How to focus like Sir Richard Branson

Would you turn down $500,000 for an hour of work? Richard Branson did. A company approached him to speak at their conference, he turned them down. They came back and said, “what if we paid you $250,000 for a one hour talk?” He declined. They came back again and offered to send a private jet to pick him up and return him and raised the offer to $500,000. He turned them down flat. They then asked, “what would it take to get you to come speak to us?” The response from his secretary is awesome, “Right now Richard has three main priorities he is focused on and he will only allocate his time to those three priorities, and speaking for a fee is not one of them.Richard-Branson1

This leads me to two questions: (1) do you have three main priorities in your life? Just two? Just one? If you don’t have them, you are lacking focus, and you are likely saying yes to work and activities that are keeping you from progressing and accomplishing your goals. (2) If you have three main priorities, do you have the power to say “no thanks” to opportunities that distract you from your main goals?

This last week I learned a hard lesson in distraction. I was invited to speak in Davos, Switzerland at a global network for law firms. It was an awesome event, I met some great people and made new connections. My fee and expenses were paid, but at what cost to my focus? I was taken away from my business for over 2 days of travel plus more than a day in Switzerland. That is a huge gap of time without the ability to communicate to my team.

I don’t regret taking the trip, I had made the commitment months ago and I always follow through on my commitments. But I won’t make these commitments in the future unless they are directly in line with my priorities. It isn’t about channeling Sir Richard Branson either, its about focusing on what matters most.

Adrian Dayton is the author of Social Media for Lawyers and LinkedIn and Blogs for Lawyers (West 2012, co-authored by Amy Knapp), you can follow the launch of his new software ClearView Social at

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