Episode Eleven… What Does it Mean to be an EVer?

Episode Description

You may have heard the term “EVer” floating around, but there hasn’t been a true definition of the phrase…

Until now!

In this episode of Empowered Owners, Chris Fredericks, president and CEO of Empowered Ventures, and Emily Bopp, chief of staff at Empowered Ventures, discuss what it means to not only be an employee owner, but also an EVer within the organization. They dive into what it means to be a part of something bigger, while discussing the benefits of being a collective member.

What You’ll Learn

  • You’re not only an employee; you’re an empowered owner. Being an EVer at Empowered Ventures means you have a stake in multiple businesses within our family of companies. This creates a unique and diversified financial benefit for you, and it’s something to be proud of.
  • The power of community. At Empowered Ventures, we believe in fostering a strong sense of community among our employee owners. You are not alone in this journey. Together, we create a supportive and inspiring environment where we can learn from each other and collaborate towards common goals.
  • The benefits of being an EVer go beyond finances. While the financial rewards of employee ownership are significant, there are also non-financial benefits that should not be overlooked. As an EVer, you have the opportunity to shape the culture and values of our organization, contribute to the success of other companies within Empowered Ventures, and be part of something bigger than yourself.

With this new show segment, EVers will have the opportunity to learn more about the “why” behind Empowered Ventures, as well as what is coming up next.


[01:21] What is an EVer?
[03:00] The benefits of employee ownership
[04:55] Responsibilities of the employee ownership committee members
[05:53] The importance of community and employee ownership
[08:00] Why Emily and Chris love being EVers

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. In 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 EV update episode of Empowered Owners, chief of Staff Emily Bopp joins me to discuss what it means to be an EVer, which is how we refer to all the employee owners who work in Empowered Ventures companies. We talk about how being an employee owner at the holding company level creates some unique benefits relative to single company ESOPs and share some examples of how our model helps create enthusiasm and an ownership culture in our companies. Hello, Emily. Welcome back to Empowered Owners.

Emily Bopp: Hello. It’s great to be here.

Chris Fredericks: So for today’s episode, we’re going to talk about something that you and I talk about a lot, which is a question what does it mean to be an employee owner of Empowered Ventures? Or we also refer to it as an EVer. You’re going to tee this topic up for us, right?

Emily Bopp: I sure am, because it’s been on my mind for a long time. You and I coined the phrase EVer maybe six months ago. We’ve been using it, but I don’t know how much it’s caught on. And anyone who hears it might think, what is an EVer? Or what does it mean to be an EVer? So in this episode, I was hoping that you and I could unpack that. If I’m an EVer, that means I’m an employee owner at Empowered Ventures. That means that I have worked at my company for at least nine months and a thousand hours, and I’ve entered the plan. So I’m an employee owner of Empowered Ventures, but that’s confusing because I’m an employee of my company, of TVF, or of Firstar or of Paramount or of any company that we’re about to buy. So I’m an employee of my company, but I’m an employee owner of Empowered Ventures, which means I’m an EVer. Can you help me understand this?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, it’s a great question, and it really gets to the heart of our structure and how we’re different. And it does create an element of potential confusion, because many folks are. It’s easy to think, I’m an employee of X Company, and that’s who I work for. And even in many employee owned companies, you’re an employee owner of the one company that you work for. With us being a holding company structure and owning multiple companies, but everyone being part of the same ESOP at the Empowered Ventures level, it makes sense that this can sometimes be a bit of a hiccup in terms of people’s full understanding of what it means to be an EVer, an employee owner of Empowered Ventures.

Emily Bopp: What I hear you saying is that, yeah, that’s completely natural to have. It is a little confusing because this is pretty unique. But we can just say, hey everybody, you are both, you are an employee at your company and you’re an employee owner at your company. But you’re more than that. You’re an employee owner of Empowered Ventures because you’re also an owner of all of the other companies that are in our family of businesses. And that’s what it means to be an EVer. Which tees up my other question for you. What’s the benefit? What does it mean to be an EVer? Why does that matter?

Chris Fredericks: Yeah, I think all the benefits of employee ownership are part of it. So being an employee owner at EV entitles people to the rewards of employee ownership in a diversified holdco situation. So that’s key. And that’s one of the differences, is in the future, some of our businesses will do really well. Some will at times not be as strong as others. And so we build a diversified portfolio to protect that value that we create over time. So that gets right to the heart of the financial kind of benefits of being an EV. But then I think there’s a number of non-financial and softer benefits that we can maybe talk about. For me, community is maybe the keyword. So part of the Empowered Ventures concept is to create a community of companies and that then also creates a community of people. It’s really interesting and fun, I think, to build a community around this employee ownership angle, having all these different companies that on a day to day basis don’t necessarily work together to accomplish the mission at each company, but they feel part of a greater goal and this greater community that they’re a part of. I think there’s a number of different benefits that come out of a community kind of situation like that.

Emily Bopp: I love that you’re talking about community and community among businesses because it could very easily be that we are a holding company of these businesses, but that we don’t foster community among them. But what I hear you saying is that to be an ever specifically means that I’m a part of something bigger in a way that I can actually engage, that we are intentionally fostering that community. I think too about our employee ownership committee members. Could you talk a little bit about the history at TVF and how that committee, how those folks grew into the thriving, healthy employee ownership champions that they are today, and how this community impact to be an EVer is a big deal? Because when you become an employee owned company, you’re joining this family of businesses where you have a cousin or two who are so much farther down the road, they can really give you a boost. I guess I just gave it away. But could you talk more about that?

Chris Fredericks: No, I love it and that’s so true. I love thinking of the EO committees, the employee ownership committees at each company as the champions of employee ownership culture and even of Empowered Ventures in a sense. And yeah, so back when we first became, when TVF first became employee owned, we within a couple of years followed along. One of the best practices in the employee ownership space is to create a committee of peers, essentially not just the leadership or whatever, but of peers who take on an added responsibility to communicate to the rest of the organization what employee ownership means. The benefits of employee ownership in any number of ways education, financial literacy, celebration of the business and its performance, and a bunch of other things, too. TVF followed along those best practices, created a committee, and then over the years, that committee evolved and grew and just kept adding to its approach and ultimately just became, I think, foundational to the ownership culture and the culture writ large that kind of developed at TVF over the first 1-2 years of being an employee owned company. So when we launched Empowered Ventures and added two companies, we knew that creating similar employee ownership committees would be a key part of building community within those companies. But I think you’re alluding to the exciting kind of way that the EO committees work together now across these companies. And that’s maybe a foundational element of this community approach that we’re building. And it’s been a lot of fun because as you’re part of it and working with them closely now, they really have a lot of fun with it. And like you said, they learn from each other, they share ideas. I’m certain TVF has gotten ideas from the other companies. At this point, it’s not just one company sharing what it’s done. It’s really a collaborative and inspiring kind of engagement that these employee owners get to have with each other across these company barriers that they wouldn’t normally have that opportunity to get.

Emily Bopp: Yeah, that’s awesome and thank you for elaborating more on that. So what I hear you saying is that to be an EVer means that you’re a part of a strong organization in more ways than one. It’s stronger financially because it’s not just your business or my business or one business that’s employee owned, but it’s a family of businesses that are employee owned. And to be an EVer means you’re an owner of that family of businesses, not just your one business. So it’s stronger financially and it’s stronger culturally in this sense of community leaders getting together, employee ownership, committee members getting together, that fostering of support, encouragement, insight, help across businesses that’s so unique. So when I hear you talk about that to be an EVer is really remarkable. It’s a remarkable privilege. And I got to say I’m coming up. Probably by the time this podcast launched, I’ll already be an entrant. But as of the recording, I’ve only worked here a year, so I’m coming up on my entrance. I’ll be an official EVer here soon, along with a lot of our other folks who are joining. And what a privilege to get to be a part of something like this. So thanks for enumerating on that. But it’s confusing. But I think once you unpack it to understand that, yeah, I’m an employee owner at my company, but I’m also an employer. I’m an EVer, which means I’m an employee owner of this holding company, this family of businesses, and it has these financial and cultural benefits that are really unique, that are really unusual. It’s awesome. Thanks.

Chris Fredericks: No, thank you, Emily, for coming on to help us dig into this topic. Hopefully people find it really helpful and interesting. And, yeah, I welcome people sending us thoughts about what other thoughts they have about what it means to be an EVer. I think this is a work in process. We’re still relatively early in building Empowered Ventures. We welcome everyone’s input into how we go about talking about what it means to be an EVer.

Emily Bopp: That’s so cool. I’m going to do what’s it mean to be an EVer to you campaign.

Chris Fredericks: We definitely should.

Emily Bopp: All right, thank you so much, Chris.

Chris Fredericks: Thank you for listening to this EV Update edition of Empowered Owners, and thank you to Emily Bopp for joining me. 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]. Thanks for tuning in.


Tags: Podcast
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