Today’s post is guest written by IIDA Professional Member Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP.
Attending the IIDA Advocacy Symposium is a ditch-your-spouse-on-your-wedding-anniversary kind of opportunity. At least, it was for me in 2015. #sorrynotsorry #advocacyinaction. So what did I learn last year that trumped celebrating my marriage? Here are my top five highlights:
“Never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”
IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, painted a picture of advocates as optimists living in the present. They have a healthy respect for the past but don’t dwell on it, and they understand that the future can happen in a nanosecond. Advocates do not let others define who they are in a political context. They know the value of “yes” and when to say “no,” and they know that sometimes “no” is the beginning of the negotiation. Lastly, Cheryl challenged us to “never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”
All Wins Matter
Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager, told us to hone our message: “Find the heart, find the brain, and lose the fat.” The way to motivate others is through positivity – all wins matter. But arguably the best advice Ryan gave actually comes from the incomparable Parks and Recreation character, Ron Swanson: “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”
Be an Out-Hustler
Texas Representative Celia Israel taught us that a lawmaker is only as strong as stakeholder interest and, when you pursue legislation, all the work happens long before the first day of session. She recommended the best way to handle opposition stakeholders is to out-hustle them.
The Power of Networking – and Rising Above
Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of I.D.E.A.L. for Utah, and lobbyist Amy Coombs told us about the power of asking for recommendations and name dropping shared connections to get your foot in the door. The most resonating piece of advice: the value of being united in purpose, message, and action. “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.”
It’s Not Just About You, It’s About Them
Other lobbyists cautioned us against asking for something the first time you meet a legislator. Go in when you don’t need something. Better yet, go when they need you.
The 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium will be educational, inspirational, and even therapeutic. Together, we will celebrate our interior design wins – big and small – from across the nation. The agenda has been carefully crafted with presenters who will arm you with political, grassroots, managerial, and strategic know-how. You will expand your resources, have epiphanies about what you could be doing in your state, and leave refreshed and refueled with new ideas and tactics that will guide you in your advocacy efforts. Fortunately for me, this year’s Symposium doesn’t conflict with my anniversary because I sure would hate to leave my husband a second year in a row. See you in Denver!
Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP, is the Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She is a member of the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council and, in May of this year, was appointed to the Livable Nashville Committee started by Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry.
The 2016 Advocacy Symposium will take place in Denver from Sept. 23-25. IIDA Members receive a special discounted rate to the event. Learn more about the Symposium and register by Sept. 16, 2016.