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Save the Date for Fun!

By Debby Peters,

The famous CN Summer Picnic, is scheduled for July 27, from 1-6 PM (eating at 2 pm) at Debby Peters and Steve Cotner’s home in Perrysburg.  All grads and their guests (kids, too) welcome. Don’t miss all the fun and super networking. Get the date on your calendar.

Also occurring this year, your Board of Action decided to bring back the famous dessert contest.  Up to ten entries will be accepted with the only category being homemade.  The first ten people to volunteer for the contest via an email to Debby at will be our contestants.

Registration is available at

Member Spotlight:

Sandra Gibson of Purchasing Power

By Rick Reichow, Rick Reichow Insurance Agency – Farmer’s Insurance,

Well, to say the least, this was probably the most amazing time I have had writing an article about one of our CN graduates.  I have known Sandra since 2009 and she has been a client of mine since then, but I had not taken the time to get to know her at this level.  For those who don’t know Sandra, she is a  world traveler. Having been to Italy, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Europe, Africa, Nicaragua, Panama, Canada, Mexico, she has traveled to nearly every state in the U.S. 

Sandra has two sons, Sam in Colorado who works for Target in corporate management and Ben in California who works at Lockheed Martin as an aerospace engineer.   Sam is married and has 2 daughters.  His wife is in the Air Guard working with veterans.  Ben is married as well and he and his wife just had their first child, a girl.  So when Sandra is not tied to her office in Perrysburg, she is out seeing not only the world, but her granddaughters, too. Sandra says that her granddaughters are her pride and joy. 

Some other things that you may not know about Sandra are that she plays the piano and she is a world traveler golfer.  She started playing when she was four years old and then gave it up when she was sixteen.  But about 10 years ago she decided it was time to resume playing.  As far as golf goes, she plays every week.  She and a friend tour the area courses beginning every spring.  She says she really doesn’t have a favorite course but she just loves to see the challenges of each one. 

Sandra and her partner in crime, Mike, (a retired area attorney) just got back from a 10 day trip to Costa Rica.  She is full of stories from her trips.  One that she shared during our conversation was the time she and Mike went to Nairobi and they got into some trouble.  It was just after the recent presidential elections and the community was in great uproar.  Everyone kept telling them they couldn’t go into the town, but they were determined.  Of course, they went.  After getting to an area where protest was happening, the cab driver hired two body guards for them.  These body guards kept them safe and they were able to get into areas such as Freedom Square and other locastions that were closed at that time.  If you get together with Sandra you have to ask about the termite soup and American potatoes. 

Sandra started Purchasing Power in 1996 and is celebrating her 18th year in business this year.  Most don’t understand what she does.  She assists health insurance agents and brokers with group COBRA plans and cafeteria plans.  Sandra is also certified in the ACA (Affordable Care Act), Medicare, and Medicaid arenas.  She attributes her success in business and in life to her long term referral partners and because she was a single mom while running her own business, she had to figure out the work/home balance.  Sandra currently has four employees that assist her with the day-to-day operations.  Her target market is group health insurance agents.  If you have someone you can connect with Sandra or if you are wondering about the best places to travel, give Sandra a call and suggest you meet for coffee.   


CN Horn Tooting


Greg Peters, The Reluctant Networker, LLC, recently signed his largest contract ever to train a thirty-person sales staff in good networking practice. The opportunity came about from an audience member who attended one of his training programs two years ago. You just never know who will be in your audience!

Julie Emmenecker is happy to announce that she has launched a new blog focused on helping  fast-people live a healthy lifestyle in fun ways.  She is concentrating on the fast-paced professionals.   Her first post was June 7, 201 and she will be posting regularly   She would love you to follow and visit often ;) 

Kym Cragel, Bodyfix Personal Training, announces that she is now offering private and semi private swim lessons ages 18 months thru adult as well as water fitness.  Contact Kym Cragel at

Debra Gorman, The Chocolate Shoppe, will be celebrating their 18th year in business on July 21st.  They are very thankful for all of their very loyal customers!

Tiffany Brunson is excited to announce that on June 9, Watchtower IT Services moved into a new facility located in downtown Findlay next to Coffee Amici! Visit them at 330 South Main Street for of all your IT and web needs. Their phone number (567-429-1776) will remain the same.  They have enjoyed doing business with you and appreciate your support. They invite you to stop in and check out their new location.

Steve Cotner, Corporate Intelligence Consultants, was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus, at the annual Ohio Association of Community College lunch.  Steve is a member of the Owen Community College Alumni Board.

Nina Corder, Origami Owl and Michelle Ansara, Sparkle Forever, are pleased to announce a new women's diversity group Women of Toledo.  The kick-off was on June 11th with the next meet and greet on July 9th at the Secor Gallery, 425 Jefferson Ave in downtown Toledo.  Please check out their fan page at and feel free to contact either of them for more information.

Dave Achen, Edward Jones, recently won the firm's coveted Zeke McIntyre Pioneer Award, which recognizes new financial advisors who achieve high levels of success early in their careers with the financial services firm. Achen was one of only 405 of the firm's more than 13,000 financial advisors to receive the award.

Expansion is Successful! 
First Cleveland Class Started!

By Debby Peters,

Back Row: Tony Spicel, Jim Boone, Jason Lukz 
Front Row:  Phil Vedda, CJ Nelson and Peggy Cook,
Missing: Cristina Bertero

With a leap of faith and a tank of gas, last August Debby headed to Cleveland  to begin her first day of appointments in northeast Ohio.  She had a “kind of” plan as to how she was going to be successful, but in no way would it have been called a business plan.  She only had two appointments that day and worried about whether this would all play out successfully.

One of those appointments was with CNer, Mike Bankey, A,K.A. Dr. Michael Bankey, who had just joined Cuyahoga Community College as Vice President, Technical Programs.  Mike has been particularly helpful to CN over the years when he was at BGSU and then Owens Community College.  He continued by offering a space for Debby to hold her previews and classes at the college’s Corporate College West, a beautiful building dedicated to training.

Debby set two goals for herself, 1) being to develop a friendly network in that area and 2) to figure out how to get around without getting lost too many times.  In the almost one year, she has accomplished both; well, let’s be honest. She has accomplished one for sure and the other is a work in progress, even with her trusty Garmin.

By asking the question, “If I can join only one networking group, which one would you recommend?” she found her way to the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce.  This group could give lessons to all chambers about how to REALLY support their membership.  Debby’s target market is the membership of this group.  Even living 90 minutes away, Debby realized that she needs to give back as much as she can to the group.  She attends their monthly lunches that usually have 200 people in attendance.  She has taken advantage of advertising in their weekly e-newsletter for a very minimal cash outlay.  She has purchased raffle tickets to support the golf outing, even though she is not able to attend that outing.  She is serving on a committee for an event, has been responsible for getting a new member to join the chamber and the best, she was asked to be the speaker at the annual speed networking event. 

All this lead to the successful launch of a class with 7 “charter” students on May 30.  They will be the core of the CN community as we expand to the east.  So let us tell you a bit about these early adopters.

Phil Vedda Jr., is the third generation in the family business Vedda Printing+.  He respects what his grandfather and his father and uncle have done with the business.  He says, “Just wanted you to know, I am really enjoying the class so far! I wasn't sure what to expect, but right now I am really glad I signed up. “

He continues, “Between the classes and the homework it really has me thinking about growing my business.  I just hired my own full time sales assistant.  I have pretty much reached my max potential on my own, and some of my smaller clients just require too much handholding that is keeping me from bringing in new, more profitable business.  That being said, your class could not have come at a better time. By the time our class is over, my new CSR should be fully trained and I will be able to really focus on bringing in some business!”

Jim BooneManager, Client Engagement, at Cuyahoga Community Collegementioned that he realizes that while they have been successful in the past, that they are doing business in the “old school” way and he is interested in seeing how this mindset change can impact his success.  Minor note:  Alex Boone with the San Francisco 49ers, is Jim’s son.
Jason Lukz, 212 Capital Group, has a background in marketing having spent many years working for large agencies in both Chicago and Detroit.  Now he is in the financial services world.  He says, “Of course, I have known all along that I needed to narrow my focus instead of using the scattershot approach that I was using.  I would have recommended it to my clients!  But I just hadn’t done it.  CN gave me the freedom to just choose and use it for the class.  I don’t know yet if it is the perfect one, but at least it is a start.  This is something that other trainings have not been able to help me with.”

Peggy Cookalso works at Vedda Printing +, having been recruited by Joe Vedda.  She says, “I was working in the mailing industry and Joe and I forged a casual partnership where we would help each other get contracts.  Even though I didn’t work for him, I would send him the printing and I would do the mailing.  Finally Joe recruited me so many times that I decided to work for Vedda after he agreed to purchase the mailing equipment.”  Peggy is way ahead of the curve on knowing how to work with a referral teammate.  Now knowing what she was actually doing with Joe, she is looking forward to duplicating with other teammates.

Cristina Berteros, is the owner of a EmbroidMe franchise.  She realizes that while she can do so many things for some many different types of businesses, that she will be less scattered and more productive after she begins narrowing her focus.  She has others within her company that can have targets different from hers, too.

C.J. Nelson, began the class as C Julia Photography, but she realizes that she is offering more marketing services to her clients than just photography.  She is now beginning to consider using the name Nelson Enterprises â€œThis class has made me really think about how I want to be perceived.  Picking a target market is probably the biggest challenge I am facing, but I know that it will help me in the future!”

Tony Spicel, Worldpay, is a sales manager who is also responsible for personal production.  While he is somewhat limited in how he approaches the market by company standards, he realizes that for his personal production, that if he can substitute just one larger account for one smaller one, that he will garner more revenue and have less headaches. 

This class will celebrate the first Cleveland area graduation on Tuesday, August 19 from 5:30-7:30 pm.  Some Toledo Board of Action members are traveling to the event to support this new group.  If you would like to be part of their celebration, contact Debby for details of the event.


by Debby Peters,

Top: Janette Weinstein with Debby Peters
Bottom: Barb Wilson

Our graduations are always so much fun. From the slideshow up on the screen to the actual “formal” recognition of the new grads, we know how to do it well. What was different about this graduation was that from the number of invitations and RSVPs, Debby had the theater set up for about 50 guests.  As we began the sit down portion of the event, if became evident that we didn’t have enough seating for everyone. 
A great problem to solve!  Also, the day before Shannon Benge, who was supposed to be the emcee, became ill.  At the last minute Rick Reichow offered to step in and did a great job. Our BOA rocks!

May 22 we honored 13 more members into the CN community.  Both trainers, Jason Madasz and Sandy Pirwitz, had classes that absolutely loved what they learned.
From Jason’s Friday morning class, the honorees, were Kevin Brown, Autism MODEL School, Cyrus Connors, Molly Maids of Greater Toledo/Bowling Green, Leslie Gerken, Gerken Law Group, Ray Meiers, Remarck Law Group, Brandon Montague, Lori Powell Agency, State Farm Insurance, Kristen Shinaver, Freight Train Public Relations and Janette Weinstein, Parent Connect, LLC. 

Andrew Stainbrook, the graduate assistant of the class, choose Janette Weinstein as the MVP of the class and a check was given in her honor to The Victory Center.  Dianne Cherry, the Executive Director of the center, was there to accept the check.

For Sandy’s, CN After Dark, Monday evening class, (where sunglasses and feather boas are the usual dress code!) Jeanne DeWitt, Computer Programming Unlimited, Inc., Joe Fath, Dunright Building Services, Inc., Tony Garland, Continental Office Environments, Kathy Pigott, Financial Design Group, Tiffany Reynolds, Tiffany Reynolds’ Company and Barb Wilson, Social Media Marketing Matters, (SM3) were on the nightwatch!
Jenn Wenzke supported the group as the graduate assistant and in that role chose Barb Wilson as the class MVP. Barb’s charity contact could not attend, but a check was given in Barb’s honor to Food for Thought, a charity that is dedicated to feeding the hungry in a dignified manner.
With those two donations, Connext Nation has now made seventy five donations in honor of our students.  We are honored to have been able to impact each charity in some small way. 

Our graduations aren’t your high school graduation!

CN...7 Months Later

By Sandy Pirwitz,

The last newsletter article I wrote about Krisi Vadnais was written just a few months after graduation from the CN course. She had already totally changed her type of business once. 
 It's not at all unusual for someone to change their plans early in their would take more than the fingers on one hand to count all of the different jobs I had in my first 10 years after graduation from nursing school. 

Krisi, who was her class's MVP, has done it again. Krisi is now an independent consultant for DoTerra Oils. My focus when talking with her seven months after completing Connext Nation, was to find out which CN skills are/were the most helpful in the transition.   
"I had a much better understanding of the importance of a well-chosen target market (Chapter 2).  Krisi's target market for her new business is essentially the same, but she tweaked it just a little and is much more strategic in choosing networking groups to be involved in. Also, DoTerra requires that you create a specific meaningful "Why" statement (Chapter 8), so that was easy."  She also has a much better grasp of the difference between building relationships and "selling," and that is working well for her.  (For example, Krisi accomplished the sale of five products on four recent one-to-ones, where she concentrated solely on getting to know the other person.)
This CN graduate has fully embraced the concept of setting goals before attending networking events (Chapter 6). "I am much more confident in setting my goals high...and I always meet them."
Keep on being successful and using those skills, Krisi. We are proud of you.
Copyright © *2014 *Connext Nation*, All rights reserved.

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