The theme of this month's issue is strategic partnerships. It's one of my favorite issues of the year, and not just because the nerd in me enjoys the way exploring the importance of finding the right partner ties into Valentine's Day.

No, I love this issue because it delves into the heart of the most important business matter facing the industry today: how to be successful in a post-health care reform world - and then it brings a host of solutions.

No matter what the outcome of the pending Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the game has changed and there's no going back. We here at EBA are excited to share a number of tactics that will keep you relevant and ready to rise to the occasion.

Take our cover subjects: financial services specialist Darin Gibson and employee benefit expert Kris Allison, who saw the writing on the wall several years ago. The pair started working together, referring clients back and forth until they officially merged in the spring of 2010. Now both an employee benefits and financial services power house, Burnham Benefits and Burnham Gibson are enjoying more than 20% growth year after year and have some of the most glowing customer testimonials I've ever heard. Learn from their example ("Growing together") on p. 32.

Then there's the insight from tech columnist John Lamb who reminds us that finding the right partner does not always involve a person. Lamb shares what the right technology can do to jumpstart your business ("Factoring technology into your strategic partnerships") on p. 60, where he lays out four areas to examine when searching for the right fit for your firm.

And what is the point of venturing into a new partnership and positioning yourself for growth if you don't have the proper leadership to unify your staff and achieve long-term success? Sales columnist Craig Davidson provides an in-depth analysis of what it means to be a leader ("Leadership: Do you have it?") on p. 58. As Davidson points out, "employees like to be inspired, or transformed, to do great things rather than be repressed and uninspired. Great leaders inspire their reports on to great sales performance. They help their followers go beyond themselves."

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