Books in Brief: Focusing on the Core

Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It. Al Ries. 290 pages. Harper Business, 1996, 212/207-7000.

July 1, 1997

Recently I read a book that changed the way I think about my sales business. Focus author Al Ries says many successful companies or individuals make a common mistake: They don't stay focused on their core business, believing that they’ll be successful in other things as well. Ries provides dozens of real-life examples of successful companies and individuals who divided their attention with too many ventures.

So what can you learn from the book? Just because you're a successful salesperson, it doesn't mean you'll be just as successful in every other venture you try. For example, a successful practitioner I know loved fine restaurants. After many fruitful years in real estate, he figured he'd do just as well running a second business--a restaurant. Nearly three years later, neither his restaurant nor his real estate business was doing well. So he's trying to get out of the restaurant business and back to real estate full time.

Contrary to advice you've probably received about not putting all your eggs in one basket, this book suggests that you place all your eggs in your best basket. If sales are your strength, don't mess with administrative work or toy with fancy computer programs. Successful practitioners I know do what they're best at--selling--and hire assistants to focus on other areas of their business.

Craig Proctor is founder and CEO of Craig Proctor Productions, a real estate coaching company based in Newmarket, Ontario. Before leaving real estate sales at the end of 2009 to focus exclusively on coaching, Proctor spent all 22 years of his career as a top salesperson with RE/MAX International. For more on his selling system, visit

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