top of page

Mini-cast 120: NCEO's Virtual Annual EO Conference

Bret Keisling is joined by NCEO's Conference Director Ivette Torres, who gives a preview of NCEO's 2021 Annual Employee Ownership Conference to be held April 20-21, 2021, with a pre-conference on April 16. Ivette also announces the keynote speaker, Ashleigh Walters of Onex Inc., a 100% ESOP.

The NCEO's mission is to help Employee Ownership Thrive. They want to help you and your company succeed, and so they are offering The EsOp Podcast listeners $25 off the registration price for their upcoming Annual Employee Ownership Conference with the code EOPODCAST25.


Mini-cast 120 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:06 Welcome to The EsOp Mini-cast. 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. The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) is holding its virtual annual employee ownership conference on April 20th to 21st, 2021 with the pre-conference to be held on April 16th. I'm already registered for the conference and I hope you will too.

Bret Keisling: 00:35 Recently in NCEO's conference director, Ivette Torres recorded a full-length podcast episode. She does a great job describing in NCEO's path from in-person conferences to virtual conferences during the pandemic. We're going to bring you that full episode later in February, 2021 during our Tuesday full length podcast. Today, however, I'm going to share an excerpt in which Ivette describes the upcoming conference in April. I'm very excited that NCEO has chosen the podcast to announce its keynote speaker, which you'll hear about in just a moment at the end of the episode, I'll share with you a discount code that you can use for a $25 discount on conference registration.

Bret Keisling: 01:18 As the excerpt begins, I asked Ivette about the pre-conference. Here she is.

Ivette Torres: 01:27 Like you had mentioned before in regards to the pre-conference it is held before, so it's the previous week. It starts on April 16th. It is a Friday. We are going to be having three morning pre-conference sessions and three afternoon pre-conference sessions. And at the end we have a big party, which is the meet and greet. And that's an invitation for all the attendees to come together and kind of get to meet people before they actually start the full day conference. So this is a great way to learn the platform. It's a great way to meet other people in a relaxed, fun environment. So then you'll have the weekend to kind of decompress and process all the information that you learned at the pre-conference. And then on Tuesday, which is April 20th, we'll go ahead and start the actual conference.

Ivette Torres: 02:13 What's really cool is that we're going to kind of kick it off with the keynote. And so we're happy to announce to you, as I said to you, it's kind of a podcast exclusive. We have chosen a keynote. Her name is Ashleigh Walters. She's from Onex, which is a manufacturing company. They just became an ESOP in July. So in addition to all the things that were going on in 2020, this organization was preparing to transition into an ESOP! So we're really excited to hear her story and how she did that.

Ivette Torres: 02:46 The title of the keynote is called "Culture Shift: Leading with Empathy and Compassion." So she has some really good leadership tips that she's going to be providing in order for you to kind of acknowledge the culture shift that's happening and to give you some tips and tricks of what's worked and what hasn't.

Ivette Torres: 03:05 She also has a book, so I'm pretty happy that she's going to be talking about that. It's "Leading with Grit and Grace." So we're really excited about that. She's going to talk a little bit about that and we just have a lot of really good sessions that we're going to be providing. As I mentioned, there's lots of breaks, so you don't have to feel fatigue. You don't have to feel like you're stuck to watching a session. You are able to interact and move around as you would in a physical conference.

Ivette Torres: 03:33 So you can visit our booths. We've been really happy and successful in selling a lot of sponsorships. So there's a lot of different booths and opportunities that you can visit with ESOP professionals and kind of get some free advice. So everybody loves free advice! [Laughter.] I would highly recommend that you visit all the booths there.

Ivette Torres: 03:52 We have trivia, we have a mixologist, we have a lot of different other activities that you can do while you're at the conference as well. So it's been quite an endeavor, but I think very successfully, we've been able to put together an amazing agenda. We pride ourselves in really providing timely information and things that you haven't seen elsewhere. Things that you can take home and really start implementing right away and really gets you inspired to -- inspired to be an employee owner and kind of reinvigorates, and that spark is brought up again for you so that when you come back to your organization, you can really just hit the ground running and start implementing all those tools right away.

Bret Keisling: 04:38 Can you talk a little bit about, there is a welcome kit and just how it interplays with, for example, if someone signs up for the mixology session, you're sending them stuff. So just talk about it cause it's cool stuff. And it also adds to the interactivity.

Ivette Torres: 04:53 Yeah. So we have a happy hour that Wells Fargo is putting together. It does come with a Wells Fargo shaker. So you'll have your own shaker that you can take with you. It's going to come with a little kit. So it's going to have bitters and a couple of other things that you can make your own craft cocktail at home. And just add your favorite alcohol. If you don't drink that's okay, you can add other things. So if you want to add, you know, bubbly water, or if you want to add iced tea or something to it, that's fine as well. So we are offering that. We do have trivia, you don't really need to bring anything for that, but it's just kind of tests your ESOP knowledge, which is we're really happy with our sponsor BKD [CPAs and Advisors] on that. We have another mixologist class that we're offering and that's through SES ESOP Strategies, that's our sponsor for that.

Ivette Torres: 05:41 So, yeah, we've kind of thought about everything. The swag box, as we like to call it internally is the "welcome attendee box." And that has a lot of goodies from ESOP companies. So we've been able to get some savory snacks and sweet snacks, and some really good coffee that you can go ahead and brew at home so that we can all kind of have a cup of coffee together. And, you know, you won't have to wait in that buffet line anymore -- so you can kind of just go and grab your coffee at the time that you want! [Laughter.]

Bret Keisling: 06:10 Tell us what the registration fees are. And importantly, registration dates, particularly -- you got to sign up early enough to get the welcome kit! So talk a little bit about that if you will.

Ivette Torres: 06:22 So the registration price is $375 if you're a member, we highly, highly encourage people to become members. Not only because you get a discounted price for the conference, but because you get a ton of member benefits throughout the year. If you're not a member it's $525. So you can definitely tell there's a deep discount there.

Ivette Torres: 06:40 They pre-conference, like I mentioned, it's a pre-conference day pass and so you pay only $50 and you get access to the full day pre-conference sessions.

Ivette Torres: 06:50 We also have a group rate that I mentioned it's $1,500 for five employees. And if you don't know exactly, who's all going to come, you can always just kind of hold, you know, and pay for your pass and five. And we can always, as people start getting more familiar with their calendar, we can go ahead and start slotting them in. So that's a really good deal too. Otherwise sometimes if you bring more, you'll end up paying a lot less. So I think that's definitely helpful.

Ivette Torres: 07:17 And the best time to register is obviously now. But like you said, if you want to secure your swag box, you have to register by March 1st. So we have a few short weeks to go before we can go ahead and start sending out the swag boxes. So we want to make sure that people are registering early.

Bret Keisling: 07:36 When is the keynote address going to be on the schedule?

Ivette Torres: 07:40 April 20th; so that will be actually our kickoff, which is very different than in our physical event. Usually our keynote is more of a lunchtime and it's on the second day. So this time, this is how we're going to kick it off. We want to make sure that you're fired up, that you're inspired and that you really hear a very moving story right away before you start going into your sessions.

Bret Keisling: 08:00 She has a path -- just going back to her for just a moment -- she has a path of employee ownership, they just did a transaction last summer, as you had said, but, and I can't wait until society gets past where firsts are important, but it is important that she's also a female CEO of a manufacturing company. Am I right?

Ivette Torres: 08:22 I think so. I think it's very important to, you know, showcase that diversity amongst employee owners and just she's really breaking the glass ceiling here because she's coming into a male dominated kind of industry sector. and she's really kind of just taking it on and she's really producing a lot of good results, but she's doing it in a kind of different way, you know, with a lot of compassion, a lot of empathy and really people first. I think that she and that organization already had that employee owned mentality and so they are bringing that into now that they are actually an ESOP.

Bret Keisling: 08:59 Ivette you have been absolutely wonderful. There is so much going on with NCEO. It's great stuff. It's heartening that in these very difficult times that you folks are rolling along. So I'd like to give my personal thanks to you and all of your colleagues at NCEO who not just are getting through the pandemic with all of us, but thriving, in many respects. Everything you're doing is just in the finest spirit of employee ownership. And I think that's very, very cool.

Ivette Torres: 09:24 Thank you so much. We really appreciate your time and having us on the podcast and you're right, the NCEO is really doing a lot of really good work, and I'm glad that I can just be a little tiny portion of that and showcase that to the community.

Bret Keisling: 09:39 We'll bring you the full episode featuring Ivette Torres later in February, 2021. If you want to make sure you don't miss it, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Bret Keisling: 09:48 Before we go, the NCEO's mission is to help employee ownership thrive. They want to help you and your company succeed. They're offering The EsOp Podcast listeners $25 off the registration fee for their upcoming annual employee ownership conference. When you register online and we'll include a link in our show notes, just use the discount code, EOPODCAST25.

Bret Keisling: 10:12 As I said at the top, I'm already registered for the conference and I hope you will too. And take advantage of the discount.

Bret Keisling: 10:21 As this episode indicates EO is adapting during these very challenging pandemic times. We're going through a lot together and that's how we'll get through it, together, which is in the best spirit of employee ownership. Thanks for listening. This is Bret Keisling, be well.

Bitsy McCann: 10:41 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, 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.


bottom of page