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258: The Kendeda Fund Impact - Part 4, EO Equals

We continue our look at the ways The Kendeda Fund impacts employee ownership with a look back at this episode that originally aired in 2021.

Bret Keisling was joined by Diane Ives of The Kendeda Fund and Alison Lingane of Project Equity who discussed EO Equals, an exciting campaign targeting business owners to promote all forms of employee ownership. More information can be found at

Special thanks to Michael Palmieri of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center for suggesting this series and helping coordinate with the participating organizations.

... or watch the video below.

The main body of this episode originally aired on October 19, 2021 as Episode 170: EO Equals.


Episode 258 Show Notes

The Kendeda Fund Impact Series:

Episode 258 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to part four in our multi-part series that we call The Kendeda Fund Impact, focused on the many different ways that The Kendeda Fund has made a major difference in, among other things, employee ownership.

[00:00:14] We kicked off the series with an archived conversation with Diane Ives of The Kendeda Fund. Part two was a new conversation with Nexus Community Partners. Last week, in part three, we were joined by Evan Edwards, the CEO of Project Equity. You can find links to each of those episodes in our show notes, and you can find seven seasons worth of archives at

[00:00:41] During last week's episode with Evan Edwards, we chatted among other things about EO Equals, which launched two years ago. It's a campaign designed to increase awareness of employee ownership with the focus on reaching what is called the silver tsunami, that large number of baby boomers who own their own businesses and are reaching retirement age.

[00:01:02] So, for part four of The Kendeda Fund Impact series, we're going back to our archives to October, 2021 and an episode we brought you featuring Diane Ives of The Kendeda Fund and Alison Lingane co-founder of Project Equity talking about EO Equals.

[00:01:21] I understand that Project Equity and its partners are working to enhance and improve the EO Equals campaign, and I look forward to sharing more information about that as it becomes available. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this look back at EO Equals.


[00:01:35] Bitsy McCann: Welcome to The EO Podcast with Bret Keisling, part of the EO Podcast Network.

[00:01:48] Bret Keisling: Hello, my friends. Thanks for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. There is an exciting new campaign that has been launched primarily on social media right now. It's called EO Equals. It is designed to bring all of the benefits of employee ownership to business owners, primarily, who are looking and contemplating at selling their businesses.

I think it's an exciting and important new campaign and I'm very happy to welcome back two previous guests to the podcast to tell us about it. I'm joined by Diane Ives of The Kendeda Fund.

Diane, thanks for coming back.

[00:02:26] Diane Ives: Thank you so much for having me, Bret.

[00:02:27] Bret Keisling: And I'm also joined by Alison Lingane of Project Equity.

Alison, thank you for coming back.

[00:02:32] Alison Lingane: Wonderful to be here, Bret.

[00:02:34] Bret Keisling: Diane, we're going to start with you and you're going to tell us an overview of how the campaign came about and who the sponsoring partners are. So, with that, Diane, take it away. Tell us about EO Equals.

[00:02:45] Diane Ives: Thank you so much, Bret. The idea for this campaign started as long ago as 2018. The Kendeda Fund was interested in supporting employee ownership and we were looking to make some investments in leaders in the field to help bring about more transitions to employee ownership. And we identified four partners that we wanted to work with: the ICA Group, Project Equity, Nexus Community Partners and the Fund for Employee Ownership at Evergreen Cooperatives.

What we wanted to do with those four was to support them with our grants, to help them do the work that they did. And in the process of making those grants, we asked each of them individually. In addition to the funding that we're giving you for your own organization, what are the barriers or stumbling blocks to achieving your goals?

And all four organizations indicated that communications and media was a big challenge for them and that it was something that was beyond each of their organization's capacity to do and do well. So, we came up with this idea of bringing the four partners together with Kendeda and hiring a communications firm and working together on a media campaign.

And that's how it all got started. It actually launched the process, the research, and all of the background gathering that we were doing launched right when the pandemic started last spring of 2020. And so, we've been working pretty much virtually the whole time, trying to figure out how to pull this campaign together. And we are pleased to say that it's launched as of October of 2021.

[00:04:11] Bret Keisling: You were kind enough to invite me to a preview meeting where the campaign was laid out and it is so exciting and so well done and targeted to a great group.

And with that, Alison, tell us what is EO Equals? Tell us about the campaign itself.

[00:04:27] Alison Lingane: Sure thing. Yeah. So, we started off this project with some research. It was qualitative research, really talking to business owners of all stripes, some of them knew about employee ownership and have done a transition to employee ownership of a company they founded, all the way to people who've never heard of employee ownership, including folks who looked at it and decided not to pursue it. And that combined with really looking at the communications that the organizations in our space are putting forth to share information about employee ownership. We found that this real gap, which I think of, I always think of gaps as opportunities. We found this real opportunity for us from a communications perspective to be targeting businesses owners who otherwise would not have stumbled across or heard about employee ownership.

So, in marketing speak, the communications firm talked about this as people in the pre-consideration phase. We, as organizations in our space, I think are very, very good at communicating to people who've already heard about employee ownership and come looking for it. So, if I'm Googling employee ownership I can find all sorts of great information. But really the opportunity for us is how do we reach all of those business owners who would not have otherwise considered it? And so, we're really are trying to target that group of business owners, and we know it's vast and broad, and influence their positive association, really, employee ownership as a concept.

And I've been talking for years about the need for there to be a brand campaign for employee ownership and folks who know me have heard me talk about the "pork, the other white meat" campaign which was really aiming to influence grocery shoppers when they walk into the grocery store to consider pork in addition to, or instead of, chicken.

And so that's really what we're trying to do with this campaign is influence business owners when they're thinking about, a business structure or an exit opportunity. We want them to consider employee ownership and really take a look alongside other options. Because we know that once people take a look at employee ownership and really take the time to understand its many benefits, it has a lot to offer.

[00:06:33] Bret Keisling: I love your analogy, Alison, to the "pork, the other white meat" as a marketing and an awareness campaign. Frank Luntz, the pollster and researcher, was the keynote speaker at The ESOP Association national conference in DC in 2019 and was a big part of the reason why weeks later, I sold my trustee business and launched the podcast full time.

I had never realized that owning your home as the American dream did not exist until it became a marketing campaign for the realtors, essentially in the 1950s, and suddenly the American dream was own your own home, which we all support ownership. We've had conversations, offline, ownership is ownership, whether it's employee ownership or not, but it's that same kind of thing of with your marketing campaign and targeting the business owners who are going to sell and Project Equity has led the way in, we all talk about the silver tsunami, but the targeting them is, I'd love for employee ownership to be the next American dream.

So, Alison, what is the campaign? Like, if they're on social media, what will they see? I understand that EO Equals there's a number of things that I'll call wordplay, but associations of the benefits of employee ownership. Can you talk about that a little bit?

[00:07:51] Alison Lingane: Sure, yeah. So, for folks who want to take a look at the campaign, so it has a website and the website is employee ownership equals spelled out E-Q-U-A-L-S dot org, And really what we're trying to do with this is to lift up that employee ownership is all of these things.

So, EO equals employee ownership, of course. It also equals extraordinary outcomes. It equals excellent operations. For business owners, it can also mean end overwhelm and, of course, exit opportunity. So, this play on words of all of the different E's and O's, but really trying to frame up that employee ownership, it's not just an exit opportunity. It's also a way to strengthen the business. It's a way to engage your employees. So, all of these benefits of employee ownership.

And if you go to the website, we do have an overview video that walks through some of the main EOs and talks about them and is, sort of, the teaser content to be able to get people interested in learning a bit more.

Some of the other things that are available on the site include a workbook for business owners to take the time to really think through in a bit more detail how, what this is, what employee ownership is. How it could apply to their situation. How it could help them with their business needs.

And then we also have a quiz on the site, similarly, as an engagement tool to help people learn a bit more about what employee ownership is, pique their interest. Get them thinking, oh gosh, when I entered the grocery store, I am going to look at pork (laughter) alongside chicken next time.

So, the website is where you can take a look at the different campaign elements and then the campaign itself has a lot of different ways that we are really getting the word out. So, we did, as Diane mentioned, we've launched on October 4th, of course, timed with Employee Ownership Month. And as part of the launch, one of the, one of the -- anytime you're running a campaign, you always want to figure out how do I get this message in front of the people I'm trying to get the message in front of?

And one of the strategies that we are using to try and get this message out to business owners is we have engaged with Gene Marks, who is an expert really in small businesses, to be a campaign spokesperson. And so, we kicked off the campaign, he actually had 14 interviews the very first day of the campaign to be able to spread the word get it out to his network, but also to be able to have some content about him, somebody who has a strong following among small business owners, to be talking about employee ownership and its benefits.

We'll also be doing the kinds of things that you might expect. Earned media: in other words PR, engaging with reporters, doing op-eds. Paid media: so, paying for ads on Google ads and on some social media sites. And then as we are getting this up and going, we're going to be measuring everything. So, what's working, what's not, to be able to refine. And our goal really is over the course of Q4 to start to get a sense of what's working and what's not and be engaging more closely with employee ownership organizations in the space to figure out how they can be involved in the campaign, what organizations are interested in, how folks want to take part how it can be most effective, because ultimately this is all about the brand of employee ownership, growing the pie for the whole space. And is, it's EO Equals. It's not Project Equity equals or Nexus Community Partners equals, right? It's the brand it's really about employee ownership and growing the pie and lifting up the whole space.

[00:11:25] Bret Keisling: Since we're at this point, there is a topic that's very important to me and both of you are aware of it and it's important to you folks as well. I did a series last fall "Is EO a Movement" and the context that I feel is, oh, we should be, and we could be. We are not. And with the collaboration among the organizations and there is, I know firsthand, there is interest and support and enthusiasm among a variety of organizations, which is really refreshing to see in the space. How mindful were each of you in your roles that beyond the goal of attracting business owners -- and if business owners are listening to this seriously, go to the website, we'll have a link in our show notes, take a look and employee ownership-- but on the one hand you're marketing employee ownership to businesses, but it seems that you've done this in as collaborative a way as possible within, I want to call it the EO movement. How mindful of that was each of you that this is something that could bring a lot of folks together?

[00:12:31] Diane Ives: That's an excellent question, Bret. I would say that it was mindful from the very beginning. What we were looking for, as Alison described, was like the gap or the opportunity. We were not looking to replicate other people's work, or somehow get out in front of people who were already doing good work and doing it ahead of them.

It was really saying like, where is it in this movement where everybody can benefit and how do we create an opportunity where everybody does benefit and that people feel like there's enough goodwill, that they will benefit. And so that was the goal is we intentionally started creating this opportunity.

We did not specifically create a come one, come all opportunity to build the whole campaign because we decided that we wanted to do was focus on these four organizations and their specific needs. But each of these organizations is very well networked and very well connected with the kind of the larger ecosystem of groups. And so, it was important for us all along the way to make sure that we were informing folks of the kinds of work that we were doing and where we were landing with this opportunity.

And I do want to point out one of the things that I found so interesting about the communications firms research in looking at the larger communications work across all of these different organizations, not just our partners, but across the larger kind of set of groups is that everybody was really good talking to workers, talking to employees, helping them understand the benefits and opportunities for them of employee ownership. But there wasn't this kind of like universal understanding of why it would be a value to business owners. And what we have found as we've moved through this process and gotten to the campaign launch, is that in a lot of places, we don't even know how to reach business owners. That we have some ideas, they're not well tested, they're not well-worn paths where everybody knows everybody in the exit planning community, for instance. And so, part of what we're trying to do is really lift up that opportunity to actually speak to business owners directly about the benefits to them, not just to their employees, and to build that understanding and awareness in a way that gets the business owners excited.

[00:14:41] Bret Keisling: I've been to the website, and I've seen the presentation and reviewed the workbook and solved the quiz and it's really cool. And it's really cool because you're presenting information in an exciting new format specifically targeted, and I find that cool. The reality is none of the research that you did ramping up this project released new information about the benefits of employee ownership. Alison, when you were on the podcast, I think May of 2019, if I'm right, even then this fits in with how do we get the message to more business people?

So, Alison is this another component of the information is there and the information is solid. Let's repackage it a little bit, but also take it where we haven't taken it before?

[00:15:30] Alison Lingane: Yeah. I think that's well said and I think it's a couple of things. I think it’s; the campaign really does emphasize a broad set of benefits to that business owner. So, we're not just focused on exit planning, right? It's a whole set of benefits to the enterprise, to them personally, and in terms of their exit opportunity, the EO exit opportunity.

So, that's one piece of it. And another piece of it is, exactly as Diane was saying, that specific strategies and tactics and having a communications firm that is set up to be able to execute on those and measure them and refine them so that we can gain a lot of insight and get better about what really does work, how do we reach these business owners? So, I mentioned that we did an initial survey that was qualitative of business owners, but we also did before we really refined the messaging of the campaign and designed the strategies of it, we also did a larger quantitative survey of 400 small business owners. And so, the results of that survey also helped to inform how we specifically talked about employee ownership, the word choices, the benefit choices that are really lifted up within the campaign.

And then as a piece of that, we will be doing an annual survey of attitudes and understanding. Think of it like a tracking survey. So, if our ultimate goal is to lift up the brand of employee ownership and increase the positive association with employee ownership, this yearly tracking survey is going to help us measure how we're doing on that front. Are we moving the needle broadly year over year? And are we being effective in terms of having people stop and say, oh yeah, I do want to take a look at this thing, employee ownership, that maybe a year ago I didn't know anything about.

[00:17:11] Bret Keisling: Alison, I love that answer and mainly because I realized I hadn't asked the right question, or I hadn't made the right statement. It is true that what we know about employee ownership and the benefit of. 4.5 times less likely for layoffs during the pandemic, just the latest stuff and less salary cuts, et cetera, the benefits to the communities. That isn't new information. But the value to the research was really what do you-- and forgive me, I do take the community view -- what do we do with the research? Where do we take it out? And that is actually new and important and drives the mechanics of the campaign.

[00:17:49] Alison Lingane: Yeah.

[00:17:50] Diane Ives: Yeah, I was just going to say somebody shared this image with me a bunch of years ago, which I have used numerous times, which I think is relevant here, which is that we oftentimes, as we do our deep work in our organizations, and for this case, it is an employee ownership, we tend to be doing a lot of work in the basement. We're doing a lot of, using the different systems and mechanics and trying to get everything going. And when you welcome somebody to your house, you don't really want them to walk into the basement. You want them to walk in through the front door. And if you've been spending a lot of time in the basement, we have a hard time answering the front door and knowing exactly what to say and how to excite people and how to engage them.

And so, this campaign is really about opening that front door and all of this stuff in the basement is all that research, Bret, that you're talking about, that we know the statistics, we know the opportunities and we know the challenges and we can't just start there with people.

We really have to welcome them in a different kind of a way.

[00:18:44] Bret Keisling: I like that, Diane, and I talk to a lot of people in a lot of contexts about employee ownership and pretty regularly a professional advisor new to the field will reach out to me. And I love the enthusiasm and I try to be encouraging as much as I can because we need new professionals. But there's often a breathless moment where they say, Bret, do you know how many business owners are set to retire? And I'm like, yes, it's come up quite a bit in the last number of years. And that is the target. And we have all said, and this goes back to the, we want more talking about employee ownership. All of us have said, that's who we need to be talking about, but this collaboration has come up with a great way to drive the conversation.

And with the targeting, to be clear, you're not targeting the employee ownership community for the marketing. You're targeting the business owners.

[00:19:41] Alison Lingane: Yeah, that's exactly right. And one of the other things about the campaign is that this is not ESOPs equals, or co-ops equals, or perpetual trusts or EOTs equals. And we actually worked very hard in designing the materials to not go into the basement, to use that analogy, too quickly with business owners on that. Because we're, really, the goal is to keep it high level and to get people excited and whet their appetite for learning more.

So, we really, I think we mention, we maybe list the three main forms of broad-based employee ownership in the workbook, or maybe on the site, we've got a quick overview of what they are, but we don't go into that rabbit hole very deep on purpose because we really want to focus on getting people excited. Focus on the benefits and the opportunity that employee ownership presents and then we can have, get them to talk nuts and bolts and get into the details to the right point. But that was, that's a really important part of the campaign design as well.

[00:20:38] Bret Keisling: Alison, you mentioned that there was a survey. Can you just give us kind of the highlights of that survey?

[00:20:44] Alison Lingane: Sure, absolutely. So, we fielded a survey. Hattaway Communications, our communication firm who helped us throughout this entire campaign research and design process, fielded a survey of 400 small business owners over this past summer 2021. And did really help shape how we talked about the benefits of employee ownership and which benefits we lifted up and gave the most priority to in the communication.

So, some of the key insights that shaped our thinking about that campaign is of course targeting owners who are thinking about retirement, that's one of the key audiences. And I think we knew this going in, but the survey really underscored that owner's ideas about retirement often don't align with the reality. Meaning most business owners have a very rosy picture of what their retirement is going to look like. High levels of confidence that they will retire comfortably. They've highly optimistic about the value of their business. And those of us who work with business owners know that we often need to realign some explanation around the value of the business or how easy or difficult it will be to sell the business. We also know that one of the benefits of employee ownership is that it, in many ways, it makes it easier to be able to sell your business because you don't need to go out and find a buyer. As I often say, you've got a buyer right under your nose. So, that was one sort of key bucket of insight.

Another is that, of course, business owners are business people first. Day in and day out, this is what business owners are doing is running a business. They want to run a good business. One that rewards employees and delivers goods and services that matter, and they want their legacy to live on after they retire. So, we found that beyond their optimism for their personal fortunes when they do retire that more than three quarters of business owners want their businesses to continue to grow and thrive rather than close up shop.

They also want to make sure that their team is taken care of and rewarded for their hard work. We had over 70% of businesses said that it's equally important that I, as the selling business owner, am fairly compensated and that my employees are taken care of. Over 70%. That shouldn't be surprising because we know how important teams are for businesses and business success. But that just speaks volumes about how the benefits of employee ownership can really speak to business owners broadly, not just a small portion of the business owners.

And then I would say, in addition to that, they also really want to strengthen the operations of their business. Lifting up the benefits of employee ownership, the excellent operations, EO excellent operations, is an important message to be able to send to business owners.

So yes, it is about retirement, but it's not only about retirement. It's about doing well by your employees. It's about strengthening your business. All of these benefits that we know employee ownership is so good at delivering on.

[00:23:31] Bret Keisling: That's very important. And one of the things that came to mind as you were talking, Alison, was the difficulty in selling the business and boy, the mistaken expectations of value I've seen a lot as an ESOP trustee. We know that 80% of businesses don't sell. They close down, they're not sold. We also know of the 20% that sell, generally it's five times on the market to sell. It is a very difficult process.

When you talked about legacy, and that's a huge part of employee ownership, I don't care what industry you're in, if you're a business owner and you're listening to this podcast call me up if you don't know how it could happen, but any competitor could buy you and strip your parts, and by that I mean your people, and send your operations to wherever. And you will, as the business owner, put something in your pocket. But everything you've built has gotten to the wind. It's been absorbed and that's the legacy. That's a huge point for the business owners to keep in mind, I would think.

[00:24:32] Alison Lingane: Absolutely. And that's a part of where the storytelling around employee ownership can really bring this to life for business owners. The opportunity to be able to see businesses that are like mine, whether it's similar size or similar geography or similar industry, and be able to look at that and say, oh gosh, my business could be like that. That can be my legacy. So, that's an important piece of what we're doing with the campaign as well, is lifting up those stories and really helping people feel that's the opportunity of legacy that employee ownership can bring.

[00:25:02] Bret Keisling: We've had a number of business owners or employee owners at companies on the podcast. And we always ask for the company history. And this, again, I'm saying this to the business owners thinking about selling their business. And inevitably in every case, the business was founded by X in this year. It became employee ownership this year. And then there are other high points. But in every case, it has started with honoring the founder's legacy in the timeline and the company continues. And I just love that in the timeline since that in all of these businesses, Davey Tree [Expert] Company, 28,000 employee owners. Mr. Davey, the founder, died in 1890 and I'm making that up. There hasn't been a Davey family member involved in the company since the 1970s, that is accurate. But now when they talk the story, they're still talking about the Davey family. It's not just the name on the business. So, I just love the, I love the legacy part of it. And I hope the business owners will consider that.

Diane does this fit in generally with the broader -- and folks, I will recommend you were kind enough to be on the podcast and you kicked off our season five in September. This fits in very nicely with the broader goals of The Kendeda Fund, building communities and good jobs, et cetera.

[00:26:13] Diane Ives: Absolutely, this is a core part of the work that we're doing to increase community wealth and it's a wonderful example of how we are not just building a larger ecosystem for the opportunity to happen, but we're really helping individual business owners make these important decisions.

There's a huge need to share this idea more broadly and get people excited about it, but there also needs to be an easy way to take action and to take the next step. And if I can, I'd like to just emphasize a few things about this campaign that we feel make it a little bit easier for business owners to take the next step.

First of all, our main kind of social media channel is on LinkedIn, which is where a lot of business owners go for information and to network and connect. So EO Equals on LinkedIn is a great place to come and explore the work and see the dialogue that's happening.

Also, just to say it, this campaign is not a fly by night thing. It's going to go on for 18 months. So, as we learn about behavior change and greater awareness and questions and confusions and whatever in the campaign, we're going to have time to adapt, reach out to different business owners in different ways. So, I'm super excited about that. Our communications firm has talked with us about kind of tent pole activities every quarter to really encourage and engage potential business owners.

So, we're going to be doing, it does not say this on the website, but it really should, we have a button you can push to get a consultation with an EO expert. It's free. The button doesn't say that it's free, but you can push that button, you can enter your information, and an EO expert will call you. So, there are people who are ready to be helpful in the process.

And I also just want to emphasize, and I think Bret, we talked about this when I was last on your podcast about what are we ready for? What do we have the capacity for? And what is exciting to me is that we have all kinds of capacity with our founding partners and with the larger group of organizations working on employee ownership. There are investment funds standing by looking for investment opportunities. A sense of kind of technical knowledge and legal expertise and accounting help, all of these things that are finding their way to reach a scale that we haven't reached before. And for me, that is part of what The Kendeda Fund's mission is to help figure out how to make these things aligned for bigger scale.

[00:28:39] Bret Keisling: And Diane, not that I've got particular expertise on The Kendeda Fund, but you and I spend a decent amount of time talking this summer for the podcast. And The Kendeda Fund, just to its longer term and robustness of this campaign, The Kendeda Fund's path is not to drop a couple of dollars and say, hey, see how it works. You folks just, without getting into details, look at how you can be effective, how you can put together appropriate resources to drive the message, and to the point that you both made analyzing it all along the way. But in other words, this is a major effort by major players in the space.

[00:29:16] Diane Ives: Yeah, there's a phrase that's bouncing around philanthropy right now. That's fund us like you want us to win. And I would say that's what we're upholding with this campaign.

[00:29:23] Bret Keisling: I love that. That, I love the attitude.

[00:29:25] Diane Ives: It's like so basic.

[00:29:26] Bret Keisling: Because there are so many different efforts where really is here's 10 bucks, metaphorically speaking, let me know how it works out or whatever, and fine, but this is different. And this is very cool.

Diane, I love the way you just said that. And quite frankly, I said this on the podcast where you were my guest, and I want to say this to you, and I'm going to switch over to Alison Lingane. The Kendeda Fund has not been messing around in employee ownership. You have worked with [The] Democracy Collaborative. You worked with Project Equity. You've worked with other folks that we've talked about on your podcast, but you are positioning EO to win it. And I want to thank you as just the observer role that I have, because the role that you folks have played for an organization that was focused on the environment and then like green jobs, and then got into employee ownership, you have just made a tremendous difference.

Alison, and we'll work towards wrapping up with you. And I've got a question, but before I do, I want to pay Project Equity a compliment. And we talked about in employee ownership we say agnostic for whatever it's worth between ESOPs, co-ops, and employee ownership trusts, perpetual trusts, et cetera, et cetera. But it's also true among the organizations. And up until the last couple of years, maybe everybody in employee ownership was very careful to say that there was no favoritism among any of the organizations, or we work with all of them, or we only work with whoever we work with. And I want to compliment Project Equity because I am a cheerleader for the collaborative process. That is how we become a movement. And you folks in the last year or two have collaborated with The ESOP Association in an important project that sent information to members of Congress. You have collaborated with EOX and on things on the statewide level. I know that you're working with the organizations and the organizations that you have brought together so far to, make aware of this campaign and you've signed off on it. I want to thank you on behalf of all of us, because that collaboration is so important and Project Equity, I don't quite know how you did it in a relatively short time, but you're leading the way on just the vibe we should all have.

So, with that, Alison how could people in the space who want to be involved? We know that the business owners that should go to the website are those who are interested at the website and we'll include links to everything we've talked about in our show notes. But for people in the community who want to support and become part of the collaborative process, how do they do that?

[00:31:53] Alison Lingane: Yeah, thank you so much. Bret that is very kind of you. And employee ownership organizations that are interested in getting involved, I would recommend that they reach out to one of the four organizations that is involved in the campaign. So, it's of course, our organization, Project Equity, also the ICA Group, Nexus Community Partners, and the Evergreen Fund for Employee Ownership. And any of the four of us can make the connection back into the conversations we'll be having with folks in the space to talk more about what could it look like to be an allied partner in this effort? How can we together grow the pie and leverage the value of the campaign that has been developed over the last 18 months really to try and do that. So, welcome employee-ownership organizations or small business organizations that are interested in helping to spread the word about employee ownership to reach out to any of the four of us and we can pull you into the fold that way.

[00:32:46] Bret Keisling: And Alison, if I may let me just add one other group that I've talked about over the last three or four months, and it's what I call the adjacent spaces.

And it's all the folks in the community space that want to make their communities better. Guess what? Employee ownership saves jobs. It's all of the people in the best practices in the workplace who want to know how to make the workplace better. Guess what employee ownership does it. So, there's all kinds of different spaces. We want to hear from the people. And you notice what I just did, I get so enthusiastic, we want to hear! You want to hear from all of the folks. You want to hear from the business owners, they've got the button on the website. You'll want to hear from potential collaborators. But folks, if you happen to be listening to this and you're not a business owner, you just care about jobs. You care about your communities. You care about wealth inequality. You care about pay inequality, et cetera, et cetera. You'd also love to hear from those folks in the adjacent spaces. Am I right?

[00:33:34] Alison Lingane: Absolutely. To the extent that there are folks who are champions of employee ownership, whether or not they are themselves EO organizations or practitioners, that's what we're trying to do is we're trying to have a bit of a megaphone out to business owners. And so, if you're interested in being a megaphone one of the ways that I often will talk about the need in our spaces for those of you who have watched the movie or read the book When the Grinch Stole Christmas. If you remember a scene towards the end where try as he might the Grinch wasn't successful in destroying Christmas. And out come all the tiny Whos from Whoville on Christmas morning with their songbooks and you can see the look on the Grinch's face as he's like probably rudely awakened or something by the sound of the Whos singing together, lifting their voices together. That can be really powerful.

And, yeah, that's what I like in this opportunity too, which is that we in the employee ownership space we can come together and lift our voices together to help other people learn about this thing that we are all so enamored with, employee ownership. And whether you want to think of it as a megaphone or us all singing from the same song sheet, the more people who we can get lifting our voices together, the more success we will have in spreading the word.

[00:34:46] Bret Keisling: Diane wrapped up with fund it like you want to win it. And I was like, wow. And Alison, you just matched in terms of a summation. I think that's great.

By way of megaphone and by way of taking the opportunity to do a little self-promotion, if I may. As you're both aware of the last week of September, the EO Podcast Network launched. And we now have, in addition to my two podcasts, we have the Why Worker Co-ops podcast that's hosted by Rodney North and the Owner to Owner podcast that's hosted by Jesse Tyler. We have actual megaphones and actual microphones and I want to promise both of you that whatever we can do to support this effort, we lead the way on cheerleading the work of others and collaborations. And you've come up with something very important, very fresh, and anything at all that we can do in our little neck of the woods. You're just, you have my promise. We want to support you.

Alison, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I appreciate it.

[00:35:44] Alison Lingane: Thank you, Bret. Really appreciate being on and chatting with you today.

[00:35:48] Bret Keisling: Diane, it's been a pleasure. You are, you're in a group that is, has been a guest for the second time, but both of them within five weeks. So, you kicked off season five and you're now back with this. I said earlier, thank you for being in the employee ownership space, but thank you for spending time on my podcast. I really appreciate it.

[00:36:04] Diane Ives: It's an honor. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it. Okay, five weeks, right?

[00:36:09] Bret Keisling: I look forward to it! Folks, we'll have links to everything we've talked about in our show notes. Check out the website for EO Equals, employee ownership equals all spelled out in words, dot org. Everything is there that we've talked about.

With that, thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:36:28] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter [X] @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 can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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