You probably learned the Pareto Principle the easy way. Maybe you heard about the concept in the business press—”studies show that in most companies 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of clients.” Or perhaps you picked it up during a time management course—”you should spend 80 percent of your time on the 20 percent of activities that are most useful to you.”
Not me. I learned about Pareto the hard way. As a student in honors political science, I had to read the whole damn book (books, actually, as the work consists of four volumes). My professor, who was French, charming and possessed of a slightly sadistic streak, insisted on it.
Almost 30 years later, I can barely remember I went to university—never mind the contents of a four-volume work by a verbose Italian economist. But I can say that a lifetime of writing has taught me how to try to beat Vilfredo Pareto’s depressing odds.
The first step, of course, is to decide you’re going to beat Pareto. That is, you want more than 20 percent of eyeballs reading your work. And you want more than 20 percent compliance with whatever it is you’re suggesting.
Here are five tricks that will help: