In this episode Josh speaks with Rob Hatch, author of “Attention! The Power of Simple Decisions in a Distracted World”. They discuss some things you can do to better focus in today’s world of overloaded distractions.

Rob Hatch is the co-founder and president of Owner Media Group, providing strategies and skills for the modern business.

He brings a unique blend of knowledge and background in the field of Human Development with his experience as a successful business leader and executive coach, and his weekly newsletter is read by tens of thousands of individuals all over the world.

As a speaker, trainer, and coach, Rob works primarily with business leaders and teams, guiding them through critical transitions in their organization. He’s the author of Attention! The power of simple decisions in a distracted world.

In today’s episode you will learn about:

  • Put Success in Your Way
  • ActionStacks
  • Decide Before You Have To
  • Small Big Small


Narrator:             Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund the growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.

In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.

Josh:                      Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick, you’re at cracking the cash flow code. Today, my guest is Rob Hatch. Rob has just published a new book called Attention! The Power of Simple Decisions in a Distracted World. Gosh, I think I’ve known Rob for I don’t know, 10, 15 years or so. He’s been hanging out with a guy named Chris Brogan for a very long period of time. I actually have to credit Rob and Chris for teaching me the first frame I ever used for writing which is my blog writing frame I use. It’s been really good. I’ve been using it since I learned it. I don’t know about 15 years ago when Chris did his first blog writing class. Instead of me wandering on about all the great stuff that Rob has done, let’s bring him on board.

Hey, Rob, how are you today?

Rob:                       I’m great, thanks. Thanks for having me, Josh. Appreciate that.

Josh:                      It’s my pleasure. Let’s talk about this, I actually have been preaching from the few of less is more for a really long period of time. I’m going to bet that’s what you’re really talking about in your book or am I completely wrong?

Rob:                       No, you’re spot on. We’ve been bombarded with so many notifications and dings and buzzes. We have so much information flowing at us. It’s to the point now where we’re reacting to all these things around us. Even if you turn your phone off in a crowded restaurant and the neighbor’s phone goes off, everybody reaches for their phone. We’ve all done that or had that moment.

Yes, this is really about trying to simplify things a little bit for us. Taking back some of that time, there’s moving away from reacting to everything and in trying to be a little bit more deliberate with how we give our time and attention.

Josh:                      That makes a lot of sense to me. I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey. I found out recently on his four quadrants of urgent and important and not urgent and not important actually is Eisenhower who came up with that, but it was popularized at least in my world by Stephen Covey.

What I find is that we’re working on urgent and important things. We’re reactive. We’re working on important but not urgent things were proactive. I’d rather be in the proactive side than the reactive side. Does that make any sense to you?

Rob:                       Yeah, absolutely. The quadrants, I think are a great example, but just even boiling it down to thinking about how we want the information coming at us served to us. For example, and in your inbox is the perfect place to think about all the messages that come in. We have the ability to kind of control and funnel or filter that information.

We have the ability one just to unsubscribe from a bunch of stuff that we don’t read. Then to set up folders, to move information and prioritize it in such a way that we see the most important stuff first or when we go into email rather than kind of going through the list of I do have to do that. Every single line we look at is just another decision. How do we minimize that take control and say, emails from this person are important to me, my business partner.

Emails from my coaching clients are important to me. When I go into my email, I don’t want to bother with the inbox. I want to go right to those folders and see if there’s anything there for me because I’ve previously determined that’s what’s important. Sometimes urgent stuff comes up, but if it’s urgent and important to your point from a client then that’s something you can address. When I go in there, I don’t want to be subjected to all these little tiny needs from everyone else in the world. I want to go in because this is the communication tool between me and my clients.

Josh:                      What do you think the biggest problem business owners have as far as putting the tension in the right place?

Rob:                       There are just so many options and so many decisions to make as a business owner. I really think if we can limit and decide ahead of time, what is either what’s important or what we should focus our attention on and set out our plan for the year with sort of measure points along the way. Then we don’t have to be subjected to the, “I should be doing this or I wish I were doing that or that person over there seems to be doing so much better than I am.”

We get caught up in all of the things that we think we should be doing that pulls us away from our plan. There’s a time every now and then to evaluate is the plan going well which is why you have measurable goals along the way. We have to look out far enough, a year or more and then work backwards and understand what our goals are each month, what that looks like each week then how that drives our activity each day. Then trust that and work on it and know that if you continue to work on it, you’re likely going to hit those goals.

Josh:                      You basically want to get rid of what I call the should’s. I have two words in the English language, I would like to see eliminated, and one of them is should.

Rob:                       I absolutely agree. Yeah. It’s a lot of pressure. If you spend any time on social media, people present the best of themselves most of the time on social media. You can fall into this trap of thinking that another business is more successful than you, but the reason that happens is because we don’t trust our own plan.

We haven’t determined what success looks like for us and then worked backwards to say, if that’s what success looks like then how am I going to get there? What does that mean for where I allocate my time? Once we start deciding that this is how we want to use our time or that this is the plan I’m on then it becomes easier not to be distracted.

It becomes easier to funnel and make those choices and not be responding to the urgent stuff that’s not so important all the time and working on the plan.

Josh:                      I see a lot of people in the world, this is especially online world. It’s not so much in the blue collar world. The blue collar folks don’t spend that much time online. Truth be no. But if you’re not a blue collar person and you’re selling a knowledge product, for example. We are talking mostly to blue collar business owners here, but we’re going to go off just a little bit.

If we’re selling a knowledge product and you start comparing yourself to companies, like Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, or Stu McLaren Tribe and you have a team of one with a couple of VAs. You have to realize these folks have a team of 20, 25 people who are doing things in a way that you just are never going to have the resources. It’s actually one of my problems with their programs is that 95%, 97% of their audience are solopreneurs and they’re teaching them the two strategies that need a team of five to 10.

Rob:                       Yeah.

Josh:                      It’s very, very expensive. I would like to see these guys go back to their roots and say, “When I started this is what I did and this is how I started doing my first launch that was doable by myself.”

Rob:                       Yeah, I totally agree. Actually, that’s something that Chris and I focus on and talk about a lot is we understand that a lot of the people that are coming to our webinars or taking our courses are solopreneurs. We’re trying to equip people with certain skills and strategies that they can do themselves because we are a small business even though we’re online mostly. It’s really just the two of us. We have to work within the human resources that we have as well to make this work so we understand that.

Also, getting into your point about, say, more blue collar or brick and mortar businesses. One of the stories that I talk about, a friend of mine owns a restaurant out in Holyoke Mass, called The Holyoke Commerce Company. His name is John Grossman. One of the things that he’s done is he’s tested things along the way. It’s always been a small step process. Figuring out first it was literally setting up a folding table to sell falafel sandwiches at a local basketball event, pick a basketball event at a park.

Then next thing he got decent response and then it was investing in a small food cart that he converted tried that out and he got a great response. Then he decided to buy a food truck that led to a restaurant every step of the way. He had this idea of selling this Middle Eastern food. He didn’t go gangbusters from the get go and expect people to just walk in the door. He really took small steps improved that the market was there.

Then when we had enough information took the next step. I think that’s something that we forget too. We want the big. We don’t always understand all the small steps to get there that we need to do every day or the markers we have to do to go through the test and make sure that this is going to work.

Josh:                      Yeah, I would say that going big is always a bad idea. The reason is there’s a thing called behavioral economics. We’re sort of studies human behavior on economic things. It also is just behavior period. One of the principles is called Sunk Cost. What that means is, the more effort, time and money you put into something, the harder it is for you to pull back if it doesn’t work.

He’s an innovation guy, great innovation expert. He teaches how to do innovation in a systematic way. His mantra is fail fast, fail cheap. That becomes my mantra in the morning– when I hit my food service company that’s how we did stuff. Because the truth is nine times out of 10, whatever we tried was a total utter failure, that one time that it worked then we would expand on that but wouldn’t expand until we do a small test because some idea that it made some sense.

Rob:                       I love that. I think that’s exactly what John did more than one of the things that I kind of grates with me is this idea of learning from our failures. I’d much rather build on the success. It’s not that failure isn’t a teacher of sorts, but I think that we’ve given it more than its share of weight. To your point about going back to what worked and testing that and always building.

I don’t want to worry about what didn’t work. I want to go to the things that did work for me, whether it’s as small as what worked to help me lose weight, the last time I tried. I want to go back to that success rather than trying something completely different. I want to look at the patterns of behavior or if I’m testing out a product, I want to build on the success that happens and then test the next thing and test the next thing.

To me, that’s so much more exciting. I think you’ve got to take small steps to figure out what’s the next path here. What’s the next pivot that we need to make or decision we need to make to move forward?

Josh:                      There’s a school of thought called appreciative inquiry. What appreciative inquiry basically says is, let’s look at what’s going right and build on that and manage what’s going wrong. Now, on the other hand, here’s the thing about mistakes which I think is really important for us to get is that I always say we have to embrace our mistakes.

The reason is, is that we’re taught by society that mistakes are bad and that we should never make a mistake. If that’s our operating principle in the world, we’re either going to justify what happened on why it wasn’t our fault, or we’re going to blame somebody else instead, if you just say, “Okay, I made a mistake would I learn and move on?” That’s great. But if you’re going to build something, you have to find out what works and build on that. Most of what you try is not going to work, let it go quickly and move on. There’s no big deal.

Rob:                       Exactly and letting go process. I think that’s really important to your point, I agree. I’ve always been someone who wants to focus on my strengths. I’m not trying to shore up my look for all the things that are wrong because my head will get filled with that. The things that I don’t do well, I want to focus on what I do well and do it for people that I know I can help. It’s really as simple as that.

Josh:                      I do this thing and almost every time I do a public presentation, I ask people say, “Is it more important to focus on your strengths or improve your weaknesses?” I have found a really interesting bifurcation every time I ask that question is that business owners tend to want to focus on their strengths.

Employees tend to want to improve the weaknesses or they think that’s the most important thing to do. I’ve been fascinated by that. I think I have a theory on why that’s true, is that business owners get to control their own destiny, employees don’t. They’re told that they have to become better at their job.

So instead of trying to get themselves into a job where they can use their strengths, they spend all their time trying to get all the way up to mediocre.

Rob:                       It’s fascinating. I think you’re spot on there. I think it also points to an issue just in hiring too. I think as business owners, we need to do a better job of hiring to someone’s strengths and really defining, shifting to a results based hiring model where we understand a year from now what result are we looking for from this person and what strengths are required for someone to deliver that and then hire for those strengths.

Oftentimes, we just hire to a job description. We’re not really thinking about that. We trust that the employee is going to figure out their weaknesses. I think it’s true on both sides. I think employers think of strengths ourselves as owners and our own strengths, but then when it comes to employees, we may be conveying a different message.

Josh:                      Yeah, you just hit one of my favorite topics to complain about which is job descriptions. I think job descriptions need to go away. I think what you need is five bullet points which are the success factors for the job. If you’re hiring for success factors you can automatically do what you just talked about, is that you’re going to start thinking about, what does my potential employee need to be doing to be successful in their job?

It should be no more than five things. It’s not I can do Microsoft Word, or I can use Excel. It’s I get this result. When you do results based job descriptions, you start hiring people based on the activities that they’re going to do to be successful.

Rob:                       I think it’s even more important in this massive shift to remote work that hiring results based management is critical. In fact, I have a friend, Jake Carter, who has a rapid hiring method is what it’s called and similar approach to identifying the five most important results and just really understanding that we need to rethink how we’re hiring and what we’re asking of people and find a way to match up the job and the person through their strengths to deliver.

Josh:                      We can’t forget the values of your organization. Because I see this too many times that’s how brilliant jerks getting your company. If you don’t make sure you’ve got a good values match and then have a good match for them doing the activities to be successful. Then having a technical skill, you’re likely to get somebody who’s great with technical skills, but a total mismatch for your culture. We call those people brilliant jerks.

Rob:                       Yes. Yeah. Well, part of this in the effort to start to shape the way that we want our day to look or a life to look and grab back some of this time and attention. Part of it is really identifying the things that you value and understanding your own personal values. As an employer, companies need to do this better, but I think as an employee, we have to really understand. I think that this is going to be more and more true as people have more options. We’re seeing that Gen Z and young millennials and Gen Z are very values driven in their employment decisions.

They’re saying, I want to work for a company that aligns with my own personal values. They’ve done that work. I think this is part of grabbing back some of that time and attention this is it makes it easy. Where do I want to spend my time with my family? What kind of job do I want to hold? How do I want my morning to look?

Do I want to spend my whole morning the first 15 minutes of my morning scrolling through my phone from my bed looking at emails, because I’m trying to get ready for my day? That’s not something that is a healthy habit is or I can’t imagine that if you gave someone the option, would you like a nice, quiet, relaxed morning? Or do you want to look at your email, first thing and respond to things in the first 15 minutes of your day. I think we want a nice, relaxed morning. We can shape that. We get to decide when and where we’re going to put our time and attention and for what purpose?

Josh:                      Yeah, that makes perfectly good sense to me. It’s interesting that we do all these sorts of things in our life which don’t really help us. Then when we try to do the things that do help us, we’re fighting against the huge amount of time, effort and money that these social media companies spend on interrupting our day, all day long.

Any place you read, any sort of thing, you wrote a book on this and there’s probably 150 other books that say similar things which is turn off your darn phone. Try to make it through dinner some time with your phone in another room.

Rob:                       It’s [inaudible 00:18:57] people out. We, as individuals in this culture are really up against a pretty powerful force. These companies know what they’re doing. Your attention is valuable to them. It is how they make and I say that I’m not really advocating for a complete digital fast unless someone wants to do that. What I am saying is that a phone or your computer, whatever it is, these platforms are tools, and their tools to communicate with our friends or stay in touch or share information about our business, whatever it may be. We get to decide when.

We get to say, when I open Facebook, I want to go there with an idea in mind of why I’m there. It may be that I’m just going to see what’s going on in my friend’s lives. I want to go there with an intention rather than going there and just getting lost for days scrolling. We’ve all had that experience. I’ve had that experience.

It’s hard to fight against, but that’s just grabbing back a sliver of that, that moment in between grabbing your phone and going in and thinking to yourself, why am I going here? Am I going for any purposes? Fine, for how long? That’s the thing that I’m really most hope people start to do is just pull back on that a little bit and say, “I’m going to go check my email now because now’s the time I’m checking my email.” Rather than having notification interrupts you while you’re trying to work.

Josh:                      Yeah, I have no notifications on anywhere. We use no verbal notification. I have a couple that show up as numbers. I hate the beeps and the bops that people live through. I come in the middle of the sentence, their phone beeps at him and they forget what our conversation was and look at the beep which makes me feel really important. That’s beside the point.

Rob:                       It’s hard. Not everyone can disconnect that way. There might be some rules, one of the rules that I have personally. I have about a two hour block of time each morning that I tried to set aside for productive work. My rules are I don’t check email during that time. I don’t check social media during that time. I don’t check it before that time. I want to enter that time. I know there are three things I’m going to work on. I know exactly what they are.

It’s really specific time is set for it and I focus, but my brain will interrupt me. I do get distracted at times. I usually have everything turned off. Except for my wife knows that if she calls me once and I’m working and I can’t break my concentration, I’m going to ignore it. But if she calls me twice, that’s the bad signal that says, “Hey, there’s something really important going on right now.

I need you to break away from whatever it is no matter what it is.” Just that little rule in and of itself is so helpful because she’s not feeling badly if I ignore that first phone call or ignore that first text and I can just stay working, but something really important I have the means to break through. Oftentimes, I don’t get interrupted at all.

Josh:                      Cool. Hey, Rob, unfortunately, we are out of time. I’m going to guess that people are going to want to try to find you. How would they go about doing that?

Rob:                       Sure, you can go to or if you’re really interested in looking at the book, you can go to You can grab it on a whole variety of different devices, or you can pop into your local bookstore and grab it there. is the best place to go to learn more.

Josh:                      The book is three bestseller lists as we talk which is nice. That’s great. I have two things I would like you to do. The first is to find our episodes, it’s pretty easy. Just go to If you would go to wherever you listen to your podcast and leave us an honest rating and review, I would really appreciate that because it’s really, really important for this podcast to get it out to people. The second thing I would ask you to do is that we have a great little eBook I wrote what I call creating a sale ready company. Now, sale ready company does not mean you’re getting ready to sell your company. It just means you’re creating the company as somebody else would want to own. I’ve written an eBook on the eight steps you need to do this. You can find that easily. It’s free at That’s This is Josh Patrick with Rob Hatch. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

 Narrator:            You’ve been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?”

If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an email at

Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.

Topics: sustainable business podcast, Sustainable Business, attention, making better decisions, rob hatch, managing distractions, reclaiming your attention, reclaiming your time

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