Since 2021, we've been collecting EO A-ha Moments from every guest of this podcast and the Owner to Owner podcast with Jesse Tyler. The EO A-ha Moments usually represent the first time our guests knew that EO could be transformative, so we've decided to compile them and share them in early 2023. In Volume II, Bret Keisling shares EO A-ha Moments from previous guests including Marjorie Kelly of The Democracy Collaborative, Jon Shell, CEO of Social Capital Partners, Tim Garbinsky with the National Center for Employee Ownership, Pim Jager and Chad Duke of Scott Insurance, and Diana Ives of The Kendeda Fund.
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The body of this episode originally aired on December 28, 2021, as Episode 180: EO A-ha Moments Volume II.
Episode 233 Transcript
[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Since the fall of 2021, we've started almost every episode of the EO/ESOP podcast with our guests sharing their EO A-ha Moment. On the Owner to Owner podcast, host Jesse Tyler concludes his episodes with his guests sharing their EO A-ha Moments as well. We love the EO A-ha Moments and they're an interesting and powerful way for our guests to share, usually, the first time they began to understand employee ownership in a whole different way.
[00:00:26] Over the next number of weeks, we're going to be sharing a lot of these EO A-ha Moments, both from this podcast and the Owner to Owner podcast. We'll have new collections beginning next week, but before we start with the new collections, I'm bringing you Volume II, which we originally aired in December, 2021.
[00:00:43] I'd love you to reach out and share with me your EO A-ha Moment. You'll hear contact information at the end of the episode. I hope you enjoy.
[00:00:51]Bitsy McCann: Welcome to The EO Podcast with Bret Keisling, part of the EO Podcast Network.
[00:01:03] Bret Keisling: Welcome to The EsOp Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. In September 2020, I started collecting "EO A-ha Moments" from all of our guests. That moment, not when they heard about employee ownership for the first time or began to like employee ownership as a concept, but rather the EO A-ha Moment is that moment when they suddenly realized that employee ownership has the power to be transformative.
[00:01:36] For our closing episode of 2021, I thought I'd bring you just a selection of some of those EO A-ha Moments we collected in the last 12 months. There are many more that we'll bring you throughout 2022, and if you want to check out Volume I. of the collected EO A-ha Moments, you'll find it on Episode 144 in our archives. I'm also going to include the episode number that the original A-ha Moments were taken from for this episode. You can find all of our more than 350 episodes in our archives at www.EsOpPodcast.com. We hope you'll check them out.
[00:02:10] Today, we have six guests who have shared their EO A-ha Moments. Marjorie Kelly of The Democracy Collaborative originally appeared on Episodes 155 and 156. Jon Shell is the CEO of Social Capital Partners and he originally appeared on Episode 154. We also bring back Tim Garbinsky with the National Center for Employee Ownership, who originally appeared on Episode 160. On Episode 158 of The EsOp Podcast, we were joined by Loren Rodgers of the NCEO, Pim Jager and Chad Duke of Scott Insurance, who announced the NCEO's new branded captive insurance program. Today, you'll hear the EO A-ha Moments from Pim and Chad. Finally, we'll wrap it up with Diana Ives of The Kendeda Fund who originally appeared on Episode 168.
[00:03:02] We begin now with Marjorie Kelly of The Democracy Collaborative.
[00:03:08] Bret Keisling: We have been collecting EO A-ha Moments, and I understand in your career, you've probably had a couple of them, but you've told me that there's one that's actually connected to Taylor Guitars, which is a really cool story. Can you share your A-ha Moment with us?
[00:03:23] Marjorie Kelly: Yeah, Bret, we did it in Employee Ownership News, we heard about Taylor Guitars converting to an ESOP, and we ran a story about that. The A-ha Moment for me was when I saw this was a pension fund that called this a low-risk investment. I just, I absolutely loved that. Because this is a multi-billion-dollar pension fund, which cannot do below market investments, and it cannot do small investments. And it looked at this and said, oh that's a low-risk investment. We're happy to make that. And I thought that really proves the case that these are serious businesses. They work at scale. There is a good deal for investors here. And this is a missing, this is a missing opportunity for most of the market. And so that was a wonderful moment.
[00:04:11] Bret Keisling: You gave me the A-ha Moment by sharing it, because one of the reasons why I've been told as a trustee that private equity was more expensive, not just they want to drive profits, but because ESOPs were riskier. And now to have somebody come in and say, no, it's a low-risk investment. We now have data to say to the other folks, your analysis may be incorrect.
[00:04:36] Next up is Jon Shell of Social Capital Partners.
[[00:04:40] Jon, since September 2020, we have been collecting EO A-ha Moments from our guests who've had those moments that not just where they heard about EO or liked it, but somehow it was such a moment that it was, "Holy moly, this is important!" Have you had one or several A-ha Moments you'd like to share?
[00:04:58] Jon Shell: Yeah. If you'll indulge me, I would say there are probably three. The first is super boring. The first is and what we'll, I'm sure we'll talk about this, but over the past three or four years at Social Capital Partners, we've been in a process of trying to figure out the best opportunities for us to engage in helping to broaden ownership in the private sector. We are a nonprofit whose objective is to increase economic opportunities for people who don't otherwise have them. So, we started thinking about ownership three or four years ago, what's the best opportunity? So we just did a bunch of research, honestly. And because we're Canadian, we didn't really have any idea about the ESOP in the US.
[00:05:38] Our ESOP is a stock option plan. This whole US ESOP was foreign to us, to pardon the pun. And we, when we found out about it and so how successful it had been, it was amazing to us. I think it's much more well-known in the US and so it was, frankly, just the research. We said this is clearly the best opportunity for us because it's the most scaled way to broaden ownership that's ever been invented. And so how do we -- so we were like, okay what, how do we find out more about this? And how do we help it grow even more?
[00:06:06] And so that's number one, is just purely through research. Number two is one of the first things we did once we said, okay, we need to learn more about this, is we went to the NCEO Conference in Pittsburgh in 2019. Now that was an A-ha Moment. First, seeing a senator both Democratic and Republican open the conference and from an outside observer perspective, that seemed unusual in the US. And to sit amongst the 2,000 or 2,500 odd people there who didn't have a, necessarily, a political point of view, or would have had a wide spectrum of political points of view, but were there because they believed so deeply in employee ownership and what it had done for them, what it had done for their companies, how powerful it was both personally and financially, was almost overwhelming in terms of the, just how lovely it was to be in that crowd. And say, gee, this is very different from the financial system that we at Social Capital Partners know reasonably well. It doesn't work like this! Who are these people? How did they get here? How do we have more of them? This is great!
[00:07:10] And I'd say the third, we, not to -- we shouldn't get too, we've done only one, we just closed a deal in December to finance the transition of Taylor Guitars to a hundred percent employee ownership, which I'm sure we'll talk about. But the closing meeting, which was obviously held over Zoom in, on December 31st, was an unbelievable moment for everyone who was on that call. First of all, we got to hear the genuine passion that the owners of that company had for what they had just done. We were able to hear the genuine thrill of the pension fund that we worked with to finance this at being involved in this transaction.
[00:07:49] And, I've been to closing dinners before. I've been to closing dinners on bigger deals than this one, but nothing has ever compared to the feeling of being in that room as this deal was closing, which confirmed our thesis, which is that a financial actor, so the pension fund whose objective is commercial returns for their members, could be a very powerful actor in supporting ESOPs and be a super appreciated person at the table by ESOPs themselves and the owners of those ESOPs. So, that was a very powerful moment for us in saying, okay, we're actually onto something here. This could actually work.
[00:08:24]Bret Keisling: Jon, those are great. And a couple of things came to mind. First of all, on seeing the politicians from different political parties, I've talked to often on the podcast, wouldn't it be great to get politicians all over the country? -- I happen to be in Pennsylvania. Senator Pat Toomey is a conservative Republican. He's a strong supporter. Bernie Sanders is a famous from the left very strong supporter. And I've often thought it'd be great to bring these politicians who are diametrically opposed into the same room to talk about employee ownership. And then, because for me hope springs eternal, after they talk about employee ownership, make them sit down and talk about some other stuff as well.
[00:09:00] Here's a cool moment from Tim Garbinsky of the NCEO, whose EO A-ha Moment didn't come until after he stopped working for an employee-owned company. Here's Tim.
[00:09:12] As you are aware since last September, every guest of the podcast has shared what we have taken to call the EO A-ha Moment. The moment where we came to realize that employee ownership wasn't just a good idea but had the potential to be transformative. I don't wish to ask you a leading question, Tim, but have you ever had an A-ha Moment or moments?
[00:09:36] Tim Garbinsky: [Laugh] Thank you very much, Bret. I do love the opportunity to talk about my A-ha Moment. I thought a little bit about it, and I wanted to choose something different, but that would be dishonest. I have one real true A-ha Moment.
[00:09:50] And it's separate from my, I actually worked at an employee-owned company very briefly before I worked at the NCEO and I never took part in or even saw people really got to reap the benefits of it yet because I was young, none of us were retiring yet and I wasn't there particularly long, but there was a level to the engagement for this job that was unheard of in my other jobs.
[00:10:09] But that, wasn't my A-ha Moment. Believe it or not. My A-ha Moment and I'm going to assume that somebody else has used this since you've been doing this since September, but I hope not.
[00:10:18] I started at the NCEO in 2014 and I want to say it was in either late 2014 or early 2015. There was an article in Forbes magazine about a woman who's name currently escapes me. But she worked at WinCo, the grocery chain mostly popular in the upper Midwest and the Western states. I think they're based out of Idaho, but they're dotted around this part of the country. And she was in her forties and she and her twin sister, I believe, they had applied for a job at WinCo at the same time in their twenties. One of them got the job. One couldn't. They had a nepotism clause, I believe, in a hiring at WinCo. And them's the breaks; one gets the job. One moves on to other pastures, moves around a little bit ends up working as a, I want to say paralegal.
[00:11:05] The woman who ends up at WinCo stays there for the next 20 years, perhaps she's still there, I'm not sure I haven't followed up. But she stays there for 20 years, and she works very sort of frontline jobs, stocker, cashier. And you could say a million different things about maybe a lack of upward mobility within the job. I have lots of different thoughts about that in general, but by her forties, she had a million dollars in her ESOP account at WinCo. While her sister, who had bounced around, but did land on her feet and landed on her feet well. She was working at the paralegal. That's a good job. And had maybe a quarter of much. And it's really that story that still sticks with me to this day of there's no reason anybody anywhere, no matter what they're doing working, can't be granted a retirement. Can't have earned their keep and then have this sort of stability and future to look forward to.
[00:11:57] Anyway, I think about that story a lot. I've dined out on it many times and I wish I had a different A-ha Moment because I just have to imagine that was a lot of people's A-ha Moment. I think it got a lot of press. But it really is the thing that made me sit and take notice of like, all right, if we can scale this is revolutionary. Like this can really, this does more than move the needle. If we can get enough companies to adopt this sort of plan and this sort of thinking and this sort of level of care and stewardship to the people that are taking care and stewarding the company.
[00:12:27] Bret Keisling: That is wonderful. And if you hear a little catch in my throat, it's sincere. First of all, we, and all of us who do the kind of work that you and I do, which is just to support employee ownership. And there are a bunch of folks, some we work with, some we're in the same space with, some we've never heard of, but we all take it seriously. It's a view beyond the transaction, not to knock those who are more transactional.
[00:12:57] The specific story. I haven't heard that before of the woman from WinCo. There certainly have been stories of, as that when people see the money, and we don't mean that as crassly as that sounds, but when somebody retires with a big old check that's when a lot of people get it.
[00:13:19] Do I understand that when you saw that story, you were already at the NCEO?
[00:13:23] Tim Garbinsky: That's correct. That's correct.
[00:13:26] Bret Keisling: Here's, Tim, what I think is so important about it. First of all, that's a great moment to get it. That is a perfect A-ha Moment. Here's what I like about it for what I'm trying to do as I collect these A-ha Moments.
[00:13:41] Certainly many members of my audience have had their own A-ha Moments, but there are people who still don't get it. Or don't get it, or haven't had to get it, or maybe checking this out because they're kicking the tires of EO. They've heard about your conference. Now they've run into this podcast. Here's the point that I want to drive home.
[00:14:02] You were an employee owner, and you didn't have an A-ha Moment. You worked for the NCEO where you took your job seriously. You did it well, you hadn't had an A-ha Moment. The transformative moments, if people are listening -- I just don't get it. Stick around. Something will happen, but it fits into the bucket, and three or four people have shared anecdotes where they worked for employee-owned companies. I'll mention my friend, Vince Kruse. He was the go-to guy for ESOPs at USA Mortgage, and he didn't get it till he went to one of the TEA chapter events. One of your colleagues, I think of that, but I've talked to a number of them now, worked for a small employer ownership didn't get it until going to a conference. Here, you got that. So, my message is, boy, we don't know where that lightning is going to hit but I love that A-ha Moment. I think it's great. And that's what I wanted to point out to people listening.
[00:15:06] Tim Garbinsky: I appreciate that. No, I think, there's something about an A-ha Moment that it's beyond just understanding academically, intellectually, even like a little bit emotionally, the benefits of what it is you're working for and having almost like an awakening, right?
[00:15:22] I don't want to describe it in spiritual terms because it's not a spiritual thing. Not at all, for me, it's very much a real material thing that we're dealing with here. But yeah, you're absolutely right. I was already a believer in this for other reasons. I was already a supporter of it for the same reasons as well, but I hadn't seen the sort of genuinely large material benefit it could create under the right circumstances.
[00:15:44] I was already a firm believer. I like to believe I was already a good employee. But even with that, I do think I was missing that sort of, clearing in the sky, the clouds move, and everything has like the stark clarity to it. And that's what that moment provided and for what it's worth, that was just the first.
[00:16:00] I think there's a way in which other moments had I not had that would have been it or an earlier moment could have supplanted it, but that was the most grand of them all. Since then, of course there's been stories about let's say Stewart's Shops, I believe they're in upstate New York. Multiple million-dollar store clerks and cashiers, right? This is not an uncommon thing anymore, not at least to see in the news and those would have been my A-ha Moments had I not had the earlier one.
[00:16:23] A-ha Moments abound if you stick around, I think is the case here, Bret. You're absolutely right.
[00:16:27] Bret Keisling: This past spring, the NCEO launched a new captive insurance program for employee-owned companies.
[00:16:32] I'm very excited about the program itself. And I was even more excited that Loren Rodgers, Pim Jager, and Chad Duke of Scott Insurance came on the podcast to describe the insurance program. It's still a very important program that you should check out. Here are Pim Jager and Chad Duke of Scott Insurance with their EO A-ha Moments.
[00:16:53] Pim, last question for you and you've talked about the importance of employee ownership to you. We characterize them on the podcast as the "EO A-ha Moment," that moment where we heard something, not where it was good, not where it was hey this could work, but a transformative, holy moly, this is changing everything. Have you had what you consider to be an EO A-ha Moment?
[00:17:15] Pim Jager: Yeah, my EO A-ha Moment probably takes me back to six months into my employee ownership journey at Scott. One of the things that frustrated me tremendously about working in a large publicly held business prior to coming to Scott was this idea that when I needed resources or I needed something to serve my clients oftentimes along that search, that journey, I would get a lot of, yeah, I get what you need, but that's not my job. And that statement was probably the most frustrating statement that I would hear over and over again working for a large publicly held company.
[00:17:56] When I got to Scott, one of the things that I made a note of that I was going to really pay attention to was: did I ever hear that phrase? Did that come across my desk at Scott? And about six months into my tenure I was having dinner with my wife and she asked me, she said, how do you feel about your decision to go work for Scott Insurance now that you've been there for six months. And I told her, I said, I feel great about it. And the benchmark that I used is, honey, I've been working at Scott for six months and I have yet to hear anybody in the entire company say out loud, that's not my job. Because as employee owners, it's always our job. Serving the client is our job and so to me, that was that A-ha Moment that was something that has never resurfaced in my business language since and that's a pretty good 15 year run, I think.
[00:18:48]Bret Keisling: I love that! And what it really was when your wife asked you about your decision, your A-ha Moment was actually summarizing the entire vibe of the company. That is really cool. Thank you for that, Pim.
[00:19:01] Chad, let's switch over to you and let's maybe do it in reverse. Let's get to how you came to Scott and what you're doing there, but let's start have you had an EO A-ha Moment?
[00:19:12] Chad Duke: Absolutely. And I think mine was pretty early in my career, same as Pim and a lot of it has to do with kind of my journey to finding Scott Insurance. My wife is a physician and at the time when I started my career in the insurance industry, I worked for a large publicly traded global insurance brokerage firm that trained me well and really started me out on the right path, but it became very apparent they were not very flexible in how they wanted me to do my job. My wife at the time was in medical school and then in surgical residency and we're working 80 hours a week and we had two young boys at the time, and I just knew I didn't have the flexibility and freedom to really have the family life that I wanted to have to be able to support my wife's career as well.
[00:19:54] And so, it was a path that just took me to find Scott Insurance . I wasn't looking to join an employee-owned company. It really found me because I started telling recruiters and people that were helping me on my path that I want to go work for a company that allows me to put my family first. I want to work for a company that also is innovative and allows me to compete with the big global brokers of the world. I quickly found my way to Scott and ultimately they spent more time in the interview process asking me about my wife and my kids and what I wanted out of a good family life. And it was just so important to me.
[00:20:27] And so, really my A-ha Moment was in during the interview process with Scott, where I knew they were going to give me the ability to, one, serve my clients at a really high level. Compete with the biggest and baddest brokerage firms in the world. But at the same time, I had the ability to put my family first when my wife really needed me because she was working so hard in her journey to becoming a surgeon.
[00:20:51] And that was really my A-ha Moment. And it's interesting Pim's on this call with me and Pim's wife, Robin and my wife Meredith are good friends and they've met each other at different company functions. And it's something that is really important, not just to Pim and I, but the leadership across our organization. That it's more than just about you. It's about your employee owners, but also your families at home because they want us to all be successful because if the company grows, it allows everyone that feel and just create, it just creates that culture of family and accountability and success, which is a great place to be.
[00:21:24] Bret Keisling: Last, but certainly not least we bring you Diane Ives from The Kendeda Fund. Diane made me look at the EO A-ha Moments in a whole new way. I've always asked guests to share the moment that made an impact. Occasionally someone shares more than one. Diane went a different route. She shared a couple of points along her life path that primed the pump, if you will. So that once she became connected with employee ownership, she had the A-ha Moment. But she may not have had that A-ha Moment, but for her other experiences. Here's Diane Ives.
[00:21:58] So with that, Diane, as you know, we open all of our podcasts with our guests and ask if they've had an EO A-ha Moment. And how we define that is not when you first heard about it or when you liked it or thought it was a good idea, but was there an A-ha Moment, an EO A-ha Moment that was transformative that made you or The Kendeda Fund say, we have got to be in this space.
[00:22:21] Diane Ives: Thank you for that. I love the fact that you start your podcasts with this A-ha Moment. I just feel like it's so drives to people's personal passions and really gets to the core of the work right away. So, I appreciate that.
[00:22:34] And I was thinking about this because I knew you were going to ask the question and I was thinking about how I approach any time that I am learning something new or experiencing something new. What is that experience like for me? And I realized I want to describe it a little bit like those Russian nesting dolls. Where there's a moment. And then there's another moment. And then there's another moment. They're not always all good moments, but together they begin to create a pattern that you begin to see.
[00:22:59] And so for me, if I was going to start with my first A-ha Moment, I would be 11 years old. I'm in the kitchen. I'm on the kitchen floor and I'm sobbing because my father has just told my brother and me that he has lost his job. And I have no idea what that means, but I am so clear on the fact that things are going to change and that we are not in control. And so, to me, that was like, this is like setting that kind of a DNA of I don't actually understand how the world works.
[00:23:31] And I feel like this has been an emotional touchstone for me that I've come back to over and over again in dis-aggregated ways. And it is part of my meaning making as I move forward.
[00:23:42] So, my parents were part of the generation that was trying to move from working class to middle class. And with that came a lot of really challenging decisions that they had to make. And for my parents, like many of their peers, they really focused on three core things: the health of the family, our education as children, and whether or not we had adequate housing. And jobs were the way to ground each of those values in meaningful ways.
[00:24:12] So, when my father lost his job, it was 1973. It was the beginning of a recession and finding better work was not easy. And he ended up having two, and then when he started, they were good jobs, but they ended up being ill-fated jobs between 1973 and 1979. He spent a good deal of time unemployed. We moved several times. And there was always this complicated knot of decisions about healthcare, education, and housing in our family.
[00:24:42] So in 1979, my dad he started a new life in Cleveland, which was his hometown. So, he moved back to Cleveland with a chance to be his own boss. And he opened and ran at discount linen store in a strip mall in Cleveland in the suburbs for about six years and they were the best work years of his life.
[00:25:00] And I have learned so much from watching my father go through these difficult times with work, and then this happy time being the owner of his own business and watching the decisions that he and my mother made, always focused on health, education, and housing for us and trying to figure out and navigate that path.
[00:25:19] And for him, it was meaningful work. It was the dignity of employment and the opportunity to be a decision maker and a business owner that really drove him to a place of feeling a sense of joy and accomplishment.
[00:25:32] So, I'm going to fast forward because I feel like that's like in my DNA and I probably could not have articulated that in any meaningful way for a very long time, but it was always in the back of my head as I was looking for my own work and trying to understand my own place in the world.
[00:25:47] Bret Keisling: That is such a powerful framing of what, I assume, not just the context of employee ownership, but your life work, your life mission and even beyond work and mission how you live your life on a daily basis. That, what you just shared, is the fundamental Diane and thank you very much for sharing that. And now fast forward, if you would like.
[00:26:10] Diane Ives: Yeah, I would love to fast forward. So, I feel like perhaps there were several nesting dolls in that one example, but I feel like in 2003, I had the opportunity to meet the donor of The Kendeda Fund, Diana Blank, and to start working with her. I was hired on as a subcontractor as she was starting a national environmental giving programs and was immediately struck by her passion and care for individuals and communities and the dignity of people and the sustainability of communities. And we have that in our mission statement. That's what we're about. That's what we invest in.
[00:26:46] And I feel like it was an opportunity for me. This has been since 2003, so it's been a long time, but it's been this long opportunity for me to learn and grow with her and alongside her, as we explored different kinds of opportunities. And over the years we have created these, what started as I would say, adjacencies to the environmental work that we were doing, that became the core of what we were doing.
[00:27:12] So, right from the beginning, Diana's interest in the environment was always something that was more complex than just -- like, I always described her as not a birds and bunnies or trees and rivers kind of donor. She was always someone who was looking for the complexity and understanding all the connections that kind of came with taking care of and preserving the environment.
[00:27:33] So, at some point, I think this was around 2007, we started hearing about this opportunity for green collar jobs, looking at the environment as a way to create meaningful, dignified work for people. And that was like another kind of, one of these moments for me, where I felt like, wow, that's what I have done for myself is I've created meaningful work in the space of the environment. And this is something that really should be something that we get to grow and see happen in all kinds of ways and places.
[00:28:04] And from green collar jobs. It morphed into what we call community wealth building, which is really looking at the ownership and agency of communities. What is it that they have? What is it that they have control over? What is it if they can make decisions about and how does that change how communities thrive and prosper?
[00:28:24] So, I'm asking a lot of questions. These are all questions because our donor really believes that her grant making is about going on journeys with people who are asking big questions. And that's the work that we had been doing right from the very beginning. And it certainly was this, as we started looking at community wealth building.
[00:28:41] And then I would say that there was this moment in 2018, when we had been funding community wealth building. I always like to describe the work as field building, that we were supporting these anchor organizations like The Democracy Collaborative to do meaningful work in important ways to build the understanding of big picture ideas.
[00:29:04] And Diana said to me, in 2018, she said, "hmmm," I love doing this work. I want to keep doing it and I also actually want to see something very specific happen. And I don't know what it is, but I want it to be very specific. So, we went on this journey once again to figure out what it was. And it ended up being transitioning businesses to employee ownership as a way of creating meaningful work, dignity for individuals, and prosperity for communities. So, it's just been this fascinating journey that we've been on.
[00:29:36] Bret Keisling: Wow. First of all, I want to thank you, but I'm like, what do I do now? Because I have always said we've been doing the A-ha Moments for a year pick the one, but I realized I took it out of context because all of us got to where we were for a reason. And I love that you framed it. Your EO A-ha Moment, nested as they were, could really launch an entire episode on their own. You talked about adjacencies, and I hope we'll talk about that a little bit later on. I've been talking for months about what I call the adjacent spaces, where there are folks that are doing similar things to employee ownership, to build communities. They are not doing employee ownership and how can we reach them? And that's what you've already been doing.
[00:30:24] The one thing that strikes me, I was in employee ownership. I was a trustee for seven years and I realized that a lot of the issues that were important to me, community, wealth inequality, wage inequality, were addressed by employee ownership. So, I said, let's bring it out to the world.
[00:30:43] You came from the mirror image. You identified community issues. You looked at the environment and it's such a great path to where you are. The environment, we want to make the environment better. That led to green jobs, that led to employee ownership.
[00:30:58] Employee ownership addresses the advocacy you were already doing. Whereas for me and others, we started doing advocacy because of employee ownership. Does that make sense, how I'm saying that?
[00:31:11] Diane Ives: It totally does. It's a wonderful way of thinking about, that there are many ways into and through employee ownership, right? There isn't just like one path, and it doesn't just serve one purpose and it isn't just one thing. And it's really important not to become dogmatic about it because it can mean so many different things to so many different people.
[00:31:34] So, for the business owner that wants to sell to their employees because they want to retire, they have a whole set of goals and values for themselves and their family that may mean nothing to the employees, who then get the business, but they may mean the exact same thing. And you never know that. And just like being open to the possibility of where employee ownership lands in the larger, much more complex landscape of people's lives, I think is just super important.
[00:32:02] Bret Keisling: We're going to wrap up this special episode of The EsOp Podcast. I'm so thankful to everybody who has been on the podcast this year, talented, amazing women and men working so hard to grow employee ownership or to run their employee-owned companies well, and it means so much that they take the time out of their busy schedules to come on the podcast and talk to me so that we can bring it to you, our listeners.
[00:32:24] I'm very grateful to the team that surrounds me at the EO Podcast Network and The EsOp Podcast who really do such an amazing job. I'm very grateful to you, our listeners, who every week tune in and support us and encourage us. We don't trumpet ourselves very well or very often, but right before Christmas, we hit 101,000 total listens since September 2017. I can't quite wrap my head around that, but I'm so very grateful that they have, and we are going to do in 2022 what we've been doing since 2017. Joyfully, gratefully, and gleefully talking about employee ownership to as many people as we can.
[00:33:06] Enjoy the rest of the holiday season, stay safe, and let's all work together in 2022 to make our country and world the best that it can be. For me, that means more employee ownership. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.
[00:32:30] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.
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 cannot guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.