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167: Jamil Hassounah & the EsOp Dissertation

Bret Keisling is joined by Jamil Hassounah, Ph.D Business Administration to discuss his dissertation research and findings including his conclusion that it takes employee ownership along with a participatory workplace to truly unlock an ESOP’s potential.


Episode 167 Transcript

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

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Hello, my friends. Thank you for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for Hypertherm. It's not just a leader in the markets it serves, but it truly is a beacon of best practices, job satisfaction, and success for all of employee ownership to follow.

Jesse Tyler host of the brand-new Owner to Owner podcast is the Employee Experience Specialist at Hypertherm and the expertise he's developed there is on full display in his podcast. My guest today is Jamil Hassounah, who also works at Hypertherm. He earned a PhD in Business Administration in 2021 with a dissertation that studied three ESOP companies. His research makes clear that ownership itself only goes so far. It's a combination of ownership and a participatory workplace that truly unlocks employee-owned companies potential.

Enjoy the episode.


Bret Keisling: I'm very happy to be joined on the podcast by Jamil Hassounah. Jamil, how are you today?

[00:01:25] Jamil Hassounah: I'm doing great, Bret. How about you?

[00:01:28] Bret Keisling: I am excellent. I really appreciate you joining me today. You are the Director of Global Quality at Hypertherm, and you've been with that company for nine years, am I right?

[00:01:40] Jamil Hassounah: You are correct, yes.

[00:01:43] Bret Keisling: And, Jamil, that alone would be enough to bring you on the podcast and we would talk about your experiences as an employee owner and Hypertherm is an amazing company. But that's not why you're here today. You actually just received a Doctorate of Business Administration from Wilmington University. Your dissertation is titled Participative Decision-making and Employee Attitudes, a Study with ESOP Firms. So, if I may just one time say Dr. Hassounah you're coming on the podcast to talk about your dissertation and your research.

[00:02:21] Jamil Hassounah: Great, Bret. First of all, thank you so much for having me. It's a true pleasure. And yeah, you're correct. So, I had the opportunity to study some ESOP companies. And before we get into the specifics, I just want to share a little bit about my background, because actually that's how I got my what you would call the A-ha Moment.

[00:02:43] Bret Keisling: And let me tee that up Jamil, and I appreciate it because all of our guests start with their "A-ha Moment" and I'm assuming, okay, we chatted a little bit, but you had an A-ha Moment at Hypertherm that led to your doctorate. So, please, share your background and the A-ha Moment. And then we will be talking about your research.

[00:03:04] Jamil Hassounah: Great. You're absolutely correct. So, just to share a little bit about my background. So, I've been in quality management for many years. One of the typical situations in quality is that you always depend on people's involvement to get things done.

So, you know, it could be a customer issue, or it could be a continuous improvement initiative. So, it is through employee participation that actually you get those things done and done well. Before joining Hypertherm, I had been with large and not so large companies, a few public companies, but none were actually ESOP companies, like Hypertherm.

And one of the first things that I noticed when I joined Hypertherm was the level of --we call our folks associates -- the level of associate involvement in decision-making. So, extremely high level of engagement. People really having a voice. And that triggered my curiosity. There was something different, right?

And well, that was very positive on the one hand. It did make my job easier. And on the other hand, it did trigger the curiosity to understanding and maybe studying why or what was different about that type of environment, that type of culture that actually drove that level of employee involvement.

And that's how I got into the study, you know, as part of my dissertation. And what I did there was basically trying to understand what type of variables or measures actually can help enhance employee attitudes. And when I talk about employee attitudes, I mean job satisfaction, trust in leadership, and organizational commitment.

And the study basically took into account three different measures to understand the relationships. So, one of them was about employee ownership culture. So, one measure that actually was about the employee attitude toward employee ownership. A second measure actually dealt with the stock ownership level in dollars. How much, you know, each associate, each employee owns in the company stock. And the third measure was actually the level of employee involvement in decision making.

And the idea was, okay, when you bring those three things: attitude to employee ownership, stock ownership level, and involvement in decision-making. How do those three things come together to help enhance employee attitudes?

So, I was very fortunate to work with three ESOP companies, which I am very thankful. You know, the entire study was done as we were facing a pandemic and the three companies were extremely receptive and, you know, a great level of collaboration. So, basically, I have deployed some employee surveys trying to get data about those variables. And I'm going to try to summarize the findings, Bret.

[00:06:16] Bret Keisling: Before you start Jamil, let me just say that these three companies, and we're not disclosing them now because we want to focus on your research, but just so people know, these are good sized companies. They are companies that anyone in EO will have heard of, and indeed companies I've talked about on my podcast. So, they are representative of ESOP world, but they also, as I think you've just pointed out, took the time during the pandemic to encourage their people to help you.

So, I just wanted to explain why we're not, you know, sharing their names, but go ahead and talk about the research.

[00:06:50] Jamil Hassounah: Sure, you're right. So, they are three great ESOP companies. They are all 100% ESOP companies and they have operations in manufacturing, primarily, okay.

So, the findings are very interesting. So, let's remember one thing. We are trying to understand what aspects of the culture, stock ownership, and participation decision-making actually impact employee attitudes. So, when you take into account participation decision-making, the more employees participate in decision-making the higher job satisfaction, trust in leadership, and organizational commitment. All three measures of employee attitudes.

When you consider stock ownership level, which is the financial reward of ESOP, only job satisfaction actually is enhanced by higher levels of stock ownership. And when you take into account the attitude toward employee ownership, which is a cultural measure of employee ownership, only organizational commitment is enhanced by higher levels of employee attitude toward ownership.

One type of interpretation of this is that when you think about job satisfaction, trust leadership, and organizational commitment, from an organizational behavior perspective, the job satisfaction is that measure that's closest to the individual. Trust in leadership is something in between the individual and the organization. And the organizational commitment is really the highest level, the organizational level.

So, when you take into that account, stock ownership is impacting what's closest to the individual, the job satisfaction. Attitude toward employee ownership is impacting the organizational level, the organizational commitment. However, involvement in decision making is positively impacting all three measures of employees.

So, that's for me is something really significant because as a company you could be, and you should, be investing in the ownership culture development. Obviously, employees are accumulating wealth over time. So, those are two key elements of employee ownership. However, you could help enhance employee attitudes by providing employees with channels and opportunities for participation decision making. And that could be a differentiator even among ESOP companies.

[00:09:45] Bret Keisling: What's interesting Jamil, and I shouldn't even start like that because it's all interesting. We understand that just becoming an employee-owned company or an ESOP is not going to make fundamental changes at the company unless there are cultural issues addressed and improvement to the culture. So, your research certainly supports that.

A couple of things you said, make all the common sense in the world, but I hadn't really thought about it, which is a direct connection to the number of folks who feel that they are participating in some way, you know, has an exponential increase.

So, to me, it's we know the culture is important, we know we want employee owners to be engaged, but here's some research that's saying it really works and there can be significant increases of levels of job satisfaction. And by the way, not to stretch, but the increased levels of job satisfaction, I assume, is connected to the longevity of employee owners and staying with the company that leads... so that really is kind of a big part of the secret sauce.

[00:10:54] Jamil Hassounah: That's right. If you look at the measures of employee attitudes, I'm using those as a precursor to firm-level performance, right? So, when we are studying private companies in this case, 100% ESOPs, it's not necessarily easy to get the financials and all the other performance metrics.

So, the research has shown that when you have high levels of employee attitudes as in job satisfaction and so forth, those levels of employee attitudes actually support higher levels of company performance. So, that's why, you know, the study was focused on that type of, let's say, outcomes.

So, another thing that I would like to highlight is previous research has found that actually there, even though ESOP in general performs better, there's a certain level of dispersion in results. Even when you're comparing, you know, ESOP companies to ESOP companies. And that type of research has suggested that there might be some other elements in the organizational environment that actually support, further support, the potential benefits from employee ownership. And those other elements are, typically referred to high-performing work practices, which include employee involvement in decision making. So, that was also another reason for trying to throw participation decision making in the mix along with the employee ownership. To understand, okay, when those things come together, do we really see higher levels of employee attitudes, which could help explain why even within ESOP companies, some do better than others. And the data is not necessarily proving that, but what I would suggest is maybe the difference is in the types of decision-making channels employees might have available and how those are deployed. Because, at the end of the day, you truly want to provide employees with a voice. So, if they have a voice. If they can make a difference in what they own, likely their employee attitudes will be higher.

[00:13:20] Bret Keisling: What I think is important about this is obviously employee ownership, this sounds stupid, but employee ownership is unique to employee ownership. But the high-performance work practices that you speak of, I'll call them generally as I do many other things, just the best practices for high performance. That's not unique to employee ownership. That wasn't developed in employee ownership. We incorporate maybe a lot of it mindfully, some of it informally or accidentally, but you're drawing that direct connection through research between the employee ownership, which is good, and the high-performance work practices that gives it a turbocharge.

[00:14:03] Jamil Hassounah: And, again, we're going through some hypothesis here, but that may also explain why non-ESOP companies may not perform as well as ESOP companies.

And I just want to mention maybe another part of the research. So, there's a theoretical framework for employee ownership and actually defines that for ownership you need to have two dimensions of rights. So, there's the return rights and control rights. So, if you own something, you have the right to benefit from anything that that property can return to you. By the same token, you also have the right to control, to have control over that product. So, those two things need to exist, to co-exist, to maximize the potential benefits of ownership.

So, when we are in an ESOP environment, obviously the return is there through the stock options. And then the control, one of the means to provide people with control is enabling them to participate in decisions.

Now, if you are in a non-ESOP company, you may be fostering employee involvement in decision making. So, that addresses the control part of the equation, if you will, but not necessarily the return. So, there's something missing in that sauce, right?

[00:15:37] Bret Keisling: So, now let's talk a couple of things if we can, Jamil, about perhaps the practical application, if that makes sense? And I guess very broadly, what do we do with your research? Because it seems to me that -- and by the way I haven't heard high performance work practices, that phrase, a whole lot in employee ownership. Although, in fairness, I don't talk to the companies like I did when I was a trustee. But how do we start taking your research, and I assume the goal is to take the knowledge and make companies better. You know, on a practical level you have laid out the landscape, but is there a path that you see or you're starting to see about how we change the landscape based on your research?

[00:16:24] Jamil Hassounah: So, I think the answer can be two-fold. For existing ESOP companies and also all those businesses that might transition to employee ownership as part of the silver tsunami. So, let's start with the existing ESOP companies. So, what the study is showing is, and I'll be very blunt here, just investing time and attention to developing the employee ownership culture without providing employees with the means to have a voice to participation in decision making might not maximize all the potential benefits from employee ownership. So, my suggestion for existing ESOP companies is to revisit their operating mode to identify opportunities for folks to have more of a voice in participating in decision making.

When I talk about that decision making, the study actually was focused on the job-related activities. So, we are not talking about having employee representation at a board of directors’ level or employee making decisions about capital investment. It's truly about what those folks come in day in, day out and they do their number of hours, you know, job is giving them the opportunity to do those activities better.

So, programs that are focused, for example, on continuous improvement methodologies that type of program would be one possibility for companies to deploy and it would be one avenue for employees to participate. The main reasoning there, as I said before is okay, so you are already employee-owned leverage all the potential benefits by enabling your folks to participate in decisions.

For the companies that are not employee-owned yet, they may have a few years. I heard them. There's a lot of things to be taken into account. The transition, you know, process itself is not necessarily, you know, the simplest one. So, there's a lot of aspects to be taken into account. However, one thing that I would recommend is before the employee ownership takes place is start fostering employee involvement in the decisions because that will help. By the time you become employee-owned, you have already developed part of your culture based on employee involvement in decisions and then you can benefit from that type of initiative.

So that's, you know, in both cases, maybe the outcome might be slightly different, but whether you are pre-ESOP or post-, is really establishing those channels for participation. Enabling folks to have a voice through those channels. And you will see improvements over time in employee attitudes.

[00:19:23] Bret Keisling: Here's the interesting thing, and it's finding the right mix. If someone's considering converting to an employee-owned company and they start the process, it's not unusual if they have an advisor who will say here's how you can make the company more profitable or more valuable prior to sale. And I should say, regardless of whether they sell to an ESOP or just sell the company as part of the silver tsunami. One of the things that struck me as you were talking about this is that I understand as a former ESOP trustee, that it's really difficult to announce a potential conversion to employee ownership because it could fall through right up until the date of closing. And there is absolute, potentially bad consequences for a company to telegraph to the employees that it's about to be employee-owned and then it falls through for whatever reason.

But what I like about this again, it's the crossover and I've said it a million times on the podcast. Employee ownership can make a good company a great company. It can't make a bad company a good company. And that's what you're talking about as well.

So, rather than, I guess my frustration is this is the way to run your company! I don't care if it's employee-owned. I don't care if it's non-employee-owned. These are the practices that will improve your culture, make the company better, make it more profitable. Bigger money for the shareholders. I have always worked for more money for the shareholders. They're just used to be much fewer of them before I went into employee ownership. So, aren't you very broadly, if we take it out of the ESOP companies view. aren't we really saying companies, get with it! I mean, just I'm being very simple here, but just do it for whatever reason, do it.

[00:21:22] Jamil Hassounah: You are correct. So, this is one, what I would maybe call a universal value that you can deploy in any organization. But, you know, there are organizations that are well-run and not so well run. And the ones that are well-run, they have those practices in place. They understand the value. But the beauty of employee-owned is that there's this such synergistic effect between not only the employee-owned specific potential benefits that you can get, including financial, but also their level of control that can be practiced by every single individual owner. And that is what can make the difference, right?

But to your point, Bret, you're absolutely right. The concept of, you know, leveraging and getting the benefit of employee inputs, you know, having a more democratic type of environment, not top down. More participative. Those characteristics can, you know, any organization, whether ESOP or not, can benefit.

[00:22:34] Bret Keisling: And it's funny because I guess the frustration popped out of me because there are times where, very appropriately. I kind of calmly and methodically and you have helped me do it here on this podcast, of this would really be better and you would be well-served. When really in my heart of hearts, I want to scream. Why don't you get it? Why aren't you doing this? Why isn't it happening? And why do I have to be so gentle when it should just be done! But there are new listeners, new people getting experience.

Talk for just a moment, one of my areas of concern, and you and I talked about this prior to recording, is there are 6,200 employee-owned companies in the United States, as of, I think 2018, which is our most recent data. Whole other issue there. But maybe 8 or 900 companies touch any of the organizations in some way. And I say that very informally, but folks at two of the major associations or organizations have said, yeah, that probably sounds right. So, no one's arguing that there's more. There's 5,500 employee-owned companies that aren't in what I call the EO sandbox, except by name. They don't seem to be active. They are not going to conferences. They may have culture. They may not have culture. But it strikes me that if we were to take your research and the right people turned it into a program that 90% of employee-owned companies, or 85%, by my number, that aren't doing, anything probably would have exponential benefit quickly. They're already employee-owned, but get on the culture train.

[00:24:15] Jamil Hassounah: Exactly. So, the potential is all there, right? It's a matter of becoming familiar with the possibilities, with the different alternatives. I mentioned earlier in our podcast that if you were to deploy something around quality continuous improvement, that type of program is a good way to get into because there are disciplined tools and methodologists that you can educate people, you can teach people. Some are very simple. So, you can get the return pretty easily if you start investing a little bit in those problems.

Now my quality hat, right? So unfortunately, there's not necessarily a recipe that you guarantee if you deploy this quality initiative, because we have had in the past many quality initiatives that actually didn't work as expected. If you go back to the seventies, eighties, at that time, probably one of the main reasons is that we were too focused on the tools without having a clear linkage between the tools and the potential financial or business benefit. So, we were just doing things because we believed that, okay, if we do this things will improve, but not having that linkage makes the situation harder.

If companies, including those ones that may be entertaining converting to employee ownership, but it's too early to announce going through a continuous improvement type of program. It just makes business sense. It's to improve customer satisfaction. It's to reduce costs. Even to increase sales.

So, if you go through to some of the models and this is going back to the forties, fifties they all associated quality improvement with business benefits. So, it's just kind of, as you said before, common sense, right?

So, if you can go there and you start developing that type of culture, because that type of program requires people's involvement. Nobody can go and do a quality improvement without having a team together, even if the team is only two or three people. So, you start developing that kind of environment, you know, the collaboration, the type of consensus building and so forth that you can actually benefit even more as we, we be talking all along once you become employee-owned.

[00:26:40] Bret Keisling: Let me ask, and I don't mean this as a smart question. The process of getting up to speed, particularly if you're going from kind of a zero collaborative culture to robust, can be difficult, can be bumpy, can be challenging. A lot of people got to learn new things. So, with the mindfulness that the process could be bumpy, other than that, is there any downside? To me that's just a more cohesive workplace that will translate to profitability. You know, I absolutely want people to have job satisfaction, you know, life satisfaction. That is very important to me. But I'm also at a point in my career where I know that directly translates to profitability. You got happy people you're doing better, I suspect.

Any downsides for a company that wants to do this?

[00:27:30] Jamil Hassounah: I think the potential risk for a downside is if you don't deploy the approach in the right way. And when I say right way, what I mean is we could go to a company and say, okay, now everybody can participate in decision making. We need to position the employees well to be ready for making that kind of contribution and that includes education or training. So, we need to teach folks the trade, if you will, of participating in decision-making and that could be simplistically something centric to problem resolution.

Everywhere we are in our lives, anywhere, we on and off, we are faced with problems. We are problem magnets! You know, so something goes wrong. And then, so how do you address that? How do you fix that problem? And ideally, how do you fix the problem in a way then it will not come back next week or next month. So, there are techniques to do that. So, those tools, those techniques, they need to be taught. Because if employees don't have that type of skills, they're not going to be equipped to actually make decisions.

In addition to training another key element for positioning people well for decision making is information sharing. If I don't have any idea of what's happening either at my work location or in the next department or the next employee, then I'm going to miss that because I'm not going to be best positioned to take into account all the potential options for addressing that problem. So, that combination it's sort of, you know, precursors.

So, you need to teach people the trade skills and you need to inform, you need to share information that will properly equip people to do their best. And when you do that, likely you maximize the success of getting people involved in decision making.

[00:29:41] Bret Keisling: I love that because it is clear when we have these conversations broadly that there are acts we're trying to teach people. That we are trying to teach them to behave in a certain way in the workplace. We are teaching them to think differently. But you just raised the point that the knowledge and information they are provided is a critical part to this. It doesn't matter to say, "be collaborative," if everything is so top secret that nobody knows what they're collaborating about.

At that point, it's just more of "just smile at work more," you know. Whereas you do need the knowledge and we've had lots of conversations on the podcast about open book management and how much is the right, and that can vary from companies. But there needs to be some level of knowledge. And I have transitioned from my days as a trustee where I am much knowledge as the company is comfortable sharing with their team, that's all the knowledge that they should share. You know, err on the side of find that comfort level.

But I just wanted to commend you for pointing out that the knowledge probably is kind of fundamental to everything. That if you're not sharing what's going on, there's nothing

[00:30:59] Jamil Hassounah: It is, it is. And it helps empower people, right? So, it's to your point, you just cannot go and say, okay from today on you're going to make decisions here. How we run this process, how we sell this product and so forth. In the absence of information and knowledge, likely you're going to make a lot of wrong decisions.

[00:31:20] Bret Keisling: By way of working towards wrapping up, and I love the research and really appreciate it, are there other -- first of all do you intend additional research yourself and I'm sheepish asking that because you just finished your doctorate and I'm like, hey, but where do you see research going? What other research would you like to see whether it's yours or others? What's -- how do we build upon your research? And then the second part is how do people like me and other advocates share the story and try and make your research more of a reality?

So, where do you see the research going? And then what can we do to help?

[00:32:00] Jamil Hassounah: Great questions. Thank you, by the way. But yeah, I am taking a break now, so [laughter]. But looking forward, I think from this study, it helped provide us with empirical data that supports the hypothesis that participating in decision making brings value.

Now, this is what I would consider. This is the what. The next level of the understanding that probably we need to go after is the how. So, when we take into account, as you were mentioning before, there are many ESOP companies across many industry settings. So, when you consider the different industries, manufacturing, professional services and so forth, are there different types of participation decision making that might work better in certain circumstances as compared to others? So, across industries and also across job functions. So, when you consider an employee owner who has a professional background as compared to somebody who is, let's say a manufacturing operator. Do those different types of decision-making tools or channels, would they produce a different type of impact on the employee attitudes? So, it's kind of peeling the onion one more layer.

[00:33:24] Bret Keisling: Right.

[00:33:25] Jamil Hassounah: To understand actually what types of decision-making practices, my work better in certain circumstances. Because then as I was mentioning before, because we lack a recipe that works across the board then we might start developing some of those recipes that would help companies to actually deploy the right initiative for their environment, whether it's industry type or role or job function within the company. So that level of understanding, I think it's going to be extremely useful.

And by the way, we are talking about things that the early research work had always been more focused on, okay, let's prove that employee ownership is something good from firm-level performance, from a business. My study, and many others now, we are at a point that we are taking that more to an organizational development perspective and trying to understand actually what drives people's emotion and commitment, engagement, and so forth so we can start deploying those high-performance work practices in the right way, right? So, that's one thing.

Now, I think the other part of your question is, you know, how maybe you and the audience can help promote the findings. And my dissertation is accessible. I'm planning, hopefully by the end of the year, I will be hopefully publishing a paper based on the studies. Typically, when you have the paper, it's a little bit condensed, so it's easier to digest.

But I'm more than willing to share any findings, anything that we can help the community and the employee ownership philosophy, if you will. Anything I can do to help, I'm here.

[00:35:11] Bret Keisling: I appreciate that. I appreciate the research. Jamil, we are going to wrap up, but just before we do quickly, you and I have a mutual friend, Cecile Betit. Until just a month or so ago, she was a social media friend. I had never had the opportunity to talk to her. She is smart as a whip and she has spent her life as a researcher, essentially. And she's going to come on the podcast and talk about her research, but she actually introduced the two of us. So, I'm very grateful to Cecile and I understand that she at least gave you encouragement.

And I'm wondering, are there other folks in the EO space that you'd like to acknowledge, and I can help thank?

[00:35:50] Jamil Hassounah: Absolutely. I may not name folks because I know I would forget many! But you are correct, Cecile has been an outstanding mentor and I really appreciate all the support she has given me. But first of all, I'd like to thank Hypertherm and the senior leadership, particularly my direct leader, Jim Miller, for all the support. I wouldn't be able to do what I did without their support.

I also want to acknowledge the companies that participated in the survey, as I mentioned before, in the middle of a pandemic. Their senior leadership and all the support that they provided me with was absolutely phenomenal.

I was fortunate to get introduced to some researchers from Rutgers. Rutgers has an Institute of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. They hold a couple of conferences yearly dedicated to employee ownership and I had a super helpful mentorship from them as well. So, I acknowledge that.

And obviously my dissertation community that was there for me all along. So, you know, institutions and people who, you know, in life you were always very fortunate to cross. Wonderful people and I cannot be more thankful and grateful for all the help that those folks have given me on the process.

And I want to thank you as well because participating in the podcast is definitely a pleasure.

[00:37:25] Bret Keisling: Well, that's very kind of you and, Jamil, I can tell you with all of my guests and I am so proud of the variety of guests I've had throughout our four years, but especially in the last year or so I am humbled that people take the time to come talk to me. And I am grateful that I am in this space where I am able to do that.

So, but thank you for your kind words. Let me first just congratulate you. The doctorate is a big deal. I'll be honest with you, I chuckled when we first met and we did a pre-podcast Zoom call, as is my practice, and I just assumed here's somebody with a doctorate. I had something in common, I graduated law school at 42. I assumed that you were going to be a young man and I was going to be like, well fine, but I did it older! And you're actually well into your career as you've alluded. So, I won't mention the age, but this was -- a doctorate is hard work and you did it as part of your career. You know, in other words, while having a career and I just wanted to congratulate you for that.

[00:38:32] Jamil Hassounah: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Yeah, it's I'm really grateful for the opportunity. I think this is one of the, one of the teachings from my father and, you know, you can always learn. And learning is a wonderful thing!

[00:38:47] Bret Keisling: It absolutely is. And now that I'm done with the congratulations, I want to give a very sincere thank you to you.

The research is important. All of us who love employee ownership, and you do, I do, and so many people do, we are working really hard just to figure out how to make it bigger, how to make it better. And the internal struggle is always, we know how wonderful this is and it doesn't have the traction. I believe that research is very important. I believe that is going to not just help us grow but adds legitimacy. Every time I can take an anecdote and now circle it back to your research or other research, I'm not just a dude sharing anecdotes. These are facts.

So, I want to thank you. I know that it was in the weeds for you, but it is very important research. It is a very important part of the research that we are just starting to kind of develop. If there are two takeaways that I would have from this conversation. First of all, it is the findings and your suggestions. Just broadly one takeaway. The second is if anybody is considering graduate school, knows somebody who has graduate school, I would support, encourage and personally try and help in any way I can anybody who does their research as well.

So, you've done something very important. And I like to say I don't have the right to say, "on behalf of employee ownership, I thank you." But then I realized there was nobody in employee ownership who can tell me I don't have the right.

So, on behalf of employee ownership, Jamil, a very heartfelt thank you for your time and attention.

[00:40:23] Jamil Hassounah: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for the opportunity and I really enjoyed our talk.

[00:40:29] Bret Keisling: I enjoyed it as well. Please give my regards and the podcast's regards to all your colleagues at Hypertherm. Jesse Tyler has been on the podcast recently. I'm looking forward to working on some stuff with him. Too many people to name, as you've said, but Hypertherm is a shining example for not just employee-owned companies, but companies. So, thank you very much.

Jamil, I look forward, maybe when your paper comes out, you'll be kind enough to come back on the podcast. We can talk about that.

[00:40:53] Jamil Hassounah: Deal.

[00:40:53] Bret Keisling: Thank you so much.

[00:40:56] Jamil Hassounah: You too.


[00:40:56] Bret Keisling: My thanks again to Jamil Hassounah. We recorded this at the beginning of the summer in 2021, and I had to laugh at the tail end of the episode, when I said that I was looking forward to working with some stuff with Jesse Tyler. As I shared at the top of this episode, that stuff has turned into the Owner to Owner podcast hosted by Jesse, that launches in one week.

It's joined by the Why Worker Co-ops podcast, hosted by Rodney North. And we're really excited to bring you these new podcast titles, as well as the EO/ESOP Podcast and the ESOP Mini-cast under the brand new EO Podcast Network. We really hope you'll check them all out.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:41:44] Bitsy McCann: 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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