Mini-cast 53: Celebrate your Employee Owners’ Accomplishments for EOM



In Episode 53 of The ESOP Mini-cast, Bret Keisling shares ideas for celebrating your employee owners and their accomplishments during Employee Ownership Month. He discusses David Fitz-Gerald’s “Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey,” and growing the EO sandbox in Texas.


Also, Jennifer McNicoll Krieger of Weaver reports from NCEO’s Fall Forum 2019 in Salt Lake City.


Listen to this episode on Soundcloud. Or subscribe on Google Play or iTunes/Apple Podcasts.


The ESOP Podcast is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND Creative Commons License.


Mini-cast 53 Transcript

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



Bret Keisling: 00:13 Hey, my friends. Thanks for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Employee Ownership Month is upon us and we're going to talk about it in this episode. We're going to give you an idea or two on what you might consider for employee ownership. We're also going to talk about employee owner and author, Dave Fitzgerald. He's an employee owner at Carris Reels, but he's also an author. We're going to talk about him.


Bret Keisling: 00:42 But first if you've been listening to the podcast, either the Mini-cast or the ESOP EO Podcast in the last week, you've heard me talk about Jennifer Krieger at Weaver. Jennifer was at the NCEO Fall Conference in Salt Lake City and she was kind enough to provide the podcast with an update. Jennifer provides ESOP and other valuation services at Weaver, a Texas-based, nationally oriented accounting firm with traditional assurance and tax services as well as comprehensive services including risk, transaction, and IT advisory many other services as well. And here's Jen.


Jenn Krieger: 01:20 The NCEO Fall Forum in Salt Lake City just occurred this week with over 500 people in attendance and I really love the emphasis that NCEO places on the community aspect of ESOPs. Wherever I turned at the NCEO Fall Forum, great connections were being made through open sharing and collaboration between ESOP companies and between ESOP advisors, and the benefits of ESOP's were touted by long-tenured ESOP companies and by those who had just had their transaction.



Jenn Krieger: 01:49 One of the key takeaways from the NCEO Fall Forum was really just how flexible ESOPs are for companies, from adding or changing distribution policies, managing benefit levels, ESOPs can be customized to a company's culture and positively impact the company management. A great example of positive change and company management came from the keynote panelists for the NCEO Fall Forum, Daniel Goldstein from Folience and that was their "License to Act" cards Folience had created for each employee owner, so that they could turn around and feel empowered to use their "License to Act" cards to bring up ideas or issues to upper management. And that's where the real power behind ESOPs lies, a better company through employee owner engagement.


Bret Keisling: 02:38 Thanks Jenn. Before we get to employee ownership month activities on Episode 84 of The EO Podcast, our guest was Jim Bonham, the CEO and president of The ESOP Association. We had part one of our interview, next week on Episode 85 we're going to have part two. In Episode 84 I also discussed the challenges of what I'm calling the emerging professionals kind of gaining traction in their career in employee ownership. We're going to continue that discussion. This wasn't the first time I've talked about it, but I want to take a moment and talk about Jennifer Krieger and the folks at Weaver in the context of my mission to grow the employee ownership sandbox, mindful that there are 6,200 companies that are ESOPs that have no touches with the major organizations. Rather than focusing on just the folks who are coming to the conferences, there's a whole big sandbox out there where business can and should be done.



Bret Keisling: 03:38 Weaver is an excellent full service firm as I've mentioned it. They do have bench strength with ESOPs. Jenn has more recently drank of the employee ownership Kool-Aid and she is all on about growing their employee ownership practice, but she's also backed up by some talented professionals. She's working to get them in the groove with the trustees and that sort of thing. They also have a really solid audit practice and provide other services for ESOP companies. So Jenn and her team are anxious to grow an ESOP practice. Meanwhile, Texas, what comes to my mind is we all talk about the states where employee ownership is robust, not just ESOP's but co-ops, et cetera, et cetera. Per capita, Vermont, Ohio, and I think Colorado is right up there as well, are per capita leaders in the amount of employee ownership, Vermont and Ohio, certainly are smaller states, Vermont, one of the smallest per capita, they're the best.


Bret Keisling: 04:41 Rarely do professionals or employee owner advocates - I shouldn't say rarely - but there doesn't seem to be as much attention on those states at the bottom of the list. Now clearly if it's a sparsely populated state with limited population, limited businesses, that makes sense. There's a lot of real estate in Texas. There's a lot of people in Texas and I think they're underserved in the employee ownership market, so if you've had thoughts about looking at the Texas market or are looking to partner up yourself with emerging professionals and top ESOP bench strength, I think it might do well to introduce yourself to Jenn Krieger and her colleagues. Now, I do want to make clear the podcast has always tried to be Switzerland. We don't recommend one firm over any firm if as long as they're qualified. We support them being in the employee ownership space, but there are 6,200 companies out there that aren't being served at all and we have a whole lot of employee ownership to grow. So I'm going to support anybody who's going to help grow the sandbox.


Bret Keisling: 05:47 As you just heard, one way Jenn is growing her practice is by contributing to The EO/ESOP podcasts and Mini-casts. Here's how you can contribute too.


Bitsy McCann: 05:58 Are you interested in sharing your passion on The EO Podcast and ESOP Mini-cast? We are looking for correspondents to tell us their great stories of employee ownership. These one to four minute long segments can be recorded remotely over the internet or by telephone. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please reach out. You'll hear contact information at the end of this episode.


Bret Keisling: 06:21 I am very happy to give a shout out to a friend of mine, an employee ownership national leader, a very talented employee owner, David Fitz-Gerald. I do want to point out in case you want to check his books out, and I hope you do, Fitz-Gerald has a hyphen F,i,t,z hyphen Gerald. I point that out cause there's another author without a hyphen who has a very different book practice, books out than Dave Fitz-Gerald did. Dave is the immediate past chairman of the board of The ESOP Association, which is the highest ranking employee owned position in that organization. He's a selfless leader. He's the treasurer at Carris Reels which is just one of the leaders in employee ownership and Dave is just as supportive as he could be of all things employee ownership. He's also an author. He appeared on Episode 78 of The ESOP Podcast and he discussed his book "Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey."



Bret Keisling: 07:25 Excellent book. I read it over the summer. I want to share it because he's a good guy and it deserves to be shared, but I want to put this in the employee ownership month context. If you're looking for ways to celebrate employee ownership month at your company, look to your employee owners and find out who are doing cool things that they should be congratulated for. Dave in his particular case has written two books, actually, and that's kind of easy to say, wow, but take a look around your organization. Is someone mentoring children? Is someone volunteering their time in the betterment of the community? Is someone may be caring for a relative on top of their job duties? Every single person in your organization does or hopefully should have something that makes them stand out apart from everybody else. To me, part of the beauty of employee ownership is getting away from the corporate culture of everyone being the same. So, and I'll get back to Dave's book in a moment, if you're looking for a way in your company to celebrate employee ownership, highlight the accomplishments of your employee owners.


Bret Keisling: 08:39 So "Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey" is the story of an Indian boy going through his life. It takes place in New York and it takes place hundreds of years before the colonists settled. It's a well written book. He has a great imagination, and here's why the book resonated with me. I travel around the country quite extensively. I did two podcasts this summer during the 10 days I was on Route 66 I have, I grew up in central Pennsylvania, so when I was a boy, my family and schools all took field trips to Gettysburg. I did the same with my children. I remember Washington DC trips when I was a kid. Same thing with my children. I get to see a lot of places as an adult. And when I travel around, I tend to imagine what it was like back in the day, whatever the day was, old Route 66 I'm in the forties fifties et cetera, et cetera. Just imagining. Las Vegas for the conferences, imagining what it was like when Bugsy Siegel was walking around. So apparently Dave has the same view, but Dave imagined history in his own community, in his own area, and he wrote the book. So it's a great story. It's a combination of the physical struggles of being a Native American in hundreds of years before it was colonized. And it also delves into the physical earth and the spiritual. So if you're looking for a great read, I'd suggest "Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey". We're going to have a link in our show notes to the book. And first of all, Dave should be supported, it's an excellent book. Second of all, another hint, if you're looking at how to celebrate employee ownership and the efforts support those who are doing something. So if you're looking for a great read, get "Wanders Far - An Unlikely Hero's Journey" and know that you're going to get a great book, but you're also supporting a talented employee owner who quite frankly has done so much for employee ownership.


Bret Keisling: 10:46 One other thing, and I'm going to take care of this myself this weekend, it does help any budding author, if they get reviews of the books, if you get the book and you'll like it, I know that Dave would appreciate getting a review. It's really, really important and just as I want to develop employee ownership and develop emerging professionals, let's all help an author on his second book and have the EO community support him. One other thing. I had mentioned that Dave was on Episode 78 of The ESOP Podcast. Also on that episode was Tom Roback of Blue Ridge ESOP Associates. Just wanted to point it out, cause if you cjeck Dave out, you're going to see Tom as well or hear Tom as well. Tom is an excellent, amazing person. Even before his work in employee ownership. He's a talented professional and to be honest with you, he's one of the people, and there are a number of them, that I'm just not only glad to see at the conferences, but I'm glad I know I'm going to be seeing Tom. So Tom, you've got my respect. I'm glad I could mention you here as well.


Bret Keisling: 11:49 Okay. As we wrap up, I'd like to thank Jennifer Krieger for contributing today's podcast. I'd like to remind you to celebrate Employee Ownership Month and celebrate your employee owners. Please post and tweet any activities, any of your celebrations. Please tag us on Twitter @ESOPPodcast or at @EO_Bret because we'd love to share your celebrations with the world.


Bret Keisling: 12:17 The standard disclaimers apply to this podcast. 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.


Bitsy McCann: 12:44 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.


Bret Keisling: 13:19 Okay, my friend. This is the end of the episode. Thank you so much for joining us. We hope that we see on social media and we hope you'll join us next week. This is Bret Keisling have a great day.



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