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Chobani is one of the biggest names in Greek yogurt worldwide, and the company’s CEO recently decided to make it even more remarkable by redefining corporate generosity. In a surprise move, Hamdi Ulukaya has made all of his more than 2,000 employees part owners of the company he started back in 2005 by giving them shares.

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Their total portion equals to 10% ownership in the company, a number which may seem small to be split amongst over 2,000 individuals, but which could still generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per person.

Since its inception the company has seen rapid growth, due in large part to the hard work and dedication of its employees at its one million square foot facility in upstate New York. The brand is now worth several billion dollars and is recognizable in many parts of the world, particularly in the United States where the company really put itself on the map by sponsoring the US Olympic team in 2012.

NBC News first broke the story by getting inside access and speaking to several of the company’s longstanding employees.

What I particularly appreciate about this story is that it defies the usual relationship that tends to develop between CEOs and their employees. While Hamdi certainly isn’t the first approachable and generous person to own a business, he is a rarity, particularly since his generosity appears to have little personal incentive behind it.

Regardless of how ‘prestigious’ our jobs may be, we all work hard to do them well, and while most CEOs certainly deserve the lion’s share of their company’s success, every employee plays a pivotal role in achieving it. To see that not only appreciated but rewarded is incredibly heartwarming, and the 2000+ people who have given and continue to give so much of their time to the company surely deserve to see a return on that investment.

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This new ownership structure also promises to further brighten this prosperous yogurt manufacturer’s future. With their own well-being now tied to the company’s fortune, I imagine every employee feels motivated to work even harder, with increased productivity and work quality being the inevitable result of this heightened drive.

As shown in the interview, Hamdi began his journey to success from humble beginnings that have helped to shape him into the giving leader that he is today. Wherever we ourselves end up in life and however much success we enjoy, I think it nevertheless remains crucial for each of us to remember where our journey first began.

It’s easy to get caught up in the highs of success, but appreciating how you got there and who supported you along the way are the keys to making it last.

I personally admire this generous act and hope that it helps to redefine corporate structure and the relationships that exist at all levels of an organization.


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