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Is employee recognition worth the effort?

Posted On: September 7, 2022 by Mike Mallaro in: Opinions, VGM, Work Culture

We recently moved my Dad out of the home he has lived in for nearly four decades.  Declining cognitive abilities and frailties of age necessitated his move to assisted living.  One of the traumas, and joys, of moving from home to assisted living is shedding many belongings which accumulated over a lifetime. So many memories. As we went through yet another set of keepsakes, Dad spotted a metal item at the bottom of the box. It was a well-worn pocketknife bearing the words “Safety Award,”...
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Tags: awards, employee recognition, engagement, feedback, recognition


Celebrating ESOP Month

Posted On: October 29, 2021 by Mike Mallaro in: Employee Ownership, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

October is ESOP month.  An ESOP is an employee stock ownership plan that gives workers equity ownership in the company in which they work.  Our company, VGM Group, is a 100% ESOP, which means that all its stock is owned by our employees. There are 6,200 ESOP owned companies in the U.S., with about half of those being 100% ESOPs.   Employee-ownership was initially conceived by Benjamin Franklin as a fair way for workers to benefit from the value of their labor, a way for those...
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Tags: Employee ownership, ESOP Month, vgm


The Finish Line

Posted On: April 30, 2021 by Mike Mallaro in: Community & Loneliness, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

The sun is shining in Waterloo, Iowa.  Sixty or seventy people are queued up at our Annex office getting their second dose of vaccine.  A VGM mom, masked, her eight-week-old baby in tow.  Baby knows no other world, yet smiling with delight, taking in all the action, happy, healthy, vibrant.  Two of our people talking in the hallway, spitting ideas, plotting a course for an upcoming pitch.  Two others waiting out their fifteen-minute post-shot hourglass,...
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Tags: end of pandemic, hope, optimism, post-pandemic

blue pinwheels

In Support of Happy, Healthy, and Safe Childhoods

Posted On: April 23, 2021 by Mike Mallaro in: Community & Loneliness, Opinions, Social commentary, Work Culture

We began this week with a group of 200+ employee-owners returning to our office.  For many it was their first time back in the office in over a year.  They were greeted by hundreds of blue pinwheels decorating our lawn, adding a celebratory feeling to our return to office. But the pinwheels carry more significance than simple décor. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so in support of Family & Children’s Council (FCC) of Black Hawk County, we’re using their...
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Tags: awareness, believe the children, child abuse protection, family and childrens council

Van G Miller

Value in Peaceful Reflection & Restfulness

Posted On: November 30, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Opinions, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

I saw Van the other night.  He pointed to me, smiled and yelled across the way, “lowering your handicap, Mikey?” Van is Van G. Miller, founder of VGM and the man who preceded me as CEO of our company.  He passed in 2015 – a faulty heart and too much wear on the tires.  I worked for him and learned from him for fourteen years prior to succeeding his legend.  He loved golf and a reference to a golf handicap was not unexpected. I’m left wondering what...
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Tags: dreams, mindfulness, reflection, restfulness

team player

Win with great team players

Posted On: September 21, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Employee Ownership, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

The other day I clicked on the link to a video of a basketball game played 40 years ago – and had an epiphany - mostly the best teams win, not the team with the best player(s).    The game was Iowa vs. Georgetown, with the winner going to the Final Four.  The Iowa team had no all-Big Ten players that year.  Of their five leading scores that game, four never played a minute in the NBA, and the one that did was a...
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Tags: team, team players, vgm

right to vote

The 19th Amendment

Posted On: August 18, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Community & Loneliness, Opinions, Social commentary, Work Culture

Today (August 18, 2020) marks the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote in America, via ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  In commemoration of this historic advancement in equal rights, I wanted to share some of the lessons that we might be able to take away from this successful struggle, as best I understand from my reading. Meaningful advancements take time.  Women won the right to vote in 1920, one-hundred forty-four years after the founding...
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Tags: 19th amendment, Carrie Chapman Catt, hard won not done, right to vote, vote, women's suffrage

Great Teams

Posted On: July 13, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Employee Ownership, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

The summer when I was twelve I played on the Gibson Red Sox baseball team.  Our team finished the season with a record of zero wins and sixteen losses.  We were what our record said we were.    Today most of us are part of teams – maybe a company, a department, a family or a community group. We each have a job to do as part of a team, with individual job duties and responsibilities.  But perhaps more importantly, we each have an...
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Tags: greatteams, people, teamplayer, teams

35 years

35 years

Posted On: June 26, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Opinions, VGM, Work Culture

June 24 was the 35th anniversary of my professional career.  On that day in 1985, I joined Touche Ross in their Omaha office.  Touche Ross was an accounting firm and was part of the “Big 8”, a term for the eight national accounting firms in existence at that time.  It was a proud firm, with high expectations and a strong culture of serving clients.  I worked at that firm for eleven years.  I loved that job and it was very good for me.  I thought this a good...
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Tags: 1985, career, lessons learned



Posted On: June 22, 2020 by Mike Mallaro in: Healthcare, Social commentary, VGM, Work Culture

We all exercise freedom of choice.  We choose our partner, how to spend our time and where we buy groceries.  We choose the shows we watch, our religion and our favorite teams.  The people we serve exercise their freedom of choice as well.  Every person we do business with has a choice.  They can choose to work with us.  Alternatively, they can choose to do business with someone else, or use alternative methods that do not include us.  Success comes when make...
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Tags: choices, community, connections, relationships