Want to become a better leader? Join a YPN

Want to become a better leader? Join a YPN


REALTORS® involved in a Young Professionals Network (YPN) can identify and develop leadership skills, boost their confidence, build relationships and learn other valuable lessons.

Those are a few of the observations shared by Chicago-area REALTORS® Moses Hall and Erika Villegas and Texas REALTOR® Krista Becker during the podcast, “YPN to Leadership.” They took turns answering questions from Illinois YPN Chair Megan Beechen about their own leadership development experiences and encouraging fellow REALTORS® to get involved with local and state YPNs.

“With a local association, there’s absolutely no better time for you to find a tribe or find resources than right away,” says Becker, a volunteer YPN leader on various levels since 2011. She says the relationships she formed with colleagues while working in the state of California laid the foundation for her most recent success as a member of the National Association of REALTORS® YPN Advisory Board.

“If it wasn’t for the connections we’ve made or the relationships we built through YPN, it wouldn’t have been as easy for me to help others throughout the association.”

REALTORS® interested in developing their own leadership skills can start by identifying small ways to be of service in their own brokerages or offices, says Villegas, a partner and designated managing broker at RE/MAX in the Village in Oak Park and a partner for RE/MAX Town and Country in Aurora. For example, members can help newcomers handle situations they have never faced before. If those kinds of opportunities do not exist, she suggests members get their feet wet by volunteering for local association committees or finding ways to support local communities, businesses and charities.

How has YPN helped you?

“Before I became involved in YPN, I realized I was getting drained and I wasn’t operating at my best,” says Hall, broker-owner of MoHall Commercial & Urban Development and a member of REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019. “It helped me to set boundaries and start time-blocking. I had to learn my limitations. I learned that I don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything. Setting boundaries allowed me to be more efficient in almost every aspect of my life.”

Becker says it is critical for leaders to develop a thick skin when it comes to decision making. Also, she learned an important lesson after a particularly long stretch of work without a break. “I think it is really important to take time to step away from your job and have downtime,” she says. “Take four hours a week and remove yourself from outside influences: social media, your phone, your clients and even your family and friends.”

Villegas says that committee involvement with her local association, the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, as well as involvement with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and with the Illinois REALTORS® have all contributed to her growth. To be a great leader, she continues to work on her listening skills.

What has been the most exciting moment in your leadership journey?

“The Illinois REALTORS® Global Symposium that we just had was my most exciting moment. We had experts from China, Canada and all over the world,” says Hall, a 2020 NAR Commercial Economic Issues and Trends chair and current member of the NAR Board of Directors. “They shared perspectives about retail, industrial, vacation homes and buying patterns. We got tremendous reviews. People really loved it. We couldn’t have done it without vice chair Andy Velkme and Illinois REALTORS® staff.”

Any tips for balancing work, committees, leadership and life?

Although she initially resists the idea that she can balance her work, her association activities and her personal life, Villegas says: “I sort of have compartments. When I am at the office, I do that really well. When I am at a board meeting, I try to do that really well. When I am at home, I try to do that really well. When something is important to you, you’re going to make time for it. Maybe that’s balance.”

Successful leaders step out of comfort zones

“I would encourage those who are on the fence about involvement with YPN to just do it,” says Hall. “It will teach you so much, not just from a business standpoint but personally, too. It brings out of you what you did not realize you had in you. Getting involved in our industry, in our association, has taken my career to the next level.”

Becker, who is a member of the NAR YPN Advisory Board representing Region 10 and is on the NAR MLS Committee, agrees. “I think everybody has some leadership skills because there are so many different types of leadership roles and leaders,” she says. “Some just are not aware of what leadership skills they possess because they haven’t been forced to use them yet.”

Full Transcript

Dana Gurnsey: Welcome to the Illinois YPN Podcast, where members of the Illinois REALTORS®, Young Professionals Network, or YPN, shared their tips and resources for your real estate career. Our topic for this episode is YPN to Leadership. I’m Dana Gurnsey, the Illinois REALTORS® staff liaison for our state YPN Advisory Board. I’m super excited to bring you these insider tips for newer agents in the real estate business, or just agents that are looking to grow their leadership skills and get involved in their local, state, and national associations.

Dana Gurnsey: Hi Everyone! I’m Dana Gurnsey, Illinois REALTORS staff liaison for our state YPN Advisory Board. In this episode we have three rising industry leaders joining who are going to talk about their journey into leadership roles. They are sharing how they got started, sharing their tips they have learned along the way for agents that are looking to develop their own skills and get involved in their local, state and national associations.  So getting right into, I want to welcome my co-host Megan Beechen who is our 2021 Illinois YPN Chair. Megan is a REALTOR® in Lamont, Illinois. And a VERY active member with her local association, Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®, where she is past chair of their local YPN board. And in 2019, Megan was named to the National Association of REALTORS® 30 under 30 class—which is a huge accomplishment! Welcome Megan!

Megan Beechen: Thanks so much, Dana. I’m super excited about this podcast today, because leadership is definitely one of those things that I did not anticipate getting so involved in when I started my real estate career, and it’s an unanticipated part of my journey that really grew me as a person and expanded my horizons. YPN was definitely a launching pad for my leadership journey, and I have those that recruited me into YPN in the very beginning to thank for all of the different things that I’ve accomplished since then.

Megan Beechen: I could talk all day about my own experiences, but we do have some other rising stars joining us from a recent program that we did virtually. We have Krista Becker, formerly Krista Knight, from the National Association of REALTORS® YPN Advisory Board, joining us all the way from Texas. Moses Hall, a Chicago Area commercial realtor, who has been very involved with YPN and global committees from his local association, all the way up to the national level, and Erika Villegas, REALTOR® in Oak Park, Illinois, who serves on her local board of directors and is involved with YPN and our industry partner, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, or NAHREP. Let’s jump right into it. Welcome, Erika. How are you today?

Erika Villegas: Great. How are you, Megan?

Megan Beechen: Very good. Very good. I’m super excited to have you a part of this today.

Erika Villegas: Thank you for inviting me.

Megan Beechen: Of course, thanks for joining us. Let’s get started and talk about your journey with leadership as a REALTOR® and getting involved. I guess, first question, just to open it up, have you always considered yourself a born leader or was this something that you developed?

Erika Villegas: Well, from my understanding, I was always a leader. I’ve heard stories of me in kindergarten and just being a little girl, and wanting to do everything as sometimes girls do. I mean, not necessarily that boys don’t, but I have a daughter, a three year old daughter, and I think she’s going to be a leader. I think she’s going to do great things. Sometimes when I talk to my aunt and my mom about what Victoria is doing, they’re like, “Oh, sounds like you. You wanted to dress yourself, you wanted to be the leader, you wanted to follow the train, and you have to be the leader there,” and I can do it. Very much a self-sufficient three-year-old.

Erika Villegas: I remember hearing stories about me being in kindergarten and just kind of growing up and always wanting to help, always wanting to, as we say in Spanish, always putting our spoon into something to make sure we were the first ones to do something. I would think that, that came from being an only child at the beginning. I do have siblings, but I was an only child for about 12 years. Then as I grew older, I was always raising my hand. Then, being in middle school and high school, I remember, there was a fundraiser, who wants to take the lead? My hand was always up. I will lead that, or we’re going to do this.

Erika Villegas: We’re going to raise funds for something. I would raise my hand all the time. I think that, over the years, I’ve developed that, but I have some really awesome aunts and my grandmother that have always been leaders in that way. If they see someone in need, if they see an opportunity, they are going to get involved, and so I think that, that’s just an extension of how I was raised as well.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. That’s great. It sounds like it’s been with you forever. What words of encouragement do you have, if any, for somebody who maybe feels like they weren’t a born leader or that doesn’t come as naturally to them?

Erika Villegas: Well, I think there’s always opportunities, right? There’s big and small opportunities. I think that, for agents, there’s opportunities to help within their own brokerages, within their own offices. There’s always a new agent that needs a helping hand getting started, that has questions, that is having a problem with a transaction that they’ve never dealt with. That’s a really short and simple way to get involved just within your own brokerage. Then there’s other things that you can do within your association, within YPN, within your community.

Erika Villegas: I’m highly involved in my community and anytime there’s a need, we need to help 25 seniors, I’ll figure it out how to do that. There’s a lot of ways of doing that, that you can start small. You can start within your block. You can start within your kid’s school if you have kids. I think that there’s opportunities out there. We just have to open our eyes a little bit, pay a little bit attention, and it could be a very simple thing. I think, at least for me, anytime I serve, anytime I help, I feel that something comes my way, something better comes my way, and then I just want to do more, or seeing that you’re helping someone and what you can do for them, even sometimes words of encouragement bring a smile to someone.

Erika Villegas: Then you kind of start building on top of that. So, looking for the small ways to be able to be of service, I think that’s what we do as REALTORS®. We tend to service people, and so I think it’s just an extension of what we do as REALTORS® as well.

Megan Beechen: I love that. It just highlights the fact that leadership is really just service.

Erika Villegas: Yeah, it is.

Megan Beechen: It’s not about you, it’s about helping out.

Erika Villegas: What can we do? I mean, I know a lot of realtors, and partly because I’m highly involved with the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, but just within my own community, I was talking to an agent here in my community that works for another brokerage, and she’s doing some awesome stuff here in the neighborhood. I think that when we help buyers and sellers achieve their goal of home ownership, we are helping people, we are doing a service. I think it’s easy sometimes to service in other ways within our company for sure.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. Definitely. We all have the skillset already to become leaders.

Erika Villegas: Yep, and if we can’t do it, for me, if I don’t know … I have a client, or clients had ask me, “Hey, do you know this?” Hey, I don’t know all the answers, but I’m going to find someone that does. I’m super resourceful and I know a lot of us are as REALTORS® as well, because we want to help, because we want to assist. I’m like, “I don’t know that, but give me a second. Let me text in our group text for our office, or let me send an email to colleagues of mine that know more than me.” If there’s a commercial, question about a commercial property, let me ask one of my commercial. Our colleagues, MoHall, is one of them that I’ve referred some stuff to him. If I don’t really answer, I will sure find the answer for you. I think that’s partly something that we do when we are wearing a realtor hat, and I think that’s kind of what we do as well when we help others within our communities or schools or whatnot as well.

Megan Beechen: Yes, definitely. Resourcefulness and adaptability. Definitely.

Erika Villegas: Absolutely.

Megan Beechen: I love it. What’s another skill that you can think of that you would say that you need to be a good leader?

Erika Villegas: Well, I think being a good listener. I’m still working at it. I love to talk, that’s what we do in this business. Not only are we talking about home or we’re talking about the process, or we’re talking about the … When we’re out with our buyers, we’re talking about neighborhoods or restaurants, and whatever we are doing in our daily routine. Learning how to take a step back sometimes and being a better listener, making sure that we are understanding what our clients is saying to us, because that’s sometimes where I’ve grown over the years as a leader to make sure that I’m bringing value and that I’m bringing the value that is needed to the table.

Erika Villegas: Because sometimes we have an idea of how we can best service, or we have an idea of how we can do something better, but when you’re serving, it’s the greater good. So, looking at the opportunity to help, but what is the best option, and how do we go about doing that? Sometimes your idea will not be the best idea in the table, but knowing that we are helping the greater good. When I talk to newer agents that are going to potentially serve, or I encourage them to submit an application to YPN, or to CAR, or to NAHREP, you’re going to wear a different hat.

Erika Villegas: You’re going to wear now a hat that is going to be of service for the greater good of that organization. Now, it’s not, for me, it’s not my RE/MAX hat anymore, or it’s not my community hat anymore. It’s really learning how to be that voice, listen, listening, and then be that voice for the greater good of that organization that you are being part of.

Megan Beechen: I love that. I love that. That transitions us into, I guess YPN a little bit. Was YPN the thing that started your leadership journey?

Erika Villegas: Part of it. I was moving up in my leadership journey with YPN and with NAHREP, so I was kind of serving at the same time with both. I had not really gotten involved with the association, with CAR, with the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, other than serving on a few committees for inaugural and a few other things like that. So, Erin Mandel tapped my shoulder, because she is a kind of leader that is always looking for other great leaders or other people that she believes in to be able to then serve as well. She, alongside with Tommy, tapped my shoulder and thought I should get involved. One of my mentors, Frank Williams, has been someone that I always look up to and that I call for help.

Erika Villegas: I’ve learned so much from him when we were doing … When there was a law, an unjust law that we thought was segregating more neighborhoods, which was HB 4050, and he was one of the leaders in that movement, and I was part of that. So, we formed a nonprofit for a little while to be able to advance that. Seeing the hard work that was being done, and then seeing that, for me, Frank Williams has opened the door to be able to sort of demand that seat on the table for people that look like me. Because for so long, not too many women, not too many Latinas have been on the table, at the table, and had a voice. Those have been some of the people that have been pivotal for me to be able to open that door.

Erika Villegas: When YPN was that opportunity, I guess I was still young.

Megan Beechen: You’re still young.

Erika Villegas: Because that’s what people sometimes say. When I invite people to YPN, I’m like, but I’m like them. I’m like, it’s okay, we want people, you are young at heart.

Megan Beechen: Young at heart.

Erika Villegas: Now, the 40 is the new 30, and the 50 is the new 40 and what not. As long as you are serving your clients and you are young at heart, and you are serving your clients, you are welcome to come and to learn. There’s so much to learn from … Even for me, when we have a newer agent that’s 21, 22, 23, I’m like, it’s great to see that drive. That’s also an attraction. I was able to then apply for the board, for the YPN board. I served my first year in like 2000, oh my God, 2000, maybe 15, potentially, I think, ’14, ’15.

Erika Villegas: Then I became vice chair the following year, and then chair the year after that, and then I stayed on one more year as past chair, and then I took one year off to sort of reanalyze what I was going to do. I had my baby, my daughter, Victoria, she’s three now. So, I took that kind of year off to focus on my daughter and grow my business as well in certain ways. Then I applied to the board of directors at CAR. For sure, that has had an impact. It was an easy process and an easy way to learn more as well, and to get to know more staff at the association, to get to know other realtors that are like-minded that sort of want the same thing.

Erika Villegas: Then also to get to know a little bit more how the association works without still being on the board, because to me, that was important. I don’t like to rush into things. I don’t like to just say, I want to be part of this just to be part of something. I’m thoughtful in my process, because I know the commitment and I don’t like to do things just halfway, right. If I say I’m going to do something, then that means I’m all in. That’s why I took that sort of one year off to re-strategize my business and my family, all that good stuff, to then be able to then come back and serve at a different level.

Erika Villegas: I think that, for anyone looking to serve, looking at your business and seeing how it best fits, and sometimes starting in a committee is the right way to do it. Then from there, looking at other opportunities within your association. YPN is just a great sort of step to move on and to get to know other like-minded individuals and to kind of get to know your association a little bit better as well.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely, definitely. You hit on some really good points there. I also like to call the fact that … What you said about who tapped you on the shoulder, I think, with YPN and with all leadership journeys, it is like, everyone can recall when they were tapped on the shoulder. So, making sure that we do that for others too.

Erika Villegas: For others. Yeah, I can’t remember who told me, but years ago, someone told me that as you’re serving and you are growing that you also have to look for your replacement, that you also have to look for the next person that, as you move on in your journey, in your leadership journey, there’s other people that sometimes don’t even know that they’re ready to serve, or they don’t even have, or maybe don’t understand the process, or that don’t feel they can do it. Because a lot of times we doubt ourselves. But that you always have to be looking for that person potentially in the qualities that are needed within the association.

Erika Villegas: Because we need all kinds of different people and we need all different kinds of ideas, and so looking at somebody else that can then come in and take your spot to be able to also serve and grow the association.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. That’s huge. That’s so important. Okay, well, we’ll do one last question. You touched on kind of taking a year off and getting back into it at a different capacity. How do you balance life and committees and leadership and your business? Any tips for how to make it all work?

Erika Villegas: I don’t think there’s a real balance. I think that’s a word that we use all the time, and we want to say that we balance. I don’t know if I balance. I sort of have compartments. When I’m at the office, I do that really well. When I am on a board meeting, I try to do that really well. Then when I’m at home, I try to do that really well. Maybe that’s balance. This last year has been different for all of us. Finding the time to serve for me has always been important. So, when something is important to you, you’re going to make time for it. I have two companies. We have about 34 agents between both offices.

Erika Villegas: I still sell real estate. I’m on several committees at the association. I serve on the board of directors. I have a six-month-old, a three-year-old, a 16-year-old, a husband as well. Family right now, in some ways, we have not really had a family time other than our really little family here at home. Figuring out what you want and at what capacity you want to serve, and then looking at, what does that look like within your business? Anytime somebody says, “Hey Erika, I think it would be great for you to be part of this.”

Erika Villegas: I always say, “What’s the time commitment.” It’s okay to ask those questions and then it’s okay to be honest with yourself and say, okay, do I have the time to commit to an extra 10 hours a month or two hours a month, or whatever that may be? It’s okay to say no, sometimes. I remember Maurice Hampton called me to serve on something, and it was just when I had had a Victoria, when she was just born, I said, “You know what? I can’t. That’s just the reality. As much as I want to, because in my nature it is to serve, it’s okay to say no sometimes, and that’s what I tell people, because at the end of the day, you want to have the opportunity for you later on

Erika Villegas: You don’t want to serve and do a crappy job, and then when you’re ready, really, to do it, people are going to realize that you weren’t such a great leader. We all deserve a second chance. Don’t get me wrong. But knowing and asking those questions and being okay with that saying, hey, what is time commitment for me? And can I do it? If you can’t do it, it’s okay to sit back and say, “You know what? I can’t do that at this point. Can I serve on an event committee? Which is sometimes six weeks or eight week commitment, and then learn a little bit more about that process.

Erika Villegas: Then, when you are ready to serve, then raise your hand. There’s always amazing opportunities within your association, with your local association, with your Illinois association, with the state association, and other nonprofits that we are all part of potentially. So, it’s okay sometimes to say no. I’ve learned how to say no to certain things as well. Because, especially now with the baby, it’s important to have time at home as well with everything else that I do.

Erika Villegas: Don’t feel embarrassed to say no, sometimes. When you’re tapped on the shoulder, no one is going to be upset at you as leaders, when you say, “Hey, I think you would be great for this.” It’s okay to say no sometimes and take a little bit of time for yourself to analyze your business. Because at the end of the day, I know that, as leaders, we don’t also want people to suffer in their business and their family life. Family and business, right? Family comes first, absolutely. Then your business, because that’s how you feed your family, that’s how you house your family, that’s how you do everything else.

Erika Villegas: So, making sure that you are honest and open, and then also with leadership within the association, when maybe you need to take a little time off. No one expects you to do more than what you can.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. It sounds like you’re very intentional with the roles that you choose.

Erika Villegas: I try to be. I’ve been tapped for other stuff, and sometimes it’s like, you know what? It’s not the right time for me right now. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be the right time in a year or two potentially, or when that opportunity opens up again, but you want to do right for your association. That’s the way I see it, and for your colleagues. When you have a group of 10 to 12 people within, or however many are in this group that you’re serving, for example, YPN, or on the board of directors, you also want to do justice to your other colleagues that are there, and they’re are fully committed.

Erika Villegas: Either you’re all in, that’s what I say, you’re all in or you’re all out, and that’s okay, because your time will come to serve. There’s so many opportunities for sure.

Megan Beechen: That’s amazing. That’s such great advice. Well, I guess that wraps up our interview portion. Thank you so, so much for all of your insight and for chatting with us.

Erika Villegas: Yeah. Thank you so much to you, Megan, for the opportunity.

Megan Beechen: Welcome, Moses, how are you today?

Moses Hall: I’m doing wonderful. How are you doing?

Megan Beechen: Very good. Very good. I know you’ve been a really busy person just recently hosting the REALTORS® Global Symposium and participating in our YPN panel as well in the same week, so we definitely appreciate your time, and thank you for that.

Moses Hall: Absolutely. Thanks for having me on.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. With that, Illinois REALTOR® committees and events bring together members from across the state and create connections between people who might not have otherwise met. Can you think of somebody that you’ve met through YPN that’s had an impact on your career and/or life, and why that relationship has been so meaningful?

Moses Hall: Well, for starters, can I start with you?

Megan Beechen: Aw, that is so sweet.

Moses Hall: Just the ability and opportunity for us to be involved in our state, to meet, and obviously you presented this opportunity for me to be on this panel. Just that simple connection right there is evidence of how the networking, the association, being involved in your industry can produce so much opportunities and wonderful relationships.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. I so appreciate that and I feel the same. I think it’s so cool that you can meet people from even like within your own state that you might not have ever otherwise met. I rarely go to the city for anything. It’s very cool that we both met officially in Springfield of all places, so awesome. Awesome. Did you always consider yourself a born leader? Is that something that you’ve kind of always had in you?

Moses Hall: Yeah. Looking back at my childhood, I always was the class president, the choir director, or musician leader, or anything, I’ve always been in certain leadership roles, even sometimes when I was just trying to be in the back, in the background, I was always pushed to the front. I’m looking back from childhood, even to adulthood how each position prepared me for where I am now, and so I’ve been preparing for leadership roles my entire life in different capacities. Everything that I’ve done was a life lesson that prepped me for these opportunities as such.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. That’s awesome. I think that’s a common theme between leaders is that, in childhood, they were always the ones that kind of raise their hand and go to the front of the line and answer all the questions. That’s really cool.

Moses Hall: Absolutely.

Megan Beechen: What would you say is your leadership style? When you are leading a committee or a group of people, how do you go about doing that?

Moses Hall: I always like to lead by example. I know sometimes, and what I mean by that is it’s okay to delegate certain duties and responsibilities, but I also like to get down into the weeds. I’m not going to actually do something that I’m not willing to do as well so I try to lead by example on the committees that I lead on and different things like that. I would categorize my leadership style is as hands-on, not necessarily micromanaging, but also letting people know that I’m willing to get down in the weeds and not just point and tell you to do this.

Moses Hall: I’m willing to get down and do things myself as well. That’s how I would describe my leadership, very hands-on. I also listen. I’m not above approach or anything like that. I think is also to be in tune with your committee members or whatever leadership role that you’re in, making sure that you’re not out of sync of what’s going on.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. Definitely. Listening to the people that you’re serving and kind of being right there with them.

Moses Hall: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Megan Beechen: That’s great. That’s awesome. What are some words of encouragement or advice that you would give to somebody who’s been asked to take a leadership role but is hesitant because they might not yet consider themselves a leader?

Moses Hall: I say, do it. I would encourage everybody, you don’t know what you don’t know until you do it. Jump into it. I’m a hands-on learner. I can read a book, sit in a classroom, but I don’t really learn until I’m actually doing it. I think there are so many resources and people to lean on just within the association if you’re unsure about something. I know I can call Tommy Choi, and it’s like, if I have a question, or Sue Miller, if there’s a certain question that I’m not too certain off, I know I can reach out to people that have paved the way for me to serve in these leadership roles.

Moses Hall: I would encourage those that are on the fence to just do it. It’ll teach you so much, not just from a business standpoint, but just from a personal. It brings out of you what you didn’t realize that you had in you. I encourage all of those, even if you’re on the fence, get involved. Me getting involved in our industry, in our association has definitely took my career to the next level. It increased my wisdom, my knowledge. Like I said, not just from a business standpoint, but from a personal standpoint of how I’ve grown and matured over the years.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely, I feel the same way about it. It’s one of those things that you didn’t realize, at least I didn’t realize getting into real estate that I was going to take it this way and develop myself as a leader and sit on all these committees. It really opens up your eyes and broadens your horizons. It’s very beneficial for me.

Moses Hall: Yeah, absolutely. For me, I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, and serving on some of these committees and associations, it gave me an insight look of like what a boardroom operates like. Like I said, because I’ve never worked a job and I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur, I never had insight of how to structure different things, how to run a meeting, how to record minutes, how to … Different things that I can apply to my own personal business. I didn’t know these things until I started serving and I saw how to properly run, what’s the protocol? How to set certain guidelines and standards and how to run a meeting.

Moses Hall: These are practical things that you can apply in everyday life. I definitely encourage those that are on the fence to get involved.

Megan Beechen: I love that. So, how did you first get involved? What was your …

Moses Hall: When I first got into real estate, I was like, yeah, I’m going to just sell properties, sell properties, I’m going to be this and that, but then I realized that it’s not just about getting a lead, showing a property, and closing a deal. To really be successful in this industry, you have to get involved. I first started with YPN. That was my introduction to association activity, and from YPN, it just … Once I did that, I moved to the next level. Then I served on this, then I served on that, but YPN was my starting foundation, and from there, I built upon that.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, mine too. Mine too. I think a lot of us in the industry have that first place as YPN, and that’s why we’re hosting this panel today, because those that are involved in YPN don’t realize just how far that they can go just by starting there.

Moses Hall: Absolutely.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. Do you recommend that people just join YPN right away, get started with it if they’re on the fence?

Moses Hall: Yeah. I know the climate is a little bit different now, but I know here in Chicago we had monthly programs that you can go and network to and get your face out there. But I do encourage, if you’re just starting out, get involved with YPN. I just say, get out there and do it, don’t be afraid. Don’t think I’m not good enough. You just never know. You literally miss 100% of the shots you never take. So, go ahead, get involved, get active, and from that, that will really hone in on your leadership skills that will allow you to advance further in our industry.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. What are some of those leadership skills that you would say you need to have? What’s one or two skills that you think a leader needs to have before taking on a leadership role?

Moses Hall: You really have to have tough skin, thick skin. I mean, it’s not easy. If you’re in it to get a leadership role for just the name recognition, but there’s a lot of hard work behind it. You know firsthand, putting on this panel, is virtual panel at that, there’s a lot of hours that go into prepping for a program, preparing for different event ideas and trying to be fresh, trying to be innovative. I think you really have to really be in it because you love it. Don’t just do it just to do it.

Moses Hall: Those are some of the leadership characteristics. You have to be willing to learn. Go into a role and position willing to learn because you don’t know it all, and you’re going to learn as you go. Those are some of the characteristics that I would encourage leaders to have.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. We are always learning in this job and industry, and there’s always something to be learned. That’s great advice. Something that we could always use more of is time, so how do you manage, especially you with all the different businesses that you have in particular, how do you manage it all? How do you do these roles and stay on top of your business and also have time for family and work life?

Moses Hall: To your question, I struggled with that for quite some time, but I think it’s about setting boundaries, time-blocking. Before, I’ll just not have any boundaries, not having anything set, and it’d just be a free for all. I realized that I was starting to get drained and I wasn’t operating at my best capacity. So, I had to learn my limitations, I had to learn to delegate. I had to learn that I don’t have to say yes to everything. Setting those boundaries allow me to be more efficient and operating in every aspect of life.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, being intentional and really giving your all to the things that you commit to.

Moses Hall: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Megan Beechen: Awesome. Well, I will wrap it up with one last question. So, what has been the most exciting moment in your leadership journey?

Moses Hall: You know what? I’m going to have to say the Illinois Global Symposium that we just put on. That was the first time we really put on something virtual like that. I literally couldn’t have done it without my co-chair, vice chair, Andy, the IR staff, I mean, they were phenomenal and really putting this event together. We got tremendous reviews back. People really loved it. People were looking forward to the next global event. I would say that me being the chair and kind of spearheading that event, that was really one of my proudest leadership moments.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. Could you tell us just a little bit about that event?

Moses Hall: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So, I’m the chair of the Global Business Committee for IR. We had, obviously with the pandemic, there’s been a lot of changes in how we do international business. We had experts from all over the world, China, we had Canada, we had all different people come and give their perspective from retail, from industrial, to vacation homes and buying patterns. We had a field of experts come together to give their feedback of what’s going on currently in the market globally and what to expect in the future, so that this better helps our REALTOR® members be able to better position themselves to still be able to conduct international business.

Moses Hall: It was a full day event. We had a morning session with commercial based experts, and then we had an afternoon session with residential based experts, and then we had a networking session. Like you said, it was all day event. It was phenomenal. We got great reviews. One of my proudest accomplishments in a leadership role.

Megan Beechen: That is so cool.

Moses Hall: Thank you.

Megan Beechen: You are very inspirational.

Moses Hall: Thank you.

Megan Beechen: Thank you so, so much for doing this interview with us today. We gained a lot of insight from you and you really are one of a kind, so keep doing what you’re doing.

Moses Hall: Thank you.

Megan Beechen: You are amazing. I will see you next time.

Moses Hall: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks again for the opportunity.

Megan Beechen: All right. Thanks Moses.

Moses Hall: Thank you.

Megan Beechen: Welcome, Krista. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Krista Becker: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here with you guys.

Megan Beechen: Let’s get started. Let’s start with your current role within NAR on the YPN Advisory Board there. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, how long you’ve been on it and what you do?

Krista Becker: Yeah, so this is my second year serving the advisory board, and I represent region 10 from San Antonio. My first year on the Advisory Board was last year, which was interesting because it was nothing like we had anticipated and/or I was expecting. I had all of these expectations about getting to travel and meet people face to face, but I think I was very fortunate and I was able to still meet a lot of people through Zooms, provide a lot of resources for more business for people than even YPN, because people were just like, what do I do with myself, and how do I keep serving the business, and how do I keep working? Especially under crazy restrictions, because everybody was working with something different.

Krista Becker: I think that, that was probably the craziest 2020 year, and I feel like the entire Advisory Board would tell you that none of us knew how that was going to play out. But I think it all sets up for a solid 2021. We’re going to be virtual for a few more months, but I can feel it coming, and we’re going to be back in there this summer, and we’re going to get to hit the road.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. I’m very excited for that as well because I am just a little bit tired of Zooms, just little.

Megan Beechen: But it is really nice to be able to meet people from around the country and do these events and have everybody that you want on a panel because it’s virtual so it’s super easy.

Krista Becker: It’s provided a lot of resources for people that … I think also, for members that aren’t normally engaged with associations or YPNs because they don’t have the time or the ability to be there, I personally am over the Zooms, but my dog might interrupt us so it’s like, I don’t want to hear that anymore and I don’t want people to hear that anymore, but I also understand, and I think it is really cool that we’ll be able to hopefully do this hybrid situation, where we can continue to do virtual and meet people, more people than we would if we were hitting the road. Definitely.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. Tell us a little bit about your YPN journey. How did it start? Obviously you’re at the national level now, but where did you start with it?

Krista Becker: I’m actually from California. I met my husband through YPN at New Orleans. Yeah, I met him in New Orleans at one of the YPN networking receptions when California won Network of the Year. That was back in 20 … I think we decided that was 2015. So, in 2013, I was working for, or 2012, I was working for a real estate brokerage as a transaction coordinator. They were looking for ways to get involved in the association and I felt like I’ve always been involved in some way with volunteer organizations in whatever way I can through church or through school, or different ones in the community, like I’ve started a 501(c)(3) before.

Krista Becker: I began getting involved, and my friend, Brandon and I, back at Central Valley Association of REALTORS® in California had a really small association. We had about 1200 members.

Megan Beechen: Little baby association.

Krista Becker: And we were little babies ourselves. This was like 10 years ago. Maybe not actually 10 years ago, but we were probably 24 and we didn’t know what we were doing. There was a member that had started the state network ahead of us and the association, so he kind of led the way for us, and then Brandon and I took off with it. The first two years, it was just us, pretty consistently that did everything. Then after that we finally got some solid committees and they’ve done really well with the association. I think the associations over like 2,400 members now, and so they’ve really grown their network, and that’s really cool.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. It’s very cool.

Krista Becker: After my time getting involved at the local association, maybe like two years in, I started working with the state association. Somebody tapped me on the shoulder, it was Nick Solis out of the Bay Area. He volunteered to drive all the way to Stockton to a YPN event we were hosting, and he said, ‘”Hey, I need you to come to the state meetings, I need you to meet these people, and I need you to actually be involved on the board because you’re what we need.” I looked at him and I was like, “You came to Stockton to tell me this. You could pick up the phone.” But okay, well, I guess this is serious.

Krista Becker: From then on, I started venturing to different associations, helping the networks throughout our state network. We came up with this really cool, our advisory board, when I was the chair back in 2018, came up with this really cool networking program called, How to YPN Workshops, and we would go throughout the state and we would host these workshops in different regions just to help the region or all of the YPNs in the region actually do, and grow, and fulfill what they’re trying to do.

Megan Beechen: I love that. Little workshops, that’s a good idea. We should definitely do that too.

Krista Becker: I absolutely tell people, it’s like, I feel like YPN has been like my high school career. So, I did it four years in California, after finishing up as chair in 2018, we won State Network of the Year, which was so cool. Our Advisory Board in our entire state, just like they really put it in gear and they had a really great year. They do some really cool things like a month of giving, and that’s just one of my favorite things. Started us back in, it must’ve been like 2014. We did like a week of giving and that was hard for everyone to get on the same page for the week. So, we transitioned it into an entire month where everyone across the state, though YPNs, all do some sort of give back fundraiser, beach cleanup, you name it. It’s really cool. Through that, I got involved with the National Association, and that was my first year in 2020 serving on the YPN Advisory Board.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. What a journey.

Krista Becker: Yeah. It’s like high school or a couple of high school careers.

Megan Beechen: I love that you say that because it’s like the local YPN is like high school and then your state YPN is like college, and then, and I think beyond that is going to be like your master’s degree.

Krista Becker: Yeah. I just get to speak to other people about what to do locally and statewide. It’s awesome.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, and you can really take the things that you did and you learned in California and put apply them to the national level, because it sounds like you guys are doing some very cool things so we can all definitely learn from you there.

Krista Becker: Thank you. Yeah, it’s been fun.

Megan Beechen: Awesome. At what point in a career do you recommend somebody joins their local YPN or state?

Krista Becker: I will tell you, for your local YPN, right away. There’s absolutely no better time for you to find a tribe, find your resources. I can’t imagine people last year, not having had a YPN to have an outlet or have a resource or someone to bounce ideas off of, or heck, I have friends in the association that when this all happened, I’m like, “Can you help me with some verbiage or this sign that I need to put up at my listing?” If it wasn’t for those connections and those relationships that we’ve built through YPN, I don’t think it would have been as easy for me to go about helping others throughout the association.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. That’s awesome. So, you recommend that they join right away, get started, don’t look back, just kind of jump right in.

Krista Becker: I think that every state association is different, so some of the state associations, they might have more experienced people serving in the state position, so they might need to get a little local knowledge and a little understanding of what YPN does, what is YPN’s goals, what are our mission, and then potentially serve at the state level.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. Awesome. Cool. Well, let’s shift it a little bit to your leadership journey. Obviously you started with YPN and now you’ve grown into sitting on a national committee, and it’s awesome. So, you’re definitely a leader within the industry. Would you say that you were born with leadership or is this something that was more developed over time for you?

Krista Becker: I think it’s hard to say that I wasn’t born with it. It’s hard to say that it hasn’t developed over time. I was born with it. I felt like I, and every time I’ve been in any organization, I’ve always felt the need to be involved and potentially give back in any way that I can. Sometimes that’s through leadership or training or whatever that could be. I would say that it’s absolutely a developing journey. There’s no path that is one path and there is no right way or wrong way to do it. For some people, it does end up naturally and organically starting at the state level. For me, in the beginning, I had some issues with a broker in my local association and he kind of railroaded me out of the local association.

Krista Becker: So, while I did YPN, I didn’t do anything else at the local association, and I have never served as a president or anything like that. That’ll automatically limit some of the leadership abilities or journey that I could take, but I don’t think that it’s a problem. I think that everybody has a different path. I have found my passions are outside of YPN. I would never have thought that I would be into MLS policy, and now I’m turning into a nerd that’s actually enjoying these meetings and the language and the fields, and all of these extra things that I was put on a national committee to serve.

Krista Becker: Then I actually found myself wanting to serve locally on that committee, so I do now. I think that that’s where your leadership journey should help you find your own path and your own passions, because YPN is supposed to be a stepping stone, and it’s not supposed to be a 20 year thing. I’m hoping to branch out of that after another year or two of serving.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that YPN, like you said, it is a stepping stone for people to realize that, oh my God, there’s all of these committees and all of these different ways that I can serve, and really broaden their horizons and open up their eyes to all that. That’s so awesome. What are some words of encouragement or advice that you would give to somebody who has been asked to take a leadership role, but is nervous that it’s not for them or they don’t have the skills?

Krista Becker: I absolutely think that everyone has the skills because any … There are so many different types of leaders, and you can be a leader within a different committee. You can be a leader within your association, within your network, within your office. It’s hard to say that you just have no leadership skills. I would just venture to say, you’re just not aware of what they are yet, or you haven’t been forced to use them. So, if you put yourself outside of the box, you’re going to find that you might have more of the passion or you might have the ability to be a leader that you didn’t realize.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. Awesome. Getting out of that comfort zone.

Krista Becker: Yes. It’s hard. I haven’t done a podcast yet.

Megan Beechen: That’s so awesome. What would you say is one of the most important skills that a leader should have?

Krista Becker: You have to have thick skin. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with an association or if you’re working with a client, you don’t always have the potential to make everyone happy, so if you don’t have that ability to say, hey … My leadership style is a little bit different. I like to hear from other people. When I meet with the YPN Committee, I’m asking for their feedback first, and then I want to offer suggestions or guidance. I think that being able to do that, offer suggestions after you listened to someone is a big leadership trait, and then I think definitely a thick skin because you might not always like what you hear, and that’s okay.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. What’s been the most exciting moment in your leadership journey.

Krista Becker: Man, I have been asked to serve on a really exciting work group for the MLS Committee this last two years. It’s been something that I actually wasn’t sure that I deserved a seat at the table for, but now that I’m representing a brokerage and all of this, I feel really cool and I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I feel like I actually have a valued input into our MLS and the future of it.

Megan Beechen: That’s awesome. My follow-up question to that was what was the, excuse me, most nerve-wracking experience in your leadership journey, but I’m guessing that they’re probably related since that was something.

Krista Becker: Yep, it is. It’s definitely one of those things that I think, when you’re young and you’re put into these positions, you’re like, how did this happen? Then you’re realizing that you actually have valuable input, and I think that, that’s nerve-wracking at the same time to speak up and have an input.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, that’s awesome. Very inspirational. You are recently married, congratulations, by the way. One of the things that people sometimes struggle with, with leadership journeys, is finding time to kind of be there for their family, for their spouses, and then also for their business, and in these leadership roles. What are some of the ways that you manage all of that, and what’s some advice that you have for people in that position?

Krista Becker: This is my favorite. One thing that I took away from Philip, long before we were ever dating, is if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. I do not have to tell people what’s on my calendar. I can let them know simply that I have an appointment. For example, last night, we’ve had, I don’t know if y’all’s markets are probably as crazy as ours, but we’ve had about 16 days in a row of nonstop working, and we are borderline going to lose it over, our phone going off one more time last night. At seven o’clock, we just cut our phones off for the rest of the night, simply just one night. It wasn’t a lot. It was only three hours until we go to bed, but it actually just decompresses yourself.

Krista Becker: The other thing that I would say that we do that’s helpful, and obviously we’re in the same business, so it’s easy for us. It’s not easy scheduling wise, but it’s easy for us to do this, is just take four hours a week and try to do that. If you can remove yourself from outside influence, social media, your phone, your clients, even your family and your friends can be invasive. It can be a lot to entertain and put a face on for people all the time. So, I think it’s really important that you take the time to step away from that and just get to just have downtime.

Megan Beechen: I love that. Just turning off your phone and being present with those people.

Krista Becker: But if it’s not on our calendar, it won’t happen because something is guaranteed to pop up, some other client’s going to want to see a house. That’s the thing. We booked ourselves a trip out of here in three weeks. It’s kind of scary. We have a lot going on, but we said, we’re here so much that the availability for us to show property is so constant, and the availability for our friends, and our clients, and the agents, so we’re actually just scheduling three days. It’s not a lot, and we’re just going to take off, and that’s the way of like, every few months, getting back to ourselves.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, we need to do that in this industry, because you can very quickly experience burnout. Especially if you’re also trying to incorporate giving back and serving on committees and panels and doing all this kind of stuff.

Krista Becker: I think that’s one of the … I would say, I haven’t read every question we’re going to answer yet, but that’s one of the biggest things that I think new REALTORS® need to remember, is that it took us this long to get to this. I’ve been in industry for almost 10 years now, and if I hadn’t had all of these people coming before me telling me these things, I wouldn’t know. There are so many people that don’t realize how it’s just mentally depressing to be in a job like this when you don’t have a partner or a spouse that can relate to you, or anybody in your sphere, and they don’t understand the ability that you need to be on call for people all the time. I think that it’s hard to see that REALTORS® don’t reach out and have an outlet because it’s important.

Krista Becker: One thing that Orange County REALTORS® did last year, and I think it was Jessica [Siglenses’] idea and Ryan [O’Haz], is they came up with a mental health week. That week they’re just offering yoga and a space for realtors to talk, and they do this meeting every month. It started because one of our advisory board members, a few years ago, her name was Leah Archer, she ended up committing suicide because of some of the stresses of real estate in her personal life. I think it’s so important that we remember to, while we have this fun face, and we have a great Facebook and a great social media presence, recall that this stuff does happen and it is hard to be in our industry, and it’s also really important to take care of yourself mentally.

Megan Beechen: Yeah. I just got goosebumps, because that’s so true. The support is everything. Having a good support system, both at home and within the industry is going to make or break if you can do this or not. Ultimately, we’re all trying to better ourselves and live great lives. You don’t want to get so caught up in all of the work that you can do without having those mental break checks, and so that’s great advice. Any other points, anything else you want to mention before we wrap it up here?

Krista Becker: I think that was everything. I really appreciate you guys letting us come in and give you this advice, because I think that if you don’t ask these questions, they don’t get answered, and I think putting that information out for your members is really important.

Megan Beechen: Yeah, definitely. Well, thank you so, so much for meeting with us and chatting with us a little bit. It was really, really great talking with you, and I’m so flattered to be the first person to interview you on a podcast, so that’s so cool. We really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

Krista Becker: You’re welcome.

Dana Gurnsey: I want to give a big thank you to Megan, Erika, Moses, and Krista for joining us and taking some time out to share their leadership experiences. I hope you got some tips from them and it inspires you to get involved.

Megan Beechen: Absolutely, and we do have some resources we can leave you with on where to start your own leadership journey. First of all, local associations offer their own leadership development programs, so be sure to check with your local. Then also, at the state level, Illinois REALTORS® has a leadership development program, so watch out for the next application period at the end of the year for that, and NAR has one as well.

Megan Beechen: Second, NAR began taking applications to serve on national committees in early March and Illinois REALTORS® Committee applications generally open around April, so check for those. Third, there are some free resources from NAR, like C2EX, which is the commitment to excellence endorsement, which has 11 key topics, including customer service, technology, data privacy, advocacy, ethics, and more, and also many other designations that you can earn. So, check out your state and national association websites for that.

Megan Beechen: Lastly, there are scholarships available from the Illinois REALTORS® Real Estate Educational Foundation, or referred to as REEF, to apply to further education by taking courses and earning designations. Two REEF scholarships, apply directly to leadership training, the Clayton and Malo scholarships. So, visit www.ilreef.org. All right, I think that is enough resources, so hopefully we didn’t overwhelm you, but as one last plug, and a very easy way to get involved, join your local YPN.

Megan Beechen: Being involved with YPN over the years, I can say that this is a great group to get involved with. It’s a great launching pad for your own leadership journeys, and YPN is all about connecting with other REALTORS®, and doing virtual events, getting to know people you may have otherwise never met, and it keeps you up to date on the latest trends in the industry and how to help you develop your own skills in your business.

Dana Gurnsey: Illinois YPN is open to all Illinois REALTORS®, and it’s free to join. You can connect with us on Facebook at Illinois YPN, and you can find YPN online at www.illinoisrealtors.org/ypn. With that, it’s a wrap. Thanks for tuning in.

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