Stop annoying interruptions. Here’s how…

12 05 2013

office hoursDo you keep regular office hours?   If you don’t, you’re making it easier for people to interrupt you, and harder for yourself to get things done.

I assume that you spend time in your business.  Probably a lot of time, and maybe more time than you’d like.  When I say “keep office hours” I don’t mean you should “go to work regularly”.  I mean that you should impose a simple structure that will give you more time.  Read the rest of this entry »


Kill bad meetings forever

4 05 2013

ImageBe honest.  When you and your team are working through a thorny issue, challenge, opportunity or problem do you push forward aggressively to reach a fast, effective workable solution for the greater good of the organization?

If you’re like many leadership teams that’s not what you’re doing.  Instead, you’re flogging an issue to death — repeating arguments, defending personal agendas and delaying decisions for a variety of reasons.  Today’s advice?

Use a good process to make decisions.  Then decide.  Working through a business issue isn’t about making sure that you wrestle every last syllable of discussion out of the topic…it’s about solving the issue, once and for all.  We teach a simple three-step process to help make that happen.

  • Step 1:  Identify the real issue

Too often we see business leaders get wrapped around the axle of symptoms, never addressing the root challenge that needs to be addressed.  Before you charge off on a discussion, get crystal clear on exactly what you should be working on.  Say, for example, your shipping department is consistently behind schedule getting orders out the door.  An ineffective team might debate whether the shipping manager is the right person for the job.  An effective discussion, however, would dig until they identified the root cause of the symptom.  That could be anything from an ineffective shipping manager to poor production scheduling to untimely procurement of raw materials.  The first step in solving any problem forever is making sure that you’re addressing the cause, and not the symptom.

  • Step 2:  Effectively Discuss

The operative word in Step 2 is not “discuss” – it’s “effectively”.   There is a huge difference between an effective discussion and many of the mind-numbing death marches that too often pass for effective discussion.   Bad discussions drag on, they wander off on tangents and they grind painfully through hurdles of individual agendas and lazy decision-making processes.  Some people talk too much.  Some people talk too little.  Many people say the same thing over and over.  And over.

Effective discussions look very different.  For starters, the people in the room are focusing not on multiple agendas but on one – making the best decision for the greater good of the organization.  From there, everyone gets the opportunity to speak their mind one time.  Egos are set aside, no grandstanding, no politicking.  Say what you have to say one time, then listen to everyone else.  Once that’s done, then it’s time for the final step.

  • Step 3:  Solve

Too many tough calls get debated to death and then punted.  Cans get kicked down the road, time gets wasted and nothing gets resolved.  The final step in the process is the most basic, but sometimes the hardest.  Make a decision and move on.  After you’ve had a healthy discussion on a topic with input from everyone then it’s time to decide what you’re going to do, assign responsibilities for getting it done, and move on.  If the team can’t agree on the best way to move forward – and usually a good team can – the personal in charge makes a call and takes responsibility.  Done.

We call the process “IDS” – Identify, Discuss, Solve – and it is a simple yet powerful tool that will help you get more done in a meeting than you ever thought possible.



Good things going on…

17 02 2013

ImageBusinesses evolve, and mine is no exception.  Great things are happening, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing them with you.  This isn’t a sales pitch, just an update…every now and then I figure I get to talk about my business!

When I founded Cōgris less than two years ago we started out with a single focus – offering peer advisory boards for Dallas business owners using the great model and tools provided by The Alternative Board (“TAB”).  TAB is a fabulous vehicle for business owners to get objective advice and counsel, and our local boards are thriving and growing.  In fact, Read the rest of this entry »

Golf and Sales are Easy, Right? Riiiiiiight…

8 11 2012

Today’s guest blogger is Russ Burch, a good friend and a heck of a sales guy.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with my college-aged daughter about sales.  She is an aspiring sales professional, so I am very proud.

She asked me, “Dad, is sales hard?”

I thought about that for a second.  “Not really,” I began, “sales is a lot like playing golf.  All you have to do is hit a ball with a stick.”

“And keep your head down,” I continued.  “You also have to transfer your weight properly during your back swing.”

And as I kept thinking, I realized I wasn’t done.

“Don’t swing too fast on the back swing.  Keep your eye on the ball.  Don’t swing too hard on your follow through. Shift your weight when you follow through.  Turn your hips, and like I said, keep your eye on the ball”

Once I thought about it, I realized that golf is hard!  So is selling hard, too?

You bet it is.  But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be as daunting as golf.  I think you can break your sales focus into four key areas.  Focus on these, and you’ll keep you energy moving in the right direction. Might be a good idea for you to look at your sales organization – or yourself — and see how you stack up in these key areas:

1.  Product Knowledge:                 Seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget that you must understand not just what your products or services do, but how they add VALUE to your clients or customers.  Bells and whistles are cool, but VALUE is what your clients care about.

2Industry Knowledge:                                Know what your competition is up to.  Who are they talking to?  What do their products and services do?  What VALUE do they offer?  How are you different?  What does your client/prospect think about the industry?  What does the industry think about you?

3.  Sales Skills:                   Selling is a profession, and professions require constant learning.  Always learn something new.  Keep your mind sharp with books, blogs, articles, or presentations.  The more you engage in sales-related learning, the sharper your skills will be.

4.  Activity:         This is perhaps the most important factor in whether you’ll be successful in sales.  Want the best sales advice you’ll ever get?  Go do something!!!  Get out of bed, go talk to people, make a phone call.  Connect.  Activity breeds results.

Now go make it a great sales day – and don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball.


Russ Burch

Helping you to navigate the crazy world of sales



Russ Burch writes on sales topics and just ran his first sub-two hour half marathon.  You can reach him at or give him a call at 214-505-4262.


Great free marketing is just a manifesto away…

8 10 2012

After hearing him speak at our recent state-wide TAB Synergy Conference I’ve begun reading Andy Sernovitz’ really fine book “Word of Mouth Marketing”.  Andy’s whole premise is that if you do the right things, people will talk about you – and that’s the best kind of marketing.  I’d encourage you to check out his website.  In the meantime, here are his 13 key concepts, which he refers to as his “Word of Mouth Marketing Manifesto”.   Read the rest of this entry »

Social Media Marketing is Like Exercise…Don’t Get Out of the Habit

3 10 2012

It’s amazing how quickly things can get away from you.  A year ago I was buying a new wardrobe because I’d lost 40 pounds after diligently sticking with an exercise program.  Today?  The exercise regimen is only occasional.  Some of those skinny-guy pants are a little tight.  And why?  Because I allowed myself to get out of the HABIT of exercising.

The same thing can happen with social media.  In fact, it just did.  To me. Read the rest of this entry »

A Few Things I Learned from my First Viral Blog

13 09 2012

After months of blogging for a handful of people a day I posted a blog this Monday that had more than 150,000 hits in 36 hours.  Former President George H. W. Bush commented via his Chief of Staff.  Texas A&M University administrators sent me emails, I reconnected with long-lost old friends and at last count 377 people had left online comments.  I’ve been asked permission to include the blog text in an upcoming book, it’s been featured on numerous websites and (I’m told) published in newspapers. My company Facebook “likes” doubled.

All of this basically overnight.  A former President of the United States was reading my blog.  A week ago not even my mother read my blog.  Before Monday, when I sat down to write a post I assumed I was talking to the same few readers as always — most all of them friends who read it out of a sense of obligation.

Not anymore.  The last two days have taught me an awful lot about the good folks from Texas A&M University, but I’ve also learned some important things about how social media works.

But first let’s set the stage.  Read the rest of this entry »

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