Thoughts on Leadership: Connecting for Change at NAR Annual

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Boston for the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo, also known as NAR Annual. From Boston it was off to London to celebrate the launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co. (In fact, I write this very post from the UK.) Finally, my 10-day road trip ends in Berlin, visiting with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate.

But more on my European travels next week. Today, I want to focus on NAR Annual, held this year in the historic city of Boston. It’s fitting I should be in England reflecting on my experiences in Boston. The city of Boston, Mass. was actually named after the city of Boston in Lincolnshire, England and was founded in 1630. The oldest library in the United States of America, The Boston Public Library, is located there, and dates back to 1852.

As I walked the cobblestoned streets of Boston, I could feel the weight of history beneath my feet, and with each step, gained a deeper connection to not only the city but also the incredible stories that have been strengthened through time. (When I’m on the road and can’t work out regularly, I try to get my steps in and during this trip, clocked 16,258 steps on Sunday alone!) As I walked I thought, ‘Could you imagine the legendary leaders of American history who also walked on this very same ground?’

Connections in all forms—making new ones and strengthening those created decades ago—was a big theme at NAR Annual, which proves each year to be a great place to connect with the leading professionals in our real estate industry. It’s also a chance to connect with countless vendors during the real estate industry’s largest trade show, which features more than 400 exhibitors. Through inspiring conversations and deep discussions, this year’s conference solidified the idea that no matter who we work for, we’re all in a cooperating business, so we should—and will—move in the same, ever-forward direction, together.

I was also honored to connect at NAR Annual through RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Forum, where I co-moderated a session with John Featherston, founder, CEO and president of RISMedia. Our session was titled “Compete – and Win – in a Changing Real Estate World,” and focused on how today’s brokers are confronted with more competitive challenges than ever before. We talked about how to stay ahead of new business models and competition; how to rethink your brokerage to drive more efficiency; how to attract and retain productive agents; and how to exceed the expectations of agents and consumers alike. Panelists included: Jim D’Amico, chief executive officer and president of CENTURY 21 North East; Lacey Conway, president/principal broker of Latter & Blum, Inc.; Whitney Finn LaCosta, broker/owner of Coach REALTORS®; and Mike Schlott, president of Kinlin Grover, Page Taft and Randall REALTORS®.

Additionally, RISMedia hosted its annual Power Broker Reception Dinner, which this year featured ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen as keynote speaker. Rasmussen was a disruptor of his time when he launched his now-famed sports network and was the ideal speaker to talk during a time of disruption in our own real estate industry.

Another highlight of the dinner was the RISMedia Real Estate Leadership Award, presented by Buffini & Company to Joan Docktor, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®.  Dermot Buffini, CEO of Buffini & Company, described Joan as a “pillar of leadership” and I couldn’t agree more. (Watch an inspiring video about Joan’s leadership here.)

Joan is an amazing example of leadership–humble, strong, never resting on the laurels of her success—and always pursues greater excellence for her team, her agents and the clients they serve. She succeeds because she is so successful at helping others become better at what they do, and that is the mark of a real leader.

So, what’s the message? Connections are so important. We must connect with where we are, who we are and who we’re with in order to more deeply understand the world around us as we walk along the path to becoming better leaders. Like the example set by Joan—and really, all the professionals I encountered at NAR Annual—the power of connection is not just a force for good, it’s also a force for change.

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