The Science of Capturing People’s Attention

Ben Parr

with Ben Parr

Co-founder of DominateFund

The Science of Capturing People’s Attention

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Moe and Ben Parr discuss  a new understanding of attention — how it works, why it matters, and how we leverage psychological triggers to draw and retain attention for our passions, projects, and ideas.

The Science of Capturing People’s Attention

Maverick Carter is the Yin to Lebron James’ Yang; the two have been childhood friends, and in 2006 formed LRMR Management to reimagine the process of branding a once-in-a-generation athlete.  Undoubtedly, we’ve all been ‘witness’ to Lebron’s greatness on the court, still off the court, Carter holds his own while negotiating endorsement deals with A-list brands like McDonalds, Kia Motors and Beats by Dr. Dre.  

In a piece published in July, 2014 by, the 30-year old Carter gave Jason Whitlock a glimpse of his business savvy when he told him the story that led to the Beats by Dre relationship.  “I’m in Los Angeles — I’m with Jimmy Iovine (chairman of Interscope Records)”  He starts.  “We’re in his office.  It’s a couple of years ago, around 2008……I got this whole thing about gift-giving and how to use it as a marketing tool”  he continues.

“….Jimmy is telling me about Beats, the headphones by Dr. Dre….So Jimmy has me put on a pair of Beats.  I love them!  The sound is great.  They look hip…. ‘I say, Jimmy, let me get 15 pair.’  He’s like, ‘Mav, these aren’t on the market yet.  I don’t even know if I have 15 in my office.  I say ‘Jimmy, let me get 15 pair and watch what I do with them.”

Lovine gives in, and what Carter did next was marketing genius. The timing was mid-summer, and Lebron would soon be heading to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, with the eventual Gold Medal winners, the “Redeem Team”.  Eleven NBA All-Stars, including Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and a Hall of Fame Coach, Mike Kryzewski were given the headphones by Lebron as a symbol of unity; and a signal to the world that Team USA was all business.  

The Chinese idolize NBA players, so imagine the scene as these 12 superstars arrive in Beijing sporting these hip, yet to be released Beats around their head. It was an image seen around the world; still more importantly, it was a masterful way to introduce a product that has been rumored to pay Lebron James upwards of $30 million in cash and stock after the Apple acquisition. In his book, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, media maven and DominateFund Co-founder, Ben Parr shares examples similar to Carter’s to remind us that ‘attention turns a great product or idea into a world-changing one.‘  

I approach my conversation with Parr with the eyes of an entrepreneur; and we put particular emphasis on the following topics:

  • The science of being heard

  • The role emotion plays in igniting attention

  • The three types of attention

  • The two essential ingredients of a captivating headline

  • The seven capitation triggers

  • The magic of David Copperfield

  • The quickest way to lose one’s attention