By Alex Goering, 2022 Heartland MLS President
A couple of weeks after my wife and I moved into my parents’ basement, I did exactly what one would expect: I got my real estate license. I was nearly 23, which gave me slightly more credibility than being 22. I would describe myself as charismatic, which is not a way that any charismatic person would describe themselves. At least I had a strong and compelling reason why I believed I could make it as a REALTOR®, which was basically that “it seems right.” None of this is typically a recipe for success, but I felt deeply that this was all a great idea. I could feel that it might be the start of something special. I needed more than that feeling though. I could write a novel about the mentorship that I’ve received throughout my admittedly short career in this business, and without that mentorship my career would look very different. There are two mentors, though, who are particularly on my mind as this year ends.
About six months after getting my license, I was sitting innocently in the back of the office. It was December, and things had slowed down. The office was quiet, but a few of us were in and out. I was very likely going down one of the many rabbit holes that a newer agent can spiral into, when a seasoned agent named Judy Miller approached me. Judy was always no-nonsense and was very direct.
“Alex, are you on any committees next year?”
I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t feel that I had much to offer the industry. I had closed four transactions at that point and still lived in my parents’ basement, which seemed like it was hardly enough to participate in any kind of “committee.”
“Committees for what?”
She was visibly irritated that no one had talked to me about the opportunities to serve at KCRAR, an acronym that I only barely recognized. She jumped into a passionate explanation about the importance of advocacy and supporting the industry. She told me that it would be good for me, and that I should believe that I had something to bring to the table. I gave some indication that it may be interesting to me, and within another minute it became clear that she would not leave me alone until I agreed to serve in some capacity. You could see it in her eyes. She was going to close the deal.
The deadline had passed, but Judy was unfazed. She made a few calls and got me onto two committees for the next year. My service started with the Events Committee and YPN. These committees were a great fit for me and where I was in my career. I met so many people who were integral to my professional development, and I became more informed with each meeting. I can’t help but believe that my business grew as a result of following Judy’s guidance that day. Judy has always been a dedicated REALTOR®, and 2023 will be her 50th year in this business.
Through my experiences on association committees, I built many relationships, including another mentor in association leadership: Rob Curtis. Rob announced his retirement this year, so it feels safe to give him a hard time. He gets ribbed a lot for pushing people to get involved in the association. To paraphrase Jeff Carson at the Installation Event earlier this month, he’s been called “The Godfather,” “The King Maker,” and often “a Pain in the Neck.” He has many gifts, but one of the most valuable is that people naturally feel comfortable confiding in him. You either have that, or you don’t. People want to know what Rob thinks. They want to look through his lens, informed by decades of experience in many facets of the industry and a wide scope of “Who’s Who” in Kansas City real estate. He encouraged me to continue my leadership journey, and to continue to build my business. He became a confidant and a great source of encouragement. Eventually, I found my way to be the chair of Kansas Advocacy, Professional Development, and Heartland MLS. So many people helped me along the way, but Rob played an important role in giving me the confidence that I needed to lead.
I cherish so many things surrounding the opportunities I’ve had thus far. Most importantly, I’ve developed strong relationships. These relationships run deeper than company affiliation or business model. They began in recognition of common goals: Promoting ethical behavior, recognizing excellence, advocating for future and current homeowners, enhancing fairness within our marketplace, and preserving opportunity for future generations of REALTORS®.
All of this remains possible because of people like Judy and Rob. We must continue to encourage people to get involved, and we certainly can’t be afraid to listen to a calling. No matter where you are in your business, you can bring value to your profession. There is a committee that will help you grow, and where your contributions are needed. It may develop into an unforgettable journey. Our profession would look wildly different without a pipeline of well-qualified volunteer leaders. You never know what imprint you might make on the industry, and you never know whose life you may change. I will forever be grateful for the encouragement of Judy and Rob.
I’ve enjoyed serving as your 2022 Heartland MLS President. I look forward to seeing where Kyle and this fantastic board takes us next year.
Happy New Year!