IAM306- CEO Helps Small Business Owners Looking to Grow to The Next Level

Podcast interview with Rob Braiman

Rob Braiman is the CEO / Managing Member of Cogent Analytics, a business management consulting firm. Since 2005, he has personally engaged with over 1800 small to medium size businesses. An entrepreneur himself, he knows, first hand, the challenges of the journey, and his passion is to help others achieve success and long-term profitability that also results in enhancing quality of life. A business analyst by trade, he founded Cogent Analytics in 2014 to provide solutions for small business owners. In 5 years, he has helped many small businesses achieve their goals and in the process has grown Cogent Analytics from 6 people to over 120; and, has ranked on the Inc 500 and Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in the country 2 years in a row (and is on deck for a 3rd).

  • CEO Hack: (1) Continous educational learning (2) Book- Emyth (3) Selling systems for a philosophical approach to sales that can be managed
  • CEO Nugget: Building the right time around yourself
  • CEO Defined: (1) Leader (2) True visionary of any organization



Full Interview

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:30

Hello, hello. hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I've Rob Braiman of Cogent Analytics. Rob, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Rob Braiman 0:40

Gresh, Thank you for having me today.

Gresham Harkless 0:42

No problem. Super excited to have you on and what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Rob so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Rob is the CEO and Managing Member of Cogent Analytics, a business management consulting firm since 2005. He has personally engaged with over 1800 small to medium-sized businesses and is an entrepreneur himself. He knows firsthand the challenges of the journey. And his passion is to help others achieve success and long-term profitability that also results in enhancing the quality of life.

As a business analyst by trade, he founded Cogent Analytics in 2014. To provide solutions for small business owners and five years he has helped many small businesses achieve their goals in the process has grown Cogent Analytics from six people to over 120 and has ranked on the Inc 500 and Inc 5000 fastest-growing companies in the country 2 years (and is on deck for a 3rd). Rob, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO Community?

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Rob Braiman 1:41

Absolutely Gresh. And again, thanks for having me. You know, I was listening, you read my bio. And it's pretty humbling. First and foremost though, I probably have to correct I personally represented somewhere between and I lost count of the number between 1500-1800 clients that I've personally visited with going back to 2002-2003, somewhere in there. And that was prior to and I don't add Cogent Analytics clients that we currently have represented over the last five years to that number. So I come from personal experience and representing small and mid-sized businesses. And that was really the energy that caused me to start Cogent Analytics as its own entity.

Gresham Harkless 2:27

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I mean, that's a perfect segue because I want to hear a little bit more on what was the thing that got you going What was the thing that got you started like, what did you see or not see that said, hey, I want to actually start this business.

Rob Braiman 2:39

So the more casual I get with you Gresh, the more comfortable I will start, I will start saying if those and um, so I apologize for that. But Cogent Analytics, its birth was really from passion, I had worked for another firm for 10 and a half, 11 years. And, I try to explain to people that if you're going to be part of the small business entrepreneur community, it has to be more about the billable hour. And I felt like the firm that I worked for, really drove the build hour more than they drove the results. And although I spent many years there, fundamentally doing it aligned with my own belief system, I was never going to be able to change that institution from within.

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So I always tell the story, I quit twice, the first time was in 2010. And they were able to bring me back, and I left finally in 2013, the understanding that I could never have if they were not going to change their approach to the market, I couldn't participate there. Hence the birth of Cogent Analytics.

Now our firm is my very personal code. It's honor, courage, wisdom, faith, perseverance, and loyalty. And it's the tenants who have strength, power, and character. And for anything I do in my life, whether it's raising my kids, working with a client, or running this firm on behalf of my employees, those tenants of strength, power, and character mean everything in the world to me, and I tried to guide and lead based on those core values. And that I think, is what drives our company the way it does today. We've been very successful. I always say that Cogent Analytics in today's version is not because Rob Braiman is some savant. It's because others have taken that vision and made it their own and fundamentally made it better.

So I think the greatness of this organization and the successes that we've enjoyed is really through the efforts of people who have come to make this family their own. And I think our clients are positively affected by that, by that energy and that value system, and that belief that we start with every day, which is their success.

Gresham Harkless 5:13

Nice. And I absolutely love that. And it kind of makes sense, because a lot of times, I've always felt the most successful businesses, and that is not necessarily from a revenue-generating standpoint, have a really strong mission and sounds like those core values that you have, that you live your life through, you brought into your business, and then it's allowed the team members and everybody to be successful as well.

Rob Braiman 5:35

Absolutely. And then that beneficiary I think, the better we get at building this, we like to say this is a family that acts like a business from time to time, our organic growth is because good people have embraced that value structure. And at the end of the day, I think the greatest impact is on the clients that we represent. So hopefully that gives you a little insight into Rob Braiman, Cogent Analytics, and the respective team that makes this place awesome.

Gresham Harkless 6:05

Yeah, absolutely. The family that acts like a business from time to time, I absolutely love that. And I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper and hear what kind of services, What things are you doing to help support these clients that you're working with.

Rob Braiman 6:18

So we have developed and this is something that I wrote on a whiteboard probably 10 or 15 years ago, but it is the cogent profit platform. And if I would direct your listeners to our website, the profit platform is taking really complex business problems and challenges and distilling them down into the four pillars of business, which really is business development. That is how we go to market, how we sell our goods, and how we represent the brand that we're building. Business Development is both sales and marketing. It's how we drive revenue and organizational engineering, we put a block out there and we just wrote people on it because when you use words like organizational engineering, it drives a deeper conversation, process or process engineering really we labeled as operations.

That's how we perform what we do every day as business owners. And then lastly, KPIs or measurement is what we call that block, which is key performance indicators, both operational and financial. So it incorporates your financial statements, your balance sheet, your cash flow, and how your business is performing relative to wealth creation, which is the spirit of every business owner, a right that didn't go into practice. Most business owners started their businesses because they were technicians and wanted to build a better mousetrap.

And we ultimately distill their challenges down into four key areas that both contribute and detract from profitability when not done so well. So we took complex issues of business, we distilled them down into the profit platform, and from the very beginning conversation we have with our clients. And inside sales to the deliverable we implement and make durable on behalf of our clients, is predicated on the use of that profit platform. Every business has its problems, challenges, and concerns. But you would find that every listener today, if they're a business owner, those problems and challenges and concerns, resides in those four blocks.

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And they would all tell you the story of profitability to its planned maximum or minimum mandatory standard, or they will tell you how they have not hit that number, or they're underperforming the profitability. And I would challenge everybody much like a SWOT analysis, break your business down into those four pillars.

And ask yourself if your profit is not where it's supposed to be. Look for efficiencies in your organization in your process, how do you measure behaviors and performance? How are you driving and pricing the market? How are you developing that brand new call on your own so and there's one thing they won't see on the website which is the big circle that goes around it and that's for another discussion. It's really the element of strategic planning and the exercise that we take our clients through, to be able to engineer a profitable cash-prudent business, that it gives security not just to them and their families, but to the employees and their families, which is really why I think most presidents in owning a business, you'll find it, it's a very selfless behavior. Most presidents really run their businesses.

And their people become part of that long-term family. It's a very personal connection for small business owners to their people and not just their people, but the people in their families. So if that gives you a much clearer understanding of the theory of the coach and analytics profit platform and what we're trying to accomplish on behalf of our clients, I think that's helpful.

Gresham Harkless 10:00

Yeah, it's definitely helpful. And I think that it helps out any entrepreneur and business owner because I think sometimes you can become so overwhelmed. But to me, it synthesizes things down to the overall kind of goal of business, which is to generate that profit. But it talks about each of the different aspects, those four pillars that you talked about, where if there is the lack of, or maybe not to the goal that we want to have of that profit, we can look and see how each of those things is playing in order to increase that or potentially can detract from that. So I love that you broke that down. And is that what you would consider your secret sauce, or what you feel kind of distinguishes you or your organization?

Rob Braiman 10:44

I've never thought that there was a secret sauce, but sure, I will say yes, that is Cogent Analytic's secret sauce. But if I were to take it one step, distilled farther down from there, every business has to generate revenue, every business has to hire good people, and every business has to get those people to follow a process. And there must be a measurement of performance in a place where you can not manage it. So if you don't have measurements in place for financial operation, you're never gonna get a group of people to embrace the process to success. And there's no way you can sell a profitable product without the other three existing. So you can see that it's more of a pie than a destination, all things in the organization must exist to their fullest, for a successful business to occur.

Gresham Harkless 11:32

I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this might be an app or book or a habit that you guys have, or something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Rob Braiman 11:42

So we do continuing education internally. It's an effort that every one of our directors, every one of our department heads, every intermediate manager, one of the things that I think is our secret sauce, so to speak, you asked that question before and we challenge the group to come up with continuing education or learning as it directly relates to the people in their subordinate.

So they read the initiative because I don't believe we needed to cast the die. I think there are a lot of really smart people in this world that offer a good solid perspective on the practice called business. And I can think of a lot of great books out there, Dr. Nam Guard did one, about leadership. There is the E Myth, obviously, that you referred to, there are different selling systems that are available in the marketplace instead of seat-of-the-pants selling. There are selling systems that I would recommend to any business owner to adopt a sales system. And I'm not talking about a CRM, I'm talking about a philosophical approach to sales that can be managed. Hopefully, that's helpful.

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Gresham Harkless 12:53

Yeah, it's definitely helpful. And I think it's so important that continuing education never really ends as well. So you're always trying to learn more and more and more. So I appreciate you for sharing those books and that information with us. And also the quote as well too, because I'm a big believer in energy. And if you put out that energy, then it comes back. Whether it be you know that your clients or employees or whatever, whoever's on your team, it's important to put that out because not only does it help support them, and also helps support you as well. So I appreciate you for sharing that with us. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice or if you can happen to a time machine. What would you tell your younger business self?

Rob Braiman 13:32

I think the one common thread that I have been able to pull out of all of my life experience whether building companies of my own. This is the fourth company I've built or represented others to the point of successful business I keep coming back to building the right team around yourself. Most often and I'll speak about myself throughout my career I've hired people if I have an Achilles heel, I love everybody. I think that people even in their oddities are great. So I like human nature.

Gresham Harkless 14:12

Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So Rob, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Rob Braiman 14:22

Chief Executive Officer is the leader he is the true visionary and I have to be fair, I take that back. She or he is the true visionary of any organization. You know, in the CEO the developer, he or she is the visionary, he or she is the governance that occurs within the organization. The CEO is responsible for the health and welfare financially and operationally of that organization.

Gresham Harkless 14:51

Absolutely that's definitely a great reminder and I appreciate you for taking some time out what I wanted to do was pass you the mic just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers or listeners know and then how best they can find out about all the awesome things that you're doing.

Rob Braiman 15:04

My greatest hope, we do a discovery process. And that's not binding people to consult. But I haven't basically rolled out a discovery process that is a two to five-day event, depending on the size and scope of the company we do between 1,200 and $2,400 on behalf of our clients, so it's an amazing investment. And that's my selfish plug about Cogent Analytics.

Gresham Harkless 15:04

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Rob. I appreciate that. I appreciate you for pulling us out of our forests a little bit today. And I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Rob Braiman 15:04

Gresh would greatly appreciate having me on your show today and taking me through this journey with you. So thank you very kindly.

Outro 15:04

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.



Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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