NAR Leadership Addresses Criticism at NAR 360

Just over a month ago, when NAR revealed the new logo and social media exploded with criticism. I had a conversation via text with one of my mentors about the events that were transpiring. I observed that the next month would be an interesting case study in leadership. How would NAR’s volunteer and staff leaders handle the reaction in the lead up to this week’s Board of Directors meeting?

It’s my opinion that leadership absolutely “owned it” over the last five weeks, and judging from the standing ovation that greeted President Elizabeth Mendenhall when she took the stage at NAR 360, a lot of people agreed with me.

Yesterday’s NAR 360 was one of the most powerful sessions I have ever attended. The session started with screenshots of criticism leveled on social media against NAR. Next, Elizabeth took the stage and stated that it’s really easy to avoid criticism, “Just don’t say anything, do anything, or be anything.”

But that is not what our industry needs.

The next segment of the session was a dramatic presentation about the history of the Fair Housing Act. It addressed portions of NAR’s history that might be more comfortable to sweep under the rug, such as blatantly discriminatory language in an earlier version of the Code of Ethics and NAR’s opposition to the Fair Housing Act.

Avoiding difficult topics, however, is not what our industry needs.

These two sessions took up the majority of the program. Although very different in time period and scope, both brought front and center the need to deal with challenges, apologize for past mistakes, and not shy away from criticism. Doing nothing is not acceptable – we need to push forward to improve our association and our industry. Mistakes might be made along the way, and when that happens we have a conversation, we deal with it, and we keep moving forward.

That’s what our industry needs.

John Blom

John Blom is a managing broker of Hasson Company, REALTORS® in Vancouver, Washington. He was also a member of the 2017 NAR Leadership Academy and is passionate about taking the leadership skills he has gained through volunteering with his state and local REALTOR® association out into the community. In addition to serving on several non-profit boards during his eight-year real estate career, last year he ran and was elected for a seat on the Clark County Council. John has always had a passion for public policy. After earning his master’s in history from Ohio University, he spent four years as a historian/analyst for the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute. When one of his fellow brokers heard about this interest, she encouraged him to join the local association government affairs committee. From that point, he was hooked. He has served on national, state, and local policy and REALTOR® Party committees. Talking about advocacy, John says, “We need to always be connecting the stories to the policy. Flood insurance isn’t just numbers on an actuarial table, it is people’s lives. We can’t get lost in the policy and forget the people it impacts.” Beyond real estate and his role with the county, John enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, rock climbing, and training for obstacle course races. He and his wife have completed two Spartan races this year and completed the “tri-fecta” in Sacramento last fall.

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