On Friday (3/20) our group had the fortune to visit the Edward Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, MI and meet with Dino Signore and George Nelson. The Lowe foundation was created by the Michigan entrepreneur who invented Kitty Litter. Edward Lowe was an inventor, and after his own success he wanted to help other entrepreneurs. From his own experiences he recognized a need for resources to help entrepreneurs. After his death, the foundation found a focus on helping second stage entrepreneurs / companies. A second stage company can be loosely defined as one with 10-99 employees and $1-50 million in revenue.
The Lowe Foundation fills this niche and provides second stage support. One of the biggest things they do is provide various retreats for people in these businesses to learn about leadership and growth, and develop strategies for improvement. Our entire crew got a taste of one of these retreats. We began the day with a history lesson, presentation, and discussion. We then moved on to some of the more active elements. We played a game called Discards which facilitated an analysis of some of our major personality traits. We reflected on how our traits could be beneficial to a team, how they could be adverse, and how they could cause conflict with others. After learning more about ourselves, we also learned how hard it can be to put a stick on the ground.
We learned about the novel (to us at least) principle of economic gardening, and how second stage companies play a huge role in sustainable job creation. After a deliciously prepared lunch, we learned even more about our personalities and the impact they have as an employee or entrepreneur. Finally, we went outside and failed miserably at crossing the river tweed. With a solid gameplan, though, and clearly defined roles we were able to cross the river in style.