Brief background of your business:
I work for two nonprofit trade associations and a for-profit subsidiary. The Realtor associations were established in the 1950s. They serve real estate licensees and the real estate profession by providing continuing education, public relations, legislative and regulatory advocacy and business services. The term “Realtor” is owned by the association and can only be used by members of the association. We have about 1,100 members in our region. The Realtor association also owns and operates a regional Multiple Listing Service for our members, which allows them to share information on listed properties so sellers and buyers have maximum access to and exposure of properties for sale.
Number of employees you oversee: 6
How did you land your current role?
This is my 37th year as an association executive. I’ve served as CEO for small, medium and large Realtor associations, a regional builders association and two statewide associations – Washington State Funeral Directors Association and the Washington MultiFamily Housing Association. I was raised in the Yakima Valley, and after having had the privilege to live and work in different parts of the country, I wanted to come back to my home territory.
Why should the Tri-Cities care about the real estate industry?
The Tri-City area is consistently listed by all kinds of national publications as one of the best places to live, work and retire. Our housing market did not suffer through the recession in 2008 as many other parts of the country did and has remained steady with only modest price increases. Housing is still affordable here, with enough variety to appeal to a diverse population.
What are the industry’s key highlights from the past year?
Market prices increased at a somewhat faster pace than previous years, due to a steady demand and lower inventory. We are beginning to see a leveling off as new developments are completed and come into the market.
What’s the real estate forecast for the year ahead?
More inventory, a slight decrease in current pricing, but continued high demand.
What is the biggest challenge facing business owners/managers in the real estate sector today?
Organizing and positioning their companies to be successful in a rapidly changing technological landscape. The real estate industry is experiencing the most dramatic and fast-paced changes in technology that we’ve seen in several decades. The emergence and influence of online services for consumers is a challenge that owners and managers of real estate brokerages are working hard to stay abreast of and embrace.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
I’d say there are three:
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Always, always, always protect your integrity and live your values.
Believe and follow your instincts.
Build your network and use it.
Find the fun.
Who are your role models or mentors?
I’ve been so very fortunate to have had many throughout my career: Lynn Melby, Donna Cameron and Glenn Tecker are association management leaders who have inspired, counseled, taught and coached me. I’m grateful for many others as well.
How do you keep your employees motivated?
Our employees go over and above their “duties” every day, not only in getting work done, but interacting with our members with a genuine desire to serve them. I can’t really say I motivate them — we are a team whose members care about and support each other, and have a lot of (sometimes weird) fun doing it.
How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
I took a leap into unfamiliar territory, joined the professional societies for people doing the same job (American Society of Association Executives and Washington Society of Association Executives) learned everything I could, found generous mentors and built a network. It only took a couple of years to realize association management was a truly unique and wonderful profession that I would love for the rest of my life.
How do you measure success in your workplace?
Ours is a people business. We get our work done through people. We are constantly evaluating what we offer our members – does it help them, do they like it, do they use it? Certainly member (volunteer) participation in projects, in governance, and in the other many activities within the association is one measurement, along with the usual revenue metrics and staff turnover.
What do you consider your leadership style to be?
Collaborative. In volunteer organizations such as the Realtor associations, the process used for decision-making is every bit as important as the decision itself, and decisions that are made with thoughtful input from diverse stakeholders are always better.
How do you balance work and family life?
Huh? I need to work on this one. I love my job(s) and there are no children still at home, so I tend to put most of my time into my work.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
See above question. But I do find time to play with the dogs and plant big flower pots for the porches and deck.
What’s your best time management strategy?
I try to tackle the big (bad) thing first every day, before I look at email or my to-do list.
What’s your favorite podcast? Most-used app?
Most are industry specific, like American Society of Association Executives and National Association of Realtors, but my other favorites are TED Talks and Audible.
Best tip to relieve stress?
I find something to make me laugh. It’s sometimes tough to do but if I can laugh, I can handle anything. And a great big belly laugh with a friend (where you can’t catch your breath because you’re both laughing so hard) is the BEST ever!
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