Monthly Archives: April 2014

I’m My Own Worst Enemy When It Comes to Distractions


by Johanna Lubahn


I have a big proposal to write in a short time. It’s an involved proposal and doesn’t follow our standard template. It requires notes from several discussions and several people on our team. I am not a big fan of writing in the first place so this task is a little daunting for me. To meet the deadline, I have blocked out my calendar, set my alarm early every day and cancelled any evening plans. It’s all or nothing right now, and I need all the time I can get. To make it a little more challenging, one of the team is halfway around the world, so talking and getting a plan in place is difficult; thank goodness for email.

But even with all the preparation—the notes, the calls, the emails, the blocked-out calendar time—I find that I still have a distraction: myself. My phone is not ringing right now as most of our team knows I am working on this. I am not receiving a lot of emails. With all this quiet, I somehow find ways to distract myself.

I dilly-dally around, shuffling papers after I type a few things; I look out the window; I change the music; I open the window; I check for emails; I check for voice-mail messages. What’s my problem? I’m not using focal locking for my project. I need to find a time and place to keep myself focused and remind myself to STAY focused. If I don’t, the deadline will come anyway, and I will be tired, cranky and fail to do my best work.

Knowing this, I am recognizing more quickly when I’m distracted. I’m reminding myself to stay focused and getting right back to writing, because I am capable of completing this task. That’s all for now; I’ve got to get back to work.

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.




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Available August 12, 2014



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Collaboration Can Ensure You Never Move Forward

Well, there is a way to move your organization forward and there is a way NOT to move your organization forward …. it’s called COLLABORATION.

teamwork, leadership, leaders, goals

Why would collaboration be a blocker?  Because without a structured process, it’s a great way to invite objections and ensure that all voices, even the resistors get their way, not the way of the organization, but their way.

 Why not maintain the status quo anyway?  We understand that with all the changes taking place for people, processes and technology, it’s a challenge just to keep the status quo.  Unfortunately for the steady-as-it-goes-crowd, top performers are not thinking about how to maintain the status quo, they are thinking about how to smash new goals, introduce breakthrough products and processes and push forward.

The Leadership Unpopularity Law from Cohen Brown is, “You don’t have to be disliked to be a great leader, but you cannot be afraid to be disliked.”  Well, that is a game changer for some leaders as they may be afraid to be disliked and they think that means keeping the status quo.  But what if the status quo really isn’t working for the team?  What if the team really wants improvements and it’s just the leader who is afraid of the change or afraid to lead the change?

Well, for all the meek and mild leaders, we have a way to for you to engage the team and get the change that is needed.  This is a paradigm shift of telling people what to do.  It involves getting all the ideas from the team in a brainstorm session, then letting the entire team vote on their favorites and providing their commitments to move forward.  How hard is that?  And you don’t have to worry about being unpopular, you’ll be popular with everyone because everyone had input.  It just takes breaking the status quo of leadership behaviors to try new ways to engage the team.

Collaboration can be a great way to get great ideas and smash new goals.  But use it the right way.  So protecting the status quo with getting collaboration from the team may be on your personal agenda but it won’t be on the company’s agenda and it won’t be on the hitting new goals agenda.  Engaging the team with a structured collaboration process and moving forward is about the only option companies who are serious about growing have now.

P.S. Just by reading this blog you may have changed your leadership behaviors, that wasn’t so bad was it?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

The Structured Time and Workflow Re-play

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014 President, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Cohen Brown Management Group, Edward G. Brown and Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Consulting Solutions for Cohen Brown Management Group, James Bywater, hosted a Structured Time and Workflow Management webinar.  In case you missed the live call, here is the replay.

(Click the image below to be taken to the video)

stwm webinar

Focal Locking Martial Arts

shutterstock_139929361 (2)

I am a full-time consultant with the Cohen Brown Management Group, and I love my job. But there is another part of me which is a devoted Mum to a nearly-11-year-old daughter. Until now she has been the sunshine of my life; everything was easy-going; she was a straight-A student, and there was always a strong bond between us.

Recently, I have the feeling she is living on a different planet! I ask her to run an errand, she agrees and then forgets. I remind her of a quiz in Spanish, she nods and tells me she’s fine, but then forgets to take her Spanish books to school. It is Spring time, so in the morning she has to wear a jacket which she then forgets at school as it “got so much warmer” during the day. I could go on endlessly. I am aware that she is in this strange phase called puberty, but where has my reliable girl gone?

What bugs me most is that we are spending our precious time arguing, sometimes even shouting at each other, then hugging and saying we love each other, but whatever we discuss, she hardly puts anything into practice.

So last week I asked her to sit down, and I used something I learned from Ed Brown and his book “The Time Bandit Solution”, an exercise called “Focal Locking Martial Arts”. I knew this would resonate with my daughter as she is a highly skilled Jiu Jitsu fighter.

Each step of Focal Locking Martial Arts is designed to empty the mind of all sources of distraction, so you will be able to focus on the task at hand. Here is what I taught my daughter:

  1. Find a chair with a hard back.
  2. Remove your shoes, take inventory of your entire body by first noticing your ankles, your toes, and your fingers.
  3. Rub your fingers together, move your toes – warm up your extremities.
  4. Relax all of them as best as you can.
  5. Close your eyes and breathe normally, use a mental mantra called “calm”.
  6. With your eyes closed, slowly inhale, fill your lungs with oxygen.
  7. Now, just as slowly, exhale, and at the same time stay focused on the mantra “calm”.

And the result? It is not as if my daughter has suddenly changed, but more and more she uses this exercise when it is important for her to focus and to “get her act together”. She calms down, concentrates, and mother and daughter are happy again.

Thank you, Ed!

Claudia Irmer is a Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management. Within the European Team, Claudia covers the territory of UK, continental Europe, and the Middle East.

Time Bandit Solution, books, time management, interruptions, focal locking, mental martial arts



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Available August 12, 2014