We Did This Together

John M. Sebree, RCE, is chair of the Association Executives Committee and CEO, Missouri REALTORS®. Contact him at john@morealtor.com or 573-445-8400.
John Sebree at the 2020 REALTOR® Party Training Conference

Soon after I wrote my last article for this magazine, our lives changed drastically. We were asked to stay at home and immediately had to find new ways to provide all of the services to which our members have become so accustomed. Our purpose became hyperfocused: to operate our associations and help our members conduct business safely throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. And judging by the response from members across the country, many understand the value of their associations in a way they didn’t before the pandemic.

As association executives, we rose to the occasion. We pivoted in our delivery of meetings and education. We pored over government guidelines that changed daily. We studied how newly created relief programs could benefit members. Even with our staff working remotely, the membership knew we were there for them.

In the PC (pre-COVID-19) era, we’d often say there weren’t enough hours in a day. What a quaint notion. Can we collectively agree that this has been the busiest time in our work lives? There seems to be a new pandemic-related challenge every day. As I write this, we are grappling with how and when to open our offices safely, and we are finding creative ways to tackle each new challenge.

Before I became a state AE, I spent all of my time in the REALTOR® organization in the advocacy arena. We had many great accomplishments in those years. Still, I’ve never been more proud than I am right now of the incredible work that has been accomplished—at all levels—on behalf of the membership. The REALTOR® Party is stronger than ever before because of AEs and staff. The members see this, too; if they didn’t understand the value of our “Vote, Act, and Invest” mantra before, they do now.

I’m also proud of how seamlessly we’ve turned our longstanding in-person meetings and conferences into successful virtual events—and in many cases, found better participation. Another silver lining is that finding speakers during quarantine has been easier. When no flights or hotel stays are involved, the barriers to participation are removed; we’re not asking national experts to leave their families. They can sit in their own dens and basements and still provide members with the timeliest information about the most important issues of the day.

At Missouri REALTORS®’ recent business conference, five members of our congressional delegation addressed the opening session. Speaking remotely, they didn’t have to worry about missing committee hearings or floor votes to meet with their constituents.

I enjoy looking at the positives that have come from working remotely. As associations, we never really closed up shop. We never missed a beat; we found new ways to reach our members and operate our associations. Most positive of all is that we did it together. Uniting as never before, we have produced more good work.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but throughout this crisis, you—the AEs—have been my greatest resource. I’m so grateful that we can lean on each other and learn from one another. I’m thankful for you, and I congratulate each and every one of you for your extraordinary efforts this year on behalf of our members.

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