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Mini-cast 50: Rob Zicaro and State Centers for EO

In Episode 50 of The ESOP Mini-cast, we introduce Rob Zicaro's ESOP Mini-cast Food for Thought. Bret Keisling highlights an online resource for EO news and discusses state centers for employee ownership including the PaCEO, InCEO, and RMEOC.

Plus, we’re looking for podcast correspondents. Email


Mini-cast 50 Transcript

Announcer: 00:03 Welcome to The ESOP Mini-cast, a great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 00:14 Hello, my friends. Welcome to Episode 50 of The ESOP Mini-cast. I'm Bret Keisling and as it says on my business card, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I hope you've had a great summer and remember, even though we think of Labor Day as the end of summer in the United States, there's still plenty of great weather ahead, so make sure you get outside and enjoy yourself.

Bret Keisling: 00:34 In today's episode, we're going to introduce a new feature by Rob Zicaro. Rob is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, and composer. He's also well known as a retired employee owner at Web Industries. For two years. Rob has shared an ESOP daily food for thought on social media. Starting this week we'll have Rob and his podcast Food for Thought, coming up in just a bit. I'll be back in just a moment.

[Ad break] Bret Keisling: 00:59 Are you a passionate employee, owner or advocate? Would you like to share your passion on The EO Podcast and ESOP Mini-cast? We're looking for correspondence to help us share the great stories of employee owners and their companies in one to four minute long segments that can be recorded remotely over the internet or the telephone. If you're interested, drop us a line, you'll hear contact information at the end of this episode.

Bret Keisling: 01:24 There are a lot of great resources about employee ownership available on social media. You can follow many EO organizations and advocates on LinkedIn and Twitter including, but definitely not limited to The ESOP Association and NCEO. There are also a lot of passionate employee owners, advocates and EO thought leaders who share information as well, including research articles, events, calendars, lots of stuff. There's an online newsletter about employee ownership that I think you should check out.

Bret Keisling: 01:53 It's called "Employee Owned America" and can be found easily enough at They have easy to digest information directed to ESOP employee owners, but they also cover the broader employee ownership sandbox. That'll give you a chance to see how ESOPs interrelate with other forms of employee ownership. The website is independently owned and edited by journalist Jonathan Case who is a board member at NCEO and among their editorial contributors include Corey Rosen, Loren Rogers and Dr. Joseph Blasi. A recent post called "State Centers: Boots on the Ground" highlights the 10 states that have employee owned state centers. There's a description of eight of the centers as well as links to the websites. I liked that they brought information about the state centers together in one place, 'cause it's good to know what states have robust activity or any activity, and if your state isn't one of the ones listed, they have a resource if you're interested in helping develop a state center where you live.

Bret Keisling: 02:53 We've had several podcasts with state center directors including Episode 8 with Kevin McPhillips of the Pennsylvania CEO, Episode 53 [correction, Episode 54] with Rick Van Doel of the Indiana CEO and Mini-cast Episode 41 with Matt Cropp of the Vermont EOC. We also featured Ken Baker of New Age industries who's chairman of the PACEO on Episode 16. I regularly encourage employee owners in their companies to join the major organizations. If you're able, also join your state organization as it's important to support efforts in your state. I'm proud to support, personally support, two state centers. My former firm Cap Trustees is a founding member of the Pennsylvania CEO and just this week the KEISOP Group joined Rocky Mountain EOC, which is Colorado's state center. I love that the state centers are all doing unique and creative things to grow the EO sandbox and I know that nothing would please them more to have their efforts supported and also replicated in other areas.

Bret Keisling: 03:50 Here are two examples. In Indiana. Rick Van Doel is working to get employee ownership proclamations issued by every Indiana town and mayor that has three or more employee owned companies. This is a wonderful idea. A single mayor issuing a proclamation would gather media attention and would be good in its own right. Rick's plan to have as many communities as possible issue proclamations is simply an inspired way, not just to have employee ownership recognized, but to bring great attention through the media of the bipartisan support for employee ownership. Mayors of both political parties endorsing employee ownership helps further the cause. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania CEO does a lot of outreach to support employee ownership. They created a radio spot to air, Pennsylvania, which we included in a previous mini-cast. Ads like this are another great idea that could be done anywhere in an organization that wants to help grow the sandbox. Let's take a listen to the PACEO spots

PACEO Ad: 04:50 Supporting WHYY: The Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership. Would you like your company to be more profitable, productive, and even tax-free? Learn more about the advantages and benefits of employee ownership, at

PACEO Ad: 05:06 Supporting WHYY: The Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership. Thinking about a succession plan for your business? Wondering how you can ensure that your legacy and your employees are cared for after you leave? Learn more at

Bret Keisling: 05:23 Okay. I have to admit, I've been excited about Rob Zicaro's podcast Food for Thought for a few months now. Rob's a talented musician and songwriter. He's a retired employee owner at Web Industries. Prior to joining Web, Rob's first taste of employee ownership was as a member of a band in Boston, where the band shared ownership and profits with all members, including the crew. In 1996 Rob testified before a blue ribbon commission headed by President Clinton. Among the many dignitaries on the panel were Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. The ESOP Association has a link to the full YouTube video on their YouTube page. Check it out. You'll see Rob proudly wearing an employee ownership t-shirt while speaking before the most powerful leaders in our country. You'll hear Rob's passion and, like me, you're going to understand that the benefits to employee ownership that Rob talked about in 1996 are still very, very true today. With that, I'm very proud to bring you the very first edition of Rob Zicaro's podcast, Food for Thought.

Rob Zicaro: 06:26 Hi, my name is Rob Zicaro. Today's Food for Thought: Is there a healthy balance between ownership, rights, and responsibilities within your organization's culture? And again, this is another fundamental principle that I think is very important. When people are talking about ownership, being an employee owned company, oftentimes there's a really large focus on ownership rights and maybe not as much on the responsibility side of the equation. Or, depending on where you are in the organization, you may be leaning more towards responsibilities as opposed to rights, but it's important to have a healthy balance between the two. So for example, if someone as an owner feels they have a right to financial information, there's a corresponding responsibility to know when to keep that information confidential and also how to act on that information to further the financial interest of the company that you own. So that's some of the basic things that I find from my experience in ownership is that there is a conflict sometimes between rights and responsibilities. And the key is to get that balance just right. So it's kind of like a pendulum. It balances each other out on each side of the equation.

Bret Keisling: 07:51 Thanks, Rob! I want to wish NCEO good luck as their Fall Conference takes place in Salt Lake City September 16th to 18th. I can't join them this year as I'll be attending The ESOP Association's Multi-State conference in the Poconos in Pennsylvania from September 18th to the 20th. There I'll be presenting with Joe Marx of Principal and Jason Yager of Global Tax Management on the topic, "Keeping your ESOP Healthy: Issues and Solutions for Mature ESOPs".

Bret Keisling: 08:19 There are a number of ways to contact us. First, it will help if you remember, my name is Bret with one "t". You can email me at That's "B, R, E," You can find me on Linkedin at Bret Keisling or a place to find me most often on Twitter at "E O underscore, B, R, E, T." Thanks to Rob Zicaro for his podcast Food for Thought. To find out more about Rob's great songwriting a and m music composition, visit that's R, O, B, Z, M, U, S, I, C dot com.

Bret Keisling: 08:58 Finally, our standard disclaimers apply. The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of the firms organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field. Mentioning an organization, advocate, or website on this podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned, I'd love to have you come on and talk about yourself. The ESOP Mini-cast is produced by The KEISOP Group. Thanks to our production team, including Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Archival podcast episodes were edited and produced by Brian Keisling. The music was composed by Max Keisling, and I'm Bret Keisling. Join us on Tuesday for the EO podcast. Have a great day.


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