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The Art of Ruthless Focus: Five Core Strategies That Help You Cut Through the Chaos and Find Long-Term Business Success

There are a million possibilities and distractions out there. But Thomas Hall, author of Ruthless Focus, says the companies that win long-term are the ones that can drown out the noise and keep dancing with the strategy that brought them to the party.

Tampa, FL (September 2010)-Today's entrepreneurs and business leaders must tread a tightrope through a universe of distractions. Information pours into our brains in a relentless, never-ceasing deluge. A rising army of companies across the globe competes for our customers using "new and improved" business models and practices that lead us to second-guess ourselves. Meanwhile, social and economic turbulence threaten to shake apart what we've built. In the eye of this hurricane, it's all too easy to let something very basic yet very crucial slip away.

Focus.

That's right. According to Thomas Hall and Wally Bock, the ability to focus-ruthlessly-in the midst of chaos is what separates the companies that grow steadily and successfully from the ones that get distracted, trot down the wrong side path, and find themselves lost in the forest.

"You've heard the phrase 'Do one thing and do it well'?" asks Hall, coauthor, along with Bock, of Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business (Soft cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-543-1, $19.95; Hard cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-638-4, $32.95). "Well, that's how companies that succeed long-term do it-they concentrate on doing one thing better than anyone else. They block out the external noise and stick to their proverbial knitting until the strategy they're following just doesn't work anymore."

Chico's is the perfect example of what happens when a company focuses ruthlessly-and when it loses that focus. The clothing franchise is known for selling stylish but comfortable clothing to women from 35 to 65 in upscale households. Everything it does, from its Passport Club to its unique "0 to 3" sizing system, is meant to make Baby Boomer women feel special.

As Hall and Bock describe, when Chico's sticks to that simple formula, it grows and thrives. When it gets sidetracked or seduced by other things-marketing to a younger crowd of shoppers, changing its product mix, or expanding into other brands-it begins to flounder. Its stock prices have risen and fallen, predictably, as it veers away from its core strategy and then returns to it again.

So what is a core strategy, anyway? If you're thinking it has something to do with complex planning exercises that end in piles of binders, you're wrong. A good strategy is simple and useful. It boils down to how you answer two questions:

How are we going to beat the competition?

How are we going to make money?

Based on their experience running companies, working with companies, and studying what makes companies succeed and fail, Hall and Bock have identified five basic strategies you can use as models for your business. Here's a simple and straightforward overview:

STRATEGY #1: OPPORTUNITY

Implementing an Opportunity Strategy means doing something different from what everyone else in your industry is doing. Think "game-changer"-you take bold action that transforms a business or the way a business is run.

"To be successful using this strategy, you must have the ability to spot big opportunities, and that ability will probably grow out of your own experience," says Hall. "You're more likely to either see an opportunity in your own industry, or see how you can apply an idea from an industry you're familiar with to a new industry."

OPPORTUNITY in Action: Staples

In 1985, when interviewing for the CEO position at Makro, a European warehouse-type store, Staples' founder, Tom Stemberg, visited one of the company's stores. The store sold all kinds of merchandise including clothing, electronics, food, and toys. But what caught Stemberg's eye was the fact that the store's office supplies were flying off the shelves.

Thus, the idea for Staples was born. Stemberg and his business partner, Leo Kahn, would create (as Stemberg calls it) the "Toys 'R Us" for office supplies. But to be successful, Stemberg knew he would have to prove to small business owners that his store could benefit them.

With research he found that small business owners might know that they were overpaying for office supplies, but they were sure it didn't amount to enough to make that much of a difference to their bottom line. He and Kahn realized if they were going to succeed, they would have to convince small business owners of three things:

1.      There was a huge difference between what they paid for office supply items and what big businesses paid for them.

2.      That difference added up to enough that it was worth paying attention to.

3.      The buying process would have to change if they were going to reap the savings Staples could offer.

Staples began administrative operations in January 1986. The first store opened on May 1, in Brighton, Massachusetts. Things moved slowly in the beginning, but in May 1989, Staples went public. The offering raised money to finance even more new stores. By 2000, Staples had delivered 12 consecutive years of more than 30 percent growth in sales and earnings.

STRATEGY #2: TECHNOLOGY



Companies following the Technology Strategy use technology to transform a market. (This is not to be confused with using technology to magnify the strategy you do follow-a practice that applies to almost every company.)

"Very few companies use technology as a core strategy," says Hall. "Amazon is one of my favorite examples. Most people think of it as a bookseller that happens to sell online. But that's a misconception. Amazon isn't a 'bookseller.' It isn't even a retailer. It's a business that uses different kinds of technology that create a multitude of profit streams."

TECHNOLOGY in Action: Amazon

In 1994, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, read that the internet was growing at a rate of 2,300 percent per year. Bezos knew there was opportunity in anything growing that fast. So he left the firm he was working for to start his own business. Bezos knew that technology was going to allow millions of people to go online and buy things. But he wasn't sure what the best online business would be. However, he kept coming back to books.

Amazon opened for business in July 1995. It sold more than $12,000 worth of books the first week. By the end of the first month, Amazon had sold books to people in all 50 states. By the end of 1996, Amazon had revenues of $15.7 million. Amazon went public in May 1997. By the end of the year, share prices had risen over 200 percent. In 1998, Amazon was still growing, but it was still a books-only and U.S.-only business. By 2000, it would be doing business in 20 countries and more than half of the Year 2000 revenues came from products other than books.

Amazon's ruthless focus on technology has made the company a trailblazer. It developed some of the basic tools of e-commerce. It developed the software that makes recommendations to you when you visit the site. It developed some of the first "Wish Lists" and the first one-click ordering system. Amazon also leverages its electronic capacity allowing businesses and individuals to rent online storage. And most recently, it developed the Kindle e-reader and its digital warehouse of more than 300,000 books in Kindle format.

Amazon uses the tactics that work again and again. And it leverages its technology. As it develops software and expertise, it uses those to start new businesses.

STRATEGY #3: IMPLEMENTATION



The Implementation Strategy is built on superior execution. 

"Success in this strategy lies in executing the details effectively and efficiently every time," says Hall. "You have to work for continuous improvement in the basics and make sure you do them better than anyone else."

IMPLEMENTATION in Action: Walmart

In 1948, Sam Walton opened "Walton's Five and Dime" in Bentonville, Arkansas. Business was soon thriving and he opened store after store. Before long, he had sixteen variety stores scattered across Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. Walton had a winning formula, offering low prices in clean stores that were open at convenient times. He could make money doing that because he bought in quantity, bargained hard, and tried to make everything as efficient as possible.

By the early 1960s, Walton was riding high. He was the largest independent variety store operator in the country. He decided to capitalize on the suburban sprawl that was taking place in the country at that time. Walton had always thought he would do better with bigger stores, so he experimented by opening a 13,000-square-foot store called "Walton's Family Center" in St. Robert, Missouri, a town of only 1,500. Even though the town was small, sales were not. The store took off like a rocket.

The next few years would see a number of discounters come and mostly go. In addition to Target, Kmart, Gibson, and Walmart, there would be names like Woolco, Ayr-Way, GEM, and Fisher's Big Wheel. Walmart is the one that became the giant. In 1979, Walmart had $1 billion in sales for the year. By 1993, it was doing $1 billion a week. In 2001, Walmart had billion-dollar days. By 2008, with revenues of $405 billion, it was averaging more than a billion dollars a day.

A retailer with a "lowest price" value proposition can make money with a ruthless focus on only two things. You have to pay attention to the business basics. With low margins you're always running close to the edge. And, you have to maintain a ruthless focus on operations. You have to drive cost out of them. You have to improve them and make them more efficient. That's what Walmart did.    

STRATEGY #4: DIFFERENTIATION

The Differentiation Strategy defines a niche that companies can exploit and defend. Companies that use it as a core strategy are looking for more than competitive advantage. They're looking for "sustainable" competitive advantage. They focus ruthlessly on doing the things that help them not only stand out, but stand apart.

"In traditional economics, there's only one way for a company to beat the competition," says Hall. "You must create more value for the customer by giving him or her more for his or her money. Difference is not enough. You have to give the customer what he or she wants. If you don't accomplish this, it doesn't matter how different you are."

DIFFERENTIATION in Action: Publix Supermarkets

Publix is the largest employee-owned company in America, and it's very successful. The company's success, however, begins with its founder, George Jenkins.

Jenkins had already owned two successful grocery stores in Winter Haven, Florida, when he opened the state's first supermarket there in 1940. The store was amazing. Jenkins called it a "food palace," but he named it Publix Supermarket. After the war, he bought a 19-store chain of supermarkets and refitted all of them to match his "food palace."

In 1951, he moved his headquarters to Lakeland, Florida. Expansion and innovation continued. In 1956, Publix achieved $50 million in sales for the first time. In 1959, it became the largest supermarket chain in Florida. In 1970, sales hit $500 million. In 1974, they hit $1 billion. Fast forward 35 years, and in 2009, Publix opened store number 1,000 in St. Augustine, Florida. Today the company operates stores in five Southern states.

Part of what makes Publix a success is a ruthless focus on making the customer experience great. This goes far beyond "customer value." It extends to the entire experience of doing business with Publix. It includes parking and store design and the selection and quality of the food. It includes how well the shelves are stocked and the in-store services. It includes the check-out experience.

Outside of every market, you can read the company's slogan: "Publix, where shopping is a pleasure." The entire culture at Publix-one where people work hard in a supportive, upbeat environment-supports that slogan. If you boil its secret of success down to its essence, it's a ruthless focus on people and doing what's best for them. Some of those people are the people who work at Publix. And some are the people who shop there.

STRATEGY #5: ACQUISITION

The Acquisition Strategy calls for companies to create growth and development by acquiring other companies. This can be a dangerous strategy, but companies that master the process are among the fastest growing companies in the world.

"The theory behind an acquisition strategy is based on two concepts," says Hall. "First, the company should be able to spread general administrative costs over several units and consolidate resources in a way that improves profitability. And second, an acquiring company can reduce the risk of doing business in a single market by spreading the risk over several markets or locations. This is a similar argument for diversifying an investment portfolio."

All successful acquirers have five important factors in common: 

1. They have done enough acquisitions to learn what works and what doesn't for them.

2. They have a clear idea of why they're acquiring companies beyond a simple goal of growth.

3. They recognize that people and relationships are keys to business success.

4. They understand that the deal isn't done until integration is complete.

5. They have a standardized, but flexible, process for doing acquisitions.

ACQUISITION in Action: Cisco

Cisco is one of the best-known companies with an acquisition strategy. Since its first acquisition in 1993, a small switch maker named Crescendo Communications, Cisco has gobbled up more than 100 companies.

It's become Cisco's core strategy. Where other tech companies may use R & D (Research & Development) to come up with products, you could say that Cisco uses "A & D" (Acquisition & Development).

Cisco has received a lot of good press for its "acquisition playbook," but it's doing the same thing that other successful acquirers do. It has learned how to do acquisitions right by doing enough of them to climb the learning curve. Now Cisco has managed to standardize the process so it can repeat success. 

While the authors say they never meant for their book to provide "six simple steps to success," their compelling analysis of these and other real-world companies will inspire readers to revisit and refine their own strategies.

"From time to time, I think every company has to step back, take a critical look at itself, and ask, 'What is it we're really trying to do here?'" says Hall. "That's why we wrote this book-we want to help readers shine a spotlight on the core strategy they've chosen and to remind themselves what can happen when they put it at the center of their world and keep it there.

"When you can confidently say, 'I'm clear on my strategy and now I'm going to eliminate anything that doesn't fit,' you've won half the battle," he adds. "You might be surprised by how many of your competitors can't say that.

"We tell our readers to ruthlessly focus on a single growth strategy, redesign their organizations to support it, and relentlessly execute, execute, execute."

# # # 

Getting in (Ruthless) Focus: Seven Lessons to Help You Build a Better Business

Excerpted from Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business (Soft cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-543-1, $19.95; Hard cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-638-4, $32.95) by Thomas Hall and Wally Bock. 

An old Caterpillar ad used to say, "There are no easy answers. There are just intelligent choices." That's how Thomas Hall, coauthor (with Wally Bock) of Ruthless Focus, thinks about his book: "It can't tell you exactly what to do with your business, but it can help you point yourself down the right path," he writes.

Below you'll find a few key lessons to consider as you start your journey. They're the red threads that run through the stories of the companies profiled in the book-companies that have been profitable and competitive for a long time:

LESSON 1: You need a core strategy. Your strategy can take different forms. It can be a detailed plan or even a whole department, the way things were at General Electric just before Jack Welch took over. Or your strategy can be expressed in a few sentences. The form doesn't matter if the strategy guides all your actions.



Your core strategy is the strategy you cluster everything else around. It should follow four key factors:

1. It should be simple and understandable.

2. It should fit your organization.

3. It should work in the competitive environment.

4. It should be profitable.  

Think of your core strategy as "the way we succeed." Bottom line, for long-term competitive advantage and profitability, you need a single core strategy, and you need to focus ruthlessly on achieving it.

LESSON 2: You must ruthlessly focus on the core strategy. You can't ride more than one horse to victory.  

The hard part of ruthless focus is passing up temptation. That temptation often creates a difference between the core strategy you say you have and the core strategy you actually have.  

When you divide your attention among multiple strategies, bad things happen. The energy of key people is spread across several different kinds of business. It's like multitasking for companies. And the different projects compete with each other for resources. 

Ruthless focus on the core strategy gives you two benefits right off the bat. You devote resources to the most important activities. And, even more important, you concentrate your brain power on making things better.

LESSON 3: Keep finding ways to do things better. When you're not spending all your time thinking about the next new and magical strategy, you can spend your energy and creativity on making the business better.  

At Ritz-Carlton, Toyota, and Nucor, workers are expected to contribute useful ideas. 

Nucor knows half of those new ideas won't work. That's okay. Those "failures" might turn into successes with a small modification, or that "failure" can inspire a different idea that works. 

The idea behind a ruthless focus on a single core strategy is that you will be able to put your energy and resources into doing things better and better and better.  

LESSON 4: Use it until it doesn't work anymore. When you've got something that's working well, it rarely gets better if you try to change it fundamentally. The successful companies we studied are ruthless about staying with their basic strategy until it doesn't work for them anymore. One reason may be that they think of strategy differently from most companies. 

In 2009, Forbes Insights and SAP released a study called "Closing the Alignment Gap." The gap was the gap between strategy and operations. 

After surveying 200 top executives in large companies around the world and interviewing some of them in depth, Forbes and SAP came up with some startling findings. Ninety-three percent of the executives had "updated or revised their corporate strategy or priorities because of the recession." 

The companies we studied don't seem to swing strategy around that way. Walmart, Toyota, Enterprise, and Publix, for example, have all been in business for more than 50 years with the same strategy. They've been through the ups and downs in the economy.  

If you don't have a working success strategy yet, don't despair. John Ferolito and Don Vultaggio went from one key idea to another for 30 years before they hit on AriZona Iced Tea. But then they shifted to a ruthless focus on a strategy of producing "New Age" drinks. When you find something that works, stay with it. 

LESSON 5: Focus ruthlessly on business basics. Whatever you do, don't forget the business basics. They won't make you a great company, but avoiding them can keep you from becoming a great company.  

There's no better example than Pets.com. It was a great company at marketing. But it was lousy at paying attention to profit and cash flow. The result was that it lost money on every sale and went out of business.



LESSON 6: Keep things simple. We've already said that your core strategy should be simple and understandable. But if you review the successful companies profiled in Ruthless Focus, you'll see they work hard to keep other things simple, too.  

Nucor has a radically simple structure compared to its competition. It's got fewer levels of management, a streamlined headquarters staff, and starkly simple pay and personnel policies.

Successful companies don't try to measure every little thing. Enterprise only looks at two or three simple measures of customer satisfaction that it turns into a single score.



LESSON 7: Systems + People + Culture = Profit. Lots of companies claim that people are their most valuable resource. Many don't act like it. Companies with ruthless focus act like their people are a valuable resource. It starts with an attitude about what's important.

These companies shy away from having talking head CEOs and instead keep the emphasis on making the business better.

That starts with hiring. The successful companies profiled in Ruthless Focus hire smart because they know what to look for, and they're patient.  

Ritz-Carlton looks for people who delight in helping other people. Enterprise looks for people with an entrepreneurial attitude who can become great branch managers. Brown & Brown selects people who will thrive in their sales culture. Publix Supermarkets wants people working at its stores who live in the neighborhood. 

The companies pay a great deal of attention to bringing people on board, training them, and orienting them to the company culture. They weed out the ones who don't fit.  

That strong emphasis on fitting into a strong culture can make these companies seem cult-like. The fact is that if you're a poor fit for the culture, you will hate it. If you're a good fit, you will think it's great.  

The successful companies we studied act as if they value people. They support them and strive to make their place a great one to work. 

# # #

Going Under the Microscope: Key Action Steps to Help You Ruthlessly Focus on Your Business

Excerpted from Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business (Soft cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-543-1, $19.95; Hard cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-638-4, $32.95) by Thomas Hall and Wally Bock.





It's one thing to read about other companies getting "ruthlessly focused"-and quite another to do it yourself. That's why Thomas Hall and Wally Bock feature "Action Steps" at the end of each section of Ruthless Focus: to help you apply these principles to your own business. Here is a sampling of questions to ask yourself when you're ready to put your company under the ruthless focus microscope:

THE BASICS

Do some homework on your business and industry. What are the most successful companies? What do they do differently?

Analyze your company. Where are you on the growth cycle? Are there any predictable crises ahead?



INTRODUCTION TO STRATEGIES



Analyze strategies currently in use in your industry. What are your competitors using? What are you using?

Assess the strength of your key team. Are there holes in skills and experience that you need to fill? Does your strategy need to change to better reflect your team or vice versa?

Write down your core strategy in two sentences or less (à la "We are the low fare airline). Ask your management team to do the same. Ask at least five employees and five customers to do it, too. Then compare the statements and make changes where needed-either in communicating your strategy or shifting your strategy if necessary



STRATEGY #1: OPPORTUNITY

Analyze your industry for big opportunities. Can you identify a new business model that would transform your market?

Analyze your company's performance over the past three years. Where have you been most successful, most profitable, and most effective? Where have you failed? Do the same for your competitors.

What ideas can you adapt from SeaLand, Staples, Keller Williams, Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons, or Sykes Enterprises?

STRATEGY #2: TECHNOLOGY

Analyze the effects of technology on your business and industry. What technologies have changed the way you and your competitors do business?

List at least six ways you could use technology to make your company more effective.



STRATEGY #3: IMPLEMENTATION

Analyze your operations. Are there any services or products that aren't contributing to profits?

List some ways you could change your current operations to make a quantum leap in productivity.

What do Walmart, Toyota, or Ritz-Carlton do that you could adapt to your business?



STRATEGY #4: DIFFERENTIATION

If you asked your customers to identify what you're known for, what would they say?

What's the single most important thing for you to measure?

Review your customers by type and experience. Which ones have been with you the longest? Which are the most profitable? Which ones are best suited for your business systems and your team? How can you better serve the most profitable and best suited?



STRATEGY #5: ACQUISITION

Take a look at other companies in your business and similar businesses that are in the fast-growth category. What do they do differently?

Visit a different company every week for three months. Make notes on what they do that you can adapt.

# # # 

A Strategy Pop Quiz: Seven Quick Questions for New "Core Strategists"...and Old Pros Excerpted from Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business (Soft cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-543-1, $19.95; Hard cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-638-4, $32.95) by Thomas Hall and Wally Bock.

Four questions to help you choose and develop a core strategy...

1. Did we choose one strategy that builds on our strengths and experience?

Most of the successful companies in Ruthless Focus didn't just pick a strategy or business model out of the air. They chose them based on their own experience. For example, Sam Walton had been in general merchandise retailing for years. Your experience will help you see opportunities and understand industry dynamics. By using your experience to choose your core strategy, you'll be capitalizing on your gut sense of the business.

2. Does our strategy answer the two basic strategy questions?

Despite what the gurus may tell you, strategy is pretty simple. You need to choose a strategy that will help you answer these two basic questions:

How are we going to beat the competition? If your business is in an industry you understand, you will have a good idea of who your customers are and what they really buy from you. You will have a clear idea of your value proposition. And, you should be able to analyze the competition too. How are we going to make money? Some people call this part the "business model." Whatever you do, you have to make a profit. Part of your strategy is deciding how that will happen. 3. Have we put our strategy in a sentence or two?

This is key. You should be able to describe your strategy in a couple of crisp sentences. You should be able to use that statement to test everything you do.

When you think you've got it, explain your strategy to an intelligent 15-year-old. Most 15-year-olds are perfect for this exercise for several reasons. They're smart enough to understand any business concept imaginable. Most don't care about business, so their opinions aren't tainted by some prejudice. They get bored easy, so a short, clear description will work best. Don't move ahead with your strategy until it passes some version of the intelligent 15-year-old test.

4. What are our key success factors? That last thing you need to do before putting things into action is to decide the most important things you need to do in order to succeed. Those are the things to measure every day.

Identify your key success factors. Work out a simple way to measure them frequently and at the right operational level. Then make ruthless focus on those measurements part of your success plan.

...and three more to help you stay on track!

5. Are we focusing ruthlessly on our core strategy? Ruthless focus on the core strategy is how the companies we studied became and remained successful. That starts with obsessive communication of the strategy.

You may be tired of talking about your strategy. That doesn't matter. It's important to make your simple statement part of everyday life in your company.

Ritz-Carlton is a superb example. It's taken the ideas of "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen" and "the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission" and made sure they were part of every aspect of life at the hotel. 

It's part of basic training. There are reminder cards and rituals. It's part of the reward systems. And there's daily training that includes stories of exceptional customer service.  

Don't stray. Use your strategy statement to test every action you're considering. Does it fit your mission? If it does, implement it enthusiastically. If it doesn't, ruthlessly eliminate it.

6. Have we stayed with it long enough? In America today, businesses seem to jump from one strategy or business idea to another; most of the time, they don't give the new strategy or initiative the time to work.

Just compare Yahoo! with Amazon. Yahoo! has shifted from one strategy to another for most of its existence. The result is a company with no focus and few profits.

Amazon is very different. Jeff Bezos stayed with his strategy even when the investment community and most of the business press was sure it was flawed and would never work.

7. Is it still working? If your strategy is still working, stay with it. Don't change to a new strategy. Don't dilute your efforts with side ventures.

Remember the tale of Chico's. When it maintained its ruthless focus in selling "unique clothing that Baby Boomer women want to buy," it prospered. Every time it slipped away from ruthless focus on the core strategy, it got into trouble. 

Now compare that with Walmart or Publix Supermarkets or Toyota. They've used the same core strategy for decades. "If it ain't broke, there's not only no need to fix it, it's dangerous to try."  

And, don't take that to mean you should stay with your strategy no matter what. Throughout history new technologies or dramatic changes in markets have rendered old strategies obsolete.  

When that happens, staying with a strategy that used to work is dangerous. It's also human nature. Bethlehem Steel clung to its old ways when disruptive technologies and shifting markets were changing the steel business. It poured money and energy into the old ways, while Nucor seized opportunities.

# # #

About the Authors:

Tom Hall has spent most of his career advising clients on growth as well as growing companies himself. He founded and built the largest advertising education organization in the country and sold it; he built and sold an advertising firm to a national company; he developed a system for public service advertising now used throughout the U.S.; he has built a multi-million-dollar property investment firm; and he chairs a communication firm based in Florida. 

Tom has worked with many successful growth companies since his earliest days in business and has learned from clients and fellow business owners how to make strategy work. Over the years he has served as marketing and growth counsel to numerous national organizations including Sears, General Foods, Wendy's International, Fox Television Network, U.S. Healthcare, Federated Stores, Tishman Speyer Properties, National Sea Products, Citibank, and Johnson & Johnson among others. He has also worked with many regional fast-growth and start-up companies.

He began researching fast-growth organization strategies in 1998 and sought to uncover why some companies are able to use strategy for both short- and long-term success and others seem to lose steam and plateau-never reaching their full potential.

Tom has been a guest lecturer at the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, Florida Southern College, the University of Tampa, and the University of South Florida, in addition to speaking to various business groups including the American Advertising Association. He served on the National Committee on Improving Advertising of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and on the National Advertising Review Board.

Wally Bock is a writer, speaker, and consultant who specializes in learning and sharing how leadership and strategy combine to create successful companies. He is the author or coauthor of several books and writes the award-winning Three Star Leadership Blog. Wally is based in Charlotte, NC.

About the Book:

Ruthless Focus: How to Use Key Core Strategies to Grow Your Business (Soft cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-543-1, $19.95; Hard cover: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-60844-638-4, $32.95) is available in bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

For more information, please visit www.ruthlessfocus.com.

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