Cincinnati is a town blessed with an abundance of traditional butcher shops. We have so many in fact that it's not unusual to frequent more than one family-run operation based on what they do well. Personally, I usually get steaks from Dave's, but I go to Humbert's for their spicy goetta. This seems normal to me.

Last weekend, my son and I found ourselves downtown on a frosty Sunday morning, taking part in a sausage making class at Avril Bleh's, a Cincinnati butcher with a LONG history. It was a blast. Along with about 15 other students, we took part in every step of making 10 different kinds of sausage; bratwurst, andouille, irish bangers, hot mettwurst and so forth. And at the end of it we walked off with 17 pounds of sausage. Super fun morning.

You've probably heard the joke about laws and sausage - how you don't really want to see how either is made, but, at least at Avril Bleh's, the meat we used was all totally respectable cuts of pork shoulder roast.

But here's what amazed me: in all my years of eating Cincinnati sausages, I always assumed that the main thing that varied from one style to another was the meat. It turns out that I was wrong, and 9 of the 10 sausage varieties we made were 100% ground pork, and the only thing that made them different from one another was the spice blend. Maybe you know this already, but it blew my mind to think that the only thing separating andouille from breakfast sausage was the spice mix.

I think there's a parallel in our industry: easily 90% of the services you offer are essentially identical to your competition - and that's not a bad thing! What it means, to me, is that you can make a huge difference in your company culture, how your clients see your company and how your employees approach their work, all by operating within that last 10% - by adding spice.

How, exactly? Well, that will vary from one company to the next, but the longer I spend in this industry, the more I'm convinced that top-down enthusiasm goes a long way. Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you are enjoying your work, that trickles down quickly. And there is no marketing more powerful than employees who love what they are doing. So I encourage you to rekindle your enthusiasm before the season begins in earnest. A little spice goes a long way.