Nick Kremydas, RCE, CEO of South Carolina REALTORS®, cautions even experienced association executives who begin to think they know it all. As a nearly 30-year association veteran, Kremydas talks about the value of professional development, his go-to resources and the (not so surprising) way he motivates staff.
Q: Nick, how did professional development help you make the move from senior vice president and general counsel to CEO?
I was fortunate to have a leader and mentor, Jim Peters [CEO at South Carolina REALTORS® from 1993 to 2006], who encouraged me to get outside my comfort zone and develop my skills. He had the courage to point out my weaknesses, and I wasn’t afraid to take constructive criticism. I soaked it up like a sponge—it made me want to improve and build on my talents. This may sound weird, but my favorite part of annual performance evaluations is the discussion around how to improve to better serve our members.
Q: What has been the value of the RCE designation in your career growth?
The RCE designation is a great foundation upon which to build a great association executive career; it helped me gain insights that were not covered by my legal and legislative activities. From there, I’ve added a few floors—I’ve taken several other designation and certification courses as well. To better understand our members and their business, you have to walk in their shoes, see the industry from their perspective. If you’re a new AE, you owe it to your team and your members to invest in yourself.
Q: What other professional development resources are your personal go-tos?
The network of state and local AEs is one of the best resources
we have. There is always someone out there who can help with your self-improvement and your service to others. I also read constantly—I recommend the Feedly app to help organize and manage your media content—and as I travel around South Carolina, I’m always listening to the latest real estate or political podcasts and books. As AEs, we’re expected to know the news about our industry as it happens—sometimes before it happens! AEs also have to seek out those resources that will benefit their team. For example, did you know that Adobe has an annual creativity conference called Adobe Max (adobe.com/max.html)? Did you know it’s online and free to register for licensed users? The ideas generated by this one event alone take our communications to another level each year.
Q: How do you motivate staff to pursue further professional development?
Doughnuts and Starbucks.
Q: In a nutshell, why would you say continuous learning is important at any level?
Routines are comfortable, but it’s the siren’s call that will lead to an association that’s stagnant and not providing its members the best experience. I love my job because I continuously challenge myself and my team to improve, do more, think differently. We have an open and engaging environment that allows our members to challenge us with ideas and concepts. That’s the difference between simply managing an association and leading an association. I don’t want to be a manager—I want to be the best servant leader I can be. As AEs, we can be the example for others to follow—and that includes education.