Interview by David Powe, write-up by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
Charter RPCN member John Foote recalls the organization's early days with affection. "In forming RPCN, we did meet in homes, and I happened to be at the one where the first set of officers was being worked out," he said. "I think some of the early people all wanted to be president, and the decision of who would be on the first slate became very contentious. My recollection is that most of the 'chief wanna-be's' who didn't get to be officers dropped out early thereafter."
According to Foote, Roger Vickery, who eventually served as president, "worked extremely hard on behalf of the organization. Our early speakers included leaders from many local businesses, government units and educational organizations. Roger was a class act."
Nowadays, Foote works as an Enrolled Agent, preparing taxes and representing clients before state and federal tax agencies. His consulting business, Expert Tax Group and Accounting Specialist, stopped accepting new clients a few years ago.
In Foote's eyes, RPCN served two primary functions: giving businesses access to skilled consultants and giving consultants a resource for growth and information. "RPCN provided bright, knowledgeable, competent professionals who could serve as a support group. It was a place to grow while not working as an employee," he said.
One of his own presentations was a great example of how the organization focused on helping its members while giving them visibility for their own skills and services. "At the time, I had just begun to prepare taxes, and the organization asked me to give a tax update early in 1990, at one of our first meetings. That talk became the Annual Tax Update Seminar. Our goal with this annual talk has been to have every member who has knowledge in the tax arena be part of the panel giving the seminar."
Foote appreciates the fact that participating in the organization gave his consulting business access to clients within RPCN. "Over the years, several members have become clients - and these professionals have served as a solid base for the business," he said. "RPCN is owed a huge 'thank you' for this."
Foote offers advice to colleagues based on his view of how businesses and society as a whole work together. "Society uses business to provide goods and services that are improvements over the past or at a lower price; both, if possible," he explained - a successful consultant will keep that in mind. "Professionally, plan for working on what you enjoy doing; treat everyone with the same respect you would like to receive; become an expert and embrace technology. In my years of tax preparation, it has become that evident computer knowledge is increasing and will be taking over more and more routine decisions, so plan your career around this."
Looking back at the early days of RPCN, "It is difficult to believe 25 years have gone by so fast," said Foote.