In the spirit of giving back—a cornerstone of the real estate industry’s philosophy—National Association of REALTORS® CEO Bob Goldberg announced Tuesday that NAR has partnered with the Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit led by college students, to donate unserved meals at association conferences to local food banks.
Goldberg made the announcement at NAR’s Leadership Summit in Chicago, where hundreds of state and local association executives are gathering this week for education and training sessions. “We serve all this food at these conferences, and at the end of the day, we have to throw it all away,” Goldberg said, citing laws that make it difficult to donate meals for fear of spreading foodborne illnesses. However, he added, it is legal—and responsible—to donate food that was never served.
FRN, which was founded in 2011 and has more than 200 chapters on college campuses in 44 states, has recovered more than 3.9 million pounds of surplus food from school cafeterias and local restaurants. The nonprofit helped NAR recover 85 meals from two canceled meetings during May’s REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. The meals, which ultimately were not served at the conference, were donated to a local homeless shelter. FRN will also help to recover unserved food at Leadership Summit and the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco this fall.
Goldberg on Tuesday challenged the 1,200 state and local REALTOR® associations nationwide to join the effort by pledging to develop their own food recovery programs. A U.S. map appeared onstage, showing in real time the number of associations who took the pledge on the spot. Most regions of the country were well represented in the final tally.
‘Leadership in the Sunshine’
Goldberg also shared his leadership philosophy, which he calls “leadership in the sunshine,” with summit attendees. Transparency and humility are the top qualities a leader should have, whether it’s an association executive, broker, or real estate team leader, he said.
- No room for ego. “If you’re open to learning and not thinking you have all the answers, that’s a very powerful thing,” Goldberg said. “Leaders that fail miserably are the ones who put their ego ahead of what needs to be done.” You have to have a sense of selflessness in order to lead effectively, and you must treat the people you work with as partners, not subordinates, he added.
- Develop a thick skin. “You can’t be afraid of criticism,” Goldberg said. “As a leader of [NAR], I’ve taken some hits. Why? You have to be bold and have courage to make the changes that need to be made.” You also must listen to what the people around you are telling you about your organization. You can’t ignore their complaints. “There’s a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth—so we can listen more and talk less,” Goldberg added.
- Remember that you’re serving a greater purpose. “It’s not about what you accomplish in just your year,” Goldberg said, alluding to the term limits of association leadership teams. “It’s about what you are helping REALTORS® to accomplish together over our long history.”
- Show fearlessness in the face of a challenge. Even as technology upends the traditional real estate business model, “we shouldn’t be fearful of what’s out there,” Goldberg said. “REALTORS® have always been the drivers of this industry.” It’s incumbent upon real estate pros to embrace and work with technology, considering it as a “business partner,” he added.
- Don’t keep consequential information hidden. The quickest way to lose loyalty is to withhold information, Goldberg said. If changes need to be made—even ones that may be uncomfortable in the short term—have the courage to address those changes with the people you work with. “It’s important to tell employees, volunteers, and staff everything you know,” Goldberg said.