he pushed for some clarification:
What do you think would be a good goal. Let’s say for arguments sake I’m on Kohls site. Would it be a good goal to say “I’m going to stay on here until I spend X or find X number of items”?
So you think that would be ok
like for the books…Im going to do this until i find $100 in trade in money
which could be 2 books or it could be 10 books
Same with OAX
This is where I crushed his spirits and said, “No!” Poor Joey had to endure a 15 minute rant from me, which, I’ll try to briefly summarize. I am an incredibly strong believer in setting goals that YOU can control. The problem with Joey’s goal is that he doesn’t really determine whether there are going to be profitable books that day or profitable items at Kohls. There’s a degree of luck in arbitrage, which is where I was able to draw upon my experience being a professional poker player. The sign of a NON-professional poker player is that they will set goals that they want to win a certain amount of money that night. They might be a winning player, but I can guarantee that this person is not a long-term professional. Why? Because while poker is a skill game, there is incredible variance due to the luck factor. You cannot control that and so setting goals that depend on it is a recipe for disaster.
The same is true in this business. If Joey sets a goal to find $100 in trade-in money, then he might feel like a failure having spent an hour and not finding anything. On the contrary, we need to set goals that we are in control of and we can legitimately accomplish. For Joey, a better goal might be to spend 30 minutes searching for books using Chris’ Textbook Arbitrage extension. For me, I make myself scan just one seller’s storefront every single day with Storefront Stalker. I might find 0 good items; I might find 20 good items. It doesn’t matter. If I scan at least one every day, I’m satisfied. Why, though? Why should Joey be satisfied after a half hour of scanning books and finding nothing and why should I be satisfied with scanning a store that has no profitable items? Because, like Poker, this business doesn’t live or die based on your short term results. I can show you dozens of sellers who found a GREAT flip at Goodwill one time and believed their hourly was $250/hr, who aren’t able to cut it as full time sellers. I can show you hundreds of poker players who had 3 months of making hundreds every night, who couldn’t cut it as professional poker players. But, if you show me a seller who can commit to meeting goals every single day or a poker player who can meet their goal to play well each day, regardless of results, then I’ll show you someone who is going to make it. Both businesses are an aggregate of ten thousand good choices; neither are about sexy scores any given day.
So, is John wrong when he tells you to write things down, clean your desk, and to get accountability? Of course not. But, if you can’t find a way to focus for hours on end, maybe don’t try to become a person who focuses hours on end. Maybe you need to be like Joey who can commit to spending a half hour sourcing textbooks, then spend time making fun of me on facebook, then committing to spend half an hour packing products, then making fun of me on facebook, then half an hour with OAXray, then making fun of me on facebook, and so on. He’ll never be accused of having great focus, but banks don’t ask you how focused you were when you deposit your checks.
As Always, Best Wishes