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Malcolm Young on Surviving and Thriving

June 1, 2006

Malcolm Young, rce, cae, CEO of the Louisiana Association of Realtors®, has received the coveted William R. Magel Award of Excellence in Realtor® Association Management from the National Association of Realtors®. The award is given annually to a person who has excelled in his or her role as an association executive. Young's work to provide immediate practical, monetary, and emotional support to Realtors® left in Hurricane Katrina's wake was only one of the accomplishments that led to this honor. With more than 26 years as part of the Realtors® organization, Young spoke to RAE magazine about the most significant challenges and endeavors of his career.

How has the Katrina disaster changed the way you lead your association?

The most important part of managing since this crisis is to communicate to each Realtor® that you truly care about them and will continue to care in the future. I’ve found during the recovery efforts that meeting with people face to face is essential in understanding what they’ve gone through and what their needs are. Another key to surviving this crisis has been the trust from the association’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. I’ve had to make some tough decisions quickly, like rescheduling business meetings, revising the 2006 budget with programs and services essential to recovery efforts, and managing the Realtors® Disaster Fund, distributing more than $1.7 million to citizens and Realtors® in Louisiana.

LRA’s leadership role also has expanded since we also now partner with the two local associations that were destroyed in the hurricane and help them with everything from housing their Web sites to giving them space to run their offices remotely from our headquarters.

What has been the most challenging moment of your association management career? The most rewarding?

Now is without a doubt the most challenging and rewarding time. Not knowing what the true economy is going to be with regard to recovery and rebuilding for next year or the year after is a challenge when you need to plan for funding and staffing current and future programs, products, and services. Trying to predict members’ needs is also a challenge because what was normal or routine 10 months ago, such as accessing the Internet or helping customers with financing information can be hard to deliver today. We try to continue, day by day, making sure our members are supported and protected with the services they need.

I feel so proud to be a part of the Realtor® family when I look at the tremendous support we’ve received from across the country. When I read the “thank yous” from members who have lost everything, who say the small contributions we are sending have made a huge difference in their lives, that’s the reward.

What skills will association executives need to run the Realtor® associations of the future?

With the new trends in real estate, CEOs in our position have to be curious enough to dig and find out about the new business models and services our members are developing. Keep abreast through the news and governmental entities of what the changes in real estate will be.

AEs must learn to lead. The way we manage and work with our volunteers has changed and will not reverse. The members depend on our insight and knowledge to give them the background to make decisions. The members set the policy and it is our job to manage the financial and human resources to carry out our mission. AEs also need to remember to build trust and respect as peers and joint decisionmakers at the boardroom table.

Be ethical and truthful. When I say ethical, I mean follow the golden rule and business ethics in running your association. Members and the public are demanding honesty and integrity in managing the association.