Friday, March 10, 2017

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, allow me to pitch Leadership SI's Discover Class for 2017-2018.

Our finest lunch, courtesy of Prosser's culinary students. 

Last August, I divulged the most epochal event in world history since the Berlin Wall fell.

ON THE AVENUES: You won't believe what happens next.

At the tender age of 56, I am enrolled in the 2016-2017 Discover program of Leadership Southern Indiana, or as it would prefer being known these days, Leadership SI. Today is the first scheduled activity, an overnight retreat.

It feels like waiting for the bus that first day of grade school in 1966, albeit with an iPhone in my pocket. I didn’t vomit then, so let’s hope my luck continues.

Two class sessions remain, and then my class will divide into committees to do the planning for next year's group. Meanwhile, the application period to populate it begins on Monday.

Applications for the DISCOVER Class of 2018 will be open from March 13-April 21, 2017! For further questions, contact Program Coordinator Lisa Bottorff at 812-246-6574 or

Perhaps inevitably through the years, participants in the Discover class (there are other courses at Leadership SI, too) have tended to be attracted to the program through what I'd describe as "conventional" work and employment groupings, which I'll simplify to mean folks who work for someone else rather than themselves. Often it's the company -- banks, hospitals, even non-profits -- paying the fee.

There's nothing innately "wrong" with this, and there is no shortage of applicants, but it's obvious that self-employed entrepreneurs and small business people traditionally have been under-represented. I mentioned this, and learned that Leadership SI already was writing a grant proposal toward funding scholarship opportunities for entrepreneurial independent sorts rather like me.

This being the first time for the grant, it won't be known whether it is to be awarded to Leadership SI until the new enrollment period nears its end. Consequently, I cannot speak with certainty as to whether there'll be scholarships for 2017-2018. However, I'm qualified to recommend the experience itself.

Whether you’re new or native to the community, this 9-month DISCOVER program is a total immersion into the past, present and future of Southern Indiana. Take an in-depth look at the various facets of our community – history, healthcare, government, economy, education and more!

In short, while I came into the class with a fair amount of grounding in these topics, it remains that I've learned a lot. Almost by necessity, entrepreneurs and small business owners possess a narrow focus, as they're devoted to excelling at niches and little pieces of larger community puzzles. The context offered by Discover is like a crash course in the bigger picture.

Personally, I think it would be wonderful to have a merchant from downtown New Albany in next year's class, or better yet, a restaurateur. As noted, there might be scholarship assistance, so my recommendation is to call Lisa (above) and have a chat. If you have any questions about my experience, I'm happy to answer them on- or off-line.

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