Bret Keisling is joined by Hypertherm's Jesse Tyler, host of the Owner to Owner podcast, who shares what he learned at The NCEO Fall Forum, including ESOP "quit rates," how staff levels affect ESOP acquisitions, US median retirement savings, and symbiotic leadership.
The National Center for Employee Ownership's annual Fall Forum was held in St. Louis from September 26-28, 2022. Jesse particularly highlighted keynote speaker Jack Stack, The NCEO's Tim Garbinsky and Dallan Guzinski, as well as his own presentation with Jon Sweigart of Praxis Consulting Group on continuous improvement.
Mini-cast 203 Transcript
[00:00:07] Bret Keisling: 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. Earlier this week, the NCEO Fall Forum took place in St. Louis, Missouri. My friend and colleague, Jesse Tyler, host of the Owner to Owner podcast, attended the Fall Forum, presented at the Fall Forum, and is here on the Mini-cast to talk about the Fall Forum.
[00:00:35] Jesse, welcome back to the Mini-cast.
[00:00:37] Jesse Tyler: Hey, Bret. Thanks for having me. It's been a great forum. NCEO does a great job.
[00:00:41] Bret Keisling: And as we're recording this, it is Wednesday morning. You are in St. Louis. You are still at the Fall Forum, so it's going on live. What have you been experiencing? What do you think?
[00:00:51] Jesse Tyler: So, sort of feed on the street from the conference. So, I thought I'd share for your listeners some of the key themes, things that people are talking about. I tend to go to the culture sessions so that is going to be a recurring theme with my work and associate experience for Hypertherm.
[00:01:06] But a few things that keep coming up in the sessions. Excellent facilitation, very high quality. All of the sessions have been excellent, very interactive, engaging, making connections. Key themes have been concern about employment, having enough workers. It was a joy for me to hear Jack Stack speak to all of us and he was talking about the concern in employment being even an effect on an acquisition. His company does a lot with acquiring and reinventing and spinning off companies, amazing story if you follow Jack, but what really stuck with me, it's kind of been haunting me, is that an additional consideration when you're looking at these promising companies to pull into your portfolio is trying to do the extra due diligence that great, we've got the company, do we have the workers that we can regenerate that company as people retire and move on to other adventures? And I'd never heard it put quite that way.
[00:01:56] Some stats from some of the different presentations that ESOPs during COVID have had a 6% quit rate versus 20% for non-ESOP companies. I thought that was really telling for the ownership experience with the daily experience, the wealth building, and ideally the job quality and security.
[00:02:17] But it's so hard to hire now for any company that it actually is affecting the perspective on acquisitions.
[00:02:23] One great speaker, if you ever get to hear him, Tim Garbinsky, the communications director from NCEO is just an awesome speaker, awesome host. He actually interviewed Jack for us during Jack's session, and he threw off the whole room. He said, you know, okay, so let's just check in. What is the median retirement savings in the United States? And somebody guessed $50,000 and he pointed down. Somebody said $30,000. He said, you know, nope, keep going. The point that he started with, which putting it the way he did I thought was really creative and was quite a hook for all of us in the room, is that if more than half of the US workers have zero retirement saving, And the median is probably going to have to be considered zero! And it was just a really startling way to look at it. Just talking about the difference with, and then building on the very real positive of how, participants in an ESOP plan have two and a half times the national average for retirement savings. And that, if I understood it correctly, we've gotten to the point where ESOP account values Are by themselves, larger and non-ESOP account values for retirement funding in the States.
[00:03:29] And just that, it was really interesting. We hear these recurring themes, but to really call that out and then dig into some of the why and some of the ways to improve that, where employee ownership can really save communities, save companies, save culture, can make a huge difference for our country.
[00:03:45] So, very inspiring as well.
[00:03:46] Bret Keisling: Jesse, as you know, we like to keep the Mini-cast relatively short, and you and I both hosting our own podcast could talk for a very long time. But is there a final item regarding the conference you'd like to share with us?
[00:03:56] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, just a brief one. I got a real kick out of Dallan, the culture guru at NCEO.
[00:04:00] Bret Keisling: Dallan Guzinski.
[00:04:02] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, Dallan's great. And he did a lively lunch talk, and it was a phrase that stuck with me, I think is going to stick with me the rest of my time talking about employee ownership. He was talking about the critical need for top level leadership presence and the symbiotic loop where if the rank and file, the mid-level employees are seeing and hearing the top level walk the walk, talk the talk. So, I appreciate e Dallan and his energy.
[00:04:29] I'm, glad that I work at an employee-owned company with a strong symbiotic loop. Evan Smith, our CEO, during Ownership Month is going to do, we call it 'chalk talk.' But he gets together with associates from whoever's interested and does a very deep, unfiltered dive into some of the background on becoming the company, how the shares work, how he feels about ownership and it's just really powerful.
[00:04:51] Jenny Levy, our executive Vice President of People, Community and Environment, that I work up through in HR walks the walk, talks, the talk, walks the floor. And so, I think I'm going to share the phrase with them. Just in thanks for modeling the behavior they want and that, at a healthy ESOP, you definitely with leadership have a symbiotic loop. So, shout out to Dallan for that one.
[00:05:12] Bret Keisling: I love that. I'm taking advantage of, kind of, reaching out and chatting with you while the conference is going on. But Hypertherm, you're there on Hypertherm's behalf and you're going to be taking all of the information you gleaned at the conference and sharing it with almost 2000 employee owners at Hypertherm.
[00:05:29] So, I just want to thank them for giving you the opportunity to be out there, which allows me to have somebody to talk to from the scene. So, I appreciate that.
[00:05:36] Jesse Tyler: Yeah, I'm grateful to the company for supporting this and It's something I said to the group when I was facilitating about continuous improvement as ownership in action with Jon Sweigert from Praxis. We kind of finished with here's a continuous improvement idea if you all, and we had a full room, I said, If you all are not planning to do a trip summary when you get back, we are asking you to make an improvement right now and make that the norm because all of our ESOPs are paying us to be here learning versus working at the job that's on our job description. And I think that went over okay. You know, it's just good if you go and learn, you should bring it back. You should get the most value out of it, is to bring it back. And so, that's sort of our cultural norm at Hypertherm. I encourage other ESOPs to do the same thing.
[00:06:20] But yeah, I enjoy talking with you. Been a great conference. Great to share it. Shoutouts to NCEO and their awesome staff for pulling this together and having such a great time. Thanks.
[00:06:30] Bret Keisling: Happy Employee Ownership Month, Jesse, I hope you have a wonderful October.
[00:06:34] Jesse Tyler: Awesome. Take care. Talk to you soon. Thanks.
[00:06:36] Bret Keisling: With that, we're going to wrap up the Mini-cast. Please check out Jesse Tyler's episodes of the Owner to Owner podcast at www.OwnertoOwnerPodcast.com. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.
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