“Being in the Room”

By John Kindbom, 2020 Association/Canopy MLS President

“Being in the Room” is the 2020 theme at Canopy Realtor® Association and Canopy MLS. Approximately 375 of you heard about this at our Installation Luncheon on Jan. 10 at the Crowne Plaza Charlotte. It was a great event.

We installed our 2020 officers and board members for the Association, MLS and Canopy Housing Foundation. We also presented 2019 President Brenda Hayden with a glass gavel in honor of her leadership. As we debuted our new building and branding last year, it took someone special, with style and grace, to handle issues that came up along the way. What a fabulous job Brenda did.

What does “Being in the Room” mean for us this year at Canopy?

It means being engaged with the critical decisions and actions that affect our Association and industry. Consider the Broadway show “Hamilton.” Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr both wanted to “be in the room” when critical decisions were being made in the early days of our country.

Our Association and MLS are not newcomers to this idea of “being in the room.” For decades, we have taken a leadership role locally, statewide and nationally in the real estate industry. Our Canopy Housing Foundation is a model for associations across the country. We have representatives in almost every aspect of our industry, including education, marketing, MLSs and board leadership. Our own Maren Brisson-Kuester, a former Association/MLS president, is 2020 president of NC REALTORS®.

Yet, as we start 2020, there are three areas where “Being in the Room” is important if we are going to keep moving forward. They are governance structure, the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC) and multigenerational understanding and cooperation.

Examining Governance Structure

Our Association had its annual visioning session a few months ago, and the main purpose was to talk about our governance structure.

Historically, we have changed our governance structure as we’ve grown. For example, in 2003, we created separate boards of directors for our Association and MLS. In 2014, we expanded our Housing Foundation board to include members of the community.

In 2018, when Canopy MLS acquired the assets of the North Carolina Mountains MLS, we committed to looking at MLS governance within three years to address the impact of expansion.

We are now on the path of examining our overall structure and have appointed a governing task force. At the visioning session — attended by Association and MLS board members and key stakeholders — many people were engaged and spoke out. It was done with respect, and that’s something we’re lacking in the world right now. We have to address that, even in our world of real estate.

One member at the visioning session asked why we are examining governance now. My answer was, and still is — I’m not worried about today; we are doing fine. But five or six years from now, will our structure hold up? Are the three boards we have the way to go? How will changes impact our staff and leadership? We want to be proactive in answering those questions. Over the next several years as we scrutinize governance, we will leave no stone unturned. We will “be in the room.”

Why RPAC Matters

I know some people are uncomfortable with politics, but pardon the expression — get over it.

We need elected government officials who know who we are, what we do and how rules and legislation affect us. This happens through RPAC by financially supporting and educating candidates for office. Issues we currently have include agency relationships, independent contractor status, affordable housing and flood insurance.

Each of us needs to be an ambassador for RPAC. We need “to be in the room” with government officials.

Generational Common Ground

Also on our 2020 agenda is the multigenerational aspect of our industry. When I entered the workforce, I had only one generation to deal with. Now there are four, soon to be five. Communications are challenging, and we have to figure this out.

Why don’t we start focusing on our commonalities? This year at the Association when we picked committees, we made sure there was representation from different generations.

Can my Boomer generation make it alone without help from other generations, and can other generations make it alone as well? The answer is “Yes” to both, but that’s not the point. The combination of generations working together helps everyone succeed at a higher level — taking advantage of our respective strengths and delivering the best service possible.

When I got into real estate 42 years ago, a friend of mine said: “John, the most important person in our lives, outside of our immediate family, is our Realtor®. I hope you understand and accept the responsibility you have.”

Yes, we must accept that responsibility. Realtors® today are more valuable than we have ever been — and we all must be in the room.