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Mini-cast 60: An ESOP Week in Las Vegas

Vince Kruse, a great employee owner at USA Mortgage, joins us to share his thoughts about attending conferences, and #ESOP2019 and the inspiration of Sekou Andrews.


Mini-cast 60 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:00 Hello, my friends. Greetings from the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. I've had an amazing week, lots of meetings this week, lots of podcast recordings. Before too long we're going to hear from Steve Storkan, who's the executive director of the EOX, building state centers all around the country. Friend of the podcast Seth Webber will be on with some great information for employee owners and selling shareholders. And if friend of the podcast defines Seth Webber, our latest BFF Jenn Krieger is going to be on discussing the great things she's working on with Weaver CPAs down in Texas.

Bret Keisling: 00:38 Meanwhile, Vince Kruse and I follow each other on social media. Vince reached out to me week or two before the Las Vegas conference and asked if I wanted to get together. Folks, I want to get together with everybody! Vince and I met, he attended the conference. I did not. So he was kind enough to join me and give his views on the conference. So when we get back in just a moment, we'll go right to Vince. Why have I had such an amazing week talking employee ownership? Cause my name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership.

Announcer: 01:19 Welcome to The ESOP Mini-cast. A great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 01:30 I'm very happy to be sitting with Vince Kruse, one of the great employee owners at USA Mortgage. Vince, how are you?

Vince Kruse: 01:35 I'm doing good, thank you. How are you doing?

Bret Keisling: 01:37 Excellent. Thanks for joining me. We are at the Paris Casino and Hotel. You've been attending The ESOP Association national conference this week and you were kind enough to come on the podcast and tell us what to think of the conference.

Vince Kruse: 01:49 Thanks for having me. Conference has been great so far. Gone to the first day worth of breakout sessions. A lot of good information, a fun trade show, a lot of good swag to fill my luggage for the way home. But just a lot of the things, you know, variety of different topics. We kind of honed in on the employee engagement sessions getting anywhere that will help us bring back something that we can immediately implement, utilize and just kind of something to help with, you know, keeping the culture or creating more of the culture that can be absorbed, disseminated for engagement.

Bret Keisling: 02:27 So you're going to pick up as much stuff as you can share it with your fellow employee owners. Does that include the swag?

Vince Kruse: 02:35 The swag is specifically brought back for the other employee owners!

Bret Keisling: 02:39 That at least is a great answer,

Vince Kruse: 02:42 I bring back, I've brought an extra bag so that I could specifically bring back as many squishy mooses from BKD and highlighters and all the other stuff for the rest of my branch. So yes, it's for them.

Bret Keisling: 02:58 Excellent. The holiday party is going to be kicking this year.

Vince Kruse: 03:00 Yeah.

Bret Keisling: 03:01 USA Mortgage, and DAS [Acquisition Company, LLC] is the parent company, but became an ESOP in 2017. So you haven't had that much experience. How many conferences have you been to before?

Vince Kruse: 03:10 This is my sixth...

Bret Keisling: 03:12 Wow! So you've gone to a lot in just two years.

Vince Kruse: 03:14 Yeah, I've gone, this is my second time in Vegas. I've been in DC, Kansas City twice. And a mini-series -- a mini-session -- in St Louis.

Bret Keisling: 03:25 Excellent. And what keeps bringing you back to the confrenences? Why are they important to you?

Vince Kruse: 03:30 I keep trying to find out, not to sound nerdy about it, which I kind of am, but I keep trying to see what else there is to learn about it, what more I can educate myself with and bring back to our company. We have a communications committee that's engaged and wants to, you know, know what they can do to be better at being a committee and going to these conferences, teaching us the answers to the questions that we didn't know to ask yet. And, you know, not to use a cliché on there, but we didn't know what we didn't know. And every conference I've found out some more things that I didn't know and it's just a, it's just a helpful tool. Brought different people to each conference. I've been to all of them, but we've had a couple of different employee owners that are also on the committee come with me. We've had our CFO, head of HR, marketing HR generalist accompany me to different conferences and just everybody has a chance to learn.

Bret Keisling: 04:25 So you are the common thread, the denominator. And that's in my opinion, very important for employee owned companies because you see the building blocks of the various conferences and you now, as you said, you didn't know what you didn't know then. Well, if someone's coming to the first conference, they might be hearing something for the first time and not absorbing it. So the repetition I think is very wise and also circling in a variety of other employee owners is a great way to proceed.

Vince Kruse: 04:51 Yeah. Our goal is to, you know, try to rotate around with who gets to come. And right now we're, our next meeting is gonna be focused on how to bring in new members. We have half a dozen people that are interested. So we just need to figure out how to make an application process. We don't have anything official yet. We're very interested in bringing in different experience and experiences into our team and just kind of seeing what else we can do to help the far reaching locations. We've got branches in Seattle, Florida -- I mean we've got people all over the country now and engaging them in the ESOP is more than just eight people in St. Louis within a few miles of each other that all kind of live and work in the same area. We also want to be able to touch Ohio and Oklahoma and Texas and everywhere else, California, everywhere.

Bret Keisling: 05:42 As you've shared, you've been listening to the podcast for awhile and as a trustee, I've had a lot of experience back when I did that. I'd like to have you back on and talk not just about USA Mortgage and DAS and your colleagues, but the challenges you face as you know, are not unique to you. You know, many of my clients in the past had multiple locations, movable branches, large number of employees. So we'd be more than happy to talk and see what we might be able to provide decent advice to you that will also help other companies like you.

Vince Kruse: 06:12 Sure. Yeah,

Bret Keisling: 06:14 I've been very excited ever since Sekou Andrews was announced as the keynote speaker, one of the keynote speakers. Did you have a chance to hear him this morning?

Vince Kruse: 06:22 Yes, I was at the morning session and it was an incredible experience.

Bret Keisling: 06:28 Tell me what you thought of him or his message and what made it so incredible.

Vince Kruse: 06:32 Part of it was that I had no idea what to expect going into it. I had, from his bio, it definitely doesn't make him sound like he's just going to be a suit up there talking from his vast experience with economics and numbers and whatever, it was kind of like, what are we walking into? What is this going to be? And he was great. He's a poetic voice, which is one of the big things that he pushes, and he speaks in a way that you're not just listening because it's an interesting topic. You're listening because his delivery is interesting to you. He's just got a magnetic presence, or presentation, that kind of gets you excited to hear how he's going to say the next thing. And if every speaker presented the way that he did, you'd have a lot less people playing on their phones or checking their emails during it because you really wanted to see what he was going to do next. While he's talking. He kind of made the, I don't know if it was a joke or a previous experience for him, but people have compared what the way that he presents to, is he rapping? Is he telling poetry? You know, what is he doing? And he's very specific that he's a speaker with a poetic voice and he's just got a poetic way to present to a Fortune 500 company or to a group of people that are in a motivational setting or whatever it may be

Bret Keisling: 07:56 Or a giant room full of employee owners!

Vince Kruse: 07:58 Or a giant room of us employee owners. It was very interesting.

Bret Keisling: 08:01 Excellent. Well, Vince, thank you for just being a great employee owner and one of the great team members at USA Mortgage. Thank you for being such a strong supporter of organizations and coming into conferences and that kind of thing. And I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts on the conference and we'll circle back and have you on again before too long, if that's okay.

Vince Kruse: 08:22 I'd love to.

Bret Keisling: 08:23 Alright Vince. Hey, thank you very much.

Vince Kruse: 08:24 Thanks again. Thanks for having me.

Bitsy McCann: 08:26 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.

Bret Keisling: 09:01 And this is Bret Keisling, my friends. Thanks again for listening.

Standard disclaimer: The views expressed herein are Bret Keisling's and don't represent those of his own firms or the organizations to which he belongs. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field, and the fact that he mentions 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, we'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself!


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