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This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses the environment at the office, and how culture can positively shape the workplace. 


Jim Imhoff, Chairman, First Weber Real Estate, Madison, Wis., Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)


Lennox Scott, Chairman/CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle, Wash.


Michael Scarafile, President, Carolina One Real Estate, Charleston, S.C.


Chris Trapani, Co-Founder/CEO, Sereno Group, Los Gatos, Calif.


Susan Anderson, Branch Manager, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Vista, Calif. 


Jim Imhoff: Over the past couple of months, we’ve zeroed in on discussions about our value proposition as brokers—the advantage we bring to our agents and our customers—and the strategies we put in place to help our agents grow. So, it seems a natural progression, now, to talk about creating an inspiring office culture; the kind of workplace people love to come to—one where they feel valued and capable, and that motivates them to be the best they can be in their lives and in their careers. That’s a tall order, but I’m eager to hear from some open-hearted and authentic leaders who are doing that in their own ways. Lennox, you’ve been at this a long time. Where does inspiration come from?

Lennox Scott: It comes from many sources, Jim, but for us, it starts with positive thinking and the mission of our leadership team, which is to gather together the energy of the company, every aspect of positive energy, and turn it back into our offices in ways that motivate and encourage. My wife, Deanna, has written a book, “Speaking the Language of Miracles.” The book is about our son’s battle with a rare form of leukemia, but its core message is the miracle of positive energy, and that’s the core value of our company. A positive environment breeds caring people, and that breeds innovation and excellence.

Michael Scarafile: I get that message, and for me, as a leader, I know you can’t do it from afar, so my priority is to personally take that energy to every office and every agent and employee. I’m fortunate that all our offices are in relatively close proximity, so I’m able to get to three or four offices every week—and while each office develops its own culture to one extent or another, my goal is to be there in every one of them, to recognize, to be part of their coaching and team-building efforts, and to help inspire connection and success at work, at home, in our communities.

Chris Trapani: When my best friend, Ryan Iwanaga, and I launched our company in 2006, we were unified by a desire to create a different kind of company—one that goes far deeper than hiring agents and opening offices. We wanted to focus on doing good, making a positive difference, and being the very best we can be in the communities where we live and raise our families. We started with agents who have a passion for excellence, but who also have a similar mindset—agents who today are doing an average of $10 million in sales each year, but who are wholly devoted to, and connected by, our commitment to charitable giving. This year, thanks to our commitment to “One percent for good,” we’ll write checks for well over half a million dollars to 28 charities we believe in. It’s the tie that binds us: this common commitment and drive to excel and do good along the way.

Susan Anderson: One thing stands out for me in what I’ve heard so far. It takes a village—and I agree. As Michael said, every office develops a culture of its own, but it also takes a leader who can set the tone. As a branch manager in the same office for more than 20 years, my mission has been to create a village that thrives on compassion and support—a nurturing environment where nothing is impossible, and teamwork can overcome anything. We mentor. We champion. We demand accountability. We celebrate positivity and achievement.

JI: So, nurturing, positivity, a passion for giving. That’s what I hear you saying—the support and connectivity you give to your agents spills out into your communities and circles back as satisfaction, productivity, and a will to help others.

MS: That’s a formula no virtual company can replicate—the synergy of the workplace, the mutual goals and celebrations that motivate achievement on many levels.

LS: We have a sign on the wall in every one of our offices: “Live Life as a Contribution.” It’s joy at work. It’s about relationships, and the outcomes they naturally inspire.

CT: There are so many great, giving companies out there, and so many charitable foundations. I think that’s a tribute to who we are as an industry, and we’re proud to be a part of that.

JI: It brings to mind this quote by John Quincy Adams: “If you inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader in the truest sense.”

SA: I’ll second that, and pay it forward.

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