That’s highly unusual,” John said.

When John spoke, I listened. After all, he was a senior managing partner at one of the largest private equity funds in the world. His fund also played a big role in my life as the largest shareholder in the company I cofounded and led for 15 years, Integra Telecom.

Together, John and I debated the merits of the allocation strategy I had recommended regarding how to divvy up the stock option pool that the company would award to its executives and, if I had my way, many of its middle managers and front-line employees.

Importantly, we both knew that our debate might impact the personal wealth-building opportunities for many people. The stakes were high. The largest newspaper in the area where Integra was headquartered, The Oregonian, had recently reported that Integra was valued at $1.8 billion, and we were aiming even higher.

“Most of the companies we invest in typically allocate stock options to only a handful of key executives,” John continued. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I explained that this less conventional approach of spreading the future wealth much more broadly best positioned our company and best fit with the culture we were trying to build. Our strategy was to provide the best service experience in the industry, and my team and I knew that engaged, committed, and passionate employees were the key to executing on our strategy.

“It’s important to be able to look an employee in the eye and say, ‘We will all share in the wealth we build together,’” I remember saying.

I would like to say that I won that debate. In the end, however, I got my way because … [access full article]