President’s Thoughts: The Importance of Leadership and ‘Owning It’

CCIAOR President Martha Knapp

A new year is a time for beginnings, hope, and reflection. I have found all three of these to be equally important.

As I enter into my year of serving as President, I look forward to working with our leadership and membership to implement key initiatives, and continue to build on an already sound foundation.

This past year I have seen considerable change as I took on the responsibilities of president-elect. I traveled to  leadership symposiums, national conferences, and networked with other incoming presidents. The traveling was something I was apprehensive about, but I overcame that fear. The entire leadership process has definitely been a defining moment in my real estate career.

We all have defining moments in our lives. I would like to share a very personal defining moment in my personal life because it exemplifies how with thought, perspective, and the attitude to get involved, we can take a personal or professional crisis and turn it into opportunity to make a difference in the world around us.

A crossroads in my personal life was when my son, Michael, was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently passed away in August of 1995. It was fifteen months of emotional, financial, and logistical hardship. To say it was difficult would be an understatement and it’s a crisis that breaks many families.

The gift came when I was able to look past my own grief and see the opportunity to help others. My husband and I started a non profit organization that assisted families of children with cancer all throughout New England. We chose not to fund research as there are many organizations doing that. Instead, we helped families survive by paying their bills, putting gas in their cars to get them to treatment, delivering food so they had meals, and layering in additional resources. We worked very closely with Dana Farber, Boston Children’s Hospital, and other local hospitals and organizations. In nine years we assisted more than 950 families; I will forever be grateful to have had that opportunity.

There were many things I learned from that period in my life but one of the biggest lessons was that we all have the ability to make a difference. More important than the ability, we also have the responsibility. By taking ownership and addressing a need, we elevate ourselves as well as those around us.

When I first became involved at CCIAOR by volunteering to join a committee, I did it mostly out of curiosity. I had an interest in knowing more about our Association, and how the real estate industry runs outside of my own personal sphere of business. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone, challenge myself, and make a difference. I have done all those things.

My first assignment on the Grievance Committee has led to sitting on dozens of other committees and task forces, as well as being on the MAR Board of Directors, and a Trustee on the MAR Charitable Foundation. What I found was the more I knew, the more I wanted to know. I found the more involved I got, the more involved I wanted to be. It empowered me, and, despite any initial reservations I had about time commitments negatively impacting my business, I have found the opposite to be true. The experiences and knowledge I have gained has made me a better person, a better REALTOR®, and significantly impacted my business for the better.

Elizabeth Mendenhall, our 2018 President of the National Association of REALTORS®, has issued a challenge for REALTORS® to “Own It”. What does that mean to you?

To me, it means to be present in the moment, to step up to the plate and be accountable, to raise the bar, to be the best I can be both as a person and a REALTOR®, and to be a part of the solution and future direction of our association and industry.

We work in a business that is misunderstood by many people and our value is often minimalized. I believe a key component in changing that perception rests with each one of us. By holding ourselves and our fellow REALTORS® accountable we raise the bar. We must expect more and own it. We can do this in many ways such as holding ourselves to a higher standard, being involved in a committee or task force, participating in association or REALTOR® events, attending MLS tours, providing feedback, and submitting Calls to Action.

I look forward to serving as your 2018 President and working alongside you to promote home ownership and serve the needs of our clients. Let’s work together to make 2018 the year of raising the bar and owning our role as REALTORS®.