I flew to New York City yesterday.

I hopped in the Uber car and asked the driver to take me directly to the famous Katz Deli, where Harry met (and heard) Sally. I’ve been to NYC close to a dozen times now, and I’ve never had the famous pastrami sandwich.

Today, however, there was no missing it, and the sandwich was glorious.

That’s Katz’s thing – it’s the one thing need to do right all the time. The one thing they do better than anyone else, and the one thing that got them from there, to here. There are others things, of course, but for the most part, that’s their thing. They can’t screw that up. They can’t lose focus on that. If they do, they’re sunk, and they know it.

More often than not, people know what their thing is, but they’re not working on it. The day-to-day minutiae of less critical problems, spur of the moment opportunities, and downright distractions divert energy, time, resources, and focus away from the right thing.

This is why it’s important to engage fresh, third-party eyes like mine every once and a while.

I had a call with a prospect recently. He was convinced that he knew the company’s solution to its current challenge. After a 30-minute discussion, we came to look at it through the lens of their core thing, and suddenly the next steps became much clearer. If you focus on the objective, the rest of your decisions become easier.

Sometimes there’s a tactical thing so primary to your business that if you only focused on that, you’d open the floodgates of growth and need “Noah’s Ark” to handle it. Organizations often know what it is, but they aren’t working on it. Why? Well once again, that bright shiny object pulls focus from the areas that matter most.

Here’s an example.

I had another client recently who decided they needed a better relationship with their customers after the purchase. They wanted to be able to market to those customers, sell to them again, gain repeat business and increase referrals. To do that properly, they needed more customer data. An honest look at their data collection shows the core thing they needed to focus on was not more data, but the means to getting it.
So when that became their thing, they applied immense pressure, focus, and energy to that pursuit. The list grew, and so did the business. They gave the effort ten times of their attention and saw ten times the result.

Today’s Key Question:

What’s the single most critical thing happening, or not happening in your business?

Further to that, what are you (or aren’t you, but should be) doing about it?

Don’t forget about your pastrami sandwich.