Message From President Mike Theo: When Swearing Is Good

 Mike Theo  |    October 14, 2019
President's Message

“in the role you are about to assume, you will no longer be a private citizen but a public servant, representing your local association and the real estate industry. You have agreed to commit your time and your efforts for the pursuit and protection of the free enterprise system and the right to own, use and enjoy real property.”

With those opening words, new REALTOR® leaders across Wisconsin are being sworn in to office, committing themselves to making their associations, their communities and their profession better in the year ahead. I guess this is one time swearing is a good thing.

For the past 34 years, I have had the pleasure of watching the WRA chairman, officers and directors be sworn in at our annual convention. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our new chairman Steve Beers from Keefe Real Estate in Lake Geneva as well as his officer team of chair-elect Mary Duff from Stark Company in Madison and treasurer Brad Lois from Bear Realty in Burlington. They are a great team with a great vision and great goals for the WRA for 2020 and beyond. 

Each fall, I also have the privilege of traveling the state to conduct installation ceremonies for local associations and MLS leaders across Wisconsin. I love these events because they not only represent a time-honored tradition in our organization, but also because these events highlight the uniqueness of our profession. This uniqueness is both in who we are and what we do.

Kenny Parcell, a great REALTOR® from Utah and upcoming leader for the National Association of REALTORS®, visited with the WRA board of directors last year to update us on national issues and discuss this uniqueness I’m talking about. He told a story that stuck with all of us.  

Kenny is a former college football player and a big-time motorcycle rider. On a particularly cold, windy and rainy day, he stopped at a small gas station in Utah to stretch a bit and get some refreshments before heading home. While enjoying his break, and a carton of milk, the gas station owner asked him about the big blue flag with a big white “R” flapping in the strong wind on the back of his Harley. Kenny always rides with his oversized REALTOR® flag on the back of his bike. He explained he was a REALTOR® and the flag represented the professional association to which all REALTORS® belong. Kenny told the gas station owner about our Code of Ethics that all REALTORS® swear to live by and assist in enforcing. And he also passionately described how REALTORS® do more than just sell houses — they also strengthen families; build communities; lower crime; increase educational success; build families’ net worths; energize local, state and national economies; and most of all, fulfill the dreams of people of all ages.  

While giving his passionate sermon on who we are and what we do as REALTORS®, several other customers overheard and began listening in. When Kenny finished, one gentleman who had been eavesdropping marveled at the fact that a whole profession saw itself in such a holistic, purposeful and cohesive way. He said as a plumber, his profession didn’t wear plumber lapel pins, don plumber flags on their vehicles or see their work as “a calling.” Several others standing nearby in the gas station echoed the plumber’s comments and offered similar critiques about their professions lacking the kind of cause and commitment that Kenny so passionately described about REALTORS®.

I think what Kenny described that cold, wet and windy day in the middle of the Utah plains is accurate. But we don’t often enough take the time to acknowledge this and celebrate this. We should.  

As we enjoy this time of seasonal, market and leadership change, we should all celebrate, congratulate and sincerely thank those REALTOR® leaders who have fulfilled their oath of service and whose terms in office have now concluded. We should also celebrate, congratulate and sincerely thank those new leaders who have now been sworn in to office, pledging to support our association, advance our profession and protect property ownership rights. We should also re-double our efforts to improve professionalism and follow the lead of our new chairman Steve Beers and his inaugural call for improving our skills as we improve the way we treat one another, personally and professionally.   

Each of us who heard Kenny’s story remember it and remain touched by it. His story is illuminating, and it’s likely each of us could tell a similar story about who we are and what we do. Stories like these define our profession and should define our association.

With their right hands raised, our new crop of REALTOR® leaders end their swearing-in ceremonies by promising to support the bylaws of our organization, the laws of Wisconsin in the enforcement of the state license law, and, “most importantly, to support, through your example and your actions, the Code of Ethics of the REALTORS®.” This is an important pledge not just for those who will be leading our state and local associations in 2020, but it’s an important pledge that each of us should swear to every day. Congratulations to those willing and elected to serve our association. We pledge to help you succeed.

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