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Need to Raise Your Game in 2010? Be a Mentor.

I remember listening to one of my mentors, Dr. Ike, who was speaking about living an extraordinary life, and found something that I could really sink my teeth into.  His delivery wasn’t academic – you know, the typical “10 Steps to Stepping Into Your new Life” or something like that.  It was, rather, along the lines of a course filled with testaments of trial, error and progress.

You see: being extraordinary isn’t like turning on a light bulb “bam!” you’re FABULAS!; it is a process that takes work.

While the series was indeed more than I had expected it to be, what made the difference for me was that I learned, later, that he was living by the set of standards that he encouraged in others.  What I mean by that as I looked back, or thought back over the things that I’ve seen him do, he ALWAYS strove to be extraordinary.  The goes from the books he’s written to the talks he’s given to his office to the projects he’s undertaken.

Part of what drives him to be extraordinary every day is that he’s got to keep the standard that he recommends to other people.

I know that because every day that I talk about being an extraordinary leader, and running an extraordinary business, I focus focusing my energies “walking my talk,” as they say, without excuse.  If I am going to talk about being extraordinary, I need to focus my energies on demonstrating it, as well.

Wouldn’t it be great for you to identify some area of expertise that you have and mentor someone in it?  If you are doing web design, showing others how to do their designs better would probably encourage you to do better.  If you are a teacher, teaching someone else how to teach might encourage you to dig deeper. If you are a line cook, mentoring someone else might help you work faster.

So it stands to say: If you want a method to raise your game in 2010: Mentor someone else.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Mentor,extraordinary,leader,management and leadership,business growth Strategies,employees
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It’s NOT About What you FEEL Like Doing!

I’ve got three teenagers whose response to why they haven’t done certain things is “because I don’t feel like it.”  This could be anything, from getting up in the morning, to eating breakfast to cleaning their rooms, to going outside, etc., etc., etc..  (notice – three etceteras!)  My goal, while often realizing I could have more impact on a brick wall, is to remind them that it isn’t about what they FEEL like doing: certain things just must be done!

Having an extraordinary business and being an extraordinary leader isn’t about doing what you FEEL like doing, it is about identifying what needs to be done and doing it!  Whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done.

The ongoing challenge I get from business leaders is that there’s never enough time.  Recognize that there will always be work to do, and something that must be done.  It is like a horizon – every time you think you’ve just about reached it, the horizon has moved that much further away.

The solution is to manage your work and manage your time.  Define what the priorities are for each day, leave enough time for chaos (unknown or unplanned events), choose the level and types of events you must (vs.. are willing to) manage and finish things when you must finish them.

The key, of course, is to know your limits and when to ask for help.  Think about it like this: if you were a locomotive, you could identify a specific amount of weight you could pull.  There are maximums you can pull for a short distance and a sustainable amount that you can pull nearly infinitely.  What would happen if you pulled the maximum for too long?  What would happen if you exceeded the maximum?

With your work, you cannot work 20 hour days 7 days a week and expect to be able to sustain it.  You could, however, work 8-10 hours per day, five or six days per week.  If you managed your time effectively and got the most out of your work time, you would get the maximum amount of work done in the minimum amount of time.  You could focus on what MUST be done.

Getting done what must be done is the point.  Being extraordinary still takes work, but managing your time will give you less opportunity and excuse to write things off as “I don’t feel like it!”

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Getting things done,leadership Effectiveness,attitude,management,business planning,resource management
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Re-Trenching – New Objectives

As a younger man, I was enlisted as a soldier in the US Army.  Part of our basic training had to do with combat, which included building fighting positions, digging trenches and keeping morale up.  Our goal, always, was to move forward in order to achieve a particular objective, which was always part of a much larger strategy.    Whenever we would progress, our goal was to reset our fighting positions, or retrench, so that we would have similar advantages that we could leverage in order to achieve the next objective.

In business, we talk about strategy and goals that we would like do by the end of a certain time period.  Sometimes these are revenue goals, other times they are branding, asset development, etc.  Time periods we use are often months, quarters or years.  If we’ve experienced a loss in a prior year, we might be looking at getting back to our previous, stronger position.  No matter what our position, it is always to move forward.

As in war, chess or checkers, we normally would do best to develop a strategy and objectives we will have to overcome in order to reach a particular strategy.  In other words, it’s not just about defining WHAT we want to do, but we must consider HOW we are going to get there.  The other question we have to ask is WHY you want to achieve any objective, or the strategy, overall.  (Because everyone else is doing it tends to fail the logical litmus test!)

Nonetheless, it isn’t good enough to simply say, “I want to earn $1,000,000” without having any thoughts on how to do it.

Once we have determined what out objectives will be, we want to determine what RESOURCES will be required in order for you to take any of the objectives you have defined.  That could be time, money, staff, vendors, buildings, etc.  As you achieve each objective, like we mentioned in the military scenario, you will want to re-trench, or get your business into the ideal position to take the next objective.  You’ll survey the battlefield, check your resources, determine what your needs are, then proceed.

Just imagine if an Army unit created a great plan, put all of its energy into it but never retrenched.  They would never take the time to survey the battlefield to see if they needed to make changes in their plan.  They would never replenish supplies.  They would never be as effective as they could have been, if they reach their final objective at all.

Your business is no different.  If you don’t create a plan, watch for changes, guard your resources and retrench, you won’t become the extraordinary business you want to be.  Don’t forget to retrench.  Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Development Strategies,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Business Planning,Business Strategy,Extraordinary,Focus,Leadership Effectiveness,Management and Leadership
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Don't Wait – Plan for Success

Have you ever walked into a department store, gotten your items and headed toward the line, where there were 15 or so people waiting to check out?  How do you feel when you notice that there are 10 lanes that are unoccupied, and no one there to operate them?  If you are like me, you are probably thinking to yourself that someone needs to open up another line or two and get these people out the door.Still waiting?

According to several managers I spoke with, the problem arises when there are staff shortages, when large orders come in or when they simply didn’t schedule enough people for a particular shift.  Other managers I have spoken with tell me that their goal is to provide an outstanding customer experience, therefore, there is always adequate staff on hand.  The tradeoff, there, is that they have to charge a little bit more for their services.

Which company do you think plans for success?

Well, company ‘A’ is completely dependent on selling a large volume.  Their margins are very slim, their turnover is high because they don’t pay very well, and more often then not, they are running on a “skeleton crew” or the bare minimum to keep the doors open.   Customers aren’t very satisfied with the products, quality or the shopping experience.

Company ‘B’ is also dependent on selling a large volume of goods.  Their margins are also slim, but their turnover is low because they pay their employees a fair wage.  They can get a bit more from their customers because their customers appreciate the clean environment, quality products and the great customer service.  Store lines don’t get to be longer than five minutes or so, and the store has plenty of self check-out lines.

Looking at the whole scenario, it is obvious that both companies have a place in the marketplace, and they appeal to different markets.  During tough times, people may even be more likely to go to store ‘A.’  However, I would bet dollars to donuts, that their loyalty would probably be with store ‘B.’  Additionally, I would bet that when people at store ‘A’ want something nice, they will go to store ‘B.’

Still stuck?

Which store do you think would be better apt to handle a recession?  Which one do you think would be better able to handle an economic boom?  Which one do you think makes a better impact on the community?  Which one has a better shot at longevity?

I would bet that store ‘B’ has spent more time planning, learning and growing in order to get to the position their at.  The simple act of charging higher prices, and getting them, demonstrates the fact that they have a product that they know is superior to the rest of the market – they are an extraordinary business.  They plan – not to be adequate or mediocre.  They plan to be extraordinary.  While during economic recession, many stores in their industries closed – including many of the store ‘A’ type stores, the store ‘B’ – type stores continued to thrive.  As we head toward a period of economic growth, ‘B’ – type stores will continue to adapt and provide for the needs of their growing market.  At the same time, ‘A’ type stores may find that they are facing a dwindling market.

The time to plan is now. Don’t wait until the market starts to change. If that means you should start looking for new employees, begin to do so. If it means that you should be positioned to upgrade your equipment or process, proceed with it. If it means that you need to prepare for a huge marketing or branding campaign, make it your priority.

Planning is essential to becoming an extraordinary business. Remember: being ordinary is easy. Being extraordinary takes work. Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Business Growth Strategies,Business planning,Management and leadership,Business Strategy,Process Improvement,Recession Buster,Small Business Consulting,Strategic Planning,Extraordinary Leadership
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Handling the Holidays

Interestingly, over the past five or ten years or so, there has been increased controversy over the holiday season.  People are becoming afraid to offend someone, and thus avoid saying things such as “Merry Christmas,” and the like.  Business leaders seem to have great contention over how to decorate offices, send holiday cards, etc.

As a business leader, this is a decision that you will have to make for your company.  Your team is going to be looking to you to see what type of character you have: Will you make a decision?  Will you stand behind the decision?  How will you address people’s concerns or objections to your decision?  Your strength or weakness at this time will leave an impression on your team.

As you make your decision, I offer these thoughts:Holiday Peace

  1. Remember what is most important.  You may find that taking an opportunity to celebrate your team or your community might be more important goal than emphasizing a holiday. 
  2. Consider your company’s values.  If your company’s values are to embrace individuality and spirituality in the workplace, make sure that your holiday message reflects these values.
  3. Keep in mind that it is important to make a decision, and stick with it. As I mention, this is one of those character building/character assassination opportunities.  Your short term decision could have a long-term impact.
  4. Don’t be insensitive to your team.  If you choose to have a Christmas Party, and present it as such, find a way to celebrate those who do not wish to participate.  Ensure that they know that they are valued members of the team.
  5. Don’t over-do it.  Over emphasizing your beliefs or practices could prove to be disruptive and offensive.  If your company chooses to celebrate Christmas, a tree might be nice.  Forcing everyone to walk around in Elf and Santa costumes might be over-doing it.  Your tea
  6. m will help you determine what is appropriate.  Consider your customers.
  7. Involve the team in the decision-making process.  If you decide to have a celebration of some sort, you’ll want to make sure that they at least have an opportunity to be involved in the decision.  Word of caution: you may wish to narrow down options to several before presenting them to the team.  Otherwise, you may find that they are going in many different directions.
  8. Don’t be afraid to give: give to your team, give to your community, give to your other stakeholders.  Find ways to give memorably.  At this time of year, people have expectations, whether they say it or not.
  9. Don’t be ashamed to receive.  Some of your stakeholders will be giving to you, as well.  Show your appreciation, not just for the gift or the card, but also, for the thought.
  10. Don’t be ashamed to wish people a Merry Christmas, Happy, Hanukah, a Happy Kwanza, Happy New Years, Happy Holidays, or whatever strikes your fancy.  This is your way of showing someone that you care about them.  It is like saying, “thank you for being alive and part of my life.”  There will be those that don’t or cannot appreciate it.you cannot help that, and you cannot change them.  Simply smile and disengage.

So, all said, I wish you a Merry Christmas season, and offer you the kindest thoughts and blessings throughout the new year.  I hope that you will continue to learn and grow to create an extraordinary future for your business.  May God bless you in all that you do.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Holidays,Business Decisions,Employees,Christmas,Extraordinary Leadership,Management and Leadership,Transparency,Values,vision
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Only the Beginning

Do you ever think about what makes extraordinary companies extraordinary?  Not just from a financial standpoint, but from an all around standpoint.  Not looking at the size of the company, but rather the impact it makes.  Not looking at salaries and benefits, but rather employee commitment.  Not looking at growth potential but rather, a shared vision.Beginning a New Path

While I would not imply that there is a specific formula for making it work – like raising a child, each business has its own personality – it’s industry, market, leadership, management, etc., one fact that seems to have contributed, significantly, is the idea that everyone in the organization contributes.  We recall the Saturn commercials, where employees were asked to do anything it took to make things run better.  That might include stopping production for a small idea.  this was a company that was known for being owned by and run by the employees.

Seems like they have something there.  But how does this work in your organization?  By design, of course.  Through communications with your teams, you can begin to open dialogue.  Another factor is servant leadership, wherein you, as the business leader, do everything you can to make sure that the employees have everything they need to be successful.  That might look like providing them with the right resources such as up to date computers and software, finding ways to leverage their unique gifts and abilities and valuing and weighing their ideas and opinions and including them in any major change in the organization.

Sometimes that will also look like showing them how to seek opportunities in other companies and helping them prepare for them.

The reason that this is only the beginning is because moving your company to this mentality is foundational to growing an extraordinary company.  However, it is not just a flip of a switch; it is a change or enhancement in the operational culture.  It requires letting the reigns loose.  It requires courage and risk – letting go of what you are to embrace what you could become.  It is like the beginning off a whole new day.  It is like making the first footprints on a new beach, or after a new snow.

Have the courage to step out into a new beginning.  Become extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Attitude,Business Decisions,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Extraordinary,Employees,Vision,Management and leadership,Leadership Effectiveness,Leadership Development
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SSDD.and do it All, Again

“Same Stuff Different Day,” or versions of it has been made an infamous response to greetings, made famous by movies featuring employees of “corporate America.”   The people that use this phrase are those who begrudgingly go to work, push their pencils around all day, confuse “hardly working” with “working hard,” take long lunches, call off on sick days, etc.  In a nutshell, you might say they have a bad attitude about their work.

Interestingly, they (or you) could be one of those rotten apples that could spoil the whole bunch.  Think about it – if you were to come to work, each day, complain about everything that is going wrong with you, your spouse and your job, how motivating would those around you feel?  When people come to you with the same type of information, how motivated do YOU feel?Mid-adult businessman in shirt-and-tie looking at camera.

Thinking back to those movies – normally, at the end of the movie, the person who was famous for saying SSDD wasn’t saying it any longer.  Why was that?  If you notice, his or her focus had changed, resulting in a change in attitude.  The change in attitude made them more productive, able to accomplish more and appreciated by those at their workplace.

Is this just a movie phenomenon?  No – absolutely not.  The key is identifying the motivators.  It’s not just a question of doing something different, it’s a question of aligning skills, abilities and interests with a job.  For some, that means starting a new company.  For others, that means getting their business back on the original track it was on.  For others, still, that may look like finding a job that provides them with the motivation and focus they need to be successful.

No one person can tell you how to escape that mentality.  However, as a business leader, for your team to be effective, you’ve got to be effective, yourself.  Essentially, you need to be the C.E.O. of your life – the one that creates the vision, defines the mission, sets the goals, addresses the needs and drives the activities of your life.  If you are a spiritual person, this allows you to be more aligned with your spirituality.  If you are individualistic, you will probably get greater satisfaction out of your accomplishments.

Kris Cavanaugh, one of The Business Strategy People ™ , goes into the CEO mentality, in great detail, on her website – www.begintoshift.com.  Sign up for one of her e-courses or for a free coaching session.  Tell her you want to be the Boss.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Leadership Effectiveness,Attitude,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Employees,Strategic Partnerships,Transparency,Vision
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Finding a Mentor

One of the most valuable relationships I have had is the one I share with my mentors.  They’ve been able to give me insight and direction in every area of my life.  The funny thing about it is that I didn’t quite realize that they were my mentors, and the degree to which they’d impacted me.

As a younger man, I had always sought out a mentor – some one person who could give me all of the guidance and direction to do any number of things in my life.  I wanted someone who could help me get really good at what I was doing and make recommendations on how to get better.  Unfortunately, that never materialized for me.  However, this didn’t stop me from watching and growing.Mentor

As I’ve matured, I’ve begun to realize that there was no one person who would be the perfect influence for every area of my life.  I learned that I could have different mentors for different areas of my life.  I also learned that mentors could be people who I have never met, but rather, have a healthy understanding of their accomplishments, the way they lived their lives or how they ran their company, for example.  These could be people I’ve read about, people I’ve seen on stage, like a pastor or priest, people who I’ve heard about through others.

One of my mentors, Dr. Ike Rieghard  (www.DrIke.org), tells me that I need to look at different areas of my life, and find someone who I admire and learn how they do what they do.   More likely than not, no one person will meet all of my needs.  However, these people have achieved some level of success in some area that is very valuable to me.  For example, there are speakers who I have modeled my speech development process after.  There are others who I’ve seen make and achieve bold goals and visions for their groups.

I highly recommend identifying people that you could identify with who fit into different areas of your life.  Parents, friends, ministers, authors or whomever.  You will find that you probably have identified them already.  Now look at what it is that makes them a great resource for you.  Maybe it’s their ability to make good decisions.  Maybe it’s the way they carry themselves, or their ability to motivate people.  You might start out by asking them a very specific question, or specific questions.  I’ve had success offering to purchase a cup of coffee for an opportunity to pick their brain for a little while.

Most people are honored to be asked, and would be quite willing to offer assistance as long as you don’t become overbearing, you do what they suggest and you respect their time and authority.  You may only meet with your mentor once a year, if at all.  No matter – continue to push forward, taking every advantage of opportunities to implement their suggested activities.  Your mentor will likely be excited by your successes.

Finally – pass it forward.  While you must guard your time, try to find a way to mentor others.  Make yourself open and available to teach others in areas of your life where you’ve been very successful.  Sometimes, you won’t see it right away, but there are certain things you are born to do.those are the things people will likely approach you about.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Mentor,Attitude,Business Decisions,Leadership Development,Extraordinary,Management and Leadership
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The Mature Leader

Have you ever worked with a business leader who seemed to have it all together?  Have you met those on the other end of the spectrum who call themselves business leaders, but are, in fact, doing more harm then good?  Have you seen other leaders, still, who you are undecided about?

Where are you in the Leadership Maturity Spectrum?  In order to be that extraordinary leader, and run an extraordinary business, knowing where you are is essential to getting where you want to be.

What would happen if you were completely off track, and put your emphasis on areas wherein you were only marginally good?  Would you ever reach a level of Leadership Maturity that could make a difference in your organization?clip_image002

Being a Mature Leader will affect all areas of your business, and your life, for that matter.  It involves your ability to make decisions, managing your expectations, providing a model of your expectations, excepting assistance from others, trusting your team and other elements.  Interestingly that while you “give up control” of every area of your business, you are actually increasing capability and capacity of the business.

You can see a similar pattern in raising children – younger parents tend to shelter their children.  They protect them from every bump and bruise, people, situations, etc.  What happens, unfortunately, is these children grow up to be very poor decision makers, and often incapable of living completely independently.

Your business needs the same freedom to stretch and grow.  As a mature leader, you can see this – you would never want to hold the business from reaching its potential.  You understand that it takes a community to shape and grow a business.  It takes employees, managers, investors, the community and customers to shape how the business will fit into the industry and the marketplace.  While you will provide direction and framework, giving your business the room to grow will be the greatest gift you can give it.

Growing into a mature leader is not an overnight process, either.  Part of growth is experience.  While it is valuable to learn from other people’s experiences and avoid some of the pitfalls many leaders encounter, learning from your mistakes and from your successes will plant a solid foundation for you.  Knowing yourself, your strengths and your limitations will only help strengthen that foundation so that as you grow, you know where you will need compensation and where to place the emphasis.

Keep in mind where you are and seek to grow.  We all have room to do so.  Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask those who may know.  It takes a community.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Management and Leadership,Extraordinary
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