Reflections from the CEO
Denise Schultz, 8/14/2015

Every day in America there are conferences where people sit in the audience detached, doodling, playing on their phones and tablets while speakers drone on about shifting paradigms or read Power Point slides. And then there are life changing events like what I just experienced in Chicago, thanks to the National Association of Realtors®.

I am one of those people who, although I’m not necessarily proud of it, tend to think I know a little more than others about a lot of things. (Some tell me it’s that being born under the sign of Taurus thing.  After about 40 years of arguing I realized the irony of that, so I just smile now if it comes up.) Although I am a lifelong student and make sure I learn at least one new thing every day, I am not at all good at classroom education or to be honest, sitting and listening.

But I listened over the past 5 days. And I listened closely.  I listened to some of the most inspiring and amazing people I’ve heard in my life. So before I get caught up in the minutiae this morning, (Brad, that one’s for you) let me share a few the highlights.

Evander Holyfield – “The Real Deal.” Man, is he! What an amazing speaker and human being. Evander was not on our agendas anywhere. He was a surprise guest when incoming NAR President Tom Salomone introduced his mission for Realtors® to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Evander told the moving personal story of his life, from being an 8 year old boy who didn’t give up on asking if he could box, to becoming the undisputed World Champion of boxing. His message of encouraging youth was powerful. Someone has to say “yes.” He credits the Boys & Girls Club and his Mama. I will make it my personal mission to help our local Boys & Girls Club of Walworth County, and hope to involve our association, based on this inspiring presentation. I also think Tom Salomone is going to make an incredible leader.

John Foley, Former Lead Solo Pilot for the Blue Angels. Wow! This guy inspires. High energy doesn’t begin to describe how he addresses developing high performance teams. I realize not everyone has seen the movie Top Gun enough times to recite most of the lines by heart like my family does, but most people have seen it at least once and would be impressed to know he is the guy who did most of the flights we see in it. He talks about flying upside down, at speeds we can’t imagine, and 18” apart from his team mates, and about things far beyond what any of us will ever do. But John’s message of  “Glad to be Here!” will echo in the minds and hearts of anyone who is fortunate enough to hear him speak. Few people can speak to the importance of trusting your team and partners like John can. Top three takeaways: “Be Grateful.” – “Focus on the Center Point.” – “Connect with the heart – not just the head.”

Dale Stinton, CEO of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From the first time I heard Dale speak, I have respected his straightforward and honest delivery of anything asked of him. I saw him address almost 2,000 association leaders one day, and almost 200 young entrepreneurs the next, and he treats them all exactly the same. My favorite message of Dale’s on this trip was to the YPN-ers: “Don’t let anybody tell you no. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what you want to do,” he said firmly, explaining that “people like him” are just here to “help guide and keep things moving.” Bravo Dale.

Kristin Smith, Rock Star! Oops, I mean Realtor, Dallas Texas. This young lady is probably close to considering me a stalker at this point. I may have told her she is the inspiration for how I see my GrandGirl in the future. I spent two days among lovely, intelligent, successful females who sounded scared to death when a microphone was put in front of them. (That’s for another blog and a lot hours of free consulting in the future …) But then there was Kristin. Wow! Confident, charismatic, driven, and fully aware that she has something to say worth listening to. I’ll be watching as this rising star shoots up higher and higher in the Realtor® world and beyond (but not in a stalker kind of way.) 😉 And of course, there are many other amazing young men and women involved, including of course, Bobbi Howe, Elizabeth Mendenhall and Krista Clark, just to name a few who stood out to me over the past few days. THIS is why I am a YPN Champion. I can’t applaud NAR and Rob Reuter enough for what they are doing through the Young Professionals Network. The leaders of the future are here.

And finally, to the City of Chicago. Bravo. I claim to be a country girl who “hates” the city, but you amaze me more on every visit. The landscaping alone takes my breath away. The cityscapes get more impressive every day. The Navy Pier fireworks offer thousands of people the feeling of a major holiday on random summer nights, as do free movies and events everywhere we turn. The food is incredible and topped only by the wonderful service staff who go out of their way to handle our bags, give us directions, and make us feel at home when we are anything but. Thanks Windy City.

Time to catch up at the office.