By Stefanie Hahn
At the recent REtechSouth conference in Atlanta I had the chance to see Robert Hahn of 7DS Associates speak on a subject he titled, “A Time for Greatness.” This presentation was geared to association execs and REALTORS® who are leaders within their organizations – a group well represented in the RETSO crowd. Since YPN has given me the opportunity to be a leader in my own state I felt compelled to attend and scribbled mad notes throughout the two-part session.
Let me say two things right away…
1.) Rob and I are not related.
2.) This is my interpretation of the presentation based solely on my notes. If you want a deeper look, read Rob’s post-event blog post or talk to him directly – he likes to engage with others in this field.
The first thing I noticed is that Rob has little hope for our generation if things don’t change – not fatalistic, but just not hopeful. The other thing I noticed is that Rob is really smart. Combine those two things (little hope and big brains) and I knew this was something that had to be shared and something we could work on.
Rather than focus on the industry issues many of us already know exist (and during his talk he covered all the favorites including low industry standards, high turn-over rates, and public perception) I think we should use Rob’s talk as a clarion call to think about possible solutions. That is what I have chosen to do. I know others are too – in fact many associations are already considering new directions – but in this case perhaps doing it from a YPN perspective makes sense.
One of the first suggestions Rob made was to reform governance within the REALTOR® associations. Perhaps organizations don’t need all these people to make decisions. This one hits close to home, of course, since I just managed to earn a seat on my state board of directors. I must agree with Rob though that many associations should consider whether longer terms are necessary (after all, just how much can you accomplish knowing you have just 365 days to get it done) and should give more thought to whether direct elections are the way to go. Certainly from a YPN perspective, knowing you can “be a part of the process” from the outset may encourage more direct involvement.
Rob also advocates that local associations/boards who own their MLS service consider divesting. As someone who uses technology in every phase of her life, I can see where this may have merit and would probably create some new opportunities for growth and technology advancement (for the record, my primary MLS is not association-owned). It certainly warrants a look if service and communication needs are going to continue to grow at the pace we have seen over the last several years. In today’s “share everything” world, having the best MLS is only going to make us all more successful.
Next consolidate – merge and merge again. Take advantage of the advancements in technology, collaboration and member communication. While I see pros and cons on both sides of this argument, I like Rob’s “ward captain” model whereby smaller groups get the representation they deserve while grabbing the benefits of the larger unit. For YPN’ers this is a great idea, because the creation of new entities from old ones provides for new opportunities, new leadership, and new needs – all of which we are eager to provide. Whether it is a viable option (actually whether it could even be considered in many places) we’ll leave for another time.
Choose what NOT to do – Not every group is good at doing every task – no matter their size. Rob encouraged the group of association leaders to consider just what they do well and to maximize that value while leaving those things that may need help in the hands of others. Sounds natural, right? As a YPN leader who talks with many associations around the country about operational/technology issues, I know there are a ton of groups trying to manage the things they may not do well. I encourage you to start looking at your abilities and see where others (especially your YPN’ers) can help.
Thank you Rob for the inspiration…for making our generation know that we have work to do if we intend to make real estate our career and intend to have strong associations that help us grow. We can’t just watch from the sidelines; this really is “A Time for Greatness.”
Stefanie Hahn is the education director for Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS® in Malvern, Pa. Visit her Web site: www.StefanieHahn.com.