I have two phrases to describe the first VAR Strategic Planning Committee meeting of 2008 – “very pleasantly surprised” and “ouch, my brain hurts”. You may be saying to yourself, “Why?” and “that’s an odd description?!” Let me explain…

The reason why I say “very pleasantly surprised” is because I saw what actually goes on “behind the curtain” and it’s more positive and engaging than I ever imagined. You see, I was once an un-engaged and apathetic member of VAR. In fact, I may have been on the fine line of being an “assasin”. To me, VAR and its’ dues were a necessary evil when it came to conducting business as a real estate agent in Virginia.

But that changed a few months ago once I became actively involved. As a “newbie” to being on a VAR committee, I am learning how much, not how little, VAR actually does for the benefit of all its’ members. It’s also becoming apparent to what lengths VAR goes to in order to “get it right” and help its members succeed as Realtors.

The last SPC meeting was a testament to that fact. The meeting was dedicated to ensuring that the Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Guiding Principles were in line with what the Association originally set out to do as well as the changing needs of its’ members and the ever-changing real estate industry. These three items are very important because they are used to determine what services VAR provides its’ member and how VAR conducts itself on a daily basis. At the core of all these discussions were the needs of VAR members. There was no room for personal agenda – only what is best for all REALTORS in Virginia. This is what lead me to use the phrase “very pleasantly surprised”.

As far as “ouch, my brain hurts”, that has to do with the very thought-provoking, long and hard discussions surrounding the Mission and Vision Statements. We approached it from a number of different angles and used various methods to come to a conclusion. I seriously began to get a headache from all the concentration and thinking I was doing. At one point, even the facilitator said that he was getting a head-ache. No worries though… The headache was not from the process being a pain in the ____. It was because we were all working so hard to make sure we got it right and that our members were best served.

In case you’re wondering, one of the main topics of discussion was just that – VAR members “wondering” what goes on behind what they perceive to be a “curtain.” This hit close to home for me because I used to often wonder the same thing. Well, VAR is fully aware of this and is working very hard to change that perception. VAR is striving to become more transparent and engaging with its’ members. One example of this is VAR buzz, this blog. A focus on transparency is one of the reasons why you are reading this post and why this blog was created.

I do have to say though that it’s not a one way street. If VAR had engaged me, but I chose not to get involved, then nothing would change for me. In fact, at that point, I could only blame myself and not VAR. That was the other topic of discussion that came out of the first one – When VAR engages its’ members, what can VAR do to help get them involved?

The answer for some is nothing. There are some members that will not care what goes on nor want to get involved no matter what VAR does. Then there are others that may only want to passively watch what goes on whether it be via this blog, the newsletter, the magazine, etc. For the latter group, this may be more involvment in VAR than before, which is still an improvement and credit should be given to both VAR and those members.

For the remaining group, this higher level of transparency and getting rid of the “curtain” perception will spark them to actively get involved. Whether it be through volunteer work, teaching a class, joining a committee or some other way, these newly-involved members (such as myself) will have active involvement in VAR and contribute to all of our fate as REALTORS in Virginia.

To sum it up, here’s my personal take on the first official Strategic Planning Committee meeting of 2008 and the main points I got out of it:

  • There is no “Secret Society” or “secret handshake”
  • There is no “Dr. Evil” heading the committee meetings
  • VAR is aware that not all members are engaged and is working very hard to change that
  • VAR is striving to be more transparent so that all members know what’s going on and what their dues are paying for
  • The core focus of VAR and why it exists is its’ members and their success as REALTORS
  • And last, but not least…if you want to really see what’s going on and contribute, don’t just talk about it – get involved!

Keep an eye out for the follow-up post to the second Strategic Planning Committee meeting in early March.