At Focus Ten Consulting, “we” encourages us to be our better selves. We must consider others while we think of ourselves. It asks us to consider our groups, our teams, our organizations, our customers, our vendors, and everyone else we deal with. And, moreover, it creates community.
The community we are building at Focus Ten is one that provides challenge, opportunity, and reward. We believe in a few core principles:
I am a curious person. I like finding questions to answer and finding more questions in their answers. I like figuring things out and understanding what makes things, people, and groups tick. Working with people who challenge my ideas, assumptions, and knowledge is my professional passion – challenges are a powerful medium for growth.
College took me a bit. Some people take a gap year, I took a gap decade-and-a-half. After entering the University of Cincinnati on a full-tuition scholarship, I left, two years later, on academic probation. Almost thirteen years later, I went back. I graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership. In July of 2020, we picked up and moved to Chicago, so I could pursue a Master of Business Administration at the University of Illinois Chicago. Go Flames! I graduated in May 2022. I was honored to be a commencement speaker.
After flailing at the University of Cincinnati, I found my way into industrial distribution, working at a material handling distribution outfit. I started in outside sales at a small, scrappy firm. A couple of years later, we merged with a family-owned distributorship that was about three times our size. I worked with clients large and small – with varied success. The thing was, I was really young. I joined the first firm at the ripe age of 20. Four years on, I was struggling to get through the door. I could close a sale, but I had a hard time managing a wide-ranging territory and understanding my customers’ needs. I was just too young.
Luckily, my employer saw promise in my talents outside of sales like my affinity for technology and communication skills. Moreover, they saw that I could connect my interest and skills to problem solving in the business. I moved into a support role focusing on marketing and information technology. Over time, I took on many responsibilities in both areas, leading to a management role. While in that role, I led a CRM implementation. At first, I saw it as a cool new tool – something that would solve all of our sales problems. Boy was I wrong. Through that process, I gained a curiosity for how salespeople interact with data and that led, I think, ultimately to why you’re reading this little bio today. There’s more to this story, and I’m happy to share it. Let’s find a time to chat.
Outside of work, I am an avid athlete. Running and rowing are my sports. I have run 5 full marathons, countless half-marathons, and worn through more than my fair share of Brooks running shoes. Running lets me clear my mind, work through a problem and just let go. Rowing is my passion. It’s teamwork at its most pure. It combines individual growth with collective effort and reward.
A Focus Ten is a technique in rowing. Crew rowing, with a boat of 2, 4, or 8 rowers and a coxswain. Rowing is, on paper, a simple activity. The team needs only to drop their oars in water at the same time, drive with the same pressure, pop-out together, and slowly slide back up to the boat as one unit. Perfection is hard to come by. Small problems throw the boat off; overreactions can make it worse.
To correct problems, coaches and coxswains use a Focus Ten strokes. Sometimes it’s for catching together, other times it’s about handle-heights or slide control. Rowing is a series of behaviors that produce a result. When rowers behave out of sync, the boat suffers. The Focus Ten encourages rowers to change their behaviors, to adapt to the boat, and to improve their technique. It’s simple and powerful.
Marketing and sales are behavior-based disciplines. With rowing, a Focus Ten works to create synchronicity and harmony among the rowers. Generally, we want everyone doing the same thing, in the same way, at the same time. Obviously, for sales and marketing, this would be silly. Sellers and marketers have different behavior bases for a reason. Sellers exhibit behaviors to engage with and convert customers while marketers design content and messaging to encourage behaviors from potential buyers. When the behaviors are complementary, things work well. When they are competitive or conflicting, things fall apart.
For sales and marketing, when we take a Focus Ten, we start by understanding the organization, the customer, the market, and the players. From there, we develop, with you and your fellow leaders, plans to adjust behaviors over time. Sometimes we use Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems, sometimes marketing automation, and sometimes one-on-one or group coaching and training.