There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. This was sage advice to remember at the Inc. 500/5000 conference held last year in Phoenix. You can learn a lot by listening.
It is humbling to be surrounded by so many successful entrepreneurs that have created fast growing privately held companies, and to learn about the risks that they took. Many of them have risked everything to get where they are. I heard stories about working 16 hour days and stories about being both CEO and janitor, many times in the same day.
One theme that was repeated over and over during the event was the power of employee engagement. Give people a purpose and the tools to be successful, and you will be amazed at what can be achieved. It reminds me of the quote from Archimedes:
“Give me a long enough lever and a place to stand, and I will move the earth”
This understanding of what is possible led to a lot of conversations around Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). There seemed to be a consensus that what was good for the employees was good for the company, and ultimately the business owner.
A couple of simple questions highlights this simple, but powerful alignment.
Are you more likely to turn out the lights when you leave your bedroom or a hotel room?
Which do you treat better, your car or a rental car?
Although these questions were posed somewhat tongue in cheek, I think we can pretty safely predict how most people would respond. More importantly, we can predict how sharing business ownership with employees will help change their behaviors. In a recent study, 73% of responding ESOP companies reported that the plans have positively affected employee behavior1.
This result would not be a surprise to the Inc. honorees. In fact, they are counting on it.
What’s your story?
This blog is designed to be a two way conversation. What questions do you have? Now’s your chance people, let’s hear what you have to say.
In addition to blogging here, I also tweet regularly about topics of interest to ESOPs @jlripperger.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I read and respond to comments. So let me help!Affiliation Disclosures Company stock is not a pooled investment. Stock may experience greater volatility and should not be directly compared to investment options that have a more diversified investment mix. It is not intended to serve as a complete investment program by itself. Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company a member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.
1 Source: Employee Ownership Foundation’s 20th Annual Economic Performance Survey of ESOPs, May 2011