Are You Paying Attention to What Matters During This Pandemic? (Video and Podcast)

8 min read
What Are You Paying Attention to During This Pandemic? (Video and Podcast)

Defend your organization from disastrous leadership decisions by paying attention to what’s important during this pandemic. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes how to make sure that you are paying attention to what matters during this pandemic.

Video: “Are You Paying Attention to What Matters During This Pandemic?”

Podcast: “Are You Paying Attention to What Matters During This Pandemic?”

Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. Today, what I’d like to talk about is our attention, especially as it applies to the pandemic. But of course, with other principles applicable to all sorts of situations, whether in business or in life, you have to be paying attention to what you’re paying attention, you’ve probably heard that attention is our most precious commodity, especially right now in what’s called the attention economy, where everyone wants our eyeballs, where everyone wants us to pay attention to them and to not to other folks where that’s what really matters. So you have to be thinking a lot about your attention, and where you focus your attention, because it’s not random, you know, people are trying to draw our attention, but you can choose to devote your attention to the right things, what really matters. And that is critically important for you to realize, because when you just go with your intuition, when you just go with your gut, unfortunately, other people are going to succeed in taking advantage of your attention. And you’re also not going to react appropriately to major events like the pandemic, because our gut intuition or reactions, just as they are , have not been adapted/evolved. For the current environment. If you’ve been checking out the wise decision makers for a while you know that our gut reactions are actually adapted for this and family environment. That long ago time when our ancestors were hunters, foragers and gatherers, living in small tribes of 15 people, 250 people, that’s the context to which our gut reactions our natural way of paying attention is adapted to. And if you don’t learn that if you don’t pay attention to what you really should, in the modern world, if you just go with your gut, if you go with what’s comfortable, which the vast majority of people do, then you’re going to get yourself in a heap of trouble. So many people got themselves in a heap of trouble with not paying attention to the pandemic, effectively, the specific cognitive bias, the dangerous judgment, and ear error that I’ll talk about here is called the attentional bias. But dangerous judgment errors come from the specific ways that our mind has evolved over time. And the way it’s structured right now, these are dangerous judgments of ours, the mental blind spots have caused us to deviate away from the ideal way, we would pay attention and in general interpret reality, we don’t interpret reality. Well, we don’t interpret reality accurately, truthfully, just because of how our brain is wired. Just because of that Savanna environment. Our brain is well adapted for the savanna environment, but not the modern environment. So you have to choose to take different routes in the modern environment in order to make sure that you pay attention to what you really should. That problem with the attentional bias, that’s it describes our specific tendency. So it’s dangerous judgment errors. cognitive bias describes our specific tendency to pay attention to what is most emotionally salient. What does that mean? It means whatever poses our emotions, whatever pulls our gut reactions, that’s what we pay attention to. So whatever feels irrelevant to us, whatever feels important, is what we will pay attention to whatever feels important, not if it’s actually important if it’s actually unimportant, if it just feels important. That’s what emotional salience is emotional salience is the feeling of relevance. And again, our feeling that something is relevant and important, may not have anything to do with reality, there may be selling important things that we’re missing, and so many minor trivial things that we perceive as important. And that tensional bias describes our tendency to fall into this trap, overlook critical information, pay too much attention to information that really doesn’t matter. Especially with the pandemic, of course, we overlooked incredibly important information about the pandemic about what it is about the developments, their focus in three lies, and how bad it is with cats. So here’s the crucial thing about the pandemic, the beginning of the pandemic that people didn’t realize. They thought that well, it’s just, you know, something weird in the middle of China. It’s, you know, Wu Han, right, what’s behind China. It’s just nowhere in China, right? And there are so many pandemics that began in East Asia that really didn’t reach the United States. But then that sputtered out that didn’t really matter to us. Well, when I was looking starting to look at what was going on when Wu Han China in December of 2019, and January, early January of 2020, I saw that Wu Han is actually not middle of nowhere, China, it’s a major metropolis. Did you know that? I didn’t know that when I was looking I mean, I heard the name before. So guess what, somehow my mind but it was, it is a major Metropolis has 11 million people 11 million people, that’s more than in any city United States, it produces $22 billion of revenue per year, over $22 billion in revenue per year. It has something like 500 international flights a day, with an average of let’s say, 200 people per flight. That’s 10,000 people flying in and out of Wuhan, China Daily. Wow. Well, there’s a reason it’s called the Chicago of China. It’s kind of that transportation hub, that regional transportation hub, a lot of roads, railroads go to it. And of course, these international flights. So we missed that critical information, because it wasn’t emotionally salient. The vast majority of people didn’t pay attention to it. When they started researching it, I realized that, hey, this is actually a pretty dangerous situation, because of all those international flights. And now, Wu Han is a major modern metropolis. And its public health infrastructure collapsed, completely collapsed. In the face of COVID-19. It was pretty terrible, you’ve probably heard about the huge hospitals that have had to be built up, and how people were locked up in their homes. So obviously, to me, this was something that was going to get out. This is not something that was going to be localized to China, and then if you look at what was happening, of course, the first countries that were hit outside of China, we’re in the immediate East Asian neighborhoods. But the next place after that was northern Italy, Northern Italy. Why? Well, because it had such close ties to Wu Han. So it was the region outside of East Asia that had the closest ties to work on because of their ties to Chinese cloth merchants in the clothing industry. So that’s why it was hit first and so powerfully. And that was clear evidence to me that, hey, Northern Italy was going to get hit. And it’s going to be pretty bad throughout the world, Europe and the United States. So I started talking about it and writing about it. But folks didn’t really want to pay attention to it. They thought that Well, again, it’s the middle of nowhere China. So it was a manufacturing company. I’ll give you an example of someone who became a client of mine manufacturing company, mid sized manufacturing company. And it the CEO, the CEO, the C suite, they started hearing about, you know, hey, this disease in the middle of China, whatever, you know, they’re reading the newspapers or reading online, you know, how folks read the news get their news that these days, but they didn’t really pay attention to it. They said, Well, whatever plenty of previous pandemics passed us by right now we need to focus on our priority, pay attention to our priority, which is, at that time, a major product expansion for the manufacturing company. So the range of products they were expanding. And so they ignored information about the pandemic, even as it not only began to be a problem in China, of Wu Han and elsewhere, but also northern Italy. And then we’re spreading from Italy, Northern Italy, to the rest of Europe. And of course, starting up in the United States of northern Italy. It was taking root in early February of 2020, then the United States, and it was really becoming more and more widespread throughout late February, and was declared a national emergency in mid March. And in early March, they still weren’t working, it was clearly going to be an issue. They were still not doing much about it. They’re just going about their business looking at product expansion plans, not really even looking at their business continuity plans and adjusting them to address the situation. You know, they were kind of like Elon Musk, the major industrialist intrapreneur, founder of Tesla, right, which is one of the biggest companies in the world. They tweeted on April 9, that hey, this pandemic, there’s not going to be a big deal, that it’s just, you know, overblown. And he tweeted on March 19, that, hey, you know, there’ll be close to new, zero new cases in the US by the end of April. Well, clearly, he was very wrong. Unfortunately for the company that I’m talking about, their leadership was paying attention to folks like Elon Musk, who is a major model for industrial success, who they want to emulate. This was manufacturing, to be clear, not some midsize manufacturing startup. So they wanted to emulate that and they were paying attention to him. They weren’t paying attention to the CDC, they were kind of ignoring the, even the declaration of emergency and they didn’t really pay attention to what was going on, until suddenly, their state declared the shutdown, and they had to immediately figure out what to do about the shutdown. So that was when they started paying attention to it. Clear their attention was off base. Clearly they weren’t paying attention to the right things they should have. I mean, definitely, in late February, when they were taking growth knighted states, they should have looked at their planning there and seen that the product expansion is not a good idea, we need to look at their contingency guidelines. What so the CEO of the company, how I found out about it contacted me, after watching a webinar that they presented on how businesses can adapt successfully to the pandemic, and the post pandemic recovery. That was some time I gave a webinar in April. And he contacted me because I think it was early May. So contacted me and talked about the situation. And once we started talking, I found out that it was after the product expansion, their next plans, the company’s plans were to buy some automation equipment, which their competitors had bought. And they were kind of behind in buying. And they were like, well, we’ll expand the product. And then we’ll buy this automation equipment, which we bought pretty quickly. And the processes can be adapted to the situation pretty quickly. But they chose not to do that the CEO actually went to the CEO and as the pandemic was kind of rolling out and saying, hey, maybe we should consider looking at this and prioritizing this automation equipment. Because, you know, if we are forced to somehow have issues because of the pandemic of some of our workers getting sick, automation will help us right? Well, the CEO didn’t want to hear anything about it really wanted to focus on this perfect expansion. And that was a big problem, because they got really kind of screwed with it. With the pandemic, they really should have adjusted their plans. So when the CEO contacted me, we talked through the situation, we saw that it was still a quite viable option to get the automation equipment and replace a lot of their manufacturing needs, workforce needs not a lot, but a significant percentage proportion, and enable them to work in shifts do much more social distancing. So when we got to talking to the CEO and the rest of the C suite, and eventually they grew convinced that hey, this will really need to put the product expansion on hold, and shift our resources to buy the automation equipment. Fortunately, they didn’t expand all of the resources for the product expansion, they only expanded and spent 30% of the resources. So they were able to shift much of the remaining resources into buying automation equipment, installing it and getting it up and going. And then they were much more capable of surviving and thriving through the rest of the pandemic, because they could Institute much more appropriate social distancing guidelines, they could have reduced the workforce. So it wasn’t so much of a problem for them, as it was previously. And as it would have been, if they didn’t go for this process. And of course, there were many other things that they did, such as the rolling out of work from home programs for employees, who could back office employees, sales and so on, could work from home. Various folks marketing, accounting could work from home. So that was a part of it. And there were a number of other things that they changed to adapt their sales and marketing to the pandemic. But that’s a different story. So the crucial thing is to realize that their problem was not paying attention to the right things. And so many leaders didn’t pay attention to the right things. So you have to realize what you’re paying attention to in the pandemic. And more broadly, think about where your attention is dedicated. Because in this modern attention economy, so many people are trying to get our attention, and they’re trying to get it for their topics. And we don’t realize what’s happening. So we have to be very intentional about where we pay our attention, not fall for this attentional bias, and make sure that we pay attention to the topics that benefit us most, and help us achieve our goals, in business and in life. All right, this has been another episode of the wise decision maker show. I hope you’ve enjoyed clicking like please, if you’ve liked it, and please leave your comments. And leave your reviews wherever you’ve been watching or hearing. This episode of the wise decision maker show. Your comments in your reviews are very helpful for us to improve our content and allow you to serve you better and give you more value going forward. And please make sure to follow us on whatever media you consume this content, iTunes, YouTube spreaker, whatever your favorite media is. And keep in mind this is a wise decision maker show that comes in both video casts and podcasts. So if you’ve checked out the podcast you want to check out the video cast is going to be in the show notes. So if you’ve checked out the video cast and you want the podcast or let’s say listening in your car, or listening at home when you’re doing some chores, check out the podcast Version it’s going to be in the notes. There. There are two really relevant books for this topic that one is called never go. They’ve got pioneering leaders who make the best decisions and avoid business disasters. That’s going to be of course about decision making, change management, risk management, all of these sorts of things that you want to make sure to which you want to make sure to pay attention carefully. The link is going to be in the notes, it’s going to be disaster avoidance forward slash never got and another book is called resilience, depth and plan for the new normal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, which talks about adapting to the pandemic and the post pandemic recovery. So post COVID future so make sure to pick that up. That’s going to be a disaster avoidance forward slash adapt. And of course, it’s going to be in the show notes. And there’s a free resource which I think you’ll really enjoy. It’s called the Wise Decision Maker Course. It’s a free eight video based module course on making the wisest decisions in all areas of business and life. So check that out, it’s going to be at Alright everyone, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show and that it helps you make the wisest and most profitable decisions, my friends.

Transcribed by

Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.