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Mini-cast 70: Daniel Goldstein Grows the EO Sandbox

Earlier this week, Daniel Goldstein, CEO of employee-owned Folience, testified on "Challenges and Benefits of Employee-owned Small Businesses" before the US House Small Business Committee. In today's episode, we pay our respect to the work Daniel does growing the EO sandbox. In addition to representing The ESOP Association at the hearing, Daniel was the Keynote Speaker at the NCEO National Conference in Sept. 2019 and serves on the boards of EOF and EOX, among others.

Here is the video from the US House Committee on Small Business “Challenges and Benefits of Employee-owned Small Businesses" hearing held at 11:30 A.M. on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building; Daniel Goldstein's testimony begins at the ~18:45 mark.


Mini-cast 70 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. Thanks for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. This has been a great week in Washington, D.C. for employee ownership. On February 12th the United States House of Representatives Small Business Committee held a hearing on "Challenges and Benefits of Employee-owned Small Businesses." Testifying on behalf of The ESOP Association was Daniel Goldstein, CEO of employee-owned Folience. Now the hearing did a great job of covering lots of different aspects of employee ownership. There were three other witnesses involved. However, I'm going to focus today on Daniel and the testimony regarding ESOPs as we're at The ESOP Mini-cast.

Bret Keisling: 01:03 Daniel is a great proponent of employee ownership. He did a wonderful job of testifying both in his opening remarks and we're going to have a link to the hearing video, which is available on YouTube. Daniel did a great job in his introductory remarks talking about the benefits of employee ownership, the importance of employee ownership, and he did give the committee three takeaways that I'm just going to share with you. He asked that the Department of Labor give guidance for the first time in 40 years on what's meant by adequate consideration, and this is a key aspect, for those of you who know I was a ESOP trustee for seven years, the lack of clarity doesn't help anybody in bringing transactions around. Daniel also spoke of the need to streamline ESOP loans through the SBA as was called for in the Main Street America act that was passed in 2019. And he also pointed out that that act tasked the Small Business Administration with educating about ESOPs and they haven't done that yet.

Bret Keisling: 02:08 In addition to his opening comments, there was question and answers from members of the committee and it really was very interesting, but it was also heartwarming for me as an advocate for employee ownership to hear ESOPs and employee ownership being discussed in the halls of Congress. It's very important that the education of our elected officials take place. Certainly we've talked on the podcast where some of our focuses have been on the statewide level and in local communities, but this hearing is very important to raise ESOP's on the radar and hopefully it will lead to congressional action that will help ESOPs, whether in direction to the DOL or the SBA or perhaps even in additional legislation.

Bret Keisling: 02:55 I have a lot of respect for Daniel Goldstein. Not only does he tirelessly promoting the expansion and improvement of ESOPs and employee owned companies generally. He also does a great job as CEO of Folience, an employee owned company. Folience is one of those companies that raises the bar not just for employee owned companies but for businesses generally. Their approach to their businesses, and they're involved in media and manufacturing among other things, is a people-centric approach. It's clear from their website. It's clear how they present themselves online as a company in all of their marketing materials and you certainly hear in the hearing and in Daniel's other public appearances that it really is people centric, that it's the employee owners that make the difference in Folience.

Bret Keisling: 03:52 Here was a great idea that Folience does that caught the attention of our podcast friend and contributor Jennifer Krieger in Mini-cast 53 she shared some of her highlights of the NCEO national conference in Salt Lake City and one of the highlights she spoke about was the keynote address given by Daniel Goldstein. Here's Jenn from Episode 53 of the Mini-cast.


Jenn Krieger: 04:15 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: 04:45 Thanks Jenn. Daniel was also the genesis for a promotional campaign in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That led to Episode 87 of the EO/ESOP podcast and probably my favorite episode title, "Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the EO Eight." Daniel brought eight companies together, Folience and seven others in the Cedar Rapids area. They worked together to take out full page advertisement in The Gazette that touted the advantages of employee ownership. Now this is a really cool community wide effort that I've a lot of respect for. I hope you'll go back and check out Episode 87 and hear what all of the great companies in Cedar Rapids are doing. I did take the opportunity in that episode to share my respect for Daniel's collaborative approach across organizations and geographies and here we'll flash back to Episode 87 you'll hear my comments.


Bret Keisling: 05:44 Daniel was the keynoter at NCEO this year. He's on the board of the EOF, the Employee Ownership Foundation, which is the foundation arm of The ESOP Association, and I understand he's also a board member of EOX, which we've talked about on past podcasts as well [in ESOP Mini-cast Episode 51], is working to create new centers state by state. I really loved the conversation I had with Daniel, I think we're, in many respects kindred spirits about just seeing the potential of employee ownership. I love Daniel's perspective that we are all in this together and that we should all work together and where we can work arm in arm, then we do so, but where we diverge a little bit because of different geographies or different views, whatever, we still do it with affection, appreciation, and respect for those others in the sandbox who are working so hard as well.

Bret Keisling: 06:38 Okay. My friends, as we prepare to wrap up this episode, I just want to share one thing that made my day regarding the house hearings. During the introductory period, Daniel was given an introduction by Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, who's the Congresswoman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and obviously other parts of Iowa as well. And she introduced Daniel and referred to him as a passionate advocate for employee ownership. And I can't tell you how big my smile got. I thought that was the coolest thing. I do open my show, referring to myself as a passionate advocate of employee ownership. Yes, it really is on my business cards, but as I've said on many, many podcasts, there are a number of passionate advocates for employee ownership. Some of them do it by working for organizations. Others are employee owners who are passionate advocates in addition to their quote unquote day jobs. And then there are folks like Daniel who do a great job running an employee owned company, serve the employee ownership community on boards and that sort of thing and just does a wonderful job of representing all of us.

Bret Keisling: 07:49 So Daniel, congratulations on being recognized in Congress as a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Thank you so much for everything that you're doing to grow the sandbox, and I'll renew an offer we made on Episode 87 anytime you'd like to connect and have a conversation and come on the podcast, I'd love to have you! With that, my friends, I hope you have a great weekend and I hope you'll join us Tuesday for The EO/ESOP Podcast. This is Bret Keisling, have a great day.

Bitsy McCann: 08:20 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.


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