The Silence of Our Friends: NAR CEO Edition


My last post on Bob Goldberg being selected as the next CEO of NAR has sparked quite a response. Most of the private messages — even from those in top leadership positions at local, state and national levels — are of the “Boy, you hit that one out of the park!” variety. Most of the public messages take yours truly to task for daring to question His Holiness. It’s all good — I’m used to all sorts of responses from people on whatever topic du jour.

There is one kind of reaction, however, that is just… as puzzling as it is annoying. The number of people who are coming out of the woodwork with their unquestioning support for Bob Goldberg is simply astonishing.

We’re not talking about reserved support of the kind I gave him. We’re not even talking about enthusiastic support, like, “Boy, there were great people in the mix, like Alex Perriello, but Bob will be just great!” We’re talking about a level of fandom that raises real questions on the whole process that just finished, and questions on where the hell these people were for the past couple of years.

Let me explain.

How to Bandwagon

Those of us who are sports fans are familiar with the fair weather fan. Those of you who are fans in Oakland might be extra familiar with the creature. When Golden State Warriors were bottom dwellers, the diehard fans kept buying tickets, kept buying jerseys, and kept cheering their team on — often with frustration, through gritted teeth, but staying loyal.

Then Steph Curry turns out to be a transcendent player. Team starts winning. And all of a sudden, the entire city is like “We’re #1!”

Thing is, real fans expect the fair weather fans. People like winners; we all get it. But there’s a right way to bandwagon and a wrong way to bandwagon.

The right way to bandwagon is to admit that you weren’t always a fan since the days of yore, even when the team sucked ass. It is to admit that you have newly become a fan, you’ve jumped on the bandwagon, because the team has “shown you something special.”

The wrong way is to suddenly discover that why, yes, you’ve been a fan since the days of Chris Mullin. You just didn’t come to any games or watch them on TV because, you know, Game of Thrones was on and you had to do your hair and….

In other words, you don’t go about bandwagoning the way that The Real Daily has.

C’mon, Man!

Recently, The Real Daily published an Op/Ed by its co-owner and Chief Operating Officer, Lani Rosales, with the title “Why Bob Goldberg is the Best CEO for NAR’s Future.”

In it, Lani compares Goldberg to the veteran mechanic with “oil under his fingernails” with every certification under the sun for that brand of automobiles, rather than some forum expert who knows everything but has fixed no cars.

Then she writes:

Naming a new CEO to a local association with 5,000 members will never be without detractors, and these private conversations about a national CEO are much the same. The truth is that Goldberg is an overwhelmingly popular pick for CEO, and if you’ve ever so much has had a phone chat with him before, you’d know he’s wildly intelligent, and intimately knows every part of the organization (and therefore the context of how decisions impact each moving part).

Further (and I believe most importantly), he is a sincerely kind and humble person.

Goldberg is a trusted, steady, brilliant leader who will have no learning curve. None. It remains unseen what changes Goldberg will make during his tenure as the CEO, but he’s no forum fanatic, he’s a veteran that knows every facet of the organization.

I single out TRD because it is an actual publication, not just an individual. But I have seen individuals all over social media echoing similar sentiments — congratulating Bob not just for being chosen, but also at the same breath saying, “He is absolutely the best qualified, period, and I’m so happy NAR chose him” or some variation on that theme.

This is… puzzling, to say the least.

Because The Real Daily, as well as every single person who is now on the Bob Is Great Bandwagon, was utterly and completely silent when it mattered.

That Op/Ed might have been something if it had been written in March, when the Job Description was posted. It would have been great if it had been written in December, when The Real Daily itself covered the CEO Search.

Did Benn and Lani Rosales not know Bob Golberg in December of last year? What about in March of this year?

If they did, and they knew him to be The Best CEO for NAR’s Future, where’s the Op/Ed back then when the outcome was in doubt telling the rest of us why it should be Bob?

Presumably, they knew that Bob was trusted, steady, and brilliant back then. Why the silence?

Lani writes about “secret Facebook groups” and “circles” formed to apply social media pressure to insist on a female CEO. I was involved in that circle; it wasn’t secret, and Lani was a member in it. Search as I might, I see zero instances of Lani — who presumably knew that Bob was the Best Choice for CEO — endorsing Bob Goldberg. Not once. Curious, that.

(By the way, Lani, the reason why there was no pressure “to name a minority as CEO, a differently-abled person as CEO, an LGBTQIA person as CEO, and so forth” is because none of those make up 63% of REALTOR members. Women do.)

Why The Search At All?

In fact, what is so annoying about this post-victory asskissing is that if they’re right, then the entire search process was a complete waste of time and money. And not one of these strong supporters of Bob Goldberg said a damn thing.

In my first post, I raised the issue of the process and wondered why Dale and the NAR Leadership didn’t just create a succession plan and name Bob as the successor years ago:

Because if Dale Stinton wanted Bob Goldberg to get the job — as has been widely rumored for over two years now — and the Leadership Team wanted him to be the next CEO, then they should have just named him the successor two years ago and saved everybody a lot of time and money. Heidrick & Struggles, the corporate headhunter NAR hired for this, isn’t cheap. The time and energy of 15 volunteer leaders who spent months on this don’t come for free. The 80 people who applied for the position could have used their time and energy doing something more productive than being players in an elaborate puppet show.

Think about it. We knew in 2015 that Dale was unlikely to renew his contract as CEO. I wrote a prediction for 2016 being the year when NAR names a female CEObecause I knew that Dale was retiring. In that predictions post, I wrote that the smart money is all betting that Bob Goldberg, NAR senior vice president, is the next-in-line. I don’t have some special access; I’m not Dale’s sounding board. I just picked up on what everybody in the industry was talking about.

Where was the Op/Ed in 2015 suggesting that NAR name Bob Goldberg the successor if he’s in fact the Best CEO for NAR’s Future?

Where were these legions of people, many of whom have worked with Bob Goldberg over the years, who are now saying that he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, when the Leadership Team announced a nationwide CEO Search?

There should have been Op/Ed pieces all over the place suggesting that the entire search process, involving a very expensive headhunter, is a waste of time and money. Why bother when the best candidate is sitting right there for all to see!

And if you think about it, the CEO Search itself is an insult to Bob Goldberg, isn’t it?

He’s been there the entire time. He’s been brilliant, and innovative, and kind, and delivered results year after year, and every single person on the Leadership Team for the past 22 years knows him. And instead of doing the obvious thing, they decide to go look for someone who might be more qualified? How are you not hurt and pissed off if you’re Bob?

Imagine your significant other saying to you, “Baby, I know we’ve been together for 22 years, but I’m gonna need to go on 80 Tinder dates before I put a ring on it, okay?” Feel loved, do you?

And not one of your friends says to him or her, “You’re outta your mind! There’s nobody better for you!” How does that feel?

My friend and cohost of the Industry Relations podcast, Greg Robertson, has been vocal about his support for Bob Goldberg. He is a big reason why I’m cautiously optimistic and hopefully supportive of Bob’s reign as CEO. But, Greg has been publicly supportive before the outcome was known. I respect that.

But everybody crawling out of the woodworks after the decision is made? Y’all are some late-coming bandwagon jumpers.

Silence = Consent

I was on the record of preferring a female CEO for NAR, because 63% of its members are women, and NAR has never had a female CEO.

When the search process began, I figured it was because the Leadership wasn’t convinced that the obvious choice — Bob Goldberg — was the man to lead the organization. I figured they would find the best person for the job. Turns out, they found that the obvious choice was actually the obvious choice.

I am now on the record as supporting Bob Goldberg, despite the fact that he wasn’t my first choice, and wasn’t my second choice. But he is NAR’s choice. And he may be the greatest guy on the planet, and the absolute best choice for NAR CEO. If he is, he will prove it to me through action. If he needs my help, I will provide it if it furthers the cause of the Realtor Movement. If he doesn’t, well, I didn’t need NAR’s blessing to do what I think is best for the industry.

But I never kept my mouth shut and said nothing at all.

Those of you who thought he was the best choice, and remained silent throughout this entire process… y’all have some ‘splaining to do. You can ham it up all you want now, but some of us will remember the deafening silence when it mattered.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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14 thoughts on “The Silence of Our Friends: NAR CEO Edition”

  1. What friends??,nar has none,it’s a shakedown racket,it’s time to drain the swamp,this swamp reminds me of Washington D C, deep ,corrupt.

    • Varestatebroker – There you go again, saying the things I would have said if I read this ASAP.
      I bet you are one – and there’s not many – who read the DANGER Report. Most brokers and agents never heard of it.
      And, if some deep pocket investors will start up new MLS system, I will jump on board.

      • I think we already have,a Revised mls ,Zillow, the current Re Establishment is a disgrace it is built on coercion,in Virginia where I practice t, nar and the local boards,are trying to insert the “code of ethics”in to the re estate codes/laws of the State,they do it by collecting money for a PAC ,this money is used to buy the delegates at the State House in Richmond,these people are the worst,bums,drecks,,I have not read the Danger report but I noted it was commissioned by nar,that created questions in my mind as to the integrity of the report,however as a result of your comments I will read it .

      • Hey guy – I printed it out and read it when it first came out.
        One multiple choice question asked of 1,000s who sold or bought real estate recently was:
        What is the main issue regarding agents and brokers? A startling 81% – that’s right 81% – said, “agent dishonesty and agent incompetence”.
        Rob mentioned this on his blog a couple of weeks ago.
        My business card reads – after my name : “A 19 % ‘ er “.
        When people ask, that’s what I tell them and, by God, every one of the people/clients agree with a big grin on their faces.
        My new biz cards, postcard mail outs and web site listings, read” I will always be honest with you. You’ve never met a real estate agent like me”.
        I am waiting for the MLS or Board to climb my case about it.
        The MLS – in a secret board meeting – threw me under the bus 2 years ago. No notice, no chance to rebut, nothing.
        They notified me by email – cowards. I promptly emailed back that I am a law school graduate and there’s one thing they overlooked. It’s that pesky US Constitution. No notice, meeting secret, no rebuttal. Rescind your vote to kick me out or in court we shall be found. I got a rescind email about 30 minutes later. And, they wonder why I do not associate with them.
        Gotta go feed my chickens.

  2. Oil under the fingertips? Maybe an the only experience has been servicing an early Model A. In the day and age of challenges from “Tesla.” Perfect NAR strategy. Exactly behind the “times.”

  3. Interesting process, the result was very predictable and disappointing. The industry has plenty of external disrupters in play today and NAR went the safe path on the CEO.

    We should expect more of the same, minor deviations at best when in fact NAR needs a Jack Welch type disrupter to enter the organization and question everything!

    Question who we are, why we are, what we are, what should we be and on and on!

    This choice is safe and the result will be……..boring short term.

    The question is will this choice actually be the best long term? Was it time for a bigger, bolder change, a new look, new attitudes?

  4. If Mr. Goldberg is so good why did nose dive into 3rd position as the “go-to” website for home searching while on his watch? Wasn’t he the executive who had direct management of it? If the NAR board was more than an echo chamber for the CEO they would have in unison screamed WTF? And then taken action to correct it. Perhaps NAR suffers from Trade Group syndrome. They might be very good at lobbying but when it comes to providing ancillary services such as technology they don’t know squat…and they don’t have the capital to buy the people and technology to become, and more importantly, stay great in that field. So the obvious question is why don’t they simply stick to what they do best and partner with those who do the other stuff best? When you don’t know who you are (your core competency), you think you can do anything. Reminds me of the old adage: Jack of all trades, master of none. Each year when we pay our NAR dues many of us look at it as a penalty tax for being in real estate and needing to use the MLS. We don’t need any of those supposed discounts on dental care and car rentals so quit it already, you’re not fooling anyone! While I hope that Mr. Goldberg does great things for the members he serves, my money is on the deep pocketed disruptors who are dismantling the real estate industry and reassembling it in more efficient ways. There will always be room for the Realtor® who is truly an expert in their field but all the cocktail party Realtors® and “dabblers” will be summarily dismissed from the market place. But not to worry they always have a home selling used cars at FAST EDDIE’S or pink goo for Mary Kay…

    • Mr. Krispy – You said, “They might be very good at lobbying but when it comes to providing ancillary services such as technology they don’t know squat…and they don’t have the capital to buy the people and technology to become, and more importantly, stay great in that field.”
      No resources? Who got the $$$ when NAR let every one with a website capture our data? And who got the $950,000,000 that Murdock paid for

      • Marvin Shelley – So for the sake of discussion let’s just stipulate that you are 100% correct about NAR having the financial means to compete with technology. The question then is why didn’t they spend enough of it to regain first position website in the mind of the consumer?

      • Mr Krisby – I haven’t an answer to your question. Seems as tho NAR has been in a slow death spiral for quite a while.
        Can any one explain why NAR got in bed with & transferred to a third party, who then sold it for $950,000,000?
        Where there’s large sums of money floating around, this former, old investigative reporter says there ye shall find CORRUPTION.
        I think it was dream during my nap, I thought I saw the TV people out filming a ground breaking for the first Realtor retirement home. Probably just a dream.

  5. Typical Politics. You don’t jump on the “after the fact” bandwagon until the winner is selected so you can better hedge your bet to get an NAR appointment from the winner. I guess the more you gloat over the winner, the better your chances are.

    It did take time, energy and money wasted in selection process to make sure the predetermined ad nauseam selection seemed fair, honest and democratic so members would feel a fake “warm fuzzy” that they had an actual voice in the selection.

    I have no idea who Mr. Goldberg is, but I do hope he wakes up every day thinking “what can I do for my members today to create real value and relevancy so they won’t move their membership to the competition who is more member value driven”. Of course, we only have one NAR so my theory does not matter. But what if we had several NAR’s and members had a choice like they do in brokerages. As a broker and a husband, that’s how I think daily – value and relevancy.

    • ” But what if we had several NAR’s and members had a choice ”
      NAR would die a slow death. NAR better listen up and break up this incestuous deal between NAR and MLSs every where.

      • They are already dead just stinking up the real estate atmosphere,by the way somewhere in this or a recentpost mentionwas made.of the “new”:CEO raising $200+ million from a campaign,does anyone know,where that money went,are they building retirement homes around the country for old realtors?????

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