With the voting done and election results near, Bret Keisling looks at the connection between consumer confidence and interstate travel and argues for our economy to truly recover, we still need a national mask policy.
Mini-cast 107 Transcript
Bret Keisling: 00:00 Greetings from Washington DC. If you follow me on social media, you know, that I have spent this week pretty much hanging out at the White House, watching for days as election results came in and generally just soaking everything up. I've had a lot of time to think about employee ownership and our country's future. And I'll address those in future episodes. For example, awful lot of rallies going on in DC this week. Wouldn't it be great if employee ownership had a rally at some point in the future, or actually lots of rallies.
Bret Keisling: 00:35 As I take the time to process everything that I've learned and everything that I've thought about for upcoming episodes of the podcast. I want to revisit something that I think is very critical for our country's future. And that's an enactment of a national mask policy.
Bret Keisling: 00:53 I understand that masks have been politicized and I find that very regretful. My approach beyond the science, beyond the medical stuff and sidestepping all of the political aspects, we're not going to achieve consumer confidence until everybody is comfortable traveling about to places of business. And for that to happen, particularly in hot zones, we're going to need a national mask policy.
Bret Keisling: 01:20 So rather than work on new content for today's episode, I hope you'll indulge me as I bring you what we aired in Episode 95 of the ESOP Mini-cast, which is my take on a national mask policy from this past August.
Bret Keisling: 01:36 The election is now over although a winner has not been announced and my view on masks hasn't changed at all. Enjoy the episode and we'll look for you next week on Tuesday on our primary EO/ESOP Podcast.
Mini-cast 95 Excerpt
Bret Keisling: Hello my friends and thank you for listening to the ESOP Mini-cast. My name is Bret Keisling and, as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I am very happy to be recording this episode at my offices in Denver, Colorado. Because of the pandemic this is the first time I've been here since the first week of March. As I am recording and releasing this episode, it is August 14th, but it's kind of a little bit of a sad time for me because I've decided that rather than split my time between Pennsylvania and Colorado as I've done most of the last year, I'm going to hunker down in Pennsylvania and wait for the pandemic to either subside or get under control.
Bret Keisling: As I traveled out to Colorado in the last couple of days, I had the opportunity, a lot of windshield time, to think about employee ownership and the country generally, and my eyes really got open to what I saw along the way.
Bret Keisling: So I want to take just a couple of minutes today and share with you some of my insights and why I now am convinced that a national mass mandate, or at least mostly national, is a very good idea. Now, to be clear and to put in context, I've done a number of episodes about the pandemic over the last three or four months and I've had topics such as to be anti mask is anti employee [Mini-cast 89]. I believe very strongly that we should wear masks and we should social distance if, at the very least in the context of employee ownership, as a sign of good faith to employees. In Episode 84 of the Mini-cast, which you can find along with all of our archived episodes at www.theESOPpodcast.com, we feature clips of North Dakota's, Republican governor, Doug Burgum, discussing consumer confidence in the context of businesses reopening. Here's a very brief clip from that episode:
Doug Burgum: So again this is up to each business to make the smart decisions about how they restore their customer and consumer confidence and they take actions that allow them not only to reopen but to stay open operating a safe and healthy business.
Bret Keisling: I think the governor's comments are spot on. Regardless of government mandates regarding openings and closings or mask wearings, businesses who deal with consumers will not really recover without consumer confidence. As our country and the world struggle to find ways to manage and eventually prevail. I'd like to share the differences in how I used to travel with my latest trip in the context of consumer confidence. It's about a 22 hour drive between Harrisburg and Denver, Colorado. I'd usually split it up into three or four days, make many stops along the way. Interstate 70 is dotted with strong employee ownership activity. So it wasn't unusual to reach out to EO advocates, practitioners, and employee owners in cities like Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, St. Louis and St. Charles, Missouri, as well as Kansas City. I'd stay two or three nights in hotels eat all of my meals in local restaurants tip that sort of thing. I would add to the economy.
Bret Keisling: Prior to last summer, when I formed The KEISOP Group, when I was a trustee, I'd spend probably three weeks out of every month on the road traveling to client meetings and again, participating in the economy, the local economies, wherever I was. I've suspended all travel like many people, all non-essential travel, since the pandemic really kicked up. With the exception of one, a personal trip I made to Washington DC. that was very important to me I haven't gone anywhere since March, except this trip to Denver, which again is to close down an office so I considered it necessary and essential.
Bret Keisling: In this trip out to Colorado. I knew that I wasn't going to linger. So I decided I would make the drive as quickly as I possibly could. What in the past would be an easy three or four day trip I did in two days. I, rather than staying multiple nights in a hotel, I stayed at a Hampton Inn in Columbia, Missouri, which was a little more than halfway and then got into Denver. Along the way my confidence, my consumer confidence, was very much shaken. Too many places, a convivence store in Terre Haute, Indiana, for example, where about a dozen customers were in the store, I was the only one wearing a mask; several stops in Kansas, along the way, where again, a couple of places there that not only was I the only one masked up or there were very few people masked up, but I was getting looks that made me feel like I was the odd person out.
Bret Keisling: Now here's the thing, as it relates to interstate commerce, one of the keys to the recovery is going to be for all of us to have the ability to travel around whether it's across the country, as I just did or making one or two day trips. Travel, the tourism industry is oh-so-important, but consumers are going to hesitate of going out and spending their dollars while there's inconsistency in some of the very areas where there are either flare-ups or at least troubling signs.
Bret Keisling: So Joe Biden, very coincidentally, yesterday proposed that all governors mandate mask use. As I was traveling through the states, when he made this proposal, I was surprised how quickly I supported it. At the very least find a way to mandate mask use within say 10 miles of an interstate highway. Tourism is huge in this country. Business travel is huge in this country. Now, when I talk about not being able to make the three or four day trip that I've made in the past, and that I did a straight shot to Colorado and I stayed in a hotel one night instead of three, and I didn't eat in all those restaurants, I'm not complaining for me. I suspect the restaurant owners, the hotel owners, all of the vendors that I, and people like me, would do business when they're traveling would love a way to keep that business. And the only way is going to be to help ensure consumer confidence and for awhile, at least, that means masks.
Bret Keisling: Folks. I know that this was not specifically an employee ownership topic, but we've often said on the podcast that the general economy and business issues affect employee owners as well. So thank you very much for joining me today. I hope you'll stop back Tuesday and check out our latest summer school episode of the ESOP Podcast. Meanwhile, take care of yourself and those around you. We're going through this together and that's how we'll get through it, together. This is Bret Keisling, be well.
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 Bret@KEISOP.com, 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, 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 Temi, 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.