The NASPP Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2015

October 30, 2015

More Scenes from the NASPP Conference

The 23rd Annual NASPP Conference is in full swing! For today’s blog entry, I have a few scenes from the first full day of the Conference.

IMG_6577The Conference began with a rousing round of Family Feud–NASPP Style.

IMG_7080Attendees consult with experts in the Ask the Experts booth.

IMG_7169A moment of levity on the panel, “Navigating ISS & Glass Lewis.”

IMG_6976Sara Shoaf, president of the Phoenix chapter, and Kimberly Steele, officer of the Austin chapter, share tips on running an NASPP chapter during the Chapter Presidents’ Luncheon.

IMG_7014Jon Doyle of International Law Solutions, Bob Hartley of Square, and Wendy Jennings of AppDynamics discuss strategies for extending stock compensation to overseas employees.

– Barbara


October 29, 2015

Scenes from the NASPP Conference

The 23rd Annual NASPP Conference is in full swing! For today’s blog entry, I have a few pics from the Gala Opening Reception on Tuesday.

IMG_6307The talk of the reception was the entertainment provided by Phat Strad. Direct from the Las Vegas strip, Phat Strad is America’s original female rock electric string quartet.

Has it really been 40 years?  Yes it has; the first issue of The Corporate Counsel premiered in 1975.  In celebration of its 40th anniversary, The Corporate Counsel sponsored the reception.

IMG_6014Aon Hewitt’s pig races are always a popular attraction at the NASPP Conference.  Heidi Thomerson of Alaska Communications Systems demonstrates that cheering for your pig is a key strategy for winning.

IMG_6128Charles Schwab is giving away t-shirts, screen-printed while you wait in their booth.  Wend Jennings of AppDynamics waits for her shirt.

IMG_6166The CEP Institute says “Don’t monkey around with equity compensation.”  Win their raffle and you go home with a larger than life-sized stuffed monkey (you might have to buy it its own seat on the plane).

IMG_6252It’s not all fun and games.  Jon Doyle of International Law Solutions discusses the complexities of global stock plans with a Conference attendee.

13384The opening reception also include a green screen photo opp, with props and your choice of backdrops.  Jenn Namazi, Kathleen Cleary, Barbara Baksa, and Brian Stovall of the NASPP take a moment out of networking to pose for a fun photo.

– Barbara


October 22, 2015

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and…Podcasts!

Next week kicks off our 23rd Annual Conference in San Diego, and we’ve got sunny Southern California on the brain. Earlier this week, Barbara Baksa blogged about important “Be in the Know Before You Go” information and a “To Do” list for Conference attendees. There are so many exciting things planned for this year’s Conference, we don’t want you to miss any of them! So in today’s blog I won’t rehash all that has already been said, but I do want to make sure everyone is taking full advantage of all the tips and information available.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Podcasts

Okay, I’m guessing that most people are not traveling to the Conference via train, but many will be coming by plane and automobile. What is the best way to pass the time on a trip? Listening to something! Music Playlist? Check. Work to-do-list? Check. NASPP Podcast from your laptop or mobile device? Don’t forget that one! I’m going to give you the steps right now to ensure you have all of the relevant Conference podcasts at your fingertips.

The NASPP has published three Conference themed podcasts this year:

Know Before You Go:  This is a must-listen before the Conference kicks off! NASPP Executive Director, Barbara Baksa, talks everything you need to know about this year’s Conference. It’s 15 minutes short and loaded with inside scoop on the Conference.

Tips and Logistics for Speaking at the NASPP Conference: If you are speaking at the Conference this year, you’ll want to to download this episode. NASPP Programs Director Bernice Toy walks speakers through what they need to know to have a smooth experience on presentation day, including tips on what to wear and where you can practice before your presentation.

10 Tips for Exhibiting at the NASPP Conference: If you are exhibiting at this year’s Conference, it’s not too late to digest some tips! NASPP Client Relationship Director, Brian Stovall, discusses the components of a successful exhibit. It’s not too late to implement some of these strategies!

How Do I Listen to These Podcasts on the Go?

One great thing about podcasts is that they are portable. You can bring them with you! Our podcasts are audio-only, and easy to access. I’m going to give you the step by step on how to download podcast episodes. You’ve got multiple listening choices:

  1. Listen from your computer or mobile device without downloading. If you don’t want to download the episode or listen to it through a podcast app, you can simply go to the Equity Expert page on our website ( and “play” the episode. You’ll need an Internet connection to listen, since you’ll be streaming the episode from our site instead of saving it to your computer or device.
  2. Download the episode to your computer for listening later. If you want to save a podcast episode to your computer for listening later, you can do it direct from our website ( Next to each episode is a “download” link. Depending on your browser settings, you can download by left or right clicking on the link. If you click on the link and the episode starts playing, try right-clicking and select “save link as.”
  3. Download the episode to your mobile device or computer via iTunes or Apple Podcast app. If you are an iTunes or iPhone/iPad user, you can find the Equity Expert podcast in iTunes or via the purple “podcast” app on your iPhone/iPad. In iTunes or the podcast app, search for “Equity Expert” to find the podcast. You can then choose to “download” episodes. Be sure you have actually tapped on the cloud to download the episode to your device; otherwise you may not be able to listen to it without an Internet connection.
  4. Download the episode to your non-Apple mobile device using a podcast app. Android and other smartphone users can find the Equity Expert podcast using a variety of podcast apps available for those devices. Once you have a podcast app on your device, search for “Equity Expert.”


These instructions apply to all NASPP podcasts, not just Conference related podcasts. We’ve got lots of great podcast content available, so check out our other episodes as well.

I’m going to finish today’s blog with a fun quiz, to see just how ready you are for the Conference! I look forward to seeing everyone next week in San Diego. Safe travels to all.

Q. Which of the following will be offered at the NASPP Conference this year?

a. Shoe shine station
b. Cafe
c. Selfie wall
d. Photo booth
e. Trick-or-treating
f. All of the above


p.s. If you answered “f. all of the above” you are right! Be sure to check out the “Know Before You Go” podcast to find out all the details!



October 21, 2015

NASPP To Do List

Listen to the Know Before You Go Podcast:  Looking for something to do on the flight to San Diego for the 23rd Annual NASPP Conference?  Take a moment now to download my “Know Before You Go” podcast and listen to it on the plane. You can find the podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast source by searching for “Equity Expert” and downloading episode 22.

The NASPP Needs Your Help
The NASPP is looking for a few people to help create some buzz on social media at the Conference. It’s easy! You just do the stuff you normally do at the Conference (go to sessions, network with people, etc.) and post about it on your social medium of choice (LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) with the Conference hashtags #NASPP23 and @NASPP. If you are interested, email me.

Fun Things To Do at the NASPP Conference
There are so many fun things to do at the NASPP Conference next week, I made a list for you, so you don’t forget anything:

  1. Grab a latte in the café
  2. Play the Question of the Week Challenge
  3. Win a $200 gift certificate
  4. Admire some artwork and chat with the artist
  5. Meet someone new
  6. Play the PhotoPlay Game
  7. See the RaffleTron 2300 in action
  8. Take a picture with a friend in the photo booth
  9. Take a selfie at the selfie wall
  10. Take a green screen photo
  11. Compete at equity compensation trivia
  12. Chat with an old friend
  13. Buy a half-price drink during happy hour
  14. Get your shoes shined
  15. Go Trick-or-Treating
  16. Test your Jenga skills
  17. Post a picture to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter (tag @NASPP and #NASPP23)
  18. Grab some great swag in the exhibit hall
  19. Enjoy the view of the marina
  20. Enjoy the ocean air and sunshine
  21. Find out where and when the 2016 NASPP Conference will be

This year’s Conference is going to be the most fun you can have while also coming away with the best information available about current developments, best practices, and the latest hot topics in executive and stock compensation.

I look forward to seeing everyone in San Diego next week!

– Barbara

P.S.—It’s not too late to register! The 23rd Annual NASPP Conference will be held in San Diego from October 27-30. We are accepting registrations online through tomorrow, October 22, and walk-ins are welcome onsite!

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October 20, 2015

Be in the Know Before You Go!

Every year the NASPP Conference gets bigger, with more bells and whistles for you to take advantage of while you are there.  There is so much happening, it can be a little overwhelming.  To make sure you get the most out of this year’s Conference, take a moment before you get to San Diego to familiarize yourself with all of the great programs we are offering this year and make a note of those you want to be sure to participate in.

Listen to the Know Before You Go Podcast:  Looking for something to do on the flight to San Diego?  Take a moment now to download my “Know Before You Go” podcast and listen to it on the plane. You can find the podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast source by searching for “Equity Expert” and downloading episode 22.

It’s Not Too Late to Register: The 23rd Annual NASPP Conference will be in San Diego next week, from October 27-30.  We are taking online registrations through this Thursday, October 22, and we are happy to accept walk-in registrations onsite.

Here are a few things to “Know Before You Go” to the NASPP Conference:

Conference App:  Your digital guide to the NASPP Conference, the app includes the attendee list, the agenda, session materials, speaker bios, and maps.  But it’s more than that–we’ll use the app to push out important announcements about happenings at the Conference.  Download and log into the app by this Friday and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $200 gift certificate. You can also get started on the PhotoPlay game in the app, which will earn you another shot at a $200 gift certificate.

Ask the Experts:  The NASPP is the largest gathering of subject matter experts in the industry—if you have questions, our Conference is a great place to get answers.  Consult an expert in the Ask the Experts booth or visit one of the nearly 40 other subject matter experts who have volunteered to be available for questions in their booths.  These are not sales people; it’s an impressive list of subject matter experts who can answer technical and practical questions on stock compensation.  There’s no reason to leave the Conference with unanswered questions.

Connect with Fellow Attendees: Our small group discussions and luncheon roundtable discussions are a great way to connect with other attendees on the challenges you are struggling with today.  We have seven small group discussions that are offered during the break-out sessions. The roundtable discussions will be held during lunch on Thursday. Topics include employee education, performance awards, M&A, global stock plans, tax topics, and more.  Come prepared to share your own questions and experiences—no panelists, no presentation, and no PowerPoint.

Presentation Arena:  This is a stage in the exhibit hall where we will host fast-paced presentations (only 20 minutes each) and chats with government speakers and industry luminaries during the refreshment breaks and lunch. It’s a great opportunity to come away with a little more knowledge.

Take the Question of the Week Live Challenge: This game is a fun way to learn a little and win a $200 gift certificate.  Your game card will be included in your Conference bag.  Figure out the answers to the questions and have the appropriate exhibitors stamp your card.  All of the completed cards turned in by 2:00 PM on Thursday, October 29, will be entered in a raffle for a $200 gift card.

PhotoPlay: This game is included in the Conference App. You earn points by taking pictures to complete a list of challenges. For every 50 points that you earn by 2:00 PM on Thursday, you are entered in a raffle to win a $200 gift certificate.  Some of the challenges are worth up to ten points—you could earn a raffle entry by completing as few as five challenges. And some of the challenges can be completed before you even get to the Conference—download the app and get started today!

I look forward to seeing everyone in San Diego!

– Barbara


October 15, 2015

Apple to Offer Broad Based RSUs

Last month, in a blog titled “Unicorns and RSUs“, I talked about a new recruiting phenomenon in Silicon Valley – where so-called “unicorns” (a fancy word for tech start ups that are valued at more than $1 billion) are luring talent from long-standing tech giants like Google and Amazon. So, yesterday when the news broke that Apple is now offering RSUs to all employees, I wondered if this could be an attempt to retain talent across the organization and stave off the unicorns.

A Slice of Apple for All

Apple has long had an ESPP plan, and now they are expanding their broad based stock plan offering to include RSUs. In a memo to employees, CEO Tim Cook said “This new program extends eligibility to everyone not covered by other RSU programs, effectively making everyone who works at Apple eligible for an RSU grant. This is an unusual step, and very special — just like our team.” CEO Cook is right, this is special. Broad based RSU programs are hard to come by – certainly one that makes all employees eligible to receive stock grants. In the most recent NASPP Domestic Stock Plan Design Survey (2013, co-sponsored by Deloitte), 15% of overall respondents said that non-exempt employees are eligible for stock awards. The high-tech industry as a subset of overall respondents fared a bit higher, with 24% of those respondents saying that non-exempt employees are eligible for stock awards (note: “stock awards covers both RSAs and RSUs). So, yes, Apple’s move to broad based RSUs is indeed unique.

Unicorns Be Gone

Only Apple insiders know the goals of this new expanded awards program. Outsiders speculate that it’s a big move to retain talent. Only Apple knows if this is a direct counter-effort to unicorn recruiting enticements. Whatever it is, it’s likely to make waves among tech companies who now will (undoubtedly) have conversations of their own about stock compensation. Is this a unique instance, or will this be the start of a new era of broad based stock awards? One thing seems certain – the stock plan folks at Apple are probably very busy right now. The word on the street is that the new RSUs are being handed out immediately.

The Biggest Water Cooler

When something big happens that sends waves of chatter through the stock plan community, it’s great to have a network of people to swap and share ideas. Isn’t that one of the primary purposes of the proverbial “water cooler”? The great news is that the biggest water cooler opportunity of the year is right around the corner – the NASPP’s 23rd Annual Conference kicks off in San Diego in less than two weeks! It’s not too late to register, and this is where you’ll get caught up on the latest and greatest water cooler (among other) topics.



October 14, 2015

NASPP To Do List

The NASPP Needs Your Help
The NASPP is looking for a few people to help with our social media strategy at the Conference. It’s easy! You just do the stuff you normally do at the Conference (go to sessions, network with people, etc.) and post about it on your social medium of choice (LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) with the Conference hashtags #NASPP23 and @NASPP. If you are interested, email me.

San Diego Preview
Here’s another a pic from the balcony off the show floor for this year’s NASPP Conference.


NASPP To Do List
I just have one thing for you to do this week:

– Barbara

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October 13, 2015

Small Group Discussions at the NASPP Conference

Are you looking for something different out of your NASPP Conference experience this year? Consider attending one of the small group discussion sessions.  These highly interactive, audience-driven sessions allow attendees to share ideas, challenges and solutions. Small group discussion sessions at past NASPP Conferences have been rated highly; some attendees comment that they are the best part of the Conference.

What to Expect
These sessions will be completely different from the typical conference session: no speaker panel, no canned presentation, no PowerPoint. Instead, facilitators lead the audience in a lively discussion. Come with a list of questions you want to ask other attendees and be prepared to share your own experiences and tips. Attendance is limited to 45 to encourage a fully interactive and engaging discussion among attendees.

We are offering seven small group discussions:

Payroll & Tax Withholding: Facilitated by Gustavo Dalanhese of E*TRADE.

Tips & Tools for 1099 and Tax Triumph: Facilitated by Danielle Deja and Robert Robitaille of Fidelity Stock Plan Services.

Employee Education: Facilitated by Karen Larbalestrier of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Educating Employees: Facilitated by Michael Gallagher of Morgan Stanley.

Change Management for Equity Programs: Facilitated by Renee Trotta of Charles Schwab.

Regulatory & Tax: How Technology Can Help: Facilitated by Mike Pewton and Andrea Kagan of Solium.

Best Practices for Rule 10b5-1 Plans: Facilitated by Bill Radtke of UBS.

Update Workshop Selections
These sessions are an alternative to the standard panel-style sessions. Attendees that have already registered for the Conference who would like to change their workshop selections to one of these sessions can click here to do so.

Don’t wait—space in these sessions is limited and we expect them to be completely full.

The NASPP Conference will be held in San Diego, CA from October 27 to 30, 2015. I hope to see you there—register today.

– Barbara


October 8, 2015

“Marketing” Your Stock Plan

Towers Watson recently highlighted an observed correlation between communication efforts and both employee engagement and financial performance that outperforms peers in their Executive Pay newsletter (“Communicating Incentive Plans Better” – August 14, 2015). That motivated me to jump on my once-in-a-while bandwagon about effective employee communications. In today’s blog, I’ll explore some tips to think about, as well as highlight more opportunities for you to advance your education in this area.

5 Ways to Communicate Better

Towers Watson shared 5 tips to better communications. I am going to borrow those “tips” and expand on them with my own thoughts. Before I do, I want to throw out a couple of things. First, I think stock plan administrators are not often marketing people by training or trade. Some of us become effective communicators, but it’s important to remember that communicating about stock plans to employees is very much about marketing. Yes, we need to communicate the specifics, but we also need to deliver the intended incentive or value proposition to the participant, and that’s the marketing piece. Second, stock plan administrators should not necessarily need to wear the communication hat alone. I often hear administrators say that they feel responsible for driving plan communications. That may be true, but there can be tremendous value in engaging marketing expertise – not only as a fresh set of eyes on the communication strategy, but also because that marketing resource could bring a whole new set of tools to your employee education.

1. Treat employees like consumers.  Companies spend thousands, even millions of dollars trying to figure out how to resonate with their consumers in the shortest amount of time. Capturing attention is valuable, and attracting the attention of your employee is not different than what is wanted from the consumer. Messages should be quick and designed to draw in their attention.

2. Ensure communications highlight the key messages and behaviours the plan is trying to drive. In summarizing this point, Towers raises a critical piece – it’s not enough to just communicate about things like performance metrics. Yes, employees need to know what the measurements will be, but just as importantly, they have to know what it takes to achieve them. In crafting communications about performance metrics (or even simple time based vesting), make sure the content includes not just the end goal, but identifies the path necessary to get there!

3. Show “what’s in it for me?” I’ve been guilty myself of not doing this part. Sometimes we focus on getting factual information out, and overlook or omit the value proposition to the participant. The ESPP has a 15% discount – so what? A great communication takes the “fact” that there is a 15% discount in the ESPP and expands the communication to explain why the participant should care about that (without crossing some of the fine lines I identify in the last paragraph of this section). Remember, your stock plan is only as valuable as your participant thinks it is.

4. Keep it simple. It’s easy to mistake a more advanced audience (like executives) as good targets for an overload of information. Towers Watson shared that discussions with top executives revealed, in some cases, little understanding about how the plans actually work. The reality is that matter who the audience is, keep the communications simple. The communications should not get more complex just because the audience is deemed to be more intellectual or higher ranking in an organization. Be sure to add in graphics, charts, or other visual information that reduces texts and illustrates a concept.

5. Segment. Not everyone learns the same way – some people need to see an example on paper, others can just read about it and understand. It’s imperative that any communication takes into account the recipient demographics. Once you know who is going to be on the receiving end, you can use different modes of communications – and even wording within a communication – to best connect with your audience. With so many tools available (videos, in person meetings, email, text, and more), you should have several choices in delivering your message.

Although I have introduced the word “marketing” to the communication mix, I also want to reiterate that there are some fine lines that need to be considered. It’s important that any marketing (or communication) message be reviewed by counsel to ensure there are no financial or luring promises, over education, or tricky guidance (for example, a marketing message of “The ESPP Can Save You Money on Taxes” is likely not going to fly. Although there could be tax advantages to participating in a qualified ESPP, the company cannot guarantee or represent specific tax savings and it could be risky to suggest such.) It’s time to take communications beyond simple facts and create an overall “marketing” campaign that captures participant attention and delivers on highlighting the value or incentive the stock plan was designed to achieve.

Exciting Education Opportunities

The NASPP’s 23rd Annual NASPP Conference kicks off in less than 3 weeks! We have an entire track at the Conference dedicated to “Administration and Communication,” so check out the list of those sessions to identify your must-attend panels.



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October 7, 2015

NASPP To Do List

The NASPP Needs Your Help
The NASPP is looking for a few people to help with our social media strategy at the Conference. It’s easy! You just do the stuff you normally do at the Conference (go to sessions, network with people, etc.) and post about it on your social medium of choice (LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) with the Conference hashtag #NASPP23.  If you are interested, email me.

San Diego Preview
Here’s a pic from the balcony off the show floor for this year’s NASPP Conference.


NASPP To Do List
I just have one thing for you to do this week:

– Barbara