Embrace a better way to do business

Each one of us can make a difference. Together, we make change.

Simple in thought. Powerful in deed. And, I couldn’t think of a better quote than this to begin this month’s editor’s note.

RTRX2022 promised to be “Transformative. Immersive. Inspiring.” And, it encouraged attendance with the invitation to “come for an unparalleled individual or team experience, and leave part of a global community that believes in a better way to do business.”

It kept its promise and delivered on its objective.

And, I was so very fortunate to be the recipient of such a gift.

It was my first time attending the event, held last month in Columbus, OH, but I don’t plan on it being my last. I listened to speakers share their insights-such as David Brooks, New York Times columnist & bestselling author; Dr. Adia Gooden, clinical psychologist; and Dr. Electra Paskett, PhD, MPH, founding director, Center for Cancer Health Equity—and a community of people share their experiences on everything from leadership to innovation to well-being. And, it made me take that all-important pause—and some copious notes—to assess my approaches to those topics and how best to apply them to my leadership role at Hotel Business. Lessons learned there reach far beyond the job, though, and create a best practices of sorts for the many roles I play in my life, personal and professional.

But, that was just the start of my few days there.

You see, the main reason I traveled to Ohio and attended some of the RTRX event was to moderate an executive roundtable—hosted and sponsored by Rockbridge—which is the subject of our cover story.

Back in 2018 at the NYU conference, CEO Jim Merkel spoke passionately to me about creating the RTRX experience, held in collaboration with Pelotonia’s Ride Weekend, and about creating a movement built on the conviction that together, we can create a better future.

And, the better future, in some part, had to start with a better way to convene leaders to discuss business, practice philanthropy, have some fun and curate thought-provoking and inspiring content designed to speak to the whole person.

By partnering with us for the executive roundtable, Rockbridge took it one step further and, for a few years now, has brought that thought leadership to our readership.

We—I—immediately felt a connection to Jim’s mission back in 2018 when I learned about it, and I felt a close affinity, personally, to the movement. The connection was instant—and is lasting. Sporting RTRX 2022 t-shirts at this year’s event with the phrase “We all have a story to tell” reminded me that each of our unique stories and experiences, if shared, can create connection, community and compassion, which are all essential qualities to not just being a good person or a good friend, but also a good leader. And that, simply put, was the topic of our roundtable discussion that Friday morning in Columbus.

True, we all have a story to tell. Mine, which am I typically very private about but shared with Jim during our interview in 2018-though he was a relative stranger at the time—was that I spent my entire 2016 fighting my own personal battle with cancer. Surgery. Chemo. Radiation. And, in that moment of discussion, we both realized, I think, that business goes far beyond the news, announcements, data and development we all talk about and report on every day, and includes that something beyond the boardroom, so to speak. You can still do business while doing good. They’re not mutually exclusive.

It’s something that Rockbridge has supported and powered in its drive to create a cancer-free world, with 100% of proceeds from RTRX benefiting life-saving cancer research. Understanding and embracing that notion makes us better leaders and better mentors.

RTRX was created by Jim in 2012, and it began as a hospitality industry leadership event. It has grown and expanded to include additional industries and public and private sector businesses. A formal partnership was developed among Rockbridge, Pelotonia and Columbus Partnership in 2019, helping to grow the event, grow the awareness and grow the funds to support cancer research. I would encourage you to check out RTRX, whether as an attendee or a sponsor. And, no, you don’t have to do the bike ride. Full disclosure: I didn’t.

Read Abby Elyssa’s story, which begins on page 20 and, perhaps, jot down some actionable items and key takeaways to elevate your leadership role. And, for those of you who still think that rolerelates to title, this article will remind you that we all, no matter what level we are at in our jobs, areleaders if we can learn to inspire, motivate, empathize and listen