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The Team Gurus

Collaborate.  Innovate.  Accelerate.

Is your team equipped to collaborate and deliver exceptional results together?

Mary Walter and Brian Buford serve as trusted advisors to executives and their teams, offering customized solutions matched to the needs of clients and their businesses. We design and facilitate team sessions to accelerate performance and create competitive advantage.

We customize our approach with an efficient assessment process, identifying areas of strength and critical areas of opportunity. Our consulting, workshops, and coaching will enable your team to improve collaboration, innovation and accelerate results.

“Our company was going through a critical transition and it required our senior team to realign and chart a new course for success.  Mary and Brian worked with our team and brought direction and methodology to our work, helping us define strategic focus, alignment and shared values.  I would highly recommend them for any business with a desire for growth.” -John Haugh, CEO Iconix Brand Group

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Inspiring advice about teams and team leadership from exceptional leaders. 
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Brian Buford & Mary Walter

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We are trusted advisors to executives and their teams, offering specialized and targeted solutions aligned with the needs of the teams and the business.

About Us


Mary Walter is a seasoned business change agent, talent developer, and leadership coach. With 20+ years’ experience as a senior executive, she knows the secrets to accelerating team effectiveness and transforming results. Mary serves clients by focusing on measurable change and designing innovative solutions that align with the business model and customer priorities. A few of Mary’s clients include Nike, PetSmart, Amazon, Gap Inc, Sky Zone, and the Network of

Executive Women.

​Mary has deep experience in retail, having worked as an executive for Ross Stores, Gap Inc., Target, and Macy’s. Before launching her firm, Mary was Group Senior Vice President of Ross Stores, inspiring 50,000 associates to deliver unprecedented results in operating margin, EPS growth, and customer service. Ross outperformed peers in management engagement, and rated the company the Happiest Place to Work in Retail. ​Mary has an MBA from Northeastern University.​


Brian Buford is a skilled and versatile leadership coach, talent consultant, team facilitator, and keynote speaker. His client experience spans multiple industries including retail, financial services, technology, telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing, education, municipal and federal government, law, military, non-profit, and professional services firms. Brian has worked with hundreds of leaders and teams across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Prior to founding his own practice, Brian worked at Target Corporation (a Fortune World’s Most Admired Company) for eight years. At Target, he built a development program for top talent, an internal executive coaching program, an Action Learning program, and managed the company's talent development team. Brian facilitated executive programs on change, innovation, diversity, teamwork, and talent management. Brian has a PhD in psychology from The University of Iowa. 

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What Makes Us Different?

There are thousands of coaches, consultants, and facilitators just a Google search away. How do we stand out?

"Brian and Mary were committed to making our strategy meeting extremely meaningful. They had a painstaking focus on planning, and delivered a session that created engagement, clarity and vision for the team. Their customized agenda reflected our changing business needs and priorities. I would be happy to work with them again!" - Silvia Carrol, SVP Chief Human Resources Officer Iconix Brand Group

  • Our work is grounded in the client’s business goals.

  • We focus on results. 

  • We practice what we preach and work as a team.

  • We don’t focus on the team dynamics OR the leader OR the organization – we look at the big picture and integrate all factors in our approach.

  • We design programs with the a short, mid, and long-term mindset.

  • We create real-world experiences that leverage teamwork, not just workshops, programs, or retreats.

  • We use different approaches, methodologies, tools - but the most important source that informs our work is our hands-on experience working inside and outside of organizations.

Executive Team Services

A few examples of typical engagements:

New Leader, New Team

We accelerate the team’s acceptance and support of new leadership, significantly reducing time to results, and speed from starting line to high-performance.


  • Reduce inefficiencies related to conflict, lack of role clarity, and resistance to change

  • Prevent derailment and increase new leader effectiveness

  • Enable internal promotion, protecting institutional knowledge and team engagement

  • Retain team members through a smooth leader transition

  • Accelerate new leader effectiveness and ability to deliver results

In addition to individual interviews, quantitative and qualitative assessment, and a study of the business context, our methodology will include:

  • Assimilation meeting with new leader and their team to set clear expectations, reduce team anxiety and uncertainty, and establish effective team norms

  • Meet with leader to assess needs prior to first meeting

  • Monthly session with leader to identify opportunities and address

  • Facilitation of several  team meetings to observe, practice behaviors, and move team to the next level of performance

Focus Areas

Many factors contribute to a high-performance team. Key focus areas for teams with new leaders: 

  • Role clarity

  • Shared purpose and goals

  • Effective team norms

  • Talent

  • Prioritization

Turnaround / Teams in Transition

We move teams from high-conflict, low-performance and missed results to collaborative, high-achieving and innovative.


  • Equip leader with strategies to drive change

  • Assess talent and make recommendations

  • Pinpoint root causes of issues and develop solutions

  • Identify critical growth areas for leader

In addition to individual interviews, quantitative and qualitative assessment, and a study of the business context, our methodology will include:

  • Facilitate multiple team working sessions

  • Monthly targeted sessions with leader

  • Quarterly check-ins with the next level leader

  • Talent review with leader

  • Observation of meetings/teleconferences as appropriate

Focus Areas
Many factors contribute to a high-performance team. Key focus areas for teams in transition: 

  • Talent

  • Team Leadership

  • Shared Purpose and Goals

  • Role Clarity

Business & Transformational Change

We move teams from a commitment to current practices, business routines, and established beliefs about the business to a new way of working and alignment with new priorities.


  • Alignment with a new mission, goals and approach

  • Address fear of unknown and the inefficiency caused by confusion and complacency

  • Foster innovation through collaboration

  • Define new team success factors

In addition to individual interviews, quantitative and qualitative assessment, and a study of the business contest, our methodology would include:

  • Field/Site visits: we’ll facilitate the team experiencing the future together

  • Facilitated 30 / 60 / 90 day planning team exercise

  • Facilitated goal setting and prioritization

  • Availability for consultation outside of working sessions for unanticipated business and team issue advice

Focus Areas
Many factors contribute to a high-performance team.
Key focus areas for teams facing business transformation and change: 

  • Shared purpose and goals

  • Collaboration

  • Psychological Safety

  • Communication

  • Positivity and optimism

Strategy and Prioritization

You have myriad opportunities, challenges and priorities. We help your team to define the "critical few" that will have the most impact for your success.


  • Narrow the team's focus to enable execution

  • Define the most important goals and outcomes for success

  • Create alignment and buy-in to shared goals

  • Involve teams in strategic planning to improve decision making and harness intellectual horsepower


  • Facilitated goal setting and prioritization

  • Unintended outcomes and trade-offs exercise

  • Timeline planning: what must happen now, what can be delayed for the next business cycle?

  • Resource allocation and ownership exercise

Focus Areas

Many factors contribute to a high-performance team. Key focus areas for teams working through Strategic Planning and prioritization:

  • Shared purpose and goals

  • Learning to sacrifice and prioritize for the team goal

  • Advocacy and Listening

  • Strategic Thinking

Creative Agency

The work of creating an exceptional team pays off exponentially in both business results and team happiness. There is no greater force than an aligned and motivated team!

Mary Walter

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One great leader or brilliant individual isn't enough in a global, "VUCA" marketplace. Only great teams and teamwork generate breakthrough innovation and execution.

Brian Buford

Schedule An Introductory Meeting

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