Cover Page




Title Page








List of Illustrations

  1. 1.1 The Over Trilogy Cycle
  2. 2.1 Intentional Attention
  3. 2.2 Attention Pays Framework



About the Author

Think force of nature. Boundless energy. Dubbed the Energizer bunny by event planners worldwide, she's a highly rated keynote speaker and sassy little Aussie. With a down‐to‐earth style, contagious enthusiasm, and sharp business mind, Neen has also authored three books including Folding Time™ and contributed to four books. She is a regular contributor to industry publications and online forums, as well as a sought‐after thought leader in productivity and attention.

Her company provides high‐energy keynotes and executive mentoring. Clients describe her as fun, real, energetic, and wicked smart. Neen is happily married, a self‐proclaimed champagne taste tester, shoe‐loving, proud godmother of Maddie and Ava.

Learn more at



Are you tired of constantly being busy but not productive?

Do you run from one meeting to the next, yet never feel like you achieve results?

Do you feel overwhelmed, overstressed, and overtired?

Are your personal and professional lives suffering because you can't devote quality time and attention to either?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone.

For more than 15 years, I've worked with leaders and professionals in a multitude of industries. Almost every client I work with lists these same concerns within minutes of our first meeting. They all have something else in common, too—the desire to move past their overwhelmed, overstressed, and overtired existence and lead a more fulfilled, productive, and intentional life.

Do you want that, too?

I think most of us do. Yet that possibility seems forever out of reach in a world that constantly demands more from us. It's frustrating when we feel like we work so hard to create a lifestyle for the people we love, and yet we aren't getting enough time with those we care about.

Many clients share with me that they don't feel valued at work, and some share they feel the same at home. That makes my heart sad. I want to fix that, and that is the driving force behind my work and this book.

My clients also tell me they simply don't have enough time in the day to “get it all done.” Can you relate? If so, I will give you the same tough love I give my clients:

You don't have a time management crisis; you have an attention management crisis.

In my work, I show leaders how to be highly productive and achieve lasting work‐life integration. (I don't believe in the work‐life balance myth! More on that later.) It seems there is one fundamental characteristic that too many of today's leaders are lacking: the ability to give their undivided attention to whom and what matters most at that moment.

I'm not talking half‐hearted, kinda listening, multitasking, doing something on your phone attention. I mean deliberate, fully present, look‐them‐in‐the‐eye type of attention.

I see this same attention crisis everywhere I look—in our homes, in our workplaces, in our communities. We think we're paying attention but we're not. As individuals, professionals, and communities, our genuine engagement has dramatically declined. Our attention is being wasted—stolen by technology, constant interruptions, and our own habits.

We have become an attention‐deficit society.

We now accept distracted as the norm. We are so focused on technology, our never‐ending to‐do list, and our lack of time, we fail to pay attention to the people, priorities, and passions that are truly important to us. We are more connected than any time in history and yet more disconnected from ourselves, from each other, from our work, and from our world than ever before.

You know what I am talking about. I know you see it, too. No one truly pays attention anymore.


You might be sitting there thinking, “Really? Attention? Is it that important?”

Yeah, actually it is.

As you'll discover in Chapter 1, the cost of our inattention is real and the consequences are enormous. And I don't mean just financial costs. There are tangible personal, professional, and societal costs to our individual and collective lack of attention.

At a personal level, our health, our relationships, and our opportunities for career advancement suffer significantly when we don't give thoughtful attention to ourselves and the people we care about most. Professionally, lack of attention has a dramatic negative impact on our productivity, employee engagement, sales, and bottom‐line results. Globally, our carelessness has led to irreparable harm to our natural resources, plant and animal species, and the planet itself.

The price we are paying for our inattention is far too great.

You get just one life to lead. How do you want to spend that life? Overwhelmed, overstressed, and overtired? Or joyful, productive, and attentive? Are you squandering the amazing talents and skills you possess because you can't stay focused at work? We have only one planet to care for. What kind of legacy and world are we leaving to our grandchildren?

You may think you are paying attention, but are you giving intentional attention? You may think you are doing work that matters, but maybe you're not. You may think you make people feel like they matter, but do they really?

It's not that we don't want to pay attention. We really are trying.

  • We believe connecting with friends and family through social media creates authentic, meaningful connections.
  • We think survival by multitasking is our only option.
  • We are trying to be all things to all people.
  • We feel that we have to be accessible to everyone all the time.
  • We create mindfulness programs at work.
  • We go to time‐management training programs.
  • We create never‐ending to‐do lists.
  • We spend more time prioritizing our to‐do lists than actually doing our to‐do lists!
  • We try new fancy planners.
  • We download the latest app.
  • We color code our calendars.
  • We read anything we can get our hands on about how to get it all done.

And yet, we still feel frustrated.

We are missing something when it comes to understanding attention.


Have you ever thought about the value of paying attention?

Attention sometimes gets a bad rap in today's society. Perhaps that is because we've come to associate the concept of attention with unrelenting selfies that scream look at me and the constant sharing of every detail of one's life on social media. That is not the type of attention I am talking about. The type of attention I want to share with you in this book is the intentional attention that will help you show up as the best version of yourself in all roles in your life.

We all want and need attention. It's one of our most basic human desires. From our earliest moments as infants, our most basic needs of food, shelter and nurturing are provided by our parents' attention. As adults, the love and acceptance we all crave is granted by others' attention to us.

We don't all need the same kind of attention. It doesn't even have to be a lot of attention—just attention from the people who are important to us. We want to feel that we are the center of somebody's attention, even if we don't want to be the center of everybody's attention.

Attention is critical in our jobs, too. We need focused attention from our leaders and our employees to get work done, to achieve results, to succeed. Our customers and our teams need attention, too. People want to be seen and heard and know that their concerns are being addressed.

Attention is not optional; it's vital. It is attention that drives the results we all want and need.

Perhaps this is why we hear all the time, “Pay attention!” Our parents told us to pay attention. Our teachers told us to pay attention. We tell our kids to pay attention. It's a valuable life lesson.

The issue is that most of us are giving distracted, unfocused attention (like texting while having a conversation). That kind of attention is worthless. It sends the message that the focus of our attention has little real value, meaning, or importance to us.

Intention is what makes attention valuable.

Intentional attention is active. It involves seeing, hearing, and thinking about who is with you and what needs your focus right now. It requires us to choose consciously, act deliberately, and invest transformationally with our attention. That is the essence of Attention Pays—intentionally investing your attention in what matters at the moment: the people you are talking to, the priorities you are acting on, and the passions you are pursuing.

Just as you must first invest your money before you can expect any return, you have to first give attention in order to receive the benefits. We have to give attention to get attention. How can you manage and invest your attention so that it pays? That is the question we are going to answer in this book.

Now before you start thinking this is a narcissistic, hedonistic book about how you can manipulate others to get what you want, just stop. Attention Pays is not about giving to get. Giving others the authentic, deliberate attention they need is transformational—for them and for you. When you meet others' needs, yours will naturally be met, too.

When you give the people, priorities, and passions in your life your undivided attention, in the moment, you reap lasting rewards. When companies give attention first to their team members, clients, and customers, they get the attention they want and need for their products and services. This is not because they are trying to manipulate, but because they stand out among their competitors. And when we give the planet our committed attention, we ensure it will take care of us in the future.

Intentional attention is a gift—one you give the people in your world, and one you give yourself.


Through my research, study, and work with clients such as Viacom, Comcast, Paramount Pictures, Trinity Health, and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, I've seen the power of intentional attention. I've repeatedly witnessed firsthand the extraordinary difference even slight shifts in attention can create in people's lives. That is why the concept of intentional attention is the underpinning of my business practice, my strategy development, and my passion for helping people get from where they are to where they want to be.

My personal mission is to dismantle our attention‐deficit society and create an attention‐surplus economy.

I want the world to stop the “crazy” and pay attention to each other and create more significant moments that matter.

I want to inspire an Attention Revolution to help each of us to move past busyness into productiveness, to make genuine connections and deepen our relationships, to accelerate results and to achieve lasting work–life integration.

I want you to look up at the magnificent world around you and really notice people. I want you to take a moment and look someone deeply in the eyes. I want you to pause, take a breath, and be right here in this very moment.

I want everyone to feel seen and heard. I don't want anyone to ever feel invisible.

Will you join me?

As an executive, leader, parent, business owner, coach, entrepreneur, board member, or all the other roles you fill each day, you can choose how you will invest your attention, time, and energy:

  • Personally—Be Thoughtful as an individual.
  • Professionally—Be Productive as an individual and leader.
  • Globally—Be Responsible for your community and your world.

Together, let's create an Attention Revolution so that those you spend time with at work, home, and in your community will know that they matter to you.


Intentional attention is like currency. When you invest it wisely, it pays meaningful, long‐term dividends. By intentionally and deliberately paying attention to who and what matters, we get the results we want at work, at home, and in our communities. Might it be difficult? You bet! But the ROA—return on attention—is huge!

One of the biggest returns on your intentional attention is the creation of truly defining moments, not just for you, but for others. My wish for you is that you design a life filled with significant moments you will remember, share, and celebrate and that those moments will include the people you love at home and the people you care for at work. I want you to be proud of your successes and create experiences in the world you will never forget.

Creating significant moments is just the start. Intentional attention pays in so many other ways.


  • Deepen relationships
  • Achieve work–life integration
  • Find greater purpose and meaning
  • Create more meaningful memories
  • Increase wealth


  • Create laser focus
  • Boost productivity
  • Accelerate results
  • Increase profitability
  • Enhance accountability
  • Grow client/customer base and sales
  • Improve client/customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Enrich team dynamics and improve morale
  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Get promoted
  • Heighten employee engagement


  • Spread respect and kindness for others
  • Protect vital resources
  • Honor our environment
  • Leave a lasting legacy

We all have responsibilities at work, home, and in our community to pay attention. How well does your attention pay?


Why is it that despite the fact we've been told from childhood to pay attention, we still haven't figured it out? It's not that we aren't smart. It's that so many other things are constantly competing for our attention, and all that competition leads to endless distractions and interruptions.

This book will show you how to change your focus, change your habits, and change your brain so you can pay attention to what matters and make your attention pay. You'll learn how to be intentional with who gets your attention, be productive in what gets your attention, and be responsible for the impact of your attention. I'll give you specific strategies that you can put to use immediately at work and at home. You'll discover how these strategies have paid off for other leaders like you. And of course, we will have fun chatting along the way, and you will learn way more about me than maybe even my mum knows. (Yes, that's how we spell mum in Australia—before any of you want to let me know there is a spelling error in my book!)

I can't change your brain, but you can. That might mean you need to stop some of your behaviors. It might mean you will feel uncomfortable reading through some suggestions. But my wish for you is that you will find new ways to not just pay attention, but also to aspire to attentiveness.

By the time you finish this book (if you make it all the way to the end), you will be more intentional with your attention—if you are willing to put in some effort. Every. Single. Day. Intentional attention is a skill you can build just like you build a muscle, but it takes practice.

Have you ever done yoga? If so, have you heard the instructor say, “Yoga is a daily practice.” Think of attention as yoga for your mind. Intentional attention is a deliberate, daily practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. And it's so worth it. How do I know? Because like you, attention is a daily practice for me. I am a work in progress. The only difference is that maybe I have been practicing a bit longer than you.

We need to come to the mat each day, ready to work with the body and mind we have, to get the strength we need to achieve great things.

Let's choose to truly pay attention to what matters so we can be happier in our relationships, more fulfilled in the work we do, and safer in the world we have created. This way we can create meaning, create success, and create a legacy.

Let's pay more attention together. Ready?


Does Your Attention Pay?