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The Business of Meetings

Feb 9, 2021

We are happy to be speaking to Roger Rickard today. Roger is an icon of advocacy in our industry. 

In this episode, Roger talks about what we can do as business owners, in terms of advocacy, particularly in these challenging times and also over the long term. 

Roger Rickard’s bio

Roger Rickard is the Founder and President of Voices in Advocacy® and author of 7 Actions of Highly Effective Advocates. He has more than 30 years of experience as an advocacy professional, speaker, trainer, consultant, and author. As a recognized expert in advocacy engagement and grassroots activation, Roger works with a wide cross-section of organizations from diverse industries. His vibrant personality and a good sense of humor make for engaging and interactive programming that is packaged and delivered in an easy to understand, easy to apply format combining his education, experience, and enthusiasm to drive advocacy success.

Roger is a proud Penn State Nittany Lion and confessed political junky having received his education in Political Science. He has been an advocate for citizen involvement since the age of 13. Elected three times to public office as a young man, served as a state legislative staff member, and has worked on many political campaigns from his very own clear up to presidential campaigns. 

His work spans a cross-section of local, regional, national, and international organizations. He has served in numerous industry associations’ leadership roles, is a recipient of several international industry awards, and is a member of Meeting Professional International’s prestigious “Community of Honorees”.

He is often interviewed by radio, print, and television media, highlighted by the MSNBC show Your Business. Smart Meetings Magazine did a cover story on Roger, entitled Passion & Purpose, Roger Rickard’s Call to Action. Successful Meetings Magazine named Roger one of the Six People Worth Watching in the Meetings Industry. Meetings Focus Magazine named him to their inaugural list of Meetings Trendsetters, and in 2020, Connect Magazine named Roger to their inaugural Class of 15 over 50 influencers.

Roger is a BIG man at 6’8”, a BIG thinker, and he has BIG ideas for helping you succeed with advocacy. He is casually known as the BIG GUY with a BOW TIE.

Roger’s history

Roger started his career in security. He started working in hotels for a private security firm contracted to those hotels. His job was to learn how to deal with things discreetly and diffuse them. That later rolled into a job where he got professionally trained to be a bodyguard as well. 

Getting to know the meetings industry

Working in different positions in hotels, Roger came to know and understand the meetings industry. Eventually, he owned a DMC (Distillation Management Company) in the industry. After selling that, he went on to work for a national organization that did high-end corporate incentive programs. 

Advocacy as a result of the meetings industry

The advocacy pillar of Roger’s experience came into place as a result of the meetings industry. A boycott in Arizona in the 1990s, around whether or not the government was willing to celebrate the Martin Luther King Day holiday, cost the state of Arizona a tremendous amount of meetings business. That was the first time that meetings ever got used as a tool to get back at the government for their actions. 

Getting involved with Meeting Professionals International

After that, Roger got involved with Meeting Professionals International. He sat for some time on their Government Affairs Committee and eventually led the committee. 

Creating programs to teach people how to be better advocates

That led him to create programs to teach people how to be better advocates to help them speak out when they felt that issues of government or other groups were affecting their ability to be leaders in their business. That led Roger to where he is at today.

Roger Rickard’s advocacy

Roger Rickard is involved with advocacy towards everything related to government and public affairs. He is also involved with the advocacy of demonstrating that people are leaders in their field, regardless of the industry in which they are. 

Roger Rickard’s advocacy myth-busting

In one of Roger Rickard’s programs, he does a segment of myth-busting about advocacy because advocacy is about your ability to speak in favor of a cause or an issue. There are seven branches of myth-busting. They are:

  1. Public affairs
  2. Media
  3. Public service
  4. Brands and Industry
  5. Cause
  6. Wounded warriors
  7. Business leaders and people who advocate for things

Advocacy leadership

If your prospects are uncomfortable, they are not going to keep on being your customers. If your employees are unhappy with the way they get treated, and you don’t stand up as a business leader and defend and protect them, that cog of the business will not run as well as it should. You also need to stand up for your vendors and suppliers and defend them, plead for them, work with them, and share the responsibility, or they will not be there for you when you need them.

The definition of an advocate

An advocate is a person who pleads the cause of another person.

The advocacy role of business owners in our industry 

Small businesses, which make up a high majority of the people in the meetings and events industry, have the incredible power to tell their personal stories. Roger wrote a pocket guidebook called 7 Actions of Highly Effective Advocates to explain how business owners and entrepreneurs can be the most important advocates in the mix. One of the best advocacy actions they can perform is to tell their story. 

Having a huge impact

Anybody can reach out to get other stakeholders. You don’t need to change your lifestyle to have an impact. All you need to do is use your personal story as the vehicle to tell a bigger story.

Meetings Mean Business and Global Meetings Day 

If you feel you cannot reach out to other stakeholders, join Meetings Mean Business, or be a part of the Global Meetings Day on April the 8th 2021, to find out how business gets done and how people advance their businesses through education and training.

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