Charity, Learning, Networking & Whales: It All Comes Together At NAR Annual!

National Association of REALTORS Conference & EXPO

Each year, there are things to which we all look forward.

The day pitchers & catchers report each February. The first spring day it’s warm enough to go outside without a coat on. The last day of school. The FIRST day of school. And if you’re in real estate, the annual festival of awesome that is the National Association of REALTORS Conference & EXPO.

Some of you might be asking yourselves, “Wait. A convention? Of real estate professionals? What’s so great about THAT?”

While it’s understandable you’d ask that question, I assure you that each year, this is an event that brings the house down. Each year at this time, twenty-some-odd-thousand real estate professionals descend on NAR’s conference city of choice (this year, that happens to be San Francisco, so if you’re there, look out!) These people gather, ostensibly, to learn, to get up to speed on changes to laws, find out about new tools to help their businesses grow (like Happy Grasshopper … w00t!), and to hear from thought leaders in the industry about best practices for business, and so on and so forth.

And while you’re sitting there thinking, “yeah … that sounds great,” these people come for something else, too.

They come for PEOPLE.

They come to share stories. They come to see old friends. They come to make new friends. They come to find those intangibles that can elevate business, sure, but those things that become memories that last lifetimes. And I assure you there are lots that have been made over the years … and I’m betting lots will be made in San Francisco this year, too.

And here we are! NAR week is upon us and Happy Grasshopper is just finishing packing (grasshoppers have lots of legs … that requires lots of shoes) and we’re like kids on Christmas morning.

This will be my 8th NAR EXPO (or NARannual, as it’s affectionately dubbed). My first was in New Orleans in 2006–it was the first major event that city had hosted after being struck by Hurricane Katrina–and over the years I’ve gotten to visit some great cities, do terrific things like help build homes with Habitat for Humanity, and meet countless people, many of whom have changed my life (and in ways I never could have imagined).

Chance meetings. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Really bad karaoke. Jeff Turner. And whales. Yes, whales (that’s a story for another day … what happens in New Orleans STAYS in New Orleans). But I’ve had a chance to talk to lots of folks who’ve joined in the fray in years past and who’ll dive in again this year. When I asked them about their favorite memories, I got some answers that I expected and some, well, some surprised me, touched me, and made me smile. Some, all three. NAR Annual is a special event.

“Meeting Jeff Turner in person at NAR ’07 in Las Vegas. That was also the very first NAR BloggerCon. Good times. Good times.” — Daniel Rothamel, REALTOR, Speaker, Industry Thought Leader

“2010 NAR in the big easy. Waiting for some ladies to come down from the room and decided to have a drink in the hotel bar with one of my fellow Houston peeps. Sitting at the table next to us was a guy from Phily who struck up a conversation. Later, I came to find out it was THE Bill Lublin. We’ve connected many times since and I am thankful to those ladies we were waiting on for running late that afternoon!” — Ryan Bokros, VP Agent Development & Training at RE/MAX Northwest

“For me it was visiting the Katrina museum in NOLA.” — Chris Smith, co-founder of Curaytor

“Watching [names have been removed to protect the semi-innocent] sing The Humpty Dance on stage at some bar on Bourbon St.” — Todd Carpenter, Industry Raconteur & Man About Town

“The lightbulb went off at my first BarCamp in Miami..everything went off, and I got it in gear with the help of Bobby Carroll. My first REBarCamp was New Orleans… it was awesome, fun.. small and intense, even the walk ..the long walk with Stacie Wells and Kristina Moutz Cusick and then there was the muffaletta (maybe the best sandwich ever). And meeting Tony Lazzari in person.” — Debbie Kirkland, REALTOR at Armor Realty of Tallahassee

“For me, the 2010 Roll out of the new e-Pro certification had to be a big one, though serving on my first NAR committee is a biggie and chairing my first NAR committee in 2008 has to rank right up there. But then there was the meeting when we passed the amendment to Article 10 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation–the first time that the Code had led the law in preventing discrimination, and the first time I spoke at a national meeting–and then there was the time at band camp…” — THE Bill Lublin, CEO & Founder of Century 21 Advantage Gold and Powerhouse of Awesome

“Presenting to the MLS Committee as a Trulia employee last year in Orlando and including Psy, Honey Badgers, and McKayla Maroney in my slides… and killing it.” — Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of Data Analytics at the National Association of REALTORS

“2007 meeting Bernice Ross at NAR Las Vegas. She introduced me to Todd Carpenter who I met at 2009 NAR which introduced me to Jeff Turner, Amy ChorewDustin LutherDaniel Rothamel who ran a magnificent panel called Agent 2.0, which I still listen to today. It changed my life.” — Peter Brewer, Real Estate Professional & Consultant, Queensland, Australia

NAR’s annual event is about people. And that’s why we love it so much. We’ve made business connections, personal connections, shared laughs, pizza, tacos, and ridden giant, animatronic whales. Possibly. And we can’t wait to see what San Francisco has in store. If you’ll be there, be sure to say HI! Dan & I will be out and about and want to meet as many folks as possible.

What memories do you hope to make this year?

Photos courtesy of … me.

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