By Norma Stanley | August 2023
Self-made billionaire Michael V. Roberts, chairman of The Roberts Companies, who created his fortune in the communications, utilities and construction industries, is a visionary and a man of action. The international entrepreneur whose companies employ of over 11,000 people, says he is still in the throes of building businesses and growing his empire.The best-selling author of “Action Has No Season (Strategies and Secrets to Gaining Wealth and Authority) released in 2005, as well as his follow-up book “Action Has No Season 2.0: How the Actionaire Develops All Possibilities released in 2019, Roberts says entrepreneurs understand how to create their own opportunities, think futuristically and appreciate the value of capitalism.“We live in a capitalist nation but find ourselves confused about the meaning of capitalism,” shared Roberts, who throughout his entrepreneurial journey, has owned over 100 companies with about 11,000 employees. “I am a cold-blooded capitalist with a social agenda because I want to help people and effect positive change, but we can’t do that when we’re broke. “An entrepreneur is one who takes their dreams and purpose and pursues them with boldness and bravado. There’s no time to wait for your opportunity, you have to create and move on opportunities when they present themselves,” he said.
For nearly 50 years, Roberts has been living the premise of his books. Coming from humble, beginnings guided by the teachings and examples of their hard-working parents, Roberts and his three siblings, educated in the St. Louis Public School system, began seeing opportunities and reaching for more. As a youth, Roberts began his entrepreneurial journey earning money doing chores around the neighborhood and delivering newspapers. He began his first business selling dashikis and other African merchandise to area bookstores, when he was in college and studied law at St. Louis University School of Law, where he earned his J.D. degree.
“Selling dashikis in college helped to further trigger my entrepreneurial DNA,” says Roberts, who saw real estate development opportunities from living and working near the projects. “I saw plenty of abandoned homes that people just walked away from. That’s when I started buying properties in St. Louis, which you could buy for little or nothing,” he said. His first company, Roberts-Roberts & Associates was established in St. Louis in 1974 with his brother, Steve, as a business consulting and construction management firm. Roberts’ many companies consist of television broadcasting properties, real estate development entities, a restaurant chain and interest in Acme Communication (TV stations). In 2000, the brothers sold their Roberts Wireless Communications Company for nearly $300 million worth of stock in Alamosa PCS Holdings, Inc. A Sprint PCS service reseller for most of Missouri. Roberts' company was Sprint's first black-owned affiliate and he also has owned over 25 companies with revenue over $10 million, excluding the telecom operations.
Roberts’ much heralded entrepreneurial success, which included being featured in many business media outlets, also included a stint in politics, where he worked with the campaigns of former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and as an Alderman in St. Louis. He served as a campaign manager for President Carter, and consulted with the campaigns of Clinton and Obama, as well as with the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC.
Dr. Michael V. R Action Has No Season: Roberts J. D., Michael V.: 9781418423742: Amazon.com: Booksoberts, JD spoke at the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival’s, I Build Wealth Series held at Centennial Olympic Park. The festival drew more than 100,000 attendees over the course of three days.
“I guess I’m sort of a renaissance scholar and I am definitely a futurist,” said Roberts. “I am always looking at what’s coming up on the business horizon and finding a way to be a part of it. I have been a politician, the largest black owner of TV stations in the country; the owner of the largest black-owned and operated hotel group; the owner of an aviation company and have employed thousands, but there is still so much more opportunity to build and grow,” continued Roberts. “Today, incorporating green energy and technology will be a large part of global economic growth moving forward for anyone who is paying attention,” Roberts said.
Dr. Dawn Anderson founder of Celebrity Boss with Mentor Dr. Michael V. Roberts, JD. at the Icons of Legacy Power networking Conference
These days much of Roberts focus has been economic development in Africa. In fact, in 2019, Roberts participated with some other successful Black businessmen in the ''Year of Return, Ghana,'' which marked the 400-year anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in Jamestown in the US. The Year of Return represented an effort to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora. During that trip, Roberts was named Economic King of Ada, of the Eastern region of Ghana.
“This was a wonderful experience for me and the 12 other Black businessmen who participated in the Year of the Return and who all have plans to develop business opportunities in Africa,” shared Roberts. “There are lots of natural resources other than gold and diamonds, that can be converted into businesses, such as cocoa, which is a $100 billion industry,” he said.
In addition, Roberts is meeting with parents of elementary and secondary schools, as well as with presidents of HBCU’s to help them understand the significance of their students keeping up with growing technologies and their opportunities, like drone technology, e-sports, healthcare, etc., and develop strategies of how to maximize any opportunities.
Thinking futuristically as he is wont to do, Roberts cautions business owners of color not to sleep through the technology revolution, which is an area he is planning to apply more of his professional efforts to as he puts it, “create more disruption.
”As for his legacy, Roberts is proud of the seeds he has sown both personally and professionally to date. He has been married many decades to his wife, Jeanne and all four of his children have graduated from law school and are also successful entrepreneurs
Dr. Michael V. Roberts, JD, is joined by his brother, Dr. Steve Roberts, JD, left.
“If I’m to be judged for what I’ve accomplished, I’d rather be judged on how I raised my children, who are all caring, productive and successful adults,” shared Roberts.
When it comes to offering advice to aspiring business owners, Roberts says they need to ask themselves if they are still the fossil fuel sitting in the earth or are they putting themselves in position where their products and services are the commodities that everyone wants.
“We always need to be thinking futuristically and using the most creative resource we have-- the collective minds of our people, which is incredibly rich in resources,” Roberts said. “Yes, there will be a need for some traditional business in the future, but we need to be looking at what’s being created through new offerings and opportunities technology is bringing about,” shared Roberts, “For example, Black history cannot and should not ever be put in a place where they can say it never happened. We can’t afford to be sleeping through the technology revolution,” he continued. “In addition to that, we also need to remember that we don’t need to brag about what we have once we get it, because the fact is that rich people scream, but wealthy people whisper.”
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