Message From President Mike Theo: What Keeps You UP at Night?

 Mike Theo  |    September 09, 2019
president message

Ever get a song stuck in your head and you can’t get rid of it? Or an image you’d like to forget but can’t? Or that problem or issue that you think of constantly no matter how much you try to do or think of something else? Many times, these end up being those things that keep you up at night. 

I hate those things.

Several weeks ago, I was having recurring thoughts about organizational alignment and leadership. You might be thinking that I really need a vacation, or therapy, or both, but as strange at is sounds, it’s understandable in hindsight. You see, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on WRA and NAR issues regarding budgets, staffing, planning, programming and leadership development. These topics, especially when lumped together in a short period of time, can make your head spin. But, now, it all makes sense.     

At its summer meeting in Green Bay in early August, the WRA board of directors adopted the 2019-20 WRA budget. The process leading up to that vote involved hundreds of staff hours, a detailed review by the WRA executive committee and ultimately adoption by the board of directors. To the degree that budgets reflect an organization’s priorities, the WRA’s focus for the upcoming year is now in place. (And there’s no dues increase, either!)

Then I spent several days with Steve Beers, the WRA’s incoming 2019-20 chairman of the board, at NAR’s Leadership Summit in Chicago, where the focus was on NAR’s priorities for the upcoming year. That eventful program was followed by the WRA’s Leadership Summit in Madison where  incoming local board presidents and their association executives gathered to discuss how to align — in purpose, programs and messaging — their local goals and focus for the upcoming year with that of NAR and the WRA. 

This was about the time I began having these recurring thoughts about just how challenging it is to align all three levels of the REALTOR® organization in a manner that consistently and effectively serves our members and property owners across Wisconsin and across America

Ergo my slumber struggles.

But after thinking about it over time, and over a few adult beverages, I discovered that all these activities were in substantial alignment when viewed through the lens of our strategic visions and priorities. What eventually became clear is that, consciously or subconsciously, both the WRA and NAR organized our short-term programmatic priorities with our long-range strategic priorities. What are those strategic priorities for Wisconsin? I’d summarize them as follows: 

Taking a leadership role in making Wisconsin’s economy prosper: Advocate for policies that stimulate business development, job creation and housing growth, that will build a stronger economy and communities.

Preserve and promote the real estate marketplace: Create and provide accurate and useful information to our members, the public, public policy leaders and the media, regarding the importance of a strong real estate marketplace and the vital role real estate professionals play in that marketplace.

Be the voice of, and a strong advocate for, home and property owners: Continue to grow as the most effective advocate for laws, regulations and public policies that benefit our members and property owners.

Be the standard of excellence for our members and our profession: Provide the superior education, training and technology our members need and want in order to provide superior customer service beyond what is generally available on an app or information portal on the internet, and raise the bar of professional competency and courtesy.  

While these aren’t the exact words you’ll find in the strategic plans of the WRA or NAR, or in the budget documents of either organization or our local boards, these are the common macro-goals that our associations, at all three levels, are striving to accomplish.

On the back of the name tents at every WRA board of directors meeting, we print the WRA’s mission statement, to remind ourselves that every issue we discuss should be consistent with that mission. It reads:  

  • To support our members by providing quality education, superior legal information, unparalleled public policy advocacy, and cutting-edge business technologies.

And to what end? Our vision for the future is:

  • A dynamic real estate market that brings Wisconsin communities to life with great homes, businesses, jobs, neighborhoods, schools, satisfied customers and successful REALTORS®.

The fog of all the data dumps, endless meetings, numbing statistics, calculated projections and educated guesses that caused my temporary insomnia has now given way to the clarity of alignment between what we do every day with where, and what, we want to be in the future. It all makes much more sense now, and you know what? We have an amazing organization at all three levels, focused on the success of our profession and our members. And do you know what else? I’m sleeping much better now.   

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