By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me in Northern California taking conference calls and meetings, catching up on work and writing more than 70 handwritten notes. (You can see the evidence of that endeavor here.) The week kicked off, however, in Palm Springs at the National Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) 2018 convention, which was a veritable hot spring of inspiration in the California desert.
Today is also a special day to be writing this post because it is both National Coming Out Day and International Day of the Girl, two momentous occasions that are not only important but also fundamental to the fabric of a truly diverse industry and society.
Michelle Obama perhaps said it best this morning on TODAY: “The stats show when you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country.” It is so essential for us to educate women from a young age and provide them with the necessary tools, training and wisdom to succeed and prosper. As a father of two girls, I know first-hand what it’s like to raise passionate, powerful women and when you provide them with the knowledge necessary to accomplish their goals, you’re empowering them to conquer the world. An educated woman is a force unstoppable.
At the NAGLREP conference, the theme was very much about how we as leaders can, through education and advocacy, advance the idea of homeownership and inclusion for all. The conference focused on the ways in which the LGBTQ community plays an integral part of our nation’s culture and prosperity, and how we can better serve this community in their pursuit of a home.
Highlights from the event, which was expertly moderated by comedian Alec Mapa, included: Jeff Berger, founder and CEO of NAGLREP, who talked about how the LGBTQ community is a driving force in the economy. He emphasized how strong and loyal the community is and what an integral part it plays to the vitality and prosperity of real estate. He shared some impressive stats with the crowd, which can also be found on the NAGLREP website. NAGLREP estimates that 3,000 transactions occurred in 2018 through naglrep.com. He also noted that the NAGLREP members earned $765 million in estimated gross sales for 2018 and $46 million in gross agent commissions in 2018.
Additionally, Freddie Mac Director of HR Innovation Angie Wilen shared Freddie Mac’s groundbreaking study, “LGBT & Housing Trends,” which was an eye-opening look at the effect of the LGBTQ community on housing and its future.
I was also honored to speak during the convention on time management and how to increase productivity and build your business by properly managing your time.
Another highlight of the conference was when four network sales professionals were named to the real estate industry’s first recognition of top producing LGBT and allied agents and teams. Top honorees included: Avi Dan-Goor, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties; Chris McNelis, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices McNelis Group Properties; Robert Dawson, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Dawson, Ford & Garbee & Co. Realtors; and Greg Renfrow, Berkshire Hathaway Taliesyn Realty.
And congratulations must be given to Wayne Woodyard, Orange County vice president and regional manager at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, who was recognized for his work and contributions to the LGBT community and received NAGLREP’s prestigious Pinnacle Award.
So, what’s the message? All in all, it was an incredible, vibrant conference filled with information and takeaways to help our network embrace the kind of diversity and inclusion that will allow us to better serve an ever-more diverse world. Teresa Palacios Smith, HSF Affiliates vice president of diversity, inclusion and multicultural strategies said it best when she told me, “At NAGLREP you’re really able to gain insight, network and get to know the members, and that’s why attending the conference is such an important way to advance our diversity and inclusion initiatives. The LGBTQ community is absolutely vital to the goal of embracing fair housing and equality for all.” She also added that this very post is being published at an opportune time—on National Coming Out Day and International Day of the Girl. “Education is critical to the growth of our families,” Teresa said to me. “And when we educate our daughters, we can change the world.”