Elizabeth Mendenhall’s Emotional Parting Words

NAR’s outgoing president leaves REALTORS® with a final inspiring message before her term comes to an end.
NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall

© REALTOR® Magazine

“Being your president has been a gift,” Elizabeth Mendenhall said in her final address at the helm of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Strength. Discipline. Courage.

Those are the three characteristics that set REALTORS® apart from ordinary real estate professionals, said 2018 NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall in an emotional parting address Saturday during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo General Session. “When you have strength, discipline, and courage, you are capable of anything,” she said. “Each and every one of you has the strength to be the very best, and I ask that you share that with your fellow REALTORS®, your families, and the consumers you serve.”

Mendenhall—whose term as president is ending, making way for incoming 2019 NAR President John Smaby—recalled the people in her life who helped her develop the attributes she spoke about.

  • A “gruff” high school swim coach who taught her strength and honesty when evaluating whether she tried her hardest to meet a challenge.
  • Her father, Richard Mendenhall—NAR’s 2001 president—who instilled discipline and the importance of being organized and prepared when going after personal and professional goals.
  • Her niece, Avery, who suffered from muscular dystrophy at an early age but had the courage to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer.

Sadly, Mendenhall revealed that Avery, 17, died this year in an ATV accident. Mendenhall credited the ability to meet big challenges in her career to Avery’s influence in her life. In 2010, as then-president of Missouri REALTORS®, she led the state association’s controversial charge to end transfer fees. At an event she headlined, members were looking to her for answers on whether their efforts were likely to succeed. But with little indication of where the issue stood in the state legislature, she wasn’t sure what to tell them. “I could tell the truth, spin the truth, or hide the truth,” Mendenhall said. “I chose to tell the truth—that I didn’t know where we would end up but that we could be proud of everything we had done.”

Shortly thereafter, Missouri followed the state association’s advice and abolished transfer fees. “Always have the courage to tell the truth,” Mendenhall said. “It’s why we are the gatekeepers of the American Dream, and it’s why we are REALTORS®.

“I can’t say how thankful and honored I am for the trust you put in me,” she added. “Being your president has been a gift.”

Mark Wahlberg Talks Shop

Later in the program, Mendenhall was joined onstage by keynote speaker Mark Wahlberg, an Oscar-nominated actor, philanthropist, and commercial real estate owner. Wahlberg, a principal owner of the Wahlburgers restaurant franchise, said success in business is largely dependent on having the right team. “It’s about surrounding yourself with talented people and empowering them to make decisions,” he said. “I want to be in business with people who really bring something to the table—people who want to build and grow business with me.”

With 32 Wahlburger restaurants operating across the country today, Wahlberg revealed plans to open as many as 200 more in the future. “I’m being hyper-aggressive in growing the brand,” he said. When prospecting for new business partnerships, “I’m not afraid to pick up the phone and cold call someone or ask for a meeting. I’ve never met a real estate professional who isn’t hyper-aggressive; you guys know how to do this,” Wahlberg told the audience.

The Mile 22 star, who said his typical workday begins at 2:30 a.m., acknowledged that competition is becoming more fierce, adding that “if you’re doing things you really believe in, you’ll rise above. Getting up earlier than everybody else and working harder is part of it. But if you really make your clients feel like you’ve got their back, you’ll be good.”