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Opinion Editorials

Realtor Party: are you in or out? NAR, Realtors respond

A recent editorial explaining why one Realtor has opted out of the Realtor Party has stirred support and disagreement.



NAR Realtor Party

NAR Realtor Party

Do you pledge allegiance to the Realtor Party?

Recently, AG columnist, Erica Ramus published an editorial entitled, “Realtor Party? Count me out,” which stirred passionate support from Realtors across the nation, while simultaneously drumming up disagreement from local boards, state associations, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) itself.

Ramus’ premise was that belonging to the Realtor Party is a pledge of allegiance to support candidates and ideas that the Party deems worthy, instead of making her own independent decision, an assertion that the NAR strongly disagrees with.

The NAR weighs in

Tom Salomone is the 2012 Director of REALTOR® Party Activities, and is a REALTOR® from Coral Springs, Florida. Salamone tells AG that “REALTORS® are some of the most active citizens in their communities throughout the country — fighting for candidates, issues, laws and regulations that positively affect not only the real estate community, but the community at large.”

“When necessary, those local REALTORS® reach out to the national REALTOR® Party for financial assistance in their endeavors,” Salamone added. “The local REALTORS® decide what’s important in their communities. REALTORS® on the street decide which candidates are best for their communities after thorough research and vetting. The national association does not decide for them. You won’t see the national association dictating to the local members who they should vote for or which party to support.”

One of Ramus’ key opinions is that belonging to the Realtor Party is a mandate to contribute to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC), as the Realtor Party website says, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you… invest in RPAC.”

Salomone responded to this point, noting that “The initiatives and campaigns REALTORS® take on are partially funded by voluntary investments in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The key word here is ‘voluntary.’ The wonderful thing is that once REALTORS® hear about the amazing campaign and community outreach successes from fellow REALTORS® across the country, they invest in RPAC willingly.”

Realtors in support

Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake said of the Realtor Party, “I am with you 100% Erica. I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.”

“I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either,” Iowa City Realtor, Denise Hamlin said. “We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own.”

Julia Odom, Chattanooga Realtor weighed in about Ramus’ opinion piece, saying “What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.”

One state association’s point of view

Brandon Alderete, Government Affairs Communications Manager at the Texas Association of REALTORS® tells AG, “We’re not telling anyone who to vote for. When you see a candidate is endorsed by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, it’s because of her position on issues related to private-property rights, homeownership, and the real estate industry. We’re the association of REALTORS® … not the association of every single issue out there.”

Alderete added, “The other point is that this isn’t staff sitting around an office picking names out of a hat. Candidates are interviewed by Texas REALTORS® across the state. That group sends recommendations to the state association, where it’s reviewed by several other panels of Texas REALTORS® before being approved.”

On political advocacy, Alderete noted, “Another interesting angle is how much legislators rely on relationships with trade associations. You can’t expect a lawmaker, who, say, owns a sporting-goods store, to know how every single bill might affect real estate. But he has to vote on it. That’s why political advocacy is so important … it’s about making sure our members have a voice when important decisions are being made that could affect the real estate industry, private-property owners, and consumers.”

One Realtor’s point of view

In response to Ramus’ editorial, young Realtor Drew Fristoe opined in a blog on the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors’ blog in a post called “REALTOR® Party – count me in!

“I have been a REALTOR® for a little over four years,” said Fristoe. “I have been involved as a REALTOR®, even before my License was back. My first REALTOR® event was ‘Day on the Hill’ in 2008. From that day on, I was hooked. I am on a FPC team for a State Congressman in Virginia and I am a RPAC contributor.”

Many young and new Realtors come prepared to buck the system, so Fristoe’s support of the Realtor Party stands out to us. In response to Ramus’ assertion that homeownership is not a guaranteed human right, Fristoe said, “I actually agree with that statement, BUT I think everyone should have the option if they want it. It is our job as REALTORS® to be able to help our clients make the decisions that are best for them. If our client does not have the ability to purchase, we need to have them speak to the right people to figure that out. Then over time, help them to get in a position to buy a home, if that is what they want. At the end of the day, we are individuals who can make our own decisions and should help our clients to do the same.”

Fristoe argues that the Realtor Party does not require allegiance to vote how they deem mandatory, rather the Realtor Party “was created as another tool in informing REALTORS® about the issues that affect your business, which will in turn affect your life.”

The takeaway

While Ramus stirred up a tremendous deal of support for her position, the attitude of the associations is that of a defensive, yet optimistic posture.

Salomone demonstrates this best in his statement about NAR. “We are an organization built from the grassroots up, not from top to bottom. We believe that homeownership is a privilege and we support sustainable homeownership. While acting on REALTOR® and citizen issues, REALTORS® show amazing resolve. Often it will be a long hard fight to win on issues that support homeownership and the citizens of our country. I applaud those who don’t give up, and who continue to work diligently within their communities to protect the American Dream. Our association members have long declared they are the Voice for Real Estate. It’s always great to see them put their money and their efforts where their mouths are. Most people in life don’t.”

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.



strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.



Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!



Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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