Dalai-Lama-image and quoteAfter just coming back from the NAR Mid-Year meetings I harken back to one of our greatest spiritual leaders of all time – The Dalai Lama. He has an amazing quote that I feel bears repeating – “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasing resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. You have always the choice.”

For those of you that are following the latest real estate news, NAR Mid-Year was a very exciting meeting. There were great strides taken with the Broker Public Portal and RPR’s AMP program. There were great discussions about ways NAR through it’s RPR division could provide a whole new way to help brokers become more efficient, differentiated, innovative and maybe even more profitable.

Just days before the NAR Mid-Year conference Zillow announced that it would provide public records to MLSs – another potential game changer in the industry.

Are these programs “real” yet?

Will any of these programs make it?

Will they roll out as originally outlined?

Not likely. Like all software products and new businesses their business model, revenue stream and even core value proposition might change.

While I believe all of these programs present interesting opportunities for all of us to consider, this article is NOT promoting or critically evaluating ANY of them.

It’s about our industry’s REACTION to new ideas.   As soon as a new idea is presented the HATERS come out in bounds. There are a million theories about why it won’t work or about the “TRUE” motivations underlying the initiative. Instead of spending a quiet moment to contemplate the potential opportunities that each idea presents, we start immediately talking about why it WON’T work.

Why is it that we don’t even give ideas a chance to germinate before we throw them under the bus? Not only did I hear people panning the new initiatives being proposed, I also heard deep criticism of those that had the guts to reach out and try something new and different in the spirit of creating a stronger and more vital industry.   I find that very disappointing.

The world is littered with now-defunct industries that refused to believe that disruption was inevitable or even an exciting opportunity to strengthen an industry. Instead of carefully considering a new approach to satisfy the needs of today’s customers, these industries held doggedly on to their own beliefs – ALL the way to bankruptcy or irrelevance.

I would like to tell you a personal story about just such a situation that happened in our own family. For those that don’t know, we are proud to claim Howard Lund, founder of Lund boats in our family. He was the inventor of the first ever aluminum fishing boat. For those of you that are lake fishermen you know that the Lund name stands proud even today as the best quality aluminum fishing boat in the world.

Let’s go back to when Howard invented the aluminum fishing boat. At that time ALL fishing boats were made out of wood. When Howard returned from his military duty he could not afford a fishing boat, so, having been trained in working with aluminum, he decided to try to make himself a boat with aluminum. He was successful. He built a boat that could be thrown on top of a truck and transported without a trailer.   He was driving the road one day with his boat on his truck and a reporter from Field and Stream saw it and stopped him to learn more about it. The rest is history.

So how do you think the boating industry responded?   Yes, as you would expect, out came the “Haters”. (only they weren’t called Haters then). They said “that will never work”. “Nobody will buy a boat that isn’t wood”. “Who is this guy anyway? He’s not from a “real” boat company – what does he know?”

Do these words sound familiar? These are exactly the types of things I was hearing last week.

Now did Howard put the wooden boat manufacturers out of business? No. He simply expanded the marketplace. He created a new affordable type of boat that was designed specifically for the unmet needs of lake fishermen.   The boating industry is still alive and well today and probably stronger because of his innovative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, in the 80’s recession, the cash flow generated by Lund Boats help keep two high end boating brands, Hatteras and Wellcraft afloat.

Don’t you think that we should be embracing new ideas and critically evaluating their true value before categorically rejecting them?   Again, any or all of the ideas talked about last week may or may not work, but then again, they may help re-invent brokerages, MLS and even NAR. Don’t we owe it to our industry to seriously explore any and all ways of positioning ourselves for future success?

I’m not asking our readers to blindly accept new ideas. I’m asking for each of us though to start every conversation and product review with an open-mind. We might just find a way to keep our industry strong and thriving for generations to come.