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Mini-cast 141: July 4th - Country, Flag & EO

Bret Keisling loves employee ownership, his country and flag, and explains why it’s healthy and necessary to be critical of each at times in order to increase opportunities for all people.


Mini-cast 141 Transcript

Bret Keisling: [00:00:05] 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.

[00:00:17] Here in the United States, the 4th of July holiday weekend is upon us. And as many Americans will take a long weekend to celebrate, I wanted to take the opportunity to spend just a few minutes talking about my country, my flag, and my passion for employee ownership.

[00:00:35] I love employee ownership. I've carved out a career through these podcasts to celebrate and amplify all forms of employee ownership. That's how we start our primary EO/ESOP Podcast, that "we amplify and celebrate all forms of employee ownership." Usually, amplifying and celebrating essentially means that I'm a cheerleader for anyone and everyone who plays a part in what I like to call the EO Sandbox.

[00:01:03] As I've said on many podcasts, employee ownership, addresses many of the issues that are critically important to our country. EO addresses wealth inequality. It addresses the salary gap between men and women and white folks and people of color. When done properly, employee ownership creates a more inclusive and democratic workplace where people from all backgrounds come together to grow the pie and share the pie, as we like to say,

[00:01:31] As much as I love employee ownership, it's not immune to criticisms on how it can do better. For example, recently, Marjorie Kelly of Democracy Collaborative appeared on a two-part episode of our primary podcast. Among the topics that we talked about, we briefly addressed, for example, male toxicity as it relates to ESOP transactions. And in another, we both discussed briefly the fact that organized EO is overwhelmingly white right now. So I'm willing to discuss ways I think employee ownership can be improved, but that doesn't diminish in any way the love I have for employee ownership.

[00:02:09] Such as it is with my country. I love the United States. I'll say it again. I love the United States. My love of my country has remained strong throughout my life. But the reasons behind that love have definitely changed over time.

[00:02:26] I grew up in the 1970s and the phrase "America -- Love It or Leave It" was often heard. If you don't like this country, get out. For much of my life, I bought into a view that the United States was somehow the greatest country in the world. To be honest with you. I don't even know what that means anymore. Certainly there are metrics that are favorable to the United States, but there are plenty of other places in the world that seemed pretty great as well.

[00:02:52] I just mentioned that one of the things that I love about employee ownership is that it addresses societal issues like wealth and salary inequality. Definitionally, that means there is wealth and salary inequality in the United States. I don't mean to sound like a simpleton but this is an example in the context of this podcast episode, where American needs to do better. I know there are significant numbers of issues that America needs to do better on but this podcast would take too long, be too depressing, and I'd inevitably miss some if I tried to list them all. Just as it is with employee ownership, it's both easy and intellectually consistent to say I love my country and that I want it to be so much better for so many other people.

[00:03:42] I've been fortunate enough to travel extensively because of my work in employee ownership for about six years now. I love the land and the places I've seen and I've met some of the coolest people in all parts of the country. I could speak of accomplishments or innovations or all sorts of things that I love about the United States, but I think what I love most about it is that it's my home. That doesn't make the US competitive with anywhere else in the world. I hope if I were born somewhere else, I'd love my home there too.

[00:04:13] Similarly it is with the American flag. I love the American flag. To me, it can feel majestic and make me feel connected to American history going back to the founders. But I've also come to understand that the American flag does not appear majestic to many other people. To them, it represents that which they dislike most about our country. I get that. America needs to do so much better. But for me, the flag is sort of like the American dream. What they represent to me is the optimistic aspirations of so many people.

[00:04:48] When people talk about making America great, or even making America great again, I sometimes wonder what they mean. To date myself as a child of the seventies, the TV show Happy Days made America seem great in the 1950s. But that's the same decade of Brown v. Board of Education, and was just the start of a very long and incomplete path to school desegregation and more equalized education. Maybe if you hung out in a malt shop in poodle skirts in the 1950s, America was great. But if you were a person of color, trying to get an education in Little Rock, Arkansas, not so much.

[00:05:28] To wrap up. I love employee ownership. I love my country. I love my flag. I want employee ownership and my country to do better and be better. And I want my flag to become a symbol for everyone of the potential that I see when I gaze upon it.

[00:05:49] I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


Bitsy McCann: [00:05:58] 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 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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