A Great Use For The 80/20 Rule…


In 1906, ecomomist Vilfredo Pareto obeserved that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the people.

A star was born!

In no time, the Pareto Principle… the 80/20 Rule… would become an almost universally accepted measure in teachings on economics, business, technology, and success.

Suddenly, we learned that the top 20% of achievers earn and control 80% of the worlds wealth, while 80% of the population fights over the remaining 20%.

We heard that 20% of salespeople make 80% of all sales… 20% of the members in your church give 80% of what winds up in the collection plate… and the top 20% of taxpayers pay 80% of all taxes.

It also turns out that 20% of what we eat gives us 80% of the real nutrition our body requires… 20% of our clothes are what we wear 80% of the time… and 20% of our customers give us 80% of our revenue.

Yes, it has application to seemingly everything… health, finances, mathematics, even software. As reported a few years ago by Paula Rooney at ChannelWeb, Microsoft calculates that 20% of the bugs are responsible for 80% of all crashes and errors.

Which, of course, my Mac friends seem only too happy talk about… but alas, I digress.

Though as you’ll see… the uses for Pareto’s Principle are only limited by our creativity and our priorities.


I think my favorite part of this principle is the one which states that we should spend 80% of our time on the 20% of activities that really move the dial on our goals.

You see, if we do that effectively, it generates plenty of income so that we can invest the remaining 20% of our time on other worthy projects… projects that are critically important, but which may not add to the bottom line.

For example, I have some incredibly talented friends who run a nationally recognized Ad Agency in which they have turned this rule into a company policy. Yes, they’ve made the rule, well… a rule!

As defined on their website, part of the company philosophy is to invest back 20% of their time and creative assets to help non-profit and community projects through pro bono engagements…

And make everyone’s life a little better in the process.

I don’t know about you, but methinks Vilfredo would be proud…


I look forward to speaking with you soon.


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