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157: A Newbie’s Guide to Employee Ownership

Bret Keisling is asked introductory questions by someone with no EO knowledge. Topics include: forms of employee ownership, working across the political spectrums, and how employee ownership benefits owners, founders, and communities.


Episode 157 Transcript

Bitsy McCann: [00:00:00] Welcome to The EO Podcast, where we amplify and celebrate all forms of employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:12] Hello, my friends. Thanks for listening. My name is Bret Kiesling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Today, we have a bit of an unusual episode. I am joined by my friend and an attorney Rosie Cabot.

Rosie say "hello."

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:30] Hello.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:31] Thank you for coming on the podcast.

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:33] No problem.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:34] So let me explain what's a little bit unusual. We're going to take a newbie look at employee ownership and Rosie, you are an attorney on the East Coast.

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:43] Correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:43] And you also have, before you went to law school, you've got two master's degrees

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:47] That is correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:48] And one of them is a Master's of Business Administration?

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:52] That is correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:52] And then the other is a Master's in Philosophy of Law?

Rosie Cabot: [00:00:56] Also, correct, yes.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:57] And so to tee this up, how much have you studied about employee ownership in two master's degrees in your law degree, what do you know?

Rosie Cabot: [00:01:04] I don't think I know anything about it.

Bret Keisling: [00:01:07] So, am I right, that pretty much and you and I have been friends for awhile and we graduated from the same law school, pretty much what you know about employee ownership is that I work in employee ownership, and that's about it?

Rosie Cabot: [00:01:17] Yeah, that's exactly what I know about it.

Bret Keisling: [00:01:19] Rosie, just you and I being friends, you've occasionally asked questions and I said, hey, I'd like to do a podcast and what better way than to have somebody who doesn't know about employee ownership ask the questions.

So you and I have come up with a couple of questions that you'll ask.

Rosie Cabot: [00:01:32] Correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:01:32] And we're going to have a conversation and I'll give some answers and then you're going to feel free to any follow-up questions you would like.

Rosie Cabot: [00:01:41] Yes, correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:01:42] Now one thing I want to explain to the audiences you are, in fact, an attorney, you are on the East Coast. Everything we've said about you is true. But your practice, you're at a private firm, you're in an industry has nothing to do with employee ownership whatsoever. And for you to come on as an attorney there are certain, "is it okay with the boss" and certain things. And that's not what we're trying to do. So everything that we've said about you is true, except Rosie Cabot is not your name. Correct?

Rosie Cabot: [00:02:07] Correct.

Bret Keisling: [00:02:08] All right. But everything else, that's the only thing that I wanted the audience to know, a name for the reason and the reason it's an assumed name. And I have the pleasure of calling you Rosie for the first time since I've ever met you. So with that, Rosie, a newbie's guide to employee ownership, kick it off...

Rosie Cabot: [00:02:22] Bret, what is employee ownership?

Bret Keisling: [00:02:25] Basically, Rosie, it's exactly what it means. Employee ownership is a form of business where the employees own the company together, either in full or partially. So employee ownership, the employees own the company.

Rosie Cabot: [00:02:39] So, Bret, are there different forms of employee ownership?

Bret Keisling: [00:02:44] There are three primary forms that we talk about in the United States. One is called ESOPs, another is called co-ops or cooperatives, and the third is collectives. So a lot of times, and they're all different forms of employee ownership. Co-ops and collectives are formed in a way, and I won't go into details of any of them, but where people are either awarded or buy in shares of the company.

ESOPs which make up the majority of employee ownership in the United States are a form of employee ownership where here, and it does get confusing. Rosie, the employees don't actually own the company. A trust is formed that buys the shares of the company, and it can be all of the shares of the company or it can be 20% of the company, and the trust owns the shares. And then all of the, what we call employee owners, are given the beneficial value of their shares of the trust. So every year they get a certain percentage, they get the value, et cetera, but they don't actually own the shares. So not only do many people not know about employee ownership, but most of our employee owners aren't, technically, owners at all.

Rosie Cabot: [00:03:51] How do these employees monetize from this employee share?

Bret Keisling: [00:03:55] That is a great question, Rosie, and the way we ask that at conferences and we train what you're saying is " show us the money," where do they get the money? So there are a couple of different ways, primarily ESOPs are a retirement fund. So you build up your account similar to an IRA, but different. But you vest in the account and then when you retire and you have to be age to retire, to not have tax consequences, et cetera, to have a certain age or, if there's a disability, you can also retire, but you then get paid off as you leave the company. So ESOPs are a retirement plan. In terms of co-ops and collective, same sort of thing. You get the value increases, but you don't monetize itself until you leave or sell your shares.

Rosie Cabot: [00:04:40] Oh, perfect. Thank you so much for clarifying that. So how many employee owners are there in the United States and are they all treated similar or the same?

Bret Keisling: [00:04:52] We love all of the employee owners. There are 14 million in the United States and we love them all, but they are not all the same. First of all, 11 or 12 million worked for huge, publicly traded companies where the employee ownership stake might just be like, 1% of the company shares and they're divided as kind of a company benefit. So people technically have employee ownership, but let's say you work for a huge insurance, publicly traded insurance company. You may have an IRA. You may have matching benefits. You may have a variety of benefit buckets. And with that, like 1% of the company shares are divvied among everybody. So they're employee owners, but frankly they're off our radar.

So, on the publicly traded companies there are 11 to 12 million of them. And then at the privately held companies, there are 2 to 3 million. And one of the challenges that we have in employee ownership, Rosie, the data's a little bit conflicting. So for example, until very recently, we're recording this in late April, until very recently, I've been saying there are 3 million employee owners at privately held companies.

Well, I just saw data from the National Center for Employee Ownership [NCEO] that says maybe it's 2 million, closer to 2 million. So somewhere in that range, but they're privately held companies. Those companies generally are one of the organization says they're certified EO or can be certified if they're more than 30% employee owned, it can be down as little as 10. We don't often see that, but and we also have a lot of companies where the ESOPs are either majority share or 100% of owners.

Rosie Cabot: [00:06:28] To get a little bit more, politicized here. At a time when our country is so polarized, where do the employee ownerships fit in on a political spectrum?

Bret Keisling: [00:06:42] That is such a great question and, Rosie , it's one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about employee ownership. We are across the board on the political spectrum. So for example, the biggest proponent in history of employee ownership and just his entire career is Bernie Sanders. And we would not be as far along as we are if Bernie Sanders were not a huge supporter. In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, who came to prominence as a very conservative Republican, president of the Club For Growth. He's passionate about employee ownership. There are folks on all sides of the aisles that support employment ownership.

The other thing is that employee ownership also has several camps from political ideology. Capitalism, and ESOPs traditionally fall under the traditional capitalistic model, and I consider myself a capitalist, although I use "inclusive capitalist." They're also progressives, socialists, and even Marxists in the employee ownership space. And similar to what I said about the political leaders earlier, the elected officials, I don't really get into conversations about socialism versus capitalism or Marxism, et cetera, et cetera. If they support any form of employee ownership, we tend to work together and are just grateful for each other's support.

So in my mind, a hundred years from now, and you hear political memes, where the socialists are gonna ruin the country or the people on the far right are going to ruin the country, just in terms of socialism or capitalism a hundred years from now, maybe we're at a point where we're having a discussion over which one's best. As far as I'm concerned, capitalism is absolutely preferred inclusive capitalism is again, is where I approach sharing the ownership. And so I don't need to get into a capitalism or socialism battle right now. I'm just grateful for everybody's support.

Rosie Cabot: [00:08:33] So, do you think that there is really no political debate with regard to any type of employee ownership of a company?

Bret Keisling: [00:08:42] We don't really spend much time in that space. And Rosie, I've talked quite a bit on the podcast about the app Clubhouse, and I'm trying to bring a lot of people from employee ownership over to Clubhouse. And let me give you an example, to answer your question, that I learned on Clubhouse. We put folks into categories and we assume that there's a certain amount of conformity within that category and it turns out it's not true.

So, the example that I give is I happen to be bald. So let's say that I set up an organization where there was a movement of bald guys. Now people with hair might think all bald guys are the same. We have the people like me that are naturally bald. We have some that maybe their hair is thinning, but they shaved their heads because they think it looks better. It feels better. And then we have some, for example, the skin heads, where they are shaving their heads for political purposes, it's part of their ideology. So to some extent we could come together and focus on what the differences are and by the way, just more examples. What if you're completely bald and you have no facial hair? Is that different from someone who's bald with a goatee? There's all these little subsets. So we could in employee ownership, focus on those differences. But I prefer to say let's be under one giant tent together. With one exception and it is a political time, but I was using as baldness, I mentioned the skin heads as an example.

The reality is that employee ownership, by its nature, we are all in this together. We work together, we grow together, we share together the fruits of our labors and the skinhead ideology that is exclusive doesn't fit in. So the example I gave, I happened to mention skinheads for bald people, but for example, if there was an outright white supremacist supporting employee ownership, you're not going to hear about them on my podcast. Thank you for your support, go somewhere else.

Rosie Cabot: [00:10:47] Perfect.

Bret Keisling: [00:10:48] And by the way, if you even noticed, even in this conversation I tapped a dance , got a little bit political, but I was like I'll give an absurd example cause we don't want to get too political. Because if I could get Pat Toomey and Bernie Sanders in a room together, I don't want them talking about the wall. I don't want them talking about minimum wage. Those are very important issues, but I would like to see them talk about employee ownership, where they agree.

So the other great thing is you can bring people from across political spectrums and, for example, I don't necessarily agree with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, AOC's, a lot of her positions. I don't think I'm conservative, but I'm more conservative than she is, but I don't sit and say, oh, I dislike this and this. I'm just grateful that she supports employee ownership. So a lot of us who are professional advocates just stay away from the partisan stuff because it doesn't help us.

Rosie Cabot: [00:11:43] So if you stay away from the professional partisan issues, how does the employer then profit or benefit from any type of employee ownership?

Bret Keisling: [00:11:56] That's a great question. One of the reasons that we want to be apolitical or non-partisan is there are tremendous tax benefits. For example, if you are an S corporation and you're an ESOP, you pay no federal income tax whatsoever for the portion that's an S corporation. So we don't want, and I'm not picking on Pat Toomey, I'll give you another example. Ben Cardin is the Senator from Maryland. He's a Democrat. He also supports employee ownership, Pat Toomey, and I've said on previous podcasts, wouldn't it be cool if Pat Toomey and Ben Cardin did an employee ownership town hall in Baltimore and then got in their car and drove an hour and a half and did a town hall on employee ownership in Harrisburg? And. I don't care what they talk about on the way, the car ride over. They can talk about all the issues that are dividing the country, but focus on the employee ownership.

So where do businesses benefit? Where do the employee owners benefit? If we can get people who aren't agreeing on anything right now, your question started with how polarized everything is and say, hey, here is this issue that everybody can agree on.

Rosie Cabot: [00:13:03] I think that brings us right into my next question that I have, I'm sitting here pondering if if a company is really employee owned, what are the advantages to the employees, to the company, to the business founders, or even the shareholders themselves?

Bret Keisling: [00:13:22] That is great and that's a four-parter.

So there are a lot of advantages to all of those categories and we'll start with the employees first. As we'll talk a little bit more down the road, employee owned businesses are better at sustainability. There is less job turnover, so the jobs are more stable. When people have a sense of ownership, they have a sense of participation in the company management and the company affairs. They are more likely to stick around. As we'll talk in a bit for example, in difficult economic times and we're just starting to work towards the end of one. If you think about it and I've been self-employed most of my life, you have not, you have worked for other firms, but everybody wants what I've wanted and what you want. You happen to be an attorney, but you're employed. You want to feel value for what you're doing. You want to be fairly compensated for what you're doing, that's not necessarily get crazy rich, but fairly compensated. You want to feel like you're part of a team and your presence matters. And what we see with employee owned companies for the employees, they're happier people. Because, you still have, it's still work, it's still a job, but you tend to be a little more joyful about your approach because you know what you're doing matters. That you're part of working with all of your colleagues together in the company, across all departments. You're part of something bigger than yourself and yearly, when there are annual statements done on the value of the company, you can see the results of working together. So it's a great mindset.

Rosie Cabot: [00:15:00] So basically, what you're saying to me is that if I am part of an employee owned company, my salary, or what I own is essentially going back into the company and paying my salary again. So the more that I put into it, the more I get out of it,

Bret Keisling: [00:15:19] Well, you're on the right track. But I would say it a little bit differently, particularly for those who are listening. Your salary is your salary. So you get paid a paycheck just like anywhere else and you get to take that home. In most employee ownership plans, and there's an exception, Davey Tree Service was on the podcast and they have something a little bit different where you can buy the shares. But other than that, you're just awarded the shares as a benefit as it were. So you don't have to put your own money in.

But for example, if there is a process, let's say manufacturing plant. Let's say you use a lot of iron in making something, and there's a lot of wasted iron at the end of the process. What we see with employee owned companies is the employees who are now vested in more profitability might come to management and say, hey, we just came up with a great way to use that unused iron or to sell it somewhere else. So there are a lot of different things that are just made more efficient because it changes the company dynamic. In the past, managers would sit in their corner offices and they would say, this is what we're going to do to make things better and it would flow down. Here, everybody, and again, particularly in the companies where there's good culture and it's not just factories, it's offices, whatever here, everybody's saying, how can we make it better? How can we make it more efficient? Not from a, we need to cut costs 8% or everybody's fired, but a hey, if we can cut costs 8%, we all get more money. It brings a much more joyful approach.

Rosie Cabot: [00:16:49] Bret, do you think that employee owned companies have a better morale stance because from what you're telling me right now, if I'm trying to get that iron offloaded, I'm trying to help the company as a whole, because it benefits me and it benefits everybody else. Is that what you're saying, as a general conclusion?

Bret Keisling: [00:17:10] That's exactly right, Rosie and it's that coming back to, I've owned businesses in my life either by myself or with a partner and it's, how can we make it better? How can we improve things? How can we make it more profitable?

And I think people who've worked for me and hopefully they feel that they've been paid fairly or, even generously, but they know that I get all the profits at the end. Or in employee ownership, I owned a trustee firm with a partner for seven years. We were the owners of the firm. Here, it's building value. If you can make the company more valuable, if you can, and I'll give you an example, let's say that you're a customer service manager. You may be looking at processes and I don't want to say on your off time, not like you have to go home and work, but you may just be thinking of something and say, hey, here's a way that maybe we could get every customer to buy two more items on every sale. And you're going up and you're talking about it because that adds to the bottom line, that adds the revenue. So everybody has the sense that they're all in it together.

And now I'll give you one other example, Rosie. In the eighties, I started my professional career. I was the regional manager of the furniture company and it was not unusual. The salespeople were convinced that the salespeople were the end-all-be-all. And I was a sales manager because we drove the revenue. And if you didn't sell it, we didn't make any money. And the salespeople were right. And the warehouse people at that same company said no. We are the ones because you can sell as much as you want, but if we can't get it out the door, if we can't deliver it, if we screw up the delivery, the company's gone. So the warehouse people feel that they are the best, or the most important, and they're right. And then you have the back office people, the support staff and they're like, yeah, the salespeople talk big about sales and the warehouse people can deliver product, but we're the ones that keep everything going. We keep the infrastructure, the billing, et cetera, we're the most important. And with employee ownership, we all agree and we all come to understand, they're all right. If you don't sell, you got nothing. If you don't deliver it, you got nothing. If you don't have the infrastructure, you've got nothing.

But now instead of a fiefdom, it's everybody saying, the salespeople might be saying, hey, how can we get the paperwork better? Warehouse people might be saying, hey, if you sold it this way, instead of that way, it's a better installation. So it's, again, everybody thinking outside of their own box in a collaborative way to make things better and therefore more profitable.

Rosie Cabot: [00:19:38] So Bret, if I'm the owner of the company, where's my incentive if the employees get all the benefit?

Bret Keisling: [00:19:44] And what you're talking about, and this is one of the classic important aspects of employee ownership, you founded a company and you have built it up and Rosie, as you probably know that the, we call it the gray tsunami, or I'm sorry, the silver tsunami, all these baby boomers who have all kinds of companies are reaching retirement age. And what do you do with the company?

A couple of quick stats for you. Only about 20% of companies that go on the market end up having a sale. So a lot of times, 80% of the time a company says we are for sale, nobody buys it. It ends up closing. Of the 20% that ended up getting sold the average time is five nibbles with perspective buyers before you actually close.

So the vast majority of businesses are folding. In employee ownership, a founder, and we call them the selling shareholder can sell to the trust in the ESOP sense, or they can create a cooperative, collective different animal altogether, but they can sell it to the ESOP trust. And a couple of things are gonna happen.

First of all, they get fair market value for their business. Not necessarily top dollar, but it's fair market value. But one of the really cool things to a lot of employee owners are two-fold: their own legacies and often their community legacies. So for example, if you build a company, Rosie, and let's say you build a company of fitness studios, because I know you like to work out. Well, if it's Rosie's Fitness, you build these up and you're getting ready to retire. You sell to somebody. Chances are the Rosie's name is going to go away. Chances are some of the locations, if you sold to another big fitness center and you've got competing locations, chances are one of your locations goes away. Almost always happens with businesses that merged, if Rosie's has the back office operations, all the infrastructure and the company that buys you has all of that, your jobs are going to go away.

So it's not unusual when a company is sold and it's just the way it is. The buyers want to make it more profitable. They want to streamline the operations and that means cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. If however you sold to your employees, Your legacy is more secure because they're not going to rush to sell the company. They own it as all of the employees.

So there are significantly less layoffs, for example, in a sale. One of the really important aspects is businesses are less likely to move out of communities. They're going to stay in the same place. So the founder again, gets fair market value for their business. But it's the legacy. And can I share two quick anecdotes with you?

Rosie Cabot: [00:22:24] Sure.

Bret Keisling: [00:22:25] The first was just an example and we talked about this with a State Representative Greg Rothman on a podcast in 2019. D&H Distributing is a huge company in central Pennsylvania and multi-billion dollars in revenue and they would be a prime target of an international conglomerate to acquire them.

They instead went the employee ownership route. Recently they built a brand new headquarters in central Pennsylvania. And I think it was like the headquarters were $40 million or so, and I might be missing that, but state-of-the-art lots of employees and a headquarters that anybody would be proud of. Because they're employee owned, they strengthened their roots and they were in the city of Harrisburg limits and just, there was no more space to grow. They've now moved to the suburbs and they've got a beautiful campus. But it would be easy to see where a conglomerate could have just closed them, moved the operations, et cetera and taken that away from the community, so that adds to legacy.

The other anecdote is when I was in the ESOP trustee, we had a company that it was a manufacturer facility, blue collar facility. And they probably had about 125 jobs at this plant. And I went to the company, trustees and other professionals have to do a due diligence site visit at the start of every transaction. So we are there, we're doing the site visit and to get through the town, and this was like 2016, you could tell this was a really cool town in the 1960s. You know, that it was just beaten down, the economy really hard on the small Midwestern town.

So we go in and we have the site visit and it's a great company. There are three or four family members who are the shareholders and I get a tour. And one of my favorite things about this, I get tours of the facilities. One of the selling shareholders, he and I are standing outside after the tour. And he had just stepped outside and I walked over to him and it's just him and I, and these site visit things, we'll have 20 lawyers and valuation advisor, just he and I. And he was very emotional. And I said, you seem taken at this moment. And with tears rolling down his eyes, he said we had other offers. We could have sold the company. These jobs would have gone away and my town can't handle these jobs going away.

And as you're sitting here looking, you can tell I'm getting emotional. I don't know if it's in my voice, I'm getting emotional telling about it because there are these guys that sold their company for millions of dollars. They did well, they didn't, and we won't go down this rabbit hole. They didn't necessarily wrest every penny out of the transaction because that's not in the spirit of employee ownership.

What was the most important thing to him at that moment? Not that he had just realized millions of dollars of economic benefit. His point was all of the jobs are saved. His town is going to continue. So that's part of the power of employee ownership.

Rosie Cabot: [00:25:28] So spinning off of that. In a challenging time, such as we're in right now during a pandemic versus a normal time, I don't even know what normal means anymore. How do they compare? How do employee owned ownership companies compare to the non-employee owned ownership companies?

Bret Keisling: [00:25:50] Some of the things that we've talked about, Rosie, compare favorably generally. They tend to be more profitable. And by the way, I want to stress again, and I've said it several times in the podcast, being employee owned company, won't make a bad company, a good company. If you're a bad company and you sell it to the employees, but you don't do the culture, you don't build the teamwork, you don't build the environment so that all the things that we've been talking about can happen, you're still going to be a bad company. So we are talking about the ones that are engaged, where the employees are engaged fully with company operations, they're engaged with management, board level, et cetera. The ideal ones will have independent board of director members, instead of just a close-knit circle, but they compare very favorably.

The really cool stuff is that when there's an economic downturn and we saw it at the 2008, 2009 recession, and the data is coming in now that it's true in the pandemic as well. We're about 9 to 10% less likely to have layoffs. I had a client that was just in financial trouble five years ago, not related to the pandemic, but they were in a really tough industry. Book manufacturing. People are reading less. They're reading more on Kindle and this company made the books. Any other company would have laid off a chunk of the staff. They instead management gave up salary. Everybody in the company took a 10% pay cut because the vibe of the company, and this had great employee ownership culture, the vibe of the company was we are all in this together.

Now, one of the things Rosie, business is hard. Businesses are likely to fail, more likely to fail than succeed in the first couple of years. I mentioned that 80% of businesses don't get sold. Business is hard. And unfortunately the client that I'm referring to ended up going bankrupt and, jobs were lost. But it's not that it was a great industry, they couldn't make it work. It was just a, they lasted probably five or six years longer than they otherwise would have. So there is no perfect ending to it necessarily, but in comparison, employee owned companies tend to do a lot better.

Rosie Cabot: [00:28:06] So that streams like right into my next question is how do employee owned companies impact local communities?

Bret Keisling: [00:28:16] That's a great question and there are a couple of answers and one of them surprised me. Let me first start by saying it in some of the data that we've talked about. If you're not laying people off your tax base is stronger.

So let's take the pandemic, for example. Lots of people, lots of heartache, as you well know. Lots of people suffered during the pandemic and although we see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are still people suffering. So people get laid off. Now you've got the unemployment. Now you have other services that are taxed, for example, food banks zooming out of control because people are without jobs. And we don't have much of a societal safety net, unfortunately. So by having companies that are less likely to lay off staff, you're not having that effect on government services to people who were laid off.

The employee owned company will set down roots. I've mentioned D&H Distributing. When they built gorgeous headquarters, all of those people are likely to be in those jobs for a very long time. So again, there's community stability.

The other thing that I find really cool Rosie, and we see this all the time, October is Employee Ownership Month and it's the month where, and in some states it's official declarations by the governor and all that kind of thing, but we celebrate Employee Ownership Month and it's everybody comes together around the movement. So like a lot of groups, there are multiple organizations, there are multiple companies and we all say October, we celebrate it together.

We see all the time the amazing public service works that the employee owner companies do in their communities. And it's part of that vibe and that culture of employee ownership. We're all in this together at the company. But it's the understanding that when you go home and you're not working, we are all in this together, all of us.

So I can give you an example, a client of mine, a trustee plan of mine in Greensboro, North Carolina had a wonderful program where they'd solicit donations from their employees and even their vendors and that sort of thing. This is a city in North Carolina hours from the beach and an inner city school. And at least a couple of years ago, I don't know that they're still doing it, but they've done it many years. The entire third grade in the city school district was sent to the beach for a day or two, because that's what the employee owned company wanted to do as their act of charity.

There are blood drives, there's education, there are any kind of fundraising or support services, working at food banks that it's that same employee ownership vibe. We're all in this together at work. So now let's take it and do great things. So I love the effect that employee ownership has on the communities.

Rosie Cabot: [00:31:06] So basically it's, if we all really work hard together, we're going to succeed together. Or if we choose not to work hard together, we're going to fail together. So that's how I see that you either succeed together or you fail together.

Bret Keisling: [00:31:21] That is exactly right Rosie. And there are all kinds of clichés that we use. And I liked them and I haven't dropped a whole lot of them in this podcast, but we talk about employee ownership and the company profits being the pie. And the step one is we share the pie and step two is we grow the pie. And you have to get through the wall of -- and I've given the example in a couple of different ways. It's not sales versus warehouse. It's not a skinhead or an extreme political person on any side saying death to the others. It's who's going to buy in. Who's going to be in this together. Who wants to make our lives better and our communities. That's what I love about employee ownership. Because we're all in this together.

Rosie Cabot: [00:32:06] Thank you, Bret. You answered my question of what is employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: [00:32:12] I really appreciate your help. This was a lot of fun. Did you enjoy it?

Rosie Cabot: [00:32:16] I loved it.

Bret Keisling: [00:32:18] Did you learn anything?

Rosie Cabot: [00:32:18] I did. I did.

Bret Keisling: [00:32:19] Now, let me ask a question. As you just run through your life and you're a lawyer, just out and about living your life. If you hear someone owns a business and they mentioned they want to sell the business, is employee ownership now on your radar?

Rosie Cabot: [00:32:34] It would be in my radar because I would think that my employees, if I were to buy a business and that were part of the premise of the business, my employees would be happier and my business, our business collectively, would grow faster.

Bret Keisling: [00:32:51] Maybe you just answered this, but let's see if you would answer it a different way. What do you think from everything that I've described as an employee, what do you think it would mean to you? If you were an employee owner?

Rosie Cabot: [00:33:01] I already put in a hundred percent every day to my job. If I were an employee owner, I would find a way to make it 210%.

Bret Keisling: [00:33:12] So this might not apply in your business, but could you imagine that let's say you were just in the different industry somewhere. Chances are there are going to be employees in that organization that aren't pulling their weight. Can you imagine where people would want to be more productive and jump in and be more part of the operations?

Rosie Cabot: [00:33:33] I think if they knew that they were part of not only the business, but they were helping to grow it and that's what employee ownership, based on this podcast, seems to me to be. Yeah. I could see that somebody who would only put in maybe 60% on a really good day would put in 110.

Bret Keisling: [00:33:55] I love that. And let me ask in this time that we've spent together on the podcast do you understand why I consider myself a passionate advocate for employee ownership? Does it make sense to you now?

Rosie Cabot: [00:34:05] Yes, I do.

Bret Keisling: [00:34:06] That is very cool. Rosie, any other questions?

Rosie Cabot: [00:34:08] I actually don't have any.

Bret Keisling: [00:34:11] This was absolutely my pleasure. Thank you very much for helping me spread the story of employee ownership and to do this fun little newbie's guide to employee ownership. Thank you so much.

Rosie Cabot: [00:34:22] It was a pleasure.

Bret Keisling: [00:34:23] And for those of you who are listening, as I said a little bit earlier, I've ended every podcast since the pandemic began in the exact same way. Our country's going through an awful lot together, and that's how we're going to get through it, together.

Hey folks, check me out on Clubhouse. You can find me at EO_Bret with one "T". I really am working hard with others to grow the EO ecosystem on Clubhouse and I hope you'll join me there. With that, thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


Bitsy McCann: [00:34:54] We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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