Episode Eight… Insight, Advice, and Humor from EV Retiree, Ken Siecinski

Episode Description

Communicating through storytelling has been a part of human culture for the entirety of our existence. New generations of thought have been influenced by the stories told from distant relatives. Even now, storytelling is critical when communicating an idea, and it is important to master.

In this episode of Empowered Owners, Ken Siecinski, a retired product manager at TVF (then called Top Value Fabrics) discusses his experience with employee ownership and the importance of storytelling in business.

Ken shares the benefits of being prepared for retirement and how employee ownership can create a positive culture and encourage greater involvement in the company’s success. He also tells a few of his favorite dad jokes, and explains how he used humor to create strong relationships with his colleagues.

Once again, Emily Bopp joins this episode to dive into the storytelling excellence pillar of EV’s strategy.

What You’ll Learn

  • How a culture of caring can lead to business success.
  • What you can do now to prepare for a satisfying and enjoyable retirement later.
  • How storytelling increases impact, inspires employees, and ultimately attracts the best opportunities and people.


[03:48] How to prepare for retirement
[11:17] Starting retirement after 25 years at TVF
[17:00] How employee ownership strengthened the company environment and increased happiness
[21:23] Retiree morning routine
[24:45] Takeaways from the conversation
[25:05] The impact of a culture of care
[26:57] How caring, dad jokes, and employee ownership leads to success
[00:32:11] How storytelling enhances impact and inspires others

How to Listen or Watch

Listen below or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Watch below or @Empowered_Ventures on YouTube.

Read the full transcript here or below the following media links.


Episode Transcript

Chris Fredericks: Welcome to Empowered Owners, the podcast that takes you inside Empowered Ventures. I’m your host, Chris Fredericks. Each episode, I’ll have a discussion with one of our employees to discover and highlight their distinct personalities, perspectives, and skills, while also keeping you in the loop with exclusive news updates on company performance and a glimpse into the future plans of Empowered Ventures. This is an opportunity for me to learn more about our amazing employee owners, and an opportunity for you to hear regularly from me and others from within Empowered Ventures. On this episode of Empowered Owners, I’m talking with Ken Siencinski, who retired from TVF after 25 years with the employee owned company, the founded Empowered Ventures. And 42 years in the textile industry. Ken was an employee owner at TVF for more than 10 years before retiring in late 2021. Ken joined TVF’s Los Angeles office in 1996 to help build a performance apparel program, which has since grown to be one of TVF’s most successful product lines within TVF. Ken was renowned for his sense of humor and being an incredibly genuine and caring coworker. I’ll also be joined by EV’s Chief of Staff, Emily Bopp at the end of the episode to debrief my discussion with Ken and shed some light on why storytelling is one of EV’s four strategy pillars. With that, let’s get to my conversation with Ken. Hi Ken. Welcome to Empowered Owners. It’s been a while since we last spoke, I think. so I was really excited just to catch up. But, I’m curious just to kickstart, like how retirement is treating you.

Ken Siecinski: Mike Sanders always gave me the best perspective. It was like, Ken, now you have six Saturdays and a Sunday. the kind of funny thing sometimes you forget what day of the week it is. Is it a Monday or Tuesday? but yeah, it’s fantastic. they get to do all the things that you really wanna do, to have the time to do, and to know that all your hard work, your dedication paid off, so yeah, it’s terrific.

Chris Fredericks: That’s awesome. What have you been spending your time doing?

Ken Siecinski: What do you think? You know me a little bit.

Chris Fredericks: If I had to guess, I would say some hiking and some surfing.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, hiking, surfing, and actually quite a bit of golf. So the surf conditions have been a little off lately, southern sunny California hasn’t been so sunny. Water temperatures have been like below sixties, so yeah, more golf than surfing, but yes, a lot of hiking too, which I like. I’m getting out all the time I’m in. I feel like I’m in really terrific shape and feeling really good.

Chris Fredericks: That’s awesome. I love that. Are you seeing your sons? Jeff and Scott. Are you hanging out with them too?

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, we’ve served a couple of times this year. We’ve golfed one time this year. they’re not fans of golf. They find it a little bit slow and boring, but for good old dad, they’ll get out, we’ll play like nine holes on a shorter golf course. And, but the best thing is just the camaraderie of being together and yeah, I got great Sons, I’m very thankful for that.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, that’s awesome. We’ll get into your career at TVF and some other things, but just to stick on the retirement topic a little more, I think it’s really interesting to think about what a good retirement is and, some people retire and. Have a hard time with it. I imagine you’re not one of those people that you might be really getting the best out of it. So I mean, what advice do you have for people who are about to retire or gonna retire at some point and how they can really enjoy it?

Ken Siecinski: I think the big thing is to be ready for retirement. Make sure like you have your assets in control. If you’re doing, of course, social security, make sure you have that all set up, work with a, With people that can help you, like with your insurance. social security, by the way, the people there phenomenally are very helpful. So that’s a great thing. So I think that’s number one. So then you’re comfortable, you’re ready for your retirement. And then I think the other thing is to be active. so I know a lot of people they don’t have a full day. They like to maybe be back at work or doing something, which I think is great. I can see possibly myself doing something in the future and, part-time, doing some type of work. But I think just keep yourself active. The one big thing that’s been great for me, besides being active and doing all the little fun, all the fun things I like, which included hiking and golfing and surfing, but is to get caught up on the projects around home. And that is really cool. to see stuff get done that you’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. So that’s a little bit of advice, but the main thing is be ready for it.

Chris Fredericks: That makes so much sense. So before you retire, having a decent plan for the hobbies and things that you want to throw yourself into and spend a lot of time doing, sounds like that’s an important part of it.

Ken Siecinski: It is, yes.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. About work though.I’m curious, so do you miss coming to work or how are you feeling about that?

Ken Siecinski: Yeah. I knew that question would come up and I’m not lying, I, I do, the biggest thing I miss, and I know you’re gonna know the answer to this, is. Just the friends that I have at TVF, it was just tremendous. and the great thing is though, I’ve been able to stay in touch with a lot of people and that’s really good. But that’s probably the interaction with people and the rewarding, of Helping everybody and them helping myself and growing within the company that you miss a lot and those are days that I wish I could come back to.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, that makes sense. And I’m sure I can speak on behalf of everyone at TVF that you’re missed as well. so it’s always a bittersweet thing. So it is nice to hear that you’re really enjoying it and you worked hard for a long time and I, it’s, I’m glad to hear that.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah. Thank you.

Chris Fredericks: What, what led to you deciding to join TVF back in, I think 1996?

Ken Siecinski: Oh, that’s a good question. I like that question. Robert Hinch was instrumental for me becoming to TVF. I just wanted to expand. I saw it. back then, of course it was top value fabrics, and I just saw that they had a, a. strength to really grow. They hired me to help expand their apparel division, which was what I was hired to do. And that excited me, I could see that there’d be very strong support. An area to really grow financially. The company was strong. I realized that, I talked to a lot of people about top value fabrics, vendors, and just had great recommendations. So that was the big point of joining the company for the growth, as exciting new venture to tackle.

Chris Fredericks: That’s great. And yeah, you joined to help build an apparel program that ended up being extremely successful. It’s one of the most important programs in TVF today. What was the state of that program at TVF when you started?

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, there was a beginning of a program, but it didn’t have a foundation and the foundation really was to have. A strong stock program and that’s one of the great things about TVF is the strength of the stock program, and that’s where it needed to grow. they needed direction, what did we need to have on the shelf? What did the customers need?

Chris Fredericks: Interesting. so I imagine that was a big focus of yours early on, was to figure out what to put on the shelf and how much to put on the shelf. How did you go about doing that?

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, I know what we needed cuz I, I’ve already, that was already what I was doing, the industry was very strong and apparel and I had no limits of what I could do, TVF at that time to two owners, Dick Hansel and Dick Leventhal just gave me full reign to do what needed to be done. So I, I didn’t have any type of hindrance to build the program for what it needed to be, but from my experience was, okay, let’s build a program, but let’s make sure it’s the right program. We have the right fabrics, the right colors, and what the customers needed.

Chris Fredericks: Interesting. What was the strategy in terms of the customers and their needs? Was there a particular size of customer? Were we going after the big customers? The smaller customers? What was the market needing that TVF was able to come in and do a little differently or fill?

Ken Siecinski: Really we wanted to target. All customers. They all have the same needs. A small customer, a large customer. And of course, you’re focused, you wanna get the big customers if you can. But you, when you’re building a new program, you want any customer that you can get. Yeah, the focus was on really everybody, every customer fill what they really needed, and knowing what the market was doing at that time. The big market at the time was Ware, which is very big in Southern California. the snowboard and ski industry and of course the outdoor industry. We were involved with, Synthetic fabrics, which were very important for all of those industries. So that’s where I wanted my focus to be, where we were already good at and what we could handle.

Chris Fredericks: What were, so the customers that chose to switch to TVF back then early on, like what were the selling points for them? what weren’t they getting from maybe the competitors, or like how did TVF do it a little differently or what attracted them to join TVF?

Ken Siecinski: part of it was me,my relationships with the customers and the trust that I had with the customers. The other thing I think that was really important was that. We had the finance behind us to really proceed on larger, bigger orders, which was a little more difficult with my prior company. The support that we had with the team from, particularly with purchasing, just made my job easier and we were able to get the customers answers quickly for things that they needed.

Chris Fredericks: So TVF was able to provide better service, better reliability, and their trust in you knowing already having worked with you, they were comfortable to make that switch. Ultimately.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, they were very comfortable in the beginning and I think that grew as sound decisions were made and things were coming together, and as sales were increasing, programs were working.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. That’s awesome. What other lessons learned did you take from your career at TVF? I think you ended up spending about 25 years at TVF and in a 44 year textile industry career, if I remember correctly.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, you mentioned 25 years and I, the thing that made me really happy was I retired. On my 25th year anniversary, so that was cool. The thing I loved about TVF were the people, right from day one were the people. It was always terrific. it made you want to perform better, work harder cuz you cared about the people that you worked with. The friendships were extremely strong and that really grew with the ESOP program, with the employee ownership. cuz people had more, they had a voice. They had a stronger voice than ever before, and when it began, and it, it gradually grew and grew. And I could see a change in people’s attitudes, including mine, to really wanna perform to help everybody.

Chris Fredericks: That’s awesome. Yeah. I want to get back to employee ownership too. but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to say too that, you all, you mentioned it twice now, the people and how much they care about each other. And I think it’s fair to say you were probably universally loved by the whole team, when you left I think you would be described as someone who cared a lot about everyone else. What made you such a positive, caring person ultimately? Why are you like that, Ken?

Ken Siecinski: It’s my parents.

Chris Fredericks: It does start there, of course.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, that was my upbringing to be a positive person and,that influenced me my whole lifetime and everything that I did, but, What made it really work at top value fabrics TVF was that the people I worked with they had that same feeling, they really cared ab about each other. They really wanted to help each other. So I think that was the strength that really worked.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. That’s awesome. The other thing that I think you’re universally known for is your sense of humor, which you’ve shown us a few little flashes so far, but I know you’ve got a lot more in the tank. Why do you like to have fun at work, Ken? Why do you like to bring humor to work?

Ken Siecinski: Of course you love to p see people smile. I’m happy looking at you smiling right now. And of course I, I’m known for my dad jokes and that’s a good thing. So yeah, I think that was that. Of course, that’s motivation, I just to see people smile. I like to see people laugh and you know that we had a lot of that in the company. So I really enjoyed that. There’s one thing I really missed at TVF, and that was like, we had all these different clubs going, which we got to know each other better. and the book club was great. So I have a new book that I think is very important that the book club should now read. It’s called, Happy birthday Ken. And it was neat. My birthday was about one month before my retirement and my friend’s girlfriend and my sons surprised me with a birthday retirement party. And so we had this great book, which is a great read. That’s me when I was a cute little guy, and what was great about it is they filled it with dad jokes. So here’s one that is, my dad told me a joke about boxing, but I missed the punchline. And so what’s great is they include, they included pictures, there’s my two sons when they were probably nine and six, but I always remember, one thing, talking about dad jokes was that. In our neighborhood, we always threw a Christmas party. Actually, we do a Christmas party, an Easter party with all the neighbors, and there’s probably about 20 homes. And every other year for Christmas, a different dad would be Santa. So one year it was my year to be Santa and. so I was all dressed up. You couldn’t recognize me, and I had the good, strong Santa voice going. And I, and then my older son was probably five or six at the time. He’s sitting next to me, for what he wants for Christmas. And I’m doing my ho ho, ho, what do you want for Christmas? And then he turned to me and said, are you my dad? And I said to him, I go, do I look like him? And he said, no, do I sound like ’em? He said, no. He goes, it’s your jokes. So that’s I, so that kind of identifies me with dad jokes.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, you are the king of dad jokes. Truly Ken, and I’m really glad you brought some to share with us today. I briefly, I want to ask you what makes a good dad joke? Like you’ve probably thought about this, so what makes it like a really good dad joke?

Ken Siecinski: I think it’s just remembering ’em. And having a punchline. What’s great about dad jokes, in just a normal conversation, a topic will come up and it just sets you up for a dad joke. like you’d be out having sushi, and so yeah, it’s remembering ’em and when the, the opportunity presents itself deliberate

Chris Fredericks: Got it. That makes sense. You did that a lot over your career, I’m sure. I know. Lastly, I did wanna dig in a little bit to employee ownership. I’m glad you brought that up earlier. So you mentioned you thought it ended up having a great impact on the people at TVF and the culture. Why do you think that was? What about TVF and employee ownership combining, like really ended up resulting in such a great, employee ownership success story?

Ken Siecinski: I remember in the newsletters that after my retirement, one of the things I had said, when that was presented to us, I never even had heard of esop, what employee ownership was. And when I began to find out what it was about, that we had a share in the company. It really excited me. I mean, already excited at the company, but to have that in addition was great. But I think additionally what came with that was The change, not really the change, but strengthening the environment to have everybody have a voice, to be able to have input into the company what they think should be done, and to be able to share that. And I saw that continue to grow and grow with the company. Everybody, including yourself and all the other management, were taking opportunities where, what can we do to make people more involved with the company? And if you’re more involved, obviously you’re much happier. So that was a big strength. That I really enjoy, and it helped me a lot. I, it even gave me a greater voice, even as a manager. It gave me a greater voice. But it was great to hear the feedback from everybody that you worked with, from the salespeople, to people in purchasing and finance. So it was great.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, as you’re saying that I’m re remembering the journey we went through and it’s, it was such a great journey and like you said, it’s not that it. There was a good solid culture to build on from the beginning. but it really did take it to a new level. And as you were saying that, it made me think too, that it made everyone’s lives better, like more enjoyable, more fun, more smiles, but also it actually made everyone more effective too.

Ken Siecinski: Like I think people truly cared more and ultimately it, it made the business even function better ultimately. Yeah, you’re exactly right. Yeah. The people were more effective because they felt more involved. And that’s a big step. Very big step.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. Thanks. So in terms of your decision to retire, did the success we had as an esop like impact that at all? Cuz sometimes an ESOP account going up is like a nice thing to see and you don’t want to, people wouldn’t wanna let go of that. So it could be hard to retire. And on the flip side, it can help create some financial security for people. So I’m curious, obviously no numbers or anything, but did it impact, ultimately, did it have an impact for you?

Ken Siecinski: I was gonna retire regardless, but. It helped me retire much more comfortably, to have that nest egg there, that, prior to that you didn’t, that wasn’t there. It was a big bonus. So what it created was just a higher comfort level. And, also what it created was just to know. That you were part of a company, part of a structure that cares about you, to have that interest in the company with the shares is just phenomenal.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Thank you Ken. This has been a lot of fun. I actually am gonna ask you to stick around. We’re gonna take a, like a short break and then I’ll have you stick around and then I’m gonna hit you with five short questions just to get to know you a little bit better. Welcome back. In each episode of Empowered Owners, we bring our featured guest back for a fun segment to get them, get to know them a little better. This time we have five quick questions for Ken Siencinski. Ken, are you ready for five quick questions?

Ken Siecinski: I think so, yes.

Chris Fredericks: Okay. First one, as a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ken Siecinski: A baseball player.

Chris Fredericks: What kept you from that dream?

Ken Siecinski: The competition at that upper level is just too crazy.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, I can imagine. What did your parents do for a living?

Ken Siecinski: My dad, he worked for Ford Motor Company, and my mom, she was a stay-at-home mom for most of her career. Then when we were teenagers, she went to work for a savings and loan company.

Chris Fredericks: That’s great. What is your favorite cereal?

Ken Siecinski: Captain Crunch. I thought that was a question that would come up, so I have a lot, but I, Captain Crunch.

Chris Fredericks: That lands at the top.

Ken Siecinski: Yeah. But I don’t, I’m more healthy today, so it’s rare that I do that.

Chris Fredericks: Not eating a lot of Captain Crunch these days.

Ken Siecinski: No.

Chris Fredericks: What does your morning routine look like?

Ken Siecinski: The great thing since retirement. Is I don’t have to rush to get outta bed. So my morning routine now with retirement is I’ll get on the computer and catch up on messages and emails, et cetera. And then the big thing is to have a nice morning breakfast and I like to do a nice healthy smoothie, fruit, yogurt, et cetera. Break that up a little bit and just I’ll have my day. Figured out, what am I gonna do? Am I gonna go golfing? Am I gonna go surfing? Am I gonna do some things around the house that you know, you’ve always wanted to do, but never really could do when you were still working. So that’s my morning routine.

Chris Fredericks: Got it. What’s the last big home project you did

Ken Siecinski: Yeah, yeah. The big thing was the remodel of my kitchen. I had a home built in the. Probably mid eighties and it had a smaller kitchen. It was very enclosed, good sized living room, so I just. Blew out the wall of the kitchen, have one big great room, which is fantastic. It just opens up everything. You have light coming in from all directions, and now I have views in different directions, so I have nice views. So that was a big project. It costs a lot more than I thought, which is always the case of a remodel, but I’m so happy.

Chris Fredericks: You’ll have to send pictures.

Ken Siecinski: Okay. I will.

Chris Fredericks: My last question, unfortunately you’ve already done, but if you have another, I was gonna ask you if you have a dad joke you would want to close with.

Ken Siecinski: Oh gosh. Okay. I’m gonna go to that. The book. Happy Birthday Ken. we’ll just go with the title. So you know theirs, me as a young boy about six or seven by the way. I was being pinched at the time, that’s why I’m leaning over by the way, it was a great book cuz you know, they put a bunch of great photographs. I don’t know how they found ’em all, but it was a great celebration. But this is the title here. Happy Birthday Ken. What do you call a fish Wearing a bow tie?

Chris Fredericks: What do you call it?

Ken Siecinski: So fish dicated,

Chris Fredericks: You got me. I can’t, I have to admit, I do like a good dad joke, which probably doesn’t, I don’t know. I if I should be proud of that, but I love your dad jokes, Ken. Thank you.

Ken Siecinski: You’re welcome and I remember you telling me a couple when the company did a nice presentation when I retired of, of messages for my fellow employees, including yourself, and you had a couple of very good dad jokes in there, so I was very happy about that. Very proud of you.

Chris Fredericks: That means a lot coming from you, Ken. It really does. Ken, this has been a lot of fun. I can say, 16 years I worked with you and it was truly a pleasure. and I have missed seeing you. It has been a real honor to have you on our podcast here. So thank you for coming on.

Ken Siecinski: Oh, you’re quite welcome. And, the same, likewise, knowing you and working with you and the great things that have happened with the company has been terrific, so I have a lot of respect. A lot of love for everything that you’ve done for the company.

Chris Fredericks: That’s really nice of you to say. Thank you. Coming up next, empowered Ventures Chief of Staff, Emily Bopp, will join me to debrief my discussion with Ken. We are also going to dig into the storytelling pillar of EV strategy, what it is and why we think it’s important. Hi Emily.

Emily Bopp: Hello, Chris. How’s it going?

Chris Fredericks: I’m doing well. I just had a lot of fun with that. Recording with Ken.

Emily Bopp: That was such a fun interview. Oh my goodness, what a great guy. I can see why everybody at TVF loves Ken. I was actually watching as well, and there’s just something about him that is so caring. And actually that is my key theme takeaway, for Ken and what he shared. I think once before I said if, I think it was Jim, if Jim could write a book and I gave him a title, I’ll do it for Ken too. If Ken wrote a book, the title would be The Power of People Caring for Each Other. Because that just came up over and over again. initially why he even chose to work at TVF, it was because of a relationship. his early years there, he said what made it an amazing place to be was the way that people cared for each other. But then the employee ownership component just brought that to a whole other level. And I love what he said about, People are more effective because they’re involved. And people want to perform to help everyone. That so struck me often when I explain or we talk about employee ownership, it sounds like it can be a little bit selfish, the financial side, Ooh, now I’m an owner. Now I’m gonna get something. for me, but my goodness, loud and clear, it came through with Ken that, yeah, that was a little bit of the thinking, but really equally so maybe even more was wow, I’m. I’m invested here. I’m, I wanna work hard because my friends who I work with are gonna benefit from my effort. We’re all working together so that we all benefit together. So yeah, the power of people caring for each other. Ken, that’s the book you should write.

Chris Fredericks: I love that. I totally agree. He is. He really exemplifies caring about each other and people. I wasn’t kidding when I said everyone and universally loved. and I think it’s mainly because of how much he cared and how that came through. as much as I, he’d love to say it, it’s all the dad jokes. I do think it was the caring more than anything. So yeah, I’m so glad you highlighted that. And in terms of employee ownership, I agree. It’s like a lot of companies can be extremely caring, have great cultures and all those things, but when you add that employee ownership piece to it, it just frees everyone up, I think too, to Be truly ecstatic for each other, about the impact that this place of work and working together and succeeding can have.

Emily Bopp: And, it’s just a lot of fun ultimately too, to succeed with your coworkers and know that we are all benefiting from it. Good. You know, you just said a word freeing people. That’s an interesting twist. I haven’t really thought in terms of the freedom to get to come to work with a different mindset. I don’t know what made you choose the word free?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I think in a traditional company, let’s say privately owned employees and an owner, which can have a very. can be a great situation in a lot of cases. And no matter how good it is, there is an inherent misalignment of incentives and that just can’t be overcome ultimately in a certain sense. And that causes even the best of people to feel afraid to fully be themself. Because they, it’s a power dynamic problem. and employee ownership, if it’s truly, a full employee-owned culture where people feel that empowerment and, yeah, I think it, it can enable them to lose some of that fear. They’ll misalignment. they don’t feel like the financial incentives are against their interests anymore, so they can. They can let go of that fear ultimately, and I think that is part of what Ken was speaking to with what’s happened at TVF.

Emily Bopp: That’s so well put. And yeah, I think Deming, for any of my manufacturing gurus out there said, the very first and best highest calling for improving a business. Is to drive out fear that, all of these manufacturing environments wanna lean out. They wanna get more efficient, they wanna reduce waste. But ultimately, the father of all of that, Edward Deming, he would say drive out fear. So that’s why, when you said, freedom and then linked it back to fear, I thought, Ooh boy, employee ownership has some pretty impactful stuff going on.

Chris Fredericks: So the other thing we thought we might get into is EV’s strategy. We’ve talked recently about how we’ve refined and redefined EV’s strategy and it’s four pillars and. we’re excited to be going through a series to dive into each of those pillars and talk about ’em a little more, flesh ’em out, bring ’em to life a little bit for everybody. today we’re gonna be tackling storytelling and I didn’t know if you might wanna kick us off, maybe provide some context for where, why we landed on, storytelling and, why we want to talk about that.

Emily Bopp: For sure. And just to, loop it back to previous episodes, so when we explained initially our strategy, folks might remember that there’s Three pillars that go together. If you saw the visual, if you remember this, they don’t go together kinda a three stranded cord. It’s our acquiring excellence. That’s our ability to find great businesses and buy them. It’s our stewarding excellence would be the second one. And that’s our ability to have these companies enter into our holding, but be shepherded well into their best future. so stewarding excellence. And then third is, ESOP excellence, the word that we created, to, really go about, the things that we were just talking about, going about running an ESOP company both financially and culturally in the most excellent way possible. So that three stranded core is the core of our strategy. Let’s pursue excellence in each of these areas. Because that will bring about those life changing financial and personal wellbeing outcomes. That is our purpose. But there’s this additional piece in the flywheel that we’ve identified as storytelling excellence, and so I just wanted to reconnect everybody kind of visual. You’ve got that in your head. So in other episodes, we’ll be diving into that three stranded cord, but today we really wanna focus on storytelling excellence. Why does it matter? That we become excellent at telling our story, letting the world know who we are, what we’re doing, what kind of an impact it’s having, what it’s all about. And I know this is something that you’ve had a vision for. so maybe I’ll just kick it back to you. what would you say is the. primary impetus for including storytelling excellence in our strategy.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah. Thank you. That’s such a great description too, of just the context for, how our strategy all fits together and how storytelling ultimately is apart from the core three part strategy, but also is there to enhance it ultimately. yeah, storytelling, I think for me, a few different angles, but one is that employee ownership is by itself I think an opportunity to tell a great story. And,we have a mission, life-changing outcomes, for our people and,if we succeed as we succeed, which I feel like we are already doing, because of the impact it’s having on them today. that every one of those individuals, those employee owners is. Having, that’s a story that is meaningful and could be told. and ultimately, telling that outward to the world and inward to each other. To me it ensures that we, that we’re really clear on why this all really matters, right? It’s, it is that getting that clarity on our story with the individual people, not just a general kind of story about a group of people, but actual specific individual stories ultimately. And part of why we’re doing this and bringing them on this podcast, bringing it to life ultimately can make this resonate for people inside and outside. Resonance is the point. And there’s a lot of great benefits that can come from resonance, which we can talk about. But the main one for me is it can reinforce what we’re doing and maybe even create a potential for a much bigger. Longer term outcome in terms of impact on number of people, size of the impact on our current people, both financially and in just what the situation we’re creating and how that benefits everybody. And if it all works the way I hope it will. Inspiring others to, to do the same. we’re not gonna save the world ourselves for sure. but I do think the more we can inspire others to do something similar or, embrace their version of employee ownership and expanding that impact,that’s an also an exciting, possibility with this. So ultimately, I think it attracts more great people, more great opportunities for companies to us if we tell our story really well. But it also has a lot of other, exciting potential impacts too. if this all goes the way, I imagine it might.

Emily Bopp: Okay, so I did not think of this comment until seconds ago, but as you were talking, I’m thinking of all the publicly traded companies that I follow, and when you watch the trend line of their share price, You get all excited, and this is the thing, you have to manage your emotion because you get all excited when that goes green and trends up, and then you get all depressed when it goes down. And there’s ways to manage your emotion about that because maybe if it’s going down and it’s mispriced, maybe it’s a time to buy. But anyway, normally when we look at a business and we consider it’s success, We’re only looking at its financial success in very impersonal terms that gets thrown across a ticker tape.

Chris Fredericks: But in our case, to tell our story, it’s our equivalent to a ticker tape, but it’s reflecting what we value and what we see as success. Not that we don’t also pursue the financial success of the business, but almost like where do you put the emphasis? If you put the emphasis on the people, financial success will follow.

Emily Bopp: And if we demonstrate through telling our story excellently that very personal success, which is different for every single employee owner, which is why we’re putting them on this podcast. But if we highlight, that, that kind, that very personal success, we are showing,our trend line, so to speak, and Where our attention and our focus can be and what kind of an impact, an output that can have. Again, like I, this was not premeditated, but I thought, wow. imagine a world where business ownership shifted to a way that included everyone and emphasized success. Through the impact it had on each person in that very personal way. that would be a different world to live in.

Chris Fredericks: I think so too.

Emily Bopp: That’s so cool.

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, I agree. And well put, I think we did a good job covering storytelling. Is there anything else you wanna, you would want to add to what we’ve talked about here?

Emily Bopp: Not necessarily, but I would welcome any of our EVers. If you have a way in your mind that you think, man, this would be an awesome way to tell our story. reach out to us,let us know. we’re all ears because this is. It’s something obviously that we are very committed to and putting a lot of emphasis on. So by all means, give us your ideas.

Chris Fredericks: I’m so glad you said that. I very much believe in this and what we’re doing, but I do not consider myself a great storyteller. So any good ideas would be would awesome for people to send our way. And I know we have a lot of people. On our team who actually are very creative thinkers and get excited about what things we could do. So yeah, please send those ideas our way. I’m so glad you mentioned that.

Emily Bopp: Thank you Chris for this, chance to dive into storytelling excellence. And yes, in other episodes we will dive into that core three. so stay tuned.

Chris Fredericks: Yes. And thank you Emily for joining me to break down this discussion with Ken and shedding some light on storytelling. Thank you very much for helping me.

Emily Bopp: You’re welcome.

Chris Fredericks: That wraps up this episode of Empowered Owners. I’d like to thank Ken Siecinski and Emily Bopp for joining me. And TVF’s Brian Vieweg for suggesting topics for the discussion. Remember, we want to hear from you. Please give us feedback. Suggest guests and topics for future episodes and tell us how we can keep improving the show to reach us. Email [email protected], or use the contact us form on our website Empower.Ventures. Last but not least, a big thank you to our production team at Share Your Genius. Be sure to join us next time on Empowered Owners as we explore the lives and stories of the amazing employee owners of Empowered Ventures. If you haven’t already, follow our podcast on your favorite platform so you never miss an episode. Thank you for tuning in.

Tags: Podcast
Episode Seven… The Impact of Employee Ownership with Amber Dillard
Episode Nine… Strategy, EO Month, and Welcome Newest Plan Entrants