Best-practices specialist and Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Corporate Executive Board (NASDAQ:EXBD) doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but they can likely help you find somebody who might. Access to knowledge can be as valuable as the knowledge itself, and this company is doing an excellent job of unlocking some of that value.

For the company's third quarter, sales rose 29% and pro forma net income climbed 27%. The company saw a nearly 30% rise in contract value at quarter's end, and it continues to robustly sign on new clients, retain existing ones, and cross-sell them new products. This is also a cash-rich type of enterprise, with year-to-date free cash flow that's roughly double its level of reported net income.

Management's refusal to stand pat with its current offerings makes this firm even more attractive. The company has recently introduced two new membership programs, bringing the total to 36. Charter members of these new groups include well-known companies like Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), and Motorola (NYSE:MOT).

I also like that it's hard to categorize this company. Sure, Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and a host of privately held consultancies offer some of the same information or services as Corporate Executive Board, but I don't think they're really all that similar. In fact, its closest peer is probably the Advisory Board Company (NASDAQ:ABCO) -- which spun off Corporate Executive Board in the first place.

Companies that defy easy labeling are often doing something different from the norm. That uniqueness can really pay off for investors in the long run. It's often much more lucrative to invest in a pioneer than in the many me-toos that try to glom on to its profitable coattails.

Value-oriented investors may cringe when they look at this company's P/E. Nevertheless, cash flow-based metrics look more reasonable, and I don't think you have to make any particularly outrageous assumptions to see more potential in the shares. Self-improvement can be a great thing, and as Corporate Executive Board and its shareholders are learning, it can also be highly lucrative at the corporate level.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). U.S. Bancorp is a Motley Fool Income Investorrecommendation. Accenture is aMotley Fool Inside Valuerecommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.