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    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Terry Cox, founder and CEO of Business Innovation Growth (BIG) Council, a peer-to-peer advoacy group for Charlotte-area entrepreneurs: My father’s advice to me was “always do your best, just don’t let anyone know it’s your best.” I would always chuckle when he said that. I became an over-achiever! John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
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    SHERI RUSSELL - SHERI RUSSELL
    LaMonte Odums is a life coach known as “ Coach LaMonte,” who works with clients on personal development and is a motivational speaker.
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    - STEVEN AMANI
    Evan Kettler, president of business advisory firm Kettler StrategyWorks, and the group chair of Vistage International, an organization that uses peer mentoring to develop grow company leaders: My favorite advice came from Bob Branflick at Springs Industries, one of the last managers I had before I became a serial entrepreneur. Bob, now a biotech exec in Madison, Wis., knew I would not be fulfilled as anyone’s employee and gave me his business-school textbook on entrepreneurship. His advice: “You never have to recover from a good start.”
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    Cary Bernstein, executive director of Spay Neuter Charlotte: Trip Wheeler, who is on our board, advised me to always ask: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” It has become one of my mantras. About 10 months after the clinic opened, my medical director and I were trying to decide if we should hire an additional staff member to help with cleaning kennels and day-end surgery tasks. We weren’t in a financial position to afford another staff person, but we decided that the juice would be worth the squeeze because of how much time and effort it would end up saving for our medical team. That employee ended up being one of our best.
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    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Andrew Sobel, founder of the Brixton Group, Inc., a company that recruits and matches contract information technology professionals with Fortune 500 companies and one of Inc. Magazine’s Top-500 Fastest-Growing Companies: “Get back up, boy!” My father, Howard Sobel, told me this in 2001 after the economy turned and my company lost almost all of its business. The true test of a person comes in the bad times. Will you learn from it? How badly do you want it? If Brixton did not fail early on, we may not have made it to where we are today. We used failure to make us stronger. JOHN D. SIMMONS - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
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    Stephanie Nelson, founder of SBN Marketing: My friend Roy Morejon of digital marketing agency Command Partners knew I wasn’t happy at my job and suggested I start my own social-media marketing company. When I asked him why he was advising me to become a competitor of his, he said, “There’s enough business for all of us.” I started my business a year later, and now, when I’m not a good fit for a job, I remember this and suggest one of my trusted social media colleagues. I’ve built a great reputation among other social media marketers and potential clients because I'm not clawing for every nickel and dime.
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    Taylor Hayden, founder of Boost Business & Legal Advisors and the inventor of the WineShark, a red-wine hyper-aerator: My father, who passed away a couple years ago in a flying accident, had a successful legal practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. He told me to never offer someone a deal that you wouldn’t take yourself. This perspective leads to better deals, longer-lasting relationships and increased trust, all making for better business in the long run.
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    Amber L. Matthews, owner of Creamed. Gourmet Body Treats, an all-natural handcrafted soap shop: “Advocate unabashedly for yourself.” This advice came from a Forbes Magazine article about strategies women entrepreneurs share with their corporate counterparts. As one of many soap artisans, I needed to find a way to stand out, so I turned to popular bloggers from around the U.S. who already had my target audience’s attention. They fell in love with my products and are helping me reach my niche market, while keeping my marketing costs very low.
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    Brian Treffeisen - BRIAN TREFFEISEN
    Stacey Randall is founder and chief consultant of Randall Research and a certified productivity coach and consultant.
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    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    L-r Henry "Hank" Donaghy, 82, a business leader and financial advisor, and Randy Mitchell, 55, of The Entrepreneur's Source, a company that offers business coaching to franchisees, look over a book. Donaghy has been Mitchell's mentor for about 11 years. Mitchell says: Henry “Hank” Donaghy has been a mentor to me over the 11 years I’ve been in business. His advice to me – “First earn my trust, then you’ll earn my referrals” – was important as I began building a referral-based business. He said that trust could be demonstrated through reports from clients he referred, but also through observing how a businessperson gets involved in the community, without expecting a direct return on the time investment. His encouragement led me to leadership roles in the Matthews Chamber of Commerce and other non-profits.
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    Deborah Triplett -
    Sharon Lachow-Blumberg, founder of I'm Not Done Yet, a coaching and consulting firm for individuals and organizations in transition: “Everything can look like a failure in the middle.” When I was relaunching my consulting firm I came across this advice from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard professor. It reminds me that business growth is not a straight line. Transitions can be messy and difficult and take longer than you think, but it doesn’t mean it is a waste of time. It is a process.
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