Here’s my favorite lesson in all of psychology. If you took a class on psychology or marketing, and your professor never showed you this video, demand a refund. They cheated you.

See if you can count how many times the basketball is thrown around in this video.


What we perceive to be important, a validation of our feelings, or a test of our abilities, is what we pay attention to. We pay no attention to anything else other than what’s pressing us right this very second. We’re selfish by default.

And so we have to work really hard to override this default setting programmed into us from birth.

The basketballs teach us (among too many lessons to fit here) that getting along with others isn’t easy. We need to strain ourselves to look people in the eye. We need to tape our mouths shut while other people talk. It takes work. It takes work because we’d prefer to listen to other people only if other people are talking about us. You’re counting basketballs for different reasons than they are.

This isn’t to say that everyone’s going to ignore you like some banker on wall-street dual-wielding smartphones. Wall-street bankers don’t care about your anxiety because they’re wall-street bankers. They’ve got different basketballs to count. Your therapist and friends and family members care about your anxiety because they consider you (I hope) to be a basketball worth counting.

So how does this relate to marketing? To sharing our ideas with the world?

If we want anyone other than our parents to pay attention to what we create, then we need to find the others who are counting the same basketballs that we’re counting. If we don’t, then our ideas are nothing more than invisible gorillas.

It’s not up to us to change somebody’s beliefs. If they don’t believe that books are worth reading, then they’re not going to read a blog post about reading books. But if they are, then they’re probably going to read your 800 word manifesto on the power of reading.

And so, this all ties into what I call Basketball Marketing. By using the right words, evoking the right emotions, using the proper symbols and images, we can create things that resonate with people who’ve already converted themselves into people who believe in our ideas.

Basketball Marketing is about creating products and experiences that the converts – the people who’ve changed themselves into those who believe in the benefits of drinking mushroom coffee – will automatically connect with. It’s about finding the people who are counting the same basketballs that you’re counting, and ignoring the same gorillas that you’re ignoring.

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