Thoughts on Leadership: All About Good Neighbors

[Gino Blefari, right, and David Cabot, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties congratulate Susan Stearns, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Calabasas, CA, who won the 2015 Good Neighbor Award.]

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in San Diego for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2015 Conference and Expo. While there, I had the opportunity to spend time backstage with Susan Stearns, agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Calabasas, CA, just moments before she stood in front of a crowd of thousands to accept her 2015 Good Neighbor Award. NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards are given annually to five REALTORS® who, according to REALTOR® Magazine, “have made an extraordinary impact on their community, or on the national or world stage, through volunteer work.”  

Susan received this tremendous honor in recognition of three decades working with New Horizons, a non-profit based in Southern California that empowers more than 1,000 individuals with special needs to fulfill their dreams. “New Horizons gives people the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment with what they contribute to the community,” explained New Horizons CEO Cynthia Sewell in a video tribute to Susan.

Since 1985, Susan has dedicated her time and resources to New Horizons, founding the New Horizons development committee, serving for eight years as fundraising chair and then two years as president and chair of the board of directors. Due to her unflagging efforts, Sewell estimates Susan has personally donated or raised nearly $250,000 for the organization.

According to Susan, her volunteer work underscores the idea that altruism is—and should always be—a quality inherent to every real estate agent. “Find a charity that you have compassion for,” Susan told REALTOR® Magazine in an interview. “It’s good for the community to know what a REALTOR® is, that they’re not just there trying to sell houses. They’re there to make the community a better place.”

(By the way, you can click here to view all the 2015 Good Neighbor Award winners.)

Along with Susan’s Good Neighbor Award, members of our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network were recognized at NAR’s 2015 Conference and Expo, including:

  • Jean Crosby of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crosby Starck Real Estate in Rockford, IL, who won the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding contributions to the real estate industry and leadership within her local community.
  • Dona Reynolds with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stein & Summers Real Estate in St. Joseph, MO, who received Honorable Mention for the 2015 Good Neighbor Awards.

I’d also like to congratulate RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston, who won the ‘On the Shoulder of Giants’ Award at the RISMedia Power Broker Dinner, a well-deserved acknowledgement for a true titan of innovation and intelligence in the real estate industry.

So what’s the message? Leadership is never something that starts or ends with yourself. Leadership is about finding those opportunities—no matter how big or small—when you can make the lives of those around you better, which is exactly the definition of what every good neighbor should be.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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