Thoughts on Leadership: The Balance of Old and New

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California working from my home office then in Denver for the 2017 Real Trends Gathering of Eagles conference. This year marks a special one for the annual assembly of our country’s brightest and most innovative real estate leaders, as Real Trends is celebrating 30 years in business. Since the start of 2017, Steve Murray, editor and president of REAL Trends, Inc., has been publishing articles all about what the milestone means not only for the company but also for him. Murray said this in a recent story about the anniversary: “Things have changed—and not changed—since that first edition … It’s funny to think how the world has stayed remarkably similar over the past 30 years.”

Here are some fun facts he shared about the real estate industry when REAL Trends first began:

  • With Steve Murray, editor and president of REAL Trends, Inc. at Gathering of Eagles 2017.

    In 1987, there were more than 800,000 Realtors® in the U.S. Today, there are 1.2 million U.S. Realtors®, which means the population has grown substantially in that 30-year span. (A good fact to share with those who question if a real estate agent is crucial to the home-buying and selling process.)

  • Three decades ago, the Sales and Marketing Management Institute said online shopping for homes through television was the hot, new trend. While the Institute may have gotten the device wrong, we can all agree online—and mobile—dominate most buyers’ initial home search.
  • A study commissioned by NAR in 1987 featured this commentary: “Electronic advertising almost certainly will be tried and very likely will be economically viable.” (Well yes, you can say that again!)

It was with this interesting information in mind that I arrived at Gathering of Eagles on Wednesday, excited to learn about the changes happening in our industry but knowing, as Murray wisely pointed out, some things still remain very much the same.

The agenda for the conference focused on celebrating the past with an attentive eye on the future, which fits squarely with exactly what Murray has been writing about in regards to REAL Trends’ 30-year anniversary.

With Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great, at Gathering of Eagles.

One of the highlights for me was a keynote by Good to Great bestselling author Jim Collins. (If you read last week’s Thursday Thoughts, you’ll remember I referenced Collins’ ideas; I’ve long been a fan of his insightful book and even used it as the blueprint in 2002 when building Intero Real Estate Services.) Collins spoke about his Twelve Questions, a sequence of question that, as he explained, “serve as a mechanism of disciplined thought for a leader and his or her team.” You can view those questions here, and as Collins recommends, discuss one question per month with your team to create a calendar year of disciplined thought. He then recommends repeating this practice the following year, tapping into the power of habitual learning and discussing each question at least once every year.

So, what’s the message? Throughout all these discussions, as we spoke about ways to digitally market, to streamline, to improve and bring your team from from good to great, I kept thinking about how critical it is to understand these cutting-edge, forward-thinking ideas and systems but to also know that the fundamentals, as Collins stressed in his keynote, must still be in place. This was especially true at Gathering of Eagles, where new topics were on the agenda but old friends gathered together to idea-share, catch up and learn. There’s nothing like that solid camaraderie, based on decades-long friendships, to inspire you and your business! (By the way, I saw my friend Dan Forsman, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, at the conference and was able to help him celebrate his birthday. Happy birthday, Dan!) This close camaraderie is the very reason why, despite whatever SEO tricks you use to rank higher in Google or social media platforms you pursue to gain business speed, you must have the core values of leadership in place—a great team, a vibrant culture, a commitment to quality service, a network of mentors and old friends to guide you, a system of accountability—in order to reach your goals. That’s not to say the latest and greatest isn’t just so (it’s all important) but what’s more important is achieving a careful balance between the old and new, the digital and personal, the disruptive and the time-tested; it’s how you’ll find sustainable success and, like Steve Murray’s REAL Trends, remain in business for 30 years and counting!

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

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