The St. Louis Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization celebrated its 25 th anniversary in 2018. Among EO’s oldest and largest chapters, EO St. Louis gives its members the structure and support to learn, grow and develop meaningful connections in and outside of their businesses.
At a recent meeting for prospective members, Membership Chair Scott Levine presented EO’s core values: Boldly Go!; Thirst for Learning; Make a Mark; Trust and Respect; and Cool. Before he explained each, he paused, suddenly struck by the contrast of his sales instincts with the “anti-pitch” he was about to give those gathered in the room.
“I thought of EO’s core values and I thought of the people who have been in EO St. Louis for decades and how they really do live out these values. That day, in that meeting, it was simplest to say, ‘If you can’t relate to these values, or you don’t aspire to them, then this is not the organization for you.’”
But who wouldn’t want to be the sort of leader—and person—that EO’s core values describe, especially when EO St. Louis is one of the oldest and largest chapters in the world?
Established in 1993, EO St. Louis has experienced steady growth, and its numbers are impressive. The chapter typically maintains a membership base close to 150 members who collectively employ over 5,000 employees. Median sales for EO members worldwide are above $5 million. What the statistics don’t quite capture is what EO St. Louis has meant to its members.
“The colonel always eats alone, but having a group of entrepreneurs that share in your struggles allays that loneliness,” says Michael Brennan, EO St. Louis’s President and a member since 2010. “Having others you can truly connect with is such an incredible gift, and I am a better, more alive, more awake individual because of my EO connections.”
Mark Lincoln is a chapter founder for EO St. Louis and a former global board member. “EO’s mission statement—to engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow—is exactly what I get out of EO,” he says. “Here in St. Louis, I’ve met many outstanding people who are doing all kinds of things, but because EO is a global organization, I’ve also gotten to meet entrepreneurs abroad. In both cases, the difference between and variety among their perspectives have helped me to see new opportunities but most importantly, they’ve helped me to grow personally.”
From its fascinating learning events to its retreats to its MyEO Groups and beyond, EO’s programming is extensive, but most loved among members worldwide are its Forums. For EO St. Louis, each comprises seven-to-nine noncompeting business owners who meet monthly to share what’s going right, what’s gone wrong, and any other challenges and opportunities they’ve faced in their business, family or personal lives.
“My Forum is a place I can be totally myself and share my business successes—or failures—without fear of losing a friendship,” Michael says. “In some ways, my Forum knows more about me than my own family. The inspiration and support we offer one another is unique and rare; you don’t find those sorts of connections very often.”
The strong bonds between EO St. Louis’s members reflect its strength as an organization and its commitment to community—within EO St. Louis but especially beyond it. Members are involved in any number of charitable endeavors throughout the world, serving as host parents for Safe Families for Children, founding a volunteer educational program in rural India, fundraising in creative ways for cancer research and prison education, and more.
It’s tempting to say that members spend as much time volunteering as they do running their businesses; their success in both certainly suggests it.
Additionally, through its Accelerator program, EO St. Louis enables first-stage entrepreneurs to catapult their own businesses. Open to founders and owners of businesses with revenue of $250,000 to $1 million, and led by EO members, the Accelerator program empowers participants to grow their businesses to over $1 million in sales and to become a better entrepreneur and leader.
EO St. Louis’s next 25 years promise to be even more fruitful than its first 25, and that journey is reflected in the chapter’s five-year plan, which focuses on bolstering organizational strength, expanding EO St. Louis’s ecosystem, and creating a personalized experience for its members. But, even that five-year plan has its first moment in today, when members choose to live out, in every action and decision, the core values of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
To build the world’s most influential community of
To engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
OUR CORE VALUES
BOLDLY GO! Bet on your own abilities
THIRST FOR LEARNING Be a student of opportunity
MAKE A MARK Leave a legacy
TRUST AND RESPECT Build a safe haven for learning and growth COOL Create, seek out and celebrate once-in-a-lifetime experiences
| PEER-TO-PEER LEARNING | ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCES |
| CONNECTIONS TO EXPERTS |