Respect or Attention? Take Your Pick

Remember Rodney Dangerfield? He was the great nightclub comedian who can’t get no respect.

Dangerfield built a persona and a lucrative career on self-putdowns about his looks, his weight, his wife, his sex-life, his career you name it:Rodney.jpg

My mother had morning sickness after I was born

I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio

With my dog I get no respect. He keeps barking at the front door. He doesn’t want to go out. He wants me to leave!

Dangerfield made it funny and profitable to get no respect. And what he didn’t receive in respect, he earned in our attention and our laughter.

He was lucky.

Many writers and artists display great talents and earn critical acclaim (respect) from their peers, but little in the way of global attention or income. They dedicate their lives to the arts while foregoing the attention necessary to make them rich and famous.

Not a bad path, if you choose to take it. But is that really what you want from your online business?

Does your business command respect? And if so, is the respect it receives paying off in attention? Or are you running a Rodney Dangerfield business that gets no respect at all?

Is your business, like so much artwork, created solely for you and your benefit, but not for capturing the attention, respect and sales of a wide audience?

Of course, I ask these questions within the framework of our discussions about the Attention Age.

We tend to give attention to those who have our respect: Teachers, world leaders, famous athletes and Hollywood celebrities just to name a few. They all have our attention and many hold it because we respect who they are or what they represent sometimes both.

For every Princess Diana, Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey there are countless other people who excel in their particular fields, but who receive far less attention. Some even have less respect because they haven’t achieved the heights of stardom as some of their counterparts.

Is this fair? No. But who ever said business or life was supposed to be fair?

When it comes to building a business, especially an Internet-based business, earning respect and earning attention are vastly different things.

Think about how much attention we pay to goofy YouTube videos.

More than 100 million YouTube videos are viewed each day by nearly 72 million individual visitors each month.

We may not respect what people are doing in these videos, but if they are outrageous and humorous enough, they earn our attention.

The attention paid to YouTube certainly caught the attention of Google.  The search engine giant acquired YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock.

That’s a number that will certainly earn some respect and attention.

The success of YouTube was based purely on marketing and attention.

The viral nature of the videos and the social networking aspect of the community interaction became an explosive combination that was hard to ignore.

Sometimes marketing makes all the difference between obscurity and in-your-face success. How are you marketing your business for greater respect or attention?

Don’t Tase Me, Bro!

YouTube captured our attention early and often and still hasn’t let go.

Just this week Andrew Meyer, a University of Florida student, gained attention during a speaking event with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. After pressing Kerry on the topic of the war in Iraq and badgering the senator on other issues, Meyer was asked to quiet down. He refused and was forced to the ground by campus security and hit with a taser.

During the scuffle Meyer uttered an infamous phrase “Don’t tase me, bro!” which was seen and heard on videotape splashed on YouTube and all over the Internet.

Within 24 hours, several versions of “taser” were among the top viral videos on YouTube and other social media sites. The student’s phrase Don’t tase me, bro! appeared almost instantly on T-shirts and other online merchandise. Maybe Meyers didn’t earn our respect, but he sure got our attention. And savvy Internet marketers were able to pounce on the opportunity to cash in on the incident because they were ready.

YouTube has grown from a place to upload “frat boy” gag videos to becoming a co-host for U.S. presidential primary debates. Along the way, we’ve come to respect YouTube as a major media force in the Attention Age. It’s a Web 2.0 success story that has paid off “big time” for its creators and continues to pay off for its fans.

Respect for YouTube came after the attention. But that’s not always the case.

There is our infamous attention hog, Paris Hilton. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who respects her, yet she holds the attention of a celebrity-driven media and society. We’re still not sure why

So how does all of this apply to your online business? I’ll let you decide by considering this question.

In the absence of having both, would you rather have respect or attention?

I encourage you to give the question serious thought and share your comments with my blog readers. Respect and attention are not mutually exclusive, but if given the choice, which one would you prefer for yourself and your business?

As you think about that, I’ll leave you with another joke from Rodney Dangerfield, who died in 2004.

“My fan club broke up. The guy died.”

Who knows, with more respect and greater attention, that “fan club” may still be alive

So what would you do if 100,000 prospects turned their attention to your online business today?

Would they still respect you in the morning?

Better yet, could you convince them to become your customers?


73 thoughts on “Respect or Attention? Take Your Pick”

  1. Getting the attention of a large group of people *once* is relatively easy. Online you use YouTube, social networking sites, AdWords, etc. Offline you can buy full page ads or a 30 second spot during Super Bowl. If you repeat this often enough you could build a business around it. Witness the constant barrage of TV ads from the fast food industry. Celebrities also fall in this category, but the are a special case since their business is *literally* attention for themselves.

    Since I don’t have a billion dollar budget, I’ve chosen to work hard to gain the respect of my readers and customers. My blog may not yet get the attention of Google, but I’m happy to enjoy the respect of a few Internet business entrepreneurs who regularly come to read, learn and exchange ideas. And without me having to pay someone for their attention each time.

    Nick Dalton
    Tips, Tricks, Tools & Techniques

  2. Hmm. Definitely a good question.

    Online, well I think you have to get at least some attention to start with – then, if they don’t find something to respect enough to hold their attention you are (insert rude word)ed.

    I mean, I think those of us who had an account with You-tube did respect it in a way, even before Google got their grubby paws on it – we respected it as a good source of videos on everything and anything.

    The quiz idea that I use on my site is a good attractor, but if there’s nothing else with any meant, how would I keep the attention of those who visit?

    It’s the same with you, Rich. Your site doesn’t hold our attention because you are a sexy blond airhead – it’s because we respect you and what you have to say.

  3. We’re aligned with Aretha Franklin on this one…


    Above all, self respect.

    It can take a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.

    Are you a DotComPreneur? Take the quiz and find out at:

  4. Respect is hard to gain and easy to loose. I think the place to start for Internet marketers is from right where they are. What I mean is, it is easy to get into the mode of “I would command respect if”

    IF… I had a big list

    IF… I had enough money to build a really cool site

    IF… I had that product done

    But you can’t sell ‘futures’ and gain respect.

    You only have 10 people on your list? Do what you need to do now to command their respect.

    If you have your prospects best interests in mind, deliver on your promises, and admit when you make mistakes (when, not IF) then respect follows.

    Good point Rich, but I don’t agree with your title. You can certainly have attention AND respect, but I think it’s better to command respect first, then seek attention.

    @Nick Dalton “And without me having to pay someone for their attention each time.” Great point. If you always have to pay JV partners or advertise to get attention, there is no guarantee of respect.

  5. Rich

    Attention with out respect is as fleeting as your average mugshot that is flashed up for 15 minutes of fame. If your good looking or have money they will update your story the next day.

    OJ will go free and the world will shake its head in disrespect. OJ had it all on the field, his life after football has become a colossal mess.

    We should pay more attention and give respect to those who deserve it. I believe that there are enough crazy people in the world we don’t need to glorify them.


  6. Amazing! (Great article, by the way).
    The reason I’m impressed is not just because what you say in great insight, but also because I was just thinking about this very same idea this morning. (Several hours before I opened your email today).
    Here’s the gist of it…..
    Just think about how many people spend years of their lives preparing to be actors, but end up being waiters, driving taxis or some other job (not that those aren’t respectable careers). Yet professional athletes who have no acting skills, have several movies under their belts. (Without even trying).
    What they did have was attention.
    Same thing with musicians. Think of all the people (like that guy from American Idol) who has no singing talent, but is now making millions.
    What he had in abundance, though, was his ability to draw attention to himself. He commanded ‘millions of eyeballs’, which is what TV, movie and book publishers are all craving….an ‘attention-drawing lightning rod’ for their products and services.
    I could go on and on, but you get the point.
    (I’m glad to see someone finally wrote about this, because I was just about to place a piece like this on my blog that I putting together.)
    Nice job Mr Schefren.

  7. you get attention if you actually provide utility, product, price, and service. Those are the for cornerstones of any business. They collectively equal value

    Interenet marketer are focused on selling, and the term value is meaningless. For the most part the people who are involved in it are turd polishers. They polish turds and try and pass them off as rare gems.

    It is easy for me to understand why they get no respect. They pass themselves off as experts on marketing.

    They are actually hustlers that prey on the uneducated and illinformed, in what is a decaying and crumbling society, where people get a little poorer everyday..

    It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling doesn’t it?

    Ralph Dreifus

  8. You gotta have respect, period. That’s the only thing that can guarantee repeat sales from repeat customers – they respect you and trust you to provide quality product(s). You may have had to shout real loud to get their attention the first time, but you had to get their respect to keep them coming back. Ahamed said it very succinctly – and it’s true.

  9. They go together.

    One without the other is useless. The examples that you note Rich are examples of that.

    All the attention Paris is getting doesn’t do her any good without the respect to persuade.

    Respect with no attention does not do any good either. If your kids / employees / subscribers respect you but don’t ever pay you any attention, then that respect is pointless.

    Attention = connection
    Respect = influence

    People have to pay attention to hear you, then have respect to accept what you say and be influenced.

    My thoughts….

  10. Definitely have to come down on the side of respect. But one doesnt necessarily negate the other. There are lots of ways to garner attention and respect at the same time.

    As marketers and entrepreneurs, we think outside the box as a matter of course. It shouldnt be all that tough to come up with twenty ideas that can go viral on something like YouTube and garner respect at the same time. Maybe we should start a contest?


  11. Thanks for this opportunity to post our oppinion for some Attention.
    Attention is great and needed to start with but respect is what keeps them comming back.
    1st = ATTENTION
    2nd = RESPECT
    then after respect follows repeat customers, and that is where the rubber meets the road.
    Join me in a type of utube that was created to earn respect Sign up here, then click on learn more, then upload your material and start getting attention.

  12. Remember, respect is earned not given! Just like alot of people had an enormous amount of respect for former President Bill Clinton. He gave in to Monica L. and lost the respect of his wife, peers, the American people ect….

    With respect comes personal responsibility.

    In other words, you have to safe guard and perserve it!

    Just my 2 cents.

  13. I would give the visitors what they want. Even though it seems that alot of surfers look for trashy low quality videos, I think the market will soon shift back to quality materials and this is what I will focus on. Geting the attention and getting respect as a result.

  14. #1: Attention. Everyone in our society is conditioned to expect a
    ” grabber” at the start of almost every message or ad. We use them in every copywriting effort. Then we proceed to #2 Respect.
    This can be almost instant, we only need to show our “Integrity”
    in our “copy” or whatever follows our ” grabber”.

  15. What a great question. When we are young we do not see what respect
    does for us until we have used up a few avenues of trial and error and
    see what people think of us “the next morning”.

    In business, Specially people do not shop with people they do not trust. When it comes to someone’s money they have worked hard for, they want to know they can call you up, drop an email or order on line and trust you will
    take care of them. I believe in under promising and over providing service.
    If I tell a customer to expect their package on Friday and it shows up on
    Wednesday I will get a call from a pleased customer… who tells their
    friend about the service, who then tells about the product who now
    wants to try it because ” so and so said…..” I will take Respect.

  16. Attention? Exposure too eh?

    I’m a musician originally from the Seattle-area. For 15+ years I’ve remained devoted to what I’ve believed in. Fortunately I’ve found that in music lies the power to change lives, and in some cases even save lives. Although I am still a “starving artist”, I take great fulfillment in testimonies I’ve received to this regarding my music. The most fulfilling perhaps are the words from people who say they decided against suicide because of one of my CD’s.

    Still, relatively few people know about my work. And people can’t buy what they don’t know about. And while I don’t “do it for the money”, if people don’t buy I don’t eat and neither does the family.

    So thank you for this information. And please do let me know of any suggestions you may have.


    Isaac Barham

  17. I think it’s a trick question. Both is the answer. What good is attention (traffic) if it doesn’t turn into sales? And, I think a certain level of respect is necessary for that.

    What good is respect (in business) if only a handful of people know about you… again, no sales. I think you just have to have both.

  18. Hi Rich,

    Let me disagree with you here.

    “Respect is not something to be commanded or

    It is something to be earned! … with ones’s actions
    and value additions.

    Courteously — S. Kumar

  19. Dunno, Rich —

    People land on my site and presumably, if they think I have something they want, they stick around, maybe sign up for my newsletter, maybe even buy something. There is so much hype on the web, so many empty promises … some scumbag with no integrity is probably out there with an offer like mine, and a surfer may not be able to tell the difference.

    My hope is in availability … people presumably want to see what is behind the web site, so I have my contact information, my Honest-E logo, and anything else that says I’m really here, not hiding behind a web server and a PO box and a yahoo account.

    But regardless of credibility and availability, there needs to be visibility (which I guess is ‘attention’) and something that makes the visitor believe he has found what he needs.

  20. Hi there,

    I do not come from money & Paris Hilton makes me sick…

    I take respect over attention, I started my business from my bedroom in my parents house, I’ve worked night & day to earn my customers respect, they respect my opinion and listen to my suggestions. They make time in their busy work schedules to pay attention to my honest advice.

    The only attention I’d like is from potential customers who can see how different & unique my services are, this channel of attention is very difficult for me to find…working on a solution erf !

  21. Rich,

    What a great stimulant you’ve stirred into my Saturday breakfast!

    I agree that these are two qualities that are deserving in business: respect and attention. For lack of respect many suffer from an incurable disease of attention and end up with tons of misfortunes. Marketers, actors, politicians, artists use all sorts of tricks to grab attention, which could boomerang.

    The more blatant and unrefined their pursuit of attention, the less respectable they become. Marketing is an art which should use attention not as an end but as a consummate process to achieve respect.


  22. Great post Rich.

    In the absence of having both, i would want attention first and foremost because it gives you the opportunity to earn respect.

    Get their attention–>tell them your USP–>gain the respect of your customers (they order from you)–>deliver your USP–>repeat

  23. Both are important but as the owner of an editorial site I would favour respect before attention.

    If my site is so respected that an average reader would visit it five times in a month, then to get 1000 visits a month, my site only needs to have come to the attention of 200 visitors.

    If my site is less respected and an average reader would only visit it once a month, then to get the same amount of visits, I need to bring my site to the attention of 1000 visitors – five times as many… and that equates to at least five times the effort and / or cost of traffic acquisition.

    Even discounting cost and effort, 200 repeat visitors who read what I have to say regularly, follow my recommendations, suggest my site to their own friends etc. are worth a lot more to me than 1000 one-timers.

  24. Hi Rich,

    Having a business on the blink, a seller had $26.00 and over $1,000.00 in his inventory. He paid all that he had to get started
    again. He announced his sales as the best quality items as
    being in the “dirt”. As the shoppers came he made the sales
    and sold all that he had. He got their “attention” and earned
    their respect. He had been there before.

  25. Hmmm…Ok, here is what I think:

    You asked to pick one or the other for me and my business.

    For me personally, I pick respect. It’s very valuable to me personally. I’d rather live and die with respect than live and die with attention.

    But I just want to add my 2 cents here. respect doesn’t have to be stiff, dry, all fixed up or “keep a distance” type a thing. You don’t need to be conservative to gain respect. You can be friendly and yourself and natural and go all crazy and people respect you more than many others. The main key to respect, is not to hurt others feelings or integrity. Otherwise, YOU become disrespectful, not the other.
    It’s very easy, example: person Y insults person X. Does that make person X disrespectful? no, it makes person Y disrespectful. It’s as simple as it is.

    Another example, a seller says, I offer this free trial of my product. Contact me at this address if you’re interested. Person X contacted
    the seller. The seller ignores X email. Who is the disrespectful here? the seller, abviously. She doesn’t respect her own word! you think she will respect her customers? I doubt it.

    A third good example, Arnold (the famous actor). Before he builds his fame, people in his surrounding used to make fun of him, just because he was saying, I’ll go to hollywood and become a famous actor and I’ll marry from the Kennedy family. Did that make him disrespectful that they laughed at him? no, it made them disrespectful.
    Tell me which entrepreneur is not crazy, not abnormal, not different from the others. All the examples you mentioned are crazy people. They are not common. Art is crazy. Without craziness, art doesn’t exist. The best inventions come from people we call crazy. They think out of the box, they dare to do the uncommon things and business is not a common sense. They can go to extremes to discover new possibilities while others are stand still. They can do the impossible because they’re crazy, they don’t understand impossible. Those people are rare but they are valuable.

    The guy who invented the aireoplane, he was crazy, he made wings and tried to fly. He died. But he invented aireoplanes.

    Oprah is crazy, she did things in her show we never thought a talk show could do. She danced, she cried, she laughed, she was very close to her audience, she didn’t build a wall between her and her audience the way all other talk shows did build.

    Princess Dianne? Another crazy woman. She broke all the royal family stiff rules. She used to come to breakfast with walkman in her ears, she violated all the royal family strict rules, she opened her heart to the world and reached the poorest without fear, without sticking to the old royal image. She changed the stiff image of the royal family. She brought fame to the Royal family because she was different, she was real, she was herself, she was crazy to dare to do what others before her and after her couldn’t do. and the list go on and on and on….

    For my business, I would pick attention. I’ll tell you why, and I might be wrong, but that’s my view today. It’s very simple, consider this analogy:

    2 men enter a marketplace. The day was crowded with people. People are selling, buying, bargnning..etc The 2 men are selling tickets. One man is going very low voice, very quietly, asking around. The Other man stood somewhere in the market and screamed loudly, extremely loud: “excuse me everybody”. Guess who will get people’s attention quicker?
    The two men are polite in their asking and respectful. But The man who screamed will get all the attention.

    Same with online business, in my opinion. The first fraction of a second, people don’t know my business well enough to respect or disrespect it. it’s the attention that will make them click.

    bye bye Rich!

  26. Dear Rich

    With all due respect, the process, in my opinion, is as follows:
    1: Get attention.
    2: Hold attention long enough to create credibility.
    3: Close the sale
    4: Earn respect.

    It takes a continuous stream of “Maybees” and “Yesses” to make a sale, but only one “No” to kill it. One can conclude a sale WITH attention and credibility, but WITHOUT respect. One cannot conclude a sale without BOTH attention and credibility.

    Respect for the product, the service, or the Seller is earned AFTER successful use of the product or service.

    Best wishes,

    Kevin Chisholm

  27. great insight!

    ATTENTION comes with no value and could lose RESPECT over time.

    RESPECT comes with values and could grow ATTENTION over time.

  28. I LEARNED THIS LESSON THE HARD WAY with my University Of Victory (online education for entrepreneurs) project. I got lots of attention in the media (mostly based on my ongoing feud with Trump University and Success University, but when it came time to get the big name authors to contribute to my program, I found I hadn’t yet earned their respect, mostly because I just looked like a marketer who was good at getting attention.

    Then I applied the “SET A GOAL BIGGER THAN YOUR-SELF”. I knew my concept and purpose behind was good, so I gave it a new fresh face and started again. Now it’s called World Vision Entrepreneur. The NAME is not ALL ABOUT ME, and within my first week of RELAUNCH I attracted 2 best selling authors to get involved. Since then I have been networking my way amongst absolutely top of their field authors, educators, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants etc with zero effort. I even met the guy who did the original viral marketing that prelaunched THE SECRET. And I’m networked with one of the hottest hollywood celebs of the day! And I’m about to do a JV (joint venture) with my favorite entrepreneur-author of all time!

    AS MUCH OF A STRUGGLE as my first attempt was (lots of ATTENTION but NO RESPECT…) my second attempt has first got people’s respect and then I’ve successfully networked my way to go where I need, so I’m no longer looking for mass public attention.

    anyone interested in my new project it’s at

    ~Victory Darwin

  29. I’d go for attention first and worry about the respect after I had the eyeballs.

    However there are many types of attention, and some of them will equate to nil or no profit. Much of the Youtube attention is fairly untargeted and often hard to monetize. I’m not saying it can’t be proftiable because I have monetized it fine, but it’s not like you are dealing with Adwords type traffic.

    Another thing I think is important is for people to realize that comedy and fame doesn’t always bring in the bacon. Just because someone has a following or admirers doesn’t always mean they are breaking out the credit card for artist or vendor.

    I could show you dozens of so-called famous artists that have a hard time just making their bills. But hey, they have 65,000 Myspace friends!

    Last time I checked, Bank of America doesn’t cash Myspace bucks or friends lists.

    However, once you want to get into the serious profits I think it’s crucial that you build some type of trust, credibility, and respect.

    True respect is seldom gained in a day for most people though. The average Joe has to really work at it, while it comes natural for others in the know.

    When I think of the question posted in the blog post it makes me think…

    “What good is respect if you have no attention”?

  30. That’s a great post Rich, and a very interesting question…

    Respect or Attention? In the internet marketing industry, I’d have to say it’s more about attetion. Sure, you want people to respect you but that doesn’t mean you’ll get attention. You already see that you can get attention without respect.

    It was said like this before: They are people who hate howard stern, and they are people who love howard stern. For the people that hate howard stern, they listen to his radio show for more than 1 hour. The people that love howard stern, listen less than 1 hour. So if it’s adapted to business, either you love me or hate me, you still can make sales and get attention.

    Look at the Rich Jerk, so much people don’t respect him, but he still manage to get their attention and still sell his products and his image, so all in all, it’s the “either love me or hate me, you’ll still pay attention to me” attitude. I rather have both, but if it’s down to one, it would be attention first, then I can build respect.

    Terrance Charles

  31. Hi Rich,

    Between attention and respect, the winner is respect.

    First let me begin by saying that I respect you greatly for your achievements, but more than that, for who you are.

    There are alot of short-lived stunts that can win attention for a moment, but those are usually forgotten the “next morning.”

    I am in agreement that winning long term respect means the loyalty of your lifetime customers.

    By consistently underpromising and yet overdelivering value the successful businessperson sets himself in a class atop the rest.

    This is where I view you.

    I think back to the first time I saw one of your videos.

    I loved your stage presence and ability to impart the entreprenuerial mindset to internet marketers who were really looking for more than internet marketing. They were looking to become entreprenuers.

    You guided them into that reasoning and way of thinking so that they were able to conceptualize what they must do next to plan successfully for the growth of their business.

    Those who heeded your advice were successful. Those who didn’t kicked themselves the next morning.

    You are a master of “what works.”
    For that and many other reasons,
    you command by respect.


  32. Respect is earned through the attention you attract.

    You earn respect through positive attention preserved by taking responsibility, and delivering – leading by example rather than just words – action speaks louder than words.

    You lose respect through negative response to your actions by shirking your duties, and not delivering – again leading by example.

    Respect is gained or lost from the reaction to the attention you get seek

    It took me a long time to learn to give before getting!

  33. Respect is what I’d prefer.. Respect and the recognition for the 30 plus years of research work, striving to pull together a project that will actually save the future of our country.. My country, the USA.
    Ultimately, the world….

    Respect for the ten years service for my country when I joined the navy and set out to do that which my officers had ordered me to do as I was young, wild and full of spit and vinegar. while serving in-country, Vietnam to get us out…

    Respect for a program I developed, which would pay off our country’s ten trillion dollar debt within ten years, while helping tens of millions of people within that period of time, and likely hundreds of millions within twenty years, doing what has to be done anyway, and has already been done haphazardly and totally disorganized thus part of dozens of reasons we are in this mess in the 1st place..

    Respect and recognition with an open understanding mind, to gain the knowledge thats been given by our Supreme Of Being, thousands of years ago…but only feasible to comprehend within the past few years as the results of thousands continuing to strive to educate even those who profess they already know everything.

    Attention is not what I desire, because attention almost got me killed numerous times by those who knew not my true intentions, but recognized that my presences could disrupt their evil doings.

    I had a vision in 1974 that was literally so far in advance of the mindset of the populace, I was considered a freak, an outsider.

    I can only hope that this will draw, some intellectual’s attention who would be curious enough to ask me how they may help, as this is a project bigger than myself alone, bigger than the Big Boss as He has set it up. I need respect and recognition.
    I almost have it all together, maybe your attention would help..?

    Will Lovsmith

  34. If 100,000 prospects gave me their attention today, I would want to gain their respect. However, to advertise a product, initially is to look for attention. A poor product will lose that attention and any chance of respect. On that day I would lose. I may fatten my bank balance if I gain some customers through some initial attention, but if I lose the chance of respect, I also lose my own respect. Subconsciously I guess that means I feel guilty to make gains without respect.

    So in a nutshell, I want respect more than I want attention.

    Without respect I would be looking for another 100,000 the next day.
    By building respect, the first 100,000 may actually get me another 100,000.

    To gain some respect I would offer a good product. A good product may gain both respect and more attention. Using that attention may also gain even more respect. That attention may both feed you and earn you respect. This system is self serving. I feel I would win, both today and the next.

    We must use attention, even though we may search for respect. To gain respect we must at first gain attention. If you can hold attention you may earn even more respect. You must win overall.

    Personally I would be pleased with respect alone.

    Financially, and practically, I need the attention much more than I need the respect.

    The answer for me is attention. Even though personally I really only want respect. But I cannot see how I could gain any respect without first holding some attention.

    I expect with good products I would earn that respect in the morning.

    The $64 question – Could I convince them to become my customers.

    I think the product has to convince them of that. Personally, when I am pressured by hard convincing I run a mile, or trash the email. However, if it is a good product that holds my attention I may become a customer.

    I do wonder why so many seem to hide their product behind brash, wild statements of gold and glory? For me, they lose any chance of respect, and they get little attention.

    Having said all that, the “What’s In It For Me”, that would be the basis behind most peoples thinking may mean that attention and sales has nothing to do with respect. So the respect is just a self serving component.

    My own “What’s In It For Me”. I’m turning in circles.

  35. Hey Rich.
    I’m a dedicated student of your now and want to contribute to your long list with:
    As Nalle Phoo said: Thank you both. But by the second thought, I think I rather have the respect first ; BECAUSE i EARN IT!
    I’m old and uggly enough to see that the world is made of delusions and illusions. It seems today, that sexy is the same as success, you can watch miss Hilton and her lot: What have they accived? A lot of attention without respect, living in a state of never-never land, and in a few years of time, the age has catched up with them. Then what? You are not cute when you are 60+ acting like a little spoiled girl. On opposite side you may look at miss Helen Mirren sexy as .. in her late 50th, in her wonderful plays as Queen Elisabeth 2nd and Elizabeth 1st . Abou all respected and admired. I think quality will never be out of date. We need it more than ever in our world.
    For my own business
    I really love people and:
    All my customars are importent to me, they are treated as friends even we have comunication problem because of the language. My staff is trained to do the same and we are highly respected and loved. And people comming back to buy more are almost family. -so In my real shop I have a big family.
    Greetings from
    [email protected]

  36. So, Rich, great blog & great debate again!

    As a family doctor, respect has to be my number one. In fact, doctors (and I’m no exception) live in fear of attention – the wrong type of attention – although I am working on that fear to stop it cramping my entrepreneurial spirit.

    As a doctor it is important that patients can trust and respect me. I wish and need to be (and to be seen to be) trustworthy and genuine. It is also important for me to respect those that I treat, and my colleagues. Respect has to be earned.

    At a personal level, respect is important for me at a value level. My integrity and compassion are core values for me.

    Now I am moving on into publicising my animal health website. It is important that people respect me, but it (and I) will go nowhere without attention.

    So I need both, but the respect is more important to me; without attention I can survive and keep my self-respect. Without respect I would feel at a loss.

    Thanks for provoking thought, Rich!

    Alison Grimston

  37. I rather have respect first. It is because I feel that respect would get me conversion whereas attention would probably only get me loads of traffic.

  38. I use my faith. I am 85 years young. I have been dealing with cancer since 1959. The last time the medical profession diagnosed my colon cancer the doctor said 7 months after it is diagnosed you are dead. That was in 1987—It has been a long 7 months. I cancelled my Medicare, I don’t go to doctors. I don’t agree with their treatment. Now about Rodney–he cashed in on the negative. He turned negativity into positivity & it paid off for him. I will use my faith to help others & it will eventually pay off for me.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help others. God bless you.

  39. Would I give my customers what they want?
    The answer is “Yes, but not all the time.”

    Why? Cos sometimes what customers want may not be in their best interests and they don’t even know it. It’s when I address things they may have overlooked and if they still insist on having things their own way, I ask for them not to place me or the company I represent in liability should things go wrong.

    Usually my customers listen to me. 🙂

    And for answer to the second question: RESPECT.
    Cos when your customers respect you, it’s much easier for them to give them THEIR attention. There’s no point in receiving attention at the “wrong time” cos I think timing to do certain things – to get into action – can be important if you WANT attention.

    Attention can be a short-term thing….a great contrast to what respect can give you.

    Stepping down from the stage…..Thank you for reading my opinion!

  40. Great article, Rich. I want to add that if you want respect, you first have to give respect. In Internet marketing that means don’t insult your prospects’ intelligence with pointless emotional hype and stupid “get rich quick” promises. It means deliver what you promise; better yet, over deliver.

    When dealing with people, you get as good as you give. This is true of life in general as well as business.

  41. Hello Rich,

    The attention vs respect is a great topic, of which I constantly debate in my head, BUT to succeed you need them both.

    I recently read about Warren Buffet’s investing philosophy. After he did all his due diligence, etc and was ready to invest in a company he met the management. He based his final decision on that meeting.

    DO I Know them?
    DO I Like them?
    DO I Trust them?
    DO I Respect them?

    The ATTENTION got his interest, BUT the RESPECT got his

  42. Hi Rich,

    Rodney Dangerfield has his own unique way of using Comedy as his platform for drawing crowds to his attention. Clever use of comedy as an “attention getter.” He used “I don’t get no respect as part of his act. Some people like his sense of humor and some don’t. It depends upon the person if they feel it’s in “good taste” or not.

    I think that holds true for marketing as well. Not everyone will totally agree with all methods of getting attention. I’m sure a handful of people will probably disagree. That certainly didn’t stop Rodney Dangerfield from doing his comedy act.

    I originally thought respect and attention walked hand-in-hand. But after thinking about what you wrote on this post Rich, I had to rethink it. I’ve seen attention drawn by marketers who are considered respected in the industry that drew the attention contrary to the typical way of going about it all.


    Sue Chartock

  43. Saturday, Sept. 22, ’07, 9:25 am CST

    Hey Rich,

    Thanks again for your insights… by the way you’ve always gained by respect as well as attention from the getgo. So from my own
    experience, respect and attention is the leap-frog objective..

    However, you drive a good point, when you challenge us to think
    about the two vital components in developing an ongoing and
    sustainable business, whether it’s offline or online.

    But, to answer your question, if I had to choose between the
    two, I’d have to say that respect would be my hands down #1 choice, both intuitively and practically speaking!.

    Just look at what Solomon said about respect and attention
    below (and decide for yourself). And as you probably already
    know, he definitely garnered both respect and attention
    throughout the ages – and considered to be the wisest and
    wealthiest of ALL TIME!


    “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches great
    riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

    Proverbs 22:1


    “Like cutting off one’s feet or drinking violence is the sending
    of a message by the hand of a fool.”

    Proverbs 26:6

    Wouldn’t you all agree, that a Word to the wise is sufficient…

    So what say you wise(wo)man or fool?

    As Always,
    Cheers 🙂

  44. You need the right exposure,the guts and the wit in order to earn the desired attention and respect. for anyone who is longing for it. Without exposure, nobody can get notice of you. Once exposed, if you don’t have the guts and the wit nobody pay so much attention of your presence. If nobody pay attention of you, you never get the respect you wanted. It is the way you project yourself to anyone that respect is earn.

    Arnold Cafe

  45. (I’ll prefice this with I am a southern lady (from Alabama) – so imagine the following in a southern drawl)… “Well Rick, you are certainly easy on the eyes…& I would find it highly unlikely that you would NOT be respected in the morning.”

  46. Grabbing attention is vital. How can you ever gain respect if you don’t first command attention? But all of the attention in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans if you don’t maintain respect. So my opinion is you need to have both. We have built our business on word-of-mouth marketing and without spending one dime on advertising we did over $1.5 million in sales in our first year, all through word of mouth. If our customers didn’t respect us or our services, they wouldn’t have spread the word for us. Delivering value and adding to that value over time is the best way to keep customers and grow your business.

    Always ask yourself if what you are doing is “ecological”. Is it good for you, others and the planet. If the answer is yes, it will garner the respect of others!

    Tracy ‘Power Gal’ Monteforte
    Co Founder,

  47. Chicken and egg question in some ways, huh:

    You hear people droll over celebrities or movies stars or whomever is the current media darling… “respect you for you… love you for what you stand for…” and they will they might so brazenly “suck”whatever that star or celebrity what them to “suck…”

    But think of it! If the adoring fans didn’t know that Rick Sheffren “existed…” for example, they would not come nor would it count as such a refractory ordeal…

    You may be the most respectable guy on the planet and no one gets to know you and thus experience you for what you stand for or what your business has to offer – and I mean “no one” in the wider context in this universe gone hog wild for star-status…

    And the same thing applies to businesses… your business is barely surviving but you are doing everything to earn the respect of the industry and your customer… You have respect for the environment; you pay your employees well as well you pay your dues to the State; you have good but untested products because no one knows you and also have great ideas that has not gotten out quite yet…

    And one day you wake and can’t have anymore of your “respect full” life… You want attention for your business but can’t afford the media; so you decided to run naked through the Mayors Day Parade – in full view of all the dignitaries…

    Say your business has something to do with the preservation of nature – hence the naked-instinct… So you take it all off, but you leave a hat on – you have the name of your business on the hat – say the name of your business is and you’re running naked to make that point – you draw attention to your business and to nature – the only thing you’re wearing is your hat which becomes the talk of the whole city…

    Whether you’re a man or woman running naked like that ought a be worth something won’t you say?

    and it does! The whole city takes notice to the point that City Hall feels pissed upon and the police and the otherwise paid pipers (the media), noticed as well and next you know the media and the Law come knocking metaphorically at both your personal and business doors…

    While the law is still roughing you up, the message on your hat is heard and clear! Now you have good attention and bad attention… You are racking in big business and are the talk of the town as well for dissing the mayor and the city…

    You could beat the rap and come off golden or worse case scenario, a bit tarnished but… now at least you are in business… You have attention to drive traffic…

    The point is that most businesses cannot afford the respect they are getting… They need to rough it up a bit in order to re-channel some of that respect fruitfully, to start them on their way to prosperity…

    Innately – just starting out, you have a level of or lack a of respect anyways… In the great grand scheme of things, the accentuating factor of the stasis you and your are in is actually the level of success you have…

    Your level of respect you seem to have means nothing until people perceive you as successful at what you do… And therein lies your true color…

    Disclaimer! I will do everything conscious of the law – will not break the law neither will I encourage or hoodwink others to break the law… But we all must have to find the middle grounds from where to negotiate reality as it applies to whatever we are doing – and in most cases that posits the chicken and egg dilemma to sort out…

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say, #@*k respect, for that’s what criminals do as they set up their kingdoms… But hey, on the other hand, if you really, really want respect as your only halo, at the expense of running a successful for-profit business, I’ll say go sign up and become a clergy!

    But even then, The Holiest of Holy had his share of run-in with the law, in order to bequeath us redemption. Remember?

  48. Rich,

    I think self-respect is a big factor. The WAHMs and stay-at-home-Dads that we employee are often looking for respect after being run down by the corporate “rat race”!


  49. Wikipedia

    Uses and Indications:

    Respect is useful for both hierarchical and peer based relationships. Except in extremely rudimentary slave environments, subordinates are required to make decisions about details that are not specifically dictated by a superior. Efficiency demands these details be based on a strong set of values that are complimentary to the needs of the hierarchy. Respect between take offense to.


  50. Great paradox, Rich!

    Couple of thoughts:
    Attention is great if you value the attention generated by the everyday fool. That’s why Big Al’s, a local glorified dollar store in Wiscasset, Maine, features big Al, the owner in its commercials. Big Al is a oversized buffoon with a huge scraggly beard. He wears silly t-shirts with outlandish sayings along with his overalls. He screams at the public from his commercials.

    His store is always busy. I’ve met him in person and Big Al is a savvy, hard headed business man. His commercials appeal to the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum who splurge by buying some junk when they have a couple extra dollars.

    I’ve also heard that so-called crooked companies that are investigated by 60 Minutes often experience so much free publicity that their sales boom.

    There are a million ways to capture attention and not all of them require a sacrifice of respect. Look at Alan Greenspan’s new book, The Age of Turbulence.
    This quiet, soft spoken Republican is highly critical of the Republican party in his book. He is swamped with attention.

    My advice: think twice about how you garner attention. If you value respect, and who doesn’t, then figure out a great way to garner the attention of your true audience. Don’t worry about the Paris Hilton watchers if those idiots aren’t your market. Dave

  51. First I just want to say I appreciate you Rich and all the intelligent and thoughtful comments I read on this subject. And now my 2 cents…

    I am a fairly new website owner and marketer. I have two websites, one that focuses on selfdefense type products and the other on surviellance and hidden cam related products. I started the company knowing that I was commiting a major frowned-up-on-boo boo as far as start up businesses go (and that was(is) not having enough operating capital). However, from my recent and past experiences, I knew if I waited until I had enough capital then I’d still be dreaming instead of doing and most likely would not be participating in this blog.

    Relatively speaking, the people that know me respect me. I work in the security industry and have had people that did not necessarily like me but they respected me (not my job but my professionalism). I work in a high traffic area and meet a lot of people for the first time through work related interaction, and I must say there is a greater than 90% respect like interaction or respectful exchange. So, in my dire need for customers with very limited income resources, I would have to say that the attention would be the most important for me at this point because I know if I am giving the chance, I will earn most peoples respect.

  52. Thank-you for sending me an email regarding about respect especially in the field of the marketing business.

    Have you ever experienced meeting strangers in the retail industries who have treated you with bad manners as if he and/or she were your boss etc…? For the past two years, I have encountered strange situations with people especially in the contract business. They do not really hear what I said especially for the true cause. I guess people are mostly for themselves?!

    I feel people need to truly communicate with each other in business. I do definitely need respect from people. The people who truly respect me do not live in Ontario especially in Toronto. Can you help me with a new website that would assist me to gain true respect?

    I am looking forward to hear from you soon. Thank you.

  53. Attention can be gotten freely with little real effort.

    Respect has to be earned and will cost dearly if lost.

    3 things will acheive success if implimented from the start of your business career, Honesty, Integrity and Consistency.

    Start with all three and make them the main focus of your business and you will be successful, no matter what you are selling!

  54. Hi Rich:
    You made a great point–respect and attention are two, very different things. And that’s a tough call…what should you want: attention which equals more income? Or respect, which lets you sleep easier at night? However, for an online business, I believe that attention is more important. If you’re going for respect in what you do (versus gaining attention and more income), then you probably shouldn’t be in the online business–because attention is everything there. But, is it possible to get both? Can you receive maximum attention, make money nowadays–while still holding people’s respect?

  55. Not meaning to be cynical – but rather lamenting the truth of the direction in which our society is going – I have to agree with Ralph Dreifus’ comment above.

    There are those of us who believe in helping others by reaching out and over-delivering with true VALUE – utility, product/ info/ coaching, price, and service.

    Yes, there’s a quick buck (and big bucks) to be made with aggressive marketing skills regardless of product, but I cannot in good conscience promote something that I don’t truly believe to be the BEST for our clients and website visitors. Nor can the incredible person I personally work to promote, DogWhisperWoman, Rena.

    If I have no honor and integrity – deserving of RESPECT – then I have nothing – No matter how much money I might make. Yes, this honorable process can make for slower growth, but I believe it is surer and more sustainable growth – the kind that only a relationship with respect can deliver.

    But then, how can we help people if they don’t even know about us, our services, our information? If they don’t find us, click on our message, or stay long enough to read?

    That requires ATTENTION – getting it and holding it. So thank you, Rich, for your incisive comments and providing this excellent “forum.”

    Bright on, Brian Ankner …! [His comment above.]

    Amber with Rena

  56. Hey Rich!

    I needed to change email address on my subscription to your excellent newsletter (change it to the one I entered on this form) – but the link you have at the bottom for “unsubscribe or change subscription” takes me to a page that ONLY lets me unsubscribe. I don’t want that!

    So please change that “unsubscribe” page to have TWO options – one for us to change our email addresses to ensure continued service!


  57. Can i get your attention please. ?

    This respect thing on the other end is something I have been puzzled with for a long time. The more I think about it the more I tend to realize that it’s far more complicated than just giving people the things they want all the time. Yes, it’s a nice and warm thought but mankind given the chance doesn’t work all on logical thinking.

    Sometimes you need to be bold and
    cold and vice verse.

    Life tastes 10x better if you had a gun to
    your head the night before.

  58. I couldn’t agree more with Maxjohan. There is a terrible trap in being a “people pleaser” [see Dr. Braiker’s book, “The Disease to Please,” and former Miss America, Sandra LeSourd’s “The Compulsive Woman” – dysfunctionalities that can apply to men, too!).

    You must be true to yourself. You must be forthright. You don’t help anyone by being a “yes man,” and don’t attract anyone by being milk toast.

    Dare to be different. Dare to be yourself. Dare to debunk myths and boldly speak your beliefs and professional prescriptions.

    It’s not always what people WANT to hear… but it can be what they NEED to hear!

    Yes, sometimes the instruction can be delivered in soft, sensitive terms (my usual personality) … But other times it will only get the necessary attention (needed to help someone!) if it hits them straight in the face.

    Be forceful when the situation calls for it – but never be coarse. And always be respectful … even when delivering a punch. Just be sure your motives are pure.

    Not everyone will love you … but you will earn RESPECT!

  59. Use the same level for people, work and your life and respect evrithing. But first, you must belive in you.
    You will earn respect, it’s just question of time.

  60. attention or respect—


    both are in place. the stretch of an own attention with respectful hand, wins the respectful appreciation of those interested in any dealings with us.
    Both are needed – in balance and loving action.
    Loving attention is nothing more or less the actions we take …first toward ourselves…which we stretch to others…
    the gift
    of appreciation and growing both bussiness and the private life.

    I appreciate your inputs

  61. Pingback: i try to be prefice but nothing was worth it i dont believe it makes me real i thought it would be
    •  That’s because this post IS 4-5 years old – look at the trackback at the bottom of the page: 06/14/2008 12:54 PM

      Learning as always Rich, repurpose content for maximum leverage as long as it is still relevant.

  62.  I’ll take this forward with my blogging and future work. Yes I want respect, but I want eyeballs on the posts/work I create (attention).

    I have had some experience of creating attention  with over 1500 views in one day on a particular blog post I wrote last year:

    I think telling it like it is and not with holding information or your thoughts go a long way to creating attention.

  63. @e6a1e2e79296626c94bd0329cddd6057:disqus  If you read Rich’s email he specifically states that he wrote this a few years back! Here is the exact quote from the email I received from Rich this morning.

     “That got me thinking about what I could share with you.

    So on the heels of that livestream, I went digging for something I remembered writing a few years back.”
    Thanks Rich, for bringing this post back up. Definitely something to consider in every business and in life. 

  64. As you’ve mentioned, there are certainly a lot of people that are respected/respectable, but fail to gain any major attention. It would seem to be a balancing act, as gaining attention may call for heavy promotion, basically shining a light on you/your business which can either be very good or very damaging. Be respectable first, then go after attention.

  65. Respect does not necessarily lead to attention.

    Attention *can* lead to and be converted into respect, if the relationship is nutured.

    So it is more important to bring the balance of getting attention, and then bringing in the ‘respect’ factor (social proof, case studies, results etc) in order to convert attention into bottom-line customers.


Leave a Comment