Our Team

We understand the challenges facing small to mid-sized businesses because we’ve been there ourselves!

Valerie Cardenas,
Business & Leadership
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For over 30 years, Valerie Cardenas, the founder of Strategic Essentials, Inc. has been a successful “serial” business owner, owning various businesses including a successful contracting firm that merited 1st place state and national awards. She has first-hand knowledge of the challenges of being a CEO as well as those of the management team in business operations in today’s environment.

Strategic Essentials is a local Managing Partner of Leadership Management® International (LMI) – the world’s largest and most experienced producer of leadership and management development programs. Valerie brings with her the combined merit of LMI’s and Paul J. Meyers’ (Founder of LMI) gold standard in slight edge thinking and processes with real life business ownership experience to her coaching and consulting clients.

Her approach is a practical, common-sense one, with proven, measurable results; also, it is supported by the largest statistical research base in the development industry.

Business Success Based on Business Acumen & Productivity

Valerie’s deep interest in and respect for clients, broad vision with focus on important details coupled with her being a quick study keeps every team member focused on the greatest revenue-producing activities – on high-productivity actions.

Her leadership know-how, collaboration, creativity and “business smarts” are a winning blend — not only lifting confidence, self-esteem and relieving stress, but with bottom lines that reflect the improved abilities of ownership and staff alike.

A passion for business success together with a deep concern for people, motivates Valerie to coach and consult for business owners who want to do more than survive . . . .they want to thrive!


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Richard L. Corso,
Business Management Consultant,
Midwest Leadership

Richard L. Corso is a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in Mathematics and Chemical Engineering.  After college, Dick secured a sales position with Bankers Life and Casualty, and within two years moved into sales management.  During his career as a salesperson, he became the top seller in three different industries representing organizations having sales personnel numbering from 1,000 to 5,000.  He was also the number one sales manager in each of these organizations.

In 1970 Dick’s focus shifted to training and development.  Continuing with Banker’s Life and Casualty, he developed a comprehensive training department.  During the next twelve years the scope of his responsibilities expanded to include the training of over 30,000 employees of thirty affiliated companies.

Dick became a Franchisee of Leadership Management, Inc. in 1982, which is the oldest and largest training group in the world.  His organizations have gained prominence in the training industry.  As one of the 8,000 distributors for Leadership Management, Inc., his companies rank first in sales volume.  Midwest Leadership, Inc., Leadership Management, Inc. – Midwest is a training and development company specializing in the areas of productivity, goal setting, strategic planning, leadership/management, motivation, time management, positive cash flow and sales training.

In the 1980’s Dick  received Degrees in HRD and Sociology from North Eastern Illinois University.  Dick has conducted training programs at several universities and colleges, such as North Eastern Illinois University and Harper College as well as on-site for numerous corporations.  Client companies effectively served by Midwest Leadership as well as its subsidiaries now number well over 2,000 and include many from the Fortune 100 list.

Dick has gained international recognition for his exciting presentations on motivational training.  In addition to his work with CEO’s of various organizations, he has effectively trained their personnel in goal setting, time management, productivity, sales, sales management, strategic planning, positive cash flow, supervision, customer relations as well as motivation.  Dick attributes his various organizations’ successes to their commitment to guaranteed results by partnering with clients.

 Lauren Breslin, M.A.Lauren_gray sweater_2015_small size

Lauren brings to Strategic Essentials an amazing background.  She attended the University of Montana on a tennis scholarship and received her Master of Arts degree in Organizational Communications. With this advanced degree, she has had the pleasure of offering business consulting and coaching services in the areas of:  human resources, training and development, leadership development, public speaking, presentation design, interpersonal, organizational and online communications.

Her extensive leadership background in Higher Education, Tourism, Gaming, Vocational Rehabilitation, Mining and Professional Athletics has afforded her the opportunity to offer her expertise to a wide range of business owners and their companies.  Lauren has served on the faculty for Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada; Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon; and the University of Phoenix Northern Nevada Campus. She has instructed courses addressing:  general education, communication, sociology, teamwork, conflict management, American popular culture, advertising, media, effective writing skills, public speaking, lifelong learning and professional development.

Some of Lauren’s specialties are adult education, leadership development, productivity training, curriculum development, group facilitation, classroom management, conflict resolution, public presentations, and team dynamics.

As an associate for Strategic Essentials, Lauren has facilitated leadership development programs and workshops for business owners and executive teams. She has also been integral to the development and management of our extensive and highly respected hiring process.

Lauren’s joy lies in helping people achieve their life goals, whether those people are parents, college students, or business owners. She looks forward to working with individuals who are serious about their life success!