Circle of Excellence

Mentor. Noun. An Experienced and Trusted Advisor.

Verb.  Advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague). A great mentor can make a world of a difference to an individual. In fact, many successful people credit their accomplishments to their mentors. Often saying that without their guidance, they wouldn’t have found the inner strength or confidence to chase their dreams. The same goes for Rich Breymeier, a member of BNI’s Circle of Excellence chapter. Last week, I sat down with Breymeier in order to pick his brain. I wanted the inside scoop – insight into the inner workings of his chapter and his thoughts on the BNI experience.


Originally in sales and business development, Breymeier joined the Circle of Excellence (COE) chapter almost 9 months ago. But only once his business sphere finally opened up. You see, when COE first came into existence, it started as a few members meeting at their local Eat ’ N ’ Park. However, it is now known as one of the Sewickley’s largest chapters, with almost 30 members. BNI makes sure that each chapter only has one representative from each business sector – making sure that no one in the room is competing for the same potential referrals. Meaning that once a sphere is taken, it could be years before it opens up again.

Breymeier was originally part of another technology based networking group. It was here where one of his colleagues first mentioned BNI. An acquaintance of his had just left his BNI group because his business was growing so fast that he actually needed to take a break from BNI. Intrigued by this amount of success and the formality and structure of the group, Breymeier jumped on the opportunity to claim his niche. Based on past networking experiences, he knew he had to put the work into this group if he was going to achieve the results he wanted. He made sure to get to know each and every member on a personal basis. He grew to understand their strengths and personalities. And before he knew it, trust between him and the other members began flourishing – truly embracing the “Giver’s Gain” mentality.

Mentors Make a Difference

I proceeded to ask Breymeier why he has stayed with the group thus far. He responded with a smile saying, “This group of people is just so extremely thoughtful. Sure they ask about my business but they want to know about my actual life too.” This kind of closeness is shown in how the members of COE go out of their way to help each other. It is especially shows as they care enough to mentor each other.

He began discussing his experiences with mentors by leading with an Isaac Newton quote. “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Essentially meaning that his successes have come from the mistakes and lessons of those before.  Member Jack Grater, the CPA of the group, has often helped Breymeier perfect his presentation technique. The biggest force in his BNI career thus far, however, is member Maripatt Abbott. She was the life coach of the group and she effectively helped new members transition into the chapter. She was there for Breymeier all the times he felt lost and unsure of himself. He feels lucky to have someone believe in him and his abilities so strongly. Unfortunately she has just moved to Chicago. Breymeier is sad to see her physical presence in his life fade. But they make sure to keep in touch often.

And for those of you wondering, Maripatt has already been visiting BNI chapters! It’s of utmost importance to her to find a group that fits with her personality and personal values. Plus it won’t hurt to make new contacts and friends so quickly after the move!

The Mentee Becomes the Mentor

As we continued talking about mentors, I decided to flip the switch. I asked Breymeier to give those on the fence about joining BNI, some mentor-inspired advice:

“Don’t join if you don’t plan on taking it seriously. Just like anything, if you’re going to live a healthy life, or write a book, or start a business, you have to put the work in. Don’t expect easy referrals. The work is more powerful than any kind of outside business networking forum. BNI is the best mix of networking. It’s social but not too social. It’s organized and has structure, but isn’t too formal. The balance of good people and organized business is unlike any other.”

And Why Check Out Circle Of Excellence Specifically?

The Circle of Excellence chapter attributes a lot of their success by sticking to the core values of BNI. The concepts are followed and prioritized. The proof is there, and so they apply it accordingly every single week. The group is also harmonious (not something that can be said about other groups). There is a true balance to the group and the members. And because of that, meetings are often extremely productive.

They call themselves Circle of Excellence because that is truly what they are. Members take the BNI oath seriously. They aim to provide legitimate and quality services to their members and their clients. It is extremely self-reflective.

The group is made up of some wonderful people. Ed Sickmund does a cornhole event for veterans every year. And other members often bring information of community events to the meeting table. The meetings are also always enjoyable. In fact one member, Sam Mastovich did his 10-minute presentation and Johnny Carson’s character, Carnac. A presentation that is still remembered and talked about to this day!

So Take Advantage of a Two-Week Free Trial!

For more information on the Circle of Excellence group, visit their Facebook page. Here you can see highlights of speaker presentations, BNI blogs, videos, learn about events, and more!


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