Gary Simonsen: The last word

Perhaps the title may be a little misleading. Last word implies no one else will get to say anything. That’s not the case. It will be my last word as CREA’s CEO. So with that caveat, here are my final thoughts.

First, I have been privileged and fortunate to have been part of a profession that provides a fundamental need and service–helping people find shelter–whether modest or mansion like. From homeownership to recreational property to procuring business space, they all share a common element in assisting clients to achieve their real estate dreams and aspirations. Pretty cool!

Over the past century, the REALTOR® community through local boards, provincial associations and CREA has built a co-operative, efficient and effective system that is the envy of real estate practitioners and countries around the world. From MLS® Systems to REALTOR.ca to education to advocacy, and so much more, we can and should celebrate our collective success. Too often we lose sight or perspective on what we have accomplished, and how we achieved it.

This is not to suggest that we should rest on our laurels and take continued success for granted. Rather it is to focus on what matters. And what truly matters is what is happening outside the profession.

Technology disruption, access to real estate information, regulatory impacts from all levels of government, social media, housing affordability and consumer “do-it-yourself” trends, to name just a few, have had and will continue to have significant impact–disruptive or otherwise–on the REALTOR® community.

Far too often we fail to focus on these external challenges and instead devote our energies to internal grievances and complaints about who does or did what or who gets to control what. The penchant to gripe and grumble about the trivial or the tactical creates one of our biggest risks. It becomes an attractive distraction where controversy about turf and armchair quarterbacking consumes boardroom discussions, instead of vigilance and strategy development dedicated to the success and sustainability of REALTORS®.

It’s easy to complain. What’s the solution? How do we elevate our collective governance responsibilities to ensure we are focused on strategic issues and what really matters to the future of the profession?

Here’s a suggestion: why not create a common strategic platform that aligns across all regions and members? From there, CREA, provincial associations and local boards can derive their specific plans and priorities in support of a set of overall objectives. Doing so would improve alignment, clarify roles and enable more efficient allocation of resources, while–and this is the most important point–concentrating our resources and efforts on the issues that will have the greatest impact on REALTORS®.

As a final thought, I challenge the collective leadership of the REALTOR® community–staff and volunteers–to create common cause and action around the significant and the substantial. Keep the interests of members first and foremost. Doing so will ensure that the next century for the REALTOR® community will be as successful as the past one.

On behalf of the REALTOR® community, we share our thanks to Gary for his commitment, guidance and kindness. Here’s to your next chapter!

As former Chief Executive Officer of CREA, Gary Simonsen worked closely with our Board of Directors to oversee the management of the Association. Gary took the helm as CEO in 2011, after serving as CREA’s Chief Operating Officer since 2008 and being involved with organized real estate since 1984. When he can, Gary gets some rest and relaxation at his country home on the lake.


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