Leadership retreat

Tips, Tools and Tricks: The Edward Lowe Foundation’s Leader Retreats

Helping 2nd Stage companies maintain balance, vision

Every year, hundreds of fast-growing 2nd Stage companies apply to be named Colorado Companies to Watch, but only 50 receive that coveted distinction during the Gala Awards Dinner each June. And once they’re in, the real perks start.

All CCTW Winners receive year-long benefits – not just one single night of celebration. Those benefits include media exposure, facilitated local celebrations with influential community leaders, and exclusive access to a professional leadership retreat hosted by The Edward Lowe Foundation.

“Our annual Companies to Watch Leader Retreat is the foundation’s gift to the program, and it is offered as a benefit to members,” said Joy Kitamori, Partner Relationship Manager for the Edward Lowe Foundation (one of the founding entities of CCTW). “It’s an experience that’s hard to describe unless you’ve been there yourself.”

The annual Companies to Watch Leader Retreat is held at Big Rock Valley, the Edward Lowe Foundation’s learning campus in southwest Michigan. The property includes 2,000 acres of expansive prairies, woodlands and wetlands dotted with small houses and refurbished boxcars that have been turned into rustic guest housing. The peaceful environment enable participants reflect on their business from a completely different surrounding than the office.
“The focus with this retreat really is the leader,” said Kitamori. “Our program and curriculum are built on what it means to run a 2nd Stage business, and specifically what the head of the company brings to that business.”

The Companies to Watch Leader Retreat is a three-day immersion into the philosophy and practice of executive leadership, a role that Kitamori says is often diluted in the daily grind of running a successful, fast-growing business.

“By the time many of these companies reach the 2nd Stage of growth, their founders have gone through quite a bit of a transformation themselves,” said Kitamori. “They founded the company, they create new products, they get new customers, and now they’re at the point of having employees take on those responsibilities. They start to look back and wonder ‘What is my role here? What can I do to keep the vision of the company going?’

“That’s where we come in,” she said. “We aim to put them back in touch with what resonated with them to start the business, help them recognize where they are right now in the scope of their business and define where they want to see their business get to.”

Each year, up to 25 business leaders whose companies have already been named CCTW Winners can register to attend the free retreat, this year held several weeks after the Gala Awards Dinner. Those attending do pay for their own travel, but all food, board and programming is included in the benefit.

“We hope that by the end of the retreat experience, they go back home with a different perspective over their particular role; what they can do and what they still need to do to get their business where they want it to be,” said Kitamori. “They will also know the vision for themselves — what are their strengths and how they get back to that.”

The 2018 Companies to Watch Leader Retreat will take place Aug. 21-23 this year. There are 10 Companies to Watch leaders from Colorado attending. Registration for the 2019 retreat will begin Spring 2019.
The Companies to Watch Leader Retreat isn’t the only Leader Retreat offered by the foundation. There are still many opportunities for 2nd Stage Companies (even those not named Companies to Watch), to attend Edward Lowe Foundation Leader Retreats throughout the year. Retreats are offered for peer groups or 2nd Stage company leaders only.

Coming up this year:

  • Individual companies and peer groups — Single-company retreats are available to any 2nd Stage entrepreneur who has already attended at least one Edward Lowe Foundation retreat and wants to bring his or her staff to Big Rock Valley for a deeper dive into the company’s pressing issues and groom staff members to assume more responsibility. (Among available dates: July 17-19, July 31-Aug. 2 and November 6-8).
  • The Advanced Facilitator (CEO or single staff member) — A practical, hands-on learning lab that enables leaders to elicit the best thinking from group discussions, however large or small. Curriculum takes a deep dive into social and psychological forces that impact group behavior. (Aug. 28-30).
  • The Performance Accelerator (CEOs who have attended prior retreats) — Targets senior managers, helping already talented individuals better leverage their strengths within a second-stage company and build high-performing teams. (Oct. 30-Nov. 1).

To register for an Edward Lowe Foundation Leader Retreat, or get more information, please contact Rita Phillips or visit online.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade launched Colorado Companies to Watch in 2009 in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation and valuable sponsors, key drivers, community and supporting partners, and volunteers from throughout the state of Colorado. The Edward Lowe Foundation continues to serve as an advisor to Colorado Companies to Watch.