I went for a walk in the desert and found some perspective. No, there was no peyote involved. Still, it was a pretty awesome trip.

What was the Inman Disconnect experience like? Well, here is my take as a humble real estate agent among a grouping of industry CEOs, executives, broker/owners and innovators.

It was low-key. It was relaxed. It was really cool to hang out in Palm Springs.

We really did disconnect, and we focused on the humans who were there with us. In fact, there are only a few photos to even confirm that this magical experience happened. It did.

No one wore nametags. Most people simply came up to you and said things like: “Hi, I’m Tom.”

The attendee book had photos so small you really couldn’t tell who was who, and that was spot-on. I’m also thinking it was on purpose.

Because, as far as I could tell, no one cared.

For two days, we discussed, we disagreed, we listened, and we were inspired. We broke leadership down into its most basic terms for any industry.

(I was very impressed by this super tall and incredibly humble speaker named Bob Meyers, whose job it is to direct grown men around a wooden court with the sole purpose of getting a big leather ball through a metal hoop as many times as possible in a set amount of time.)

The connected vs. the disconnected

In one discussion, a rather disruptive attendee brought up the idea of the elite versus the common. He was relating it to a conversation about the political discourse in our country, but the parallels to real estate are clearly there.

I often feel like I am crossing between the two worlds: elite versus common, old guard versus new, or perhaps, disconnected versus connected?

Maybe I am not alone, either? I think most of us in real estate are somewhere in the middle.

My day-to-day involves working with clients, agents and other industry pros. Many have still never heard of Inman.

Some don’t actively participate on a local/state/national level and probably don’t contribute to RPAC or even know what it is.

They don’t grasp the enormity of our industry.

You know what? I don’t blame them. It’s hard. You have to make a conscience choice to take the time to learn.

And it isn’t a clearly defined DPA (dollar producing activity) to spend your time on. But there are benefits for sure.

Still, some people just can’t make that choice. They are grinding away. They have to produce — now.

Nothing new?

At one point, a self-proclaimed member of the old guard, stood up and argued that everything we discussed has been said before.

You know what? He’s right.

Really, there isn’t anything earth-shattering or ground breaking about The Parker Principles individually.

They are just a list of some commonly used ideas, and I am sure Brad Inman knows it.

Many of those producing agents, who are grinding away, are living many of these principles right now. They just don’t have a fancy title for what it is called.

What did we do?

We specifically chose these 12. We codified them. We gave them credence. We put them in one place for everyone to access as a touchstone and to refer to as we lead our industry in an even better direction.

Now we need to bridge the gap between those who spent 48 hours in the desert (the disconnected) and those who could not be there (the connected).

Yes, you could argue that those nicknames could easily be reversed.

As day two came to a close, we ratified The Parker Principles.

Then Sherry Chris challenged us, as leaders, to go out and act. Take one principle that speaks to you, and embody it. Lead by example.

Parker Principle 4

My first adopted principle is: Principle 4: Strictly enforce ethical standards to increase professionalism.

“We as a profession, owe it to the consumer to establish — and maintain and enforce — the highest standards of ethical behavior. We must invest in mid-level real estate manager training; refocus culture and policies toward quality and service above recruiting and retention in the brokerage; and establish better peer-based enforcement mechanisms to weed out bad apples.”

This principle speaks to me personally, having so far experienced the industry as an agent and a manager. I see the focus on the mid-level as a way to bridge the two extremes.

After all “we” (yep, I am a proud member) are the connected/disconnected hybrids who regularly go between the two worlds.

This principle, in particular, gives everyone involved a sense of power, responsibility and purpose, while at the same time, remembering that our overall focus is on our clients.

The elite, and the common. The old guard, and the new. The connected, and the disconnected.

We can all easily get behind this one.

I challenge all of you to pick one principle and act on it. Make it a part of your daily life. Then go for two. Then three. You get the idea.

Challenge others along the way. It will be an amazing trip, I assure you. No peyote required.

Tracy Freeman is the Young Professionals Network Chair for North Central Jersey Association of Realtors and a broker/sales associate with Coldwell Banker in Maplewood, New Jersey.

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