Through the eyes of an industry newcomer….

I’ve spent 15 years working for Fortune 100 corporations all around the world – technology, systems integration, outsourcing, management consulting… I’ve been through market downturns and times of uncertainty. I’ve had to manage corporate strategies when the market was shrinking and there was less to go around — suddenly, partners becoming competitors, and only the fittest surviving.

While some of this is true within real estate today, I must say what an impression was made upon me by the speeches, and the dinner conversation at the NAR Power Broker Dinner in Orlando, last Friday night.  In a ballroom filled with industry leading competitors, invited because they are the best in the business, I expected to see this crowd of the ‘fittest who had survived’ eyeing each other suspiciously and keeping to their own tables.

I could not have been more wrong. The atmosphere was more like that of a high school reunion.  The genuine friendship between leaders across different brands and brokerages was real and rose above the din of glasses clinking. There was a palpable sense of teaming together, so that the industry might come through this challenging time, rather than a focus on the success of individual businesses.

Then something even more surprising happened.  A single award was presented for service to the industry.  I was excited as I knew this award was going to be bestowed upon our very own Alex Perriello, president and CEO of the Realogy Franchise Group. I suppose I naively assumed based on past experience at these sorts of award dinners that it would be for something like successfully managing the largest real estate company in the country. Or perhaps overseeing the highest number of transactions, or some other traditional measure of success. Yet, Alex’s award was for a program he initiated called “Save the Dream”  : a program designed to help homeowners at risk of facing foreclosure stay in their homes, through education, planning, organization and assistance in talking to their lenders and understanding their options.  Many of these homeowners simply facing the challenge of English as a second language and not knowing how to ask for help or where to turn.

Alex encouraged every agent and broker in the room (not just the ones within the Realogy Franchise Group) to email him directly as he would share with them tools and communications he had created to help them reach out within their communities.  After the award presentation, the conversation among all the players at the dinner was energized and filled with passion for this cause.  These industry leaders were all signing up to take time out of their busy days – the days they spend competing and running their businesses, to reach out and help people in their areas, because it’s the right thing to do; because in the end it, helps everyone; because they seemed to carry a sense of community service, as Realtors®.

I guess the last thing I expected in a time like this was to see people finding time to do something that was not about being a leaner, fitter competitor.  Any of you members of the real estate industry reading this may think this isn’t surprising.  But let me tell you, if you’ve worked in other competitive industries, it is.  So, I guess my point is, no matter how much experience you have, it’s never too late to be surprised. It’s never too late to be encouraged by a spirit of teamwork and a sense of something bigger than individual success.  And I think I am really lucky to be part of this industry – even if I got here late!

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