July 11, 2021

[INTERVIEW] Attention: How to Capture It and Keep It with Ben Parr

What is the science behind capturing people’s attention? And what do you do after you have someone’s attention; what is your intention? Is our attention fleeting and fickle, like a goldfish? Or is it something that can be recaptured and rekindled easily? Our guest today, Ben Parr cleverly uses a great Bonfire Analogy to describe how we ignite, build and rekindle attention. 

Ben Parr is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, investor, and journalist. He is the author of the best-selling book Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention and the Co-founder of Octane AI, the marketing automation platform for Messenger and messaging apps. 

Ben has a unique journey as an entrepreneur. In studying the science of attention, Ben has become deeply appreciative of storytelling; how we can capture and keep someone’s attention through a narrative. But one of the tricks that we can learn from Ben is the art of how to curate a story. How we can be intentional with our presentations, our writing or even our conversations so our audience remain enthralled. 

In our discussion with Ben, we talk about the reason he decided to research and write a book on attention. In a world where it feels like everyone is trying to grab our attention, Ben talks about how attention is something you need to both earn and be intentional about. 

(23:43) “Attention is not something that you just get, it's something that you have to both earn, and that you have to be intentional about and the way you get attention. Because I can get attention by running down the street streaking, but I'm not going to get the kind of attention I want and not from the people I want. And this podcast would be done from a jail cell!”

Ben loves to discover new music which opens up a great conversation about his playlist and even though he is a saxophonist, Ben never set his aspirations on emulating one of the great saxophonists like Kenny G. But instead, always strives to be the best possible version of himself. 

Next, you can listen to our follow-on episode (#236); our Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim where we discuss how to apply Ben’s insights to improve our lives, relationships and work environments.

Behavioral Grooves strives to bring you insight and research from world-leading experts. And we do this without the use of paid advertising. If you would like to support our continued ad-free work, please consider becoming a Behavioral Grooves Patreon by visiting https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves. Thank you!


(2:28) Welcome and Ben’s new suggestion for our speed round!

(10:30) Why Ben wrote Captivology?

(12:59) Goldfish vs. humans - who has a longer attention span?

(15:47) Why capturing attention is like building a bonfire 

(18:43) How musicians Joshua Bell and Susan Geiser orchestrate your attention

(22:15) Why David Copperfield is the master of keeping your attention

(24:07) Curating the most important information

(31:05) Techniques for curating information and how to tell a captivating story

(35:40) Ben’s favorite trigger for capturing attention 

(39:26) How Ben discovers new music

(41:34) Why Ben ultimately strives to just be a better version of himself


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Ben Parr “Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attentionhttps://amzn.to/3ejByXB 

Captivology http://captivology.com/ 

Octane AI https://www.octaneai.com/ 

Dessa:  On Being Deeply Human https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/dessa-being-deeply-human/

Inside the Backlash Against Facebook http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1532225,00.html 

Joshua Bell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJhZ0J3bIYc 

David Copperfield https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Copperfield 

Episode 226: The Power Of Unity: Robert Cialdini Expands His Best Selling Book Influence https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/cialdini-unity-in-influence/

Episode 155: John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/john-bargh-dante-coffee-and-the-unconscious-mind/

Dr. Michael Posner https://ion.uoregon.edu/content/michael-posner 

Michael Gazzaley https://neuroscape.ucsf.edu/profile/adam-gazzaley/ 

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-to-be-influential-jon-levy/

Episode 212: Scrutinizing Hype: Powerful lessons from The Hype Handbook with Michael F. Schein https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/scrutinizing-hype-with-michael-f-schein/

Discover Weekly Spotify https://www.spotify.com/us/discoverweekly/ 

Musical Links 

John Legend “All Of Me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=450p7goxZqg 

OAR “Hey Girl” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb17JzKSiVA 

Bube Fiasco “The Show Goes On” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmp6zIr5y4U 

Afro Jack DJ “Rock The House” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6h0_9Zv7aM 

Imogen Heap “Hide and Seek” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYIAfiVGluk 

Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkF3oxziUI4 

Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ  

Guns n’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tj2zJ2Wvg 

Kid Cudi “The Void” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKDY5YMpyUc 

Cosmo Sheldrake “Cuckoo Song” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbQyFZmuA58 

Kenny G “Songbird” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN2RnjFHmNY 

Stan Getz “Misty” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3qS363m7-w 

Branford Marsalis “Cianna” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unRHCRsbJM0 

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