Listen in as REALTORS® John LeTourneau and Carrie Little talk about all the benefits they received in participating and applying for the Illinois REALTORS® Leadership Development Program. You might be surprised to learn that at least one previous participant wasn’t always as polished and as confident as he or she appears today.

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Full Transcript:

Jeremy Goeckner: Hello, and welcome to the IR Weekly podcast, keeping you up to date with all of the latest news in the REALTOR® world. Hello everyone. I’m Jeremy.

Kelli Jessup: And I’m Kelli.

Jeremy Goeckner: And the deadline to apply and be considered for the 2022 Leadership Development Program is quickly approaching. Applications are due November 19. So, we have with us today, the chair and vice chair of the Leadership Development Working Group — John LeTourneau and Carrie Little — to tell us more about the program. Carrie, John, thank you for joining us on IR weekly.

John LeTourneau: Thank you. Appreciate you.

Carrie Little: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Kelli Jessup: Welcome. So let’s just go ahead and jump right in on the topic. Can you tell us about the program, maybe touching on what are the goals of the program? Why someone would want to be involved with it?

John LeTourneau: Absolutely. I’ll start with this. Carrie and I are both graduates of the program so we can speak from this with firsthand experience. It’s really about taking your leadership to a next level. And a lot of people maybe are starting to get involved in the committee level at their local association. Maybe they served on an IR committee and now it’s like, where do I go from here and how do I take those next steps in my leadership journey? And not just maybe in your association, but also in other things, because the skills we learn are really broad based there.

Carrie Little: Yeah. And I’ll say from my experience, I got into the program so I could develop my personal skills, not realizing that it would take me to the next level in NAR leadership, Women’s Council leadership, and even being a co-chair or vice chair of NAR. So getting involved, it helps you under the importance of running a meeting, understanding what it’s like to be interviewed. So anyone that’s thinking about getting involved, this is a great way to decide where I want to go from here.

Jeremy Goeckner: Absolutely. Well, and of course, this is always the question that I ask people when they ask me to get involved in anything, but let’s just get it out of the way, guys. What’s the time commitment for something like the Leadership Development Program, huh?

John LeTourneau: Well, interestingly, the time commitments not huge. There is definitely work to be put in. It’s not just served up to you. So there’s a series of meetings about every other month. And then there is a large project that’s usually assigned, the class is put into groups and they have to work on and develop and then present that. So there is definitely responsibility with the opportunity.

Carrie Little: And I’ll say for anyone who is thinking about getting involved, I’m someone that if I know the calendar, the time commitment, it’s not huge. It’s not a big deal because if you block the time and you block the time to get the work done, it’s like learning the real estate, being in real estate. It’s like going back to school, it’s like learning something new. So the time commitment, I would say, it’s about four different modules, so not too bad.

Kelli Jessup: And where are those training modules taking place?

John LeTourneau: Well, those very, there’s a lot in Springfield. So it’s actually great for a lot of our members from around the state who maybe don’t get to IR headquarters or get to kind of see Springfield. And I’m a Chicago-based person, so Springfield, I went through in eighth grade, right. We saw the Lincoln stuff, but after that, we really don’t do a lot of Springfield from Chicago very often. So it gets us down to Springfield, but they also tie some of the activities into the two meetings per year, the legislative and the fall meetings.

Carrie Little: I love the fact that you said your eighth-grade field trip. For us it was a two day, eighth grade field trip.

John LeTourneau: You went to a better school than I did. I only got on the bus, looked at Lincoln, rubbed the nose, and headed on home and ate a sandwich. That’s all we got. So I’m glad.

Carrie Little: It’s a great opportunity to see where the state headquarters are and a great opportunity for anyone who gets involved that’s downstate to come up here into the northern parts of Illinois.

Jeremy Goeckner: Absolutely. Well, we’ve got both of you on today because you obviously have both been through the program. So let’s personalize it a little bit here. Like tell us, what’s your experience been like in the program? Why would you recommend it to others? Carrie, let’s start with you this time.

Carrie Little: The project for, for me was a great experience. Well, and let me say this, when I got involved in NAR Leadership Academy, I didn’t know I’d have a whole new group of not just friends, but an opportunity to network with people all over the state and to refer business. You know, I got to meet Matt Difanis and I’ll tell you, I had no clue who Matt was. I’m like, what is he doing here? I didn’t really even understand that he was the chair at the time.

John LeTourneau: He’s rocking the faux hawk, that’s what he’s doing. You know what he is doing. That’s Matt, come on.

Carrie Little: And so great opportunity to meet other leadership. But our project made us dig a little bit deeper into what was happening in the state of Illinois. So our project at the time was global. What we did was we went back, and we had to research how many people, if they became naturalized to the United States and they were a citizen of Illinois, were more likely to purchase a home. So for me, it was, you don’t know what you don’t know until you are put in a position where you have to do the research. So getting involved for me, it changed the way I think. And it changed the way I do research today, even from my brokerage and for NAR leadership.

John LeTourneau: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. My journey for it was I saw that they advertised, I had missed the actual application window, because I wasn’t timely, but they said, “Hey, we’re doing this two-day module and if you want to pay on your own, you can come to this cool two-day module just to kind of learn about it, like get your toe in the water.” And I paid out of pocket to go to that. And I was like, this is what I want to do. And I remember I went to Lyndee Fein, “all right, I’m in, how do I get in now? Like, I’ll join the class, I’ll come late, I’ll bring coffee. Tell me what you need.” She’s like, apply next year. And she was very gracious and I give her credit for that.

And so I applied the next year and that put me on a path to association leadership. I’m currently president of Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®. And put me on the path to be a director for IR and I’m a director for NAR now. I’m in the commercial committee. I’ve been serving at the national level for several years, like Carrie has. So it really helped slot that alignment up and gave me a sense of what does it look like to move up that ladder?

Kelli Jessup: That’s awesome. So Carrie kind of talked about it in the beginning, some of the topics, touched on them, but can we talk a little bit more about those, the content of the training modules and kind of what participants will learn throughout the program?

John LeTourneau: Yes, I love this too. And I’ll start with the one I love the most, to be honest with you was back when we used to do Lobby Day in person, pre-COVID. That was so amazing. And that was kind of honestly, when RPAC really hit for me and advocacy and I understood how powerful advocacy efforts were at the statehouse. And it’s something we, not being in Springfield, don’t feel a lot of until it affects us negatively in terms of policy. And I left that meeting and became a major investor the next moment. I mean, there’s a lot of other things, but that was like, I’m a Crystal R something or another, I don’t know, whatever, some level Crystal R these days. They got this whole sheet of things. But it put a face to advocacy and helped me understand how deeply IR cares about us and about private property rights and property ownership.

Carrie Little: You know, I love that. And let me say this, for me it was the spokesperson training. And people might say, Carrie, you’re not afraid of camera. You couldn’t have paid me in high school to get up in front of anyone and speak out, I would have just passed out.

John LeTourneau: Same here.

Carrie Little: Right. But what that module does is it teaches you how to take a second, breathe and think about what you’re going to say. If someone approaches you to be interviewed, should I even be the person being interviewed. Because I get emailed and I get called all the time to be interviewed and sometimes I shouldn’t be the person. So, I’ll take a second and say, OK no, it shouldn’t be me, it should be this person. But if I am going to be interviewed, you need to think before you respond and you don’t have to just respond off the cuff. That’s one of my favorite modules.

Jeremy Goeckner: Well, I love that you mentioned that because, it sounds like it wasn’t something that you necessarily thought you were good at, at the moment, but now, I mean, look at you, you got signs and professional microphones and stuff behind you. So speaking of that though, so like, who is…

John LeTourneau: I got one too. I just hide it better.

Jeremy Goeckner: Oh my gosh. That was a stealth mic. Nicely done John.

John LeTourneau: Red and blue pop filters, just under the bottom line. I frame it.

Carrie Little: You just need a teenager; you just need a teenager.

Jeremy Goeckner: Well, speaking of all this though, so it sounds like there’s no real kind of requirements for somebody who wants to get in here. So who is eligible to apply, like what kind of background experience should they have that would make them a good candidate for the program?

John LeTourneau: Basically, you have to be an Illinois REALTOR® to apply, right? So 53,000-ish of us these days, according to Young’s current numbers. So it is open to all 53,000, but understand the 12 who are chosen for the group really are, they’re looking for people who are in a certain area in terms of like, where are they in their development journey? So they do want some experience. They’re looking for someone that they see potential in because Illinois REALTORS® does invest thousands of dollars in this program. I will tell you this, they feed and water as well. We stay at nice hotels, we eat dinner and all that. They take really good care of you. So it’s not a huge expense except for your time. But at the same time, there’s an investment the association’s making. And they want to try to see a return on that through additional advocacy and community service and REALTOR® service to see that come back. So looking for people who are on that path and on that trajectory who have shown leadership in their community or in their association, whatever that might be.

Carrie Little: And I always challenge anyone that’s thinking about getting involved in local state or national leadership, is to find a mentor and ask the questions. I remember when I received the application, the first thing I did was I called my local association executive. And I said, help me out. How should I be answering these questions? And it’s just like filling out a job application, answer every single question, tell us your journey, there was a time when I actually worked for a local church and I remember the pastor saying, “Carrie, we need a school and I need you to go find a mobile classroom and I don’t want to pay for it.” So those kind of things, I mean, it was a volunteer opportunity.

John LeTourneau: By tomorrow.

Carrie Little: Right. It was a $50,000 classroom and I was able to get it. And sometimes if you don’t have the volunteer experience in real estate, maybe you have the volunteer experience in your city, or maybe it’s at the local school. So ask someone to help you and guide you along the way and guess what? It is OK to wait a year. It’s OK to wait.

John LeTourneau: Correct. And can I tag one more final thought on this? So, Carrie nailed a great point, which is finding a mentor and whether that’s someone who’s gone through the program before, you can reach out to Young and Illinois REALTORS® who can maybe connect you with someone locally, who has been through the program, who can give you some guideposts. But the other thing is that that experience can come from outside real estate. So, Carrie and I both also were in NAR’s leadership academy, and they picked 25 out of our 1.6- whatever million brokers or agents across the country, REALTORS®. Carrie and I were both selected for that program. And a big part of my interview I vowed not to tell any real estate stories about leadership there.

It was about personal leadership and journeys, and that makes a huge difference. And they were like, we love that because you had a journey outside of real estate. So it doesn’t mean you have to necessarily climb Mount Kilimanjaro. But the idea is that, Carrie’s community story was a great part of probably why she got selected for that leadership, because she demonstrated that skill that had nothing to do with closing a house. So don’t be afraid to use that life experience and lean into that.

Kelli Jessup: That’s a good tip, John. Absolutely. So I do want to point out that John, you mentioned that only 12 people are selected each year. So if someone has applied previously and wasn’t selected, do you guys encourage them to apply again?

John LeTourneau: Yes. And a lot of times too, what I have to tell you is if you think real estate is hard, get on a nominating or a selection committee sometime. And it’s one of the hardest things in the world to get 50, very well qualified people and say only 12 can get in this or only 16 or 25, whatever the number is. And it’s really difficult because some will go, okay, you clearly need more experience. Sometimes you get people who are overqualified. So we’re looking for certainly a bandwidth of people. And what we definitely do is when we do reach out to go, “Hey, you know what, we’re sorry, you didn’t make it. Hey, we’d recommend you add more of this or try to do this, or show up again, next year, your application can be stronger with this.”

And we do try to provide some guideposts for them. So if they don’t make it, that’s great. And like, I didn’t make my first try on the board of directors for Illinois REALTORS®. And a year later, they asked me, they said, “Hey, if we say no today, what happens?” And I said, “well, a year ago, you said, no. And in that year, here’s what I’ve done.” So I was able to have a story to come back to that. So, no doesn’t mean go away. No means begin again at one level higher. So if you need guideposts or you need direction on that, reach out to us, reach out to mentors and we can help you with that process and help you develop that.

Carrie Little: And I would challenge anyone to get involved, not just at your local association, but there are other organizations that you can get in involved in. For me, my journey started with Women’s Council of REALTORS®, and it is all volunteer. There is staff, but not staff to help you. So think about what can you do to not just help with your resume, but it’ll help other people know who you are, because during the interview process, you might have an advocate that is saying, oh, you know what? Okay. I know John, let me tell you what he didn’t say on the resume or on the application. So sometimes you don’t know you need an advocate. So getting involved and allowing people to watch you work and serve in your community and at the local association, definitely adds value.

John LeTourneau: Awesome point. Love that.

Jeremy Goeckner: Absolutely. You know what I love about you guys, is that you’re answering all my questions that I have before I ask them. Because my next question was any tips and that was literally all amazing advice for anybody who wants to apply, it’s like you do this or something.

Carrie Little: Taking over the podcast.

John LeTourneau: That’s what leadership development will do for you. It’s like Radar O’Reilly from MASH, right?

Jeremy Goeckner: What better ad could we do? Okay. So the deadline to apply is a November 19 for the 2022 class. So where do members go if they want to apply here? Where do they submit their applications?

Carrie Little:

John LeTourneau: There you go.

I do the exact URLs. So, I was like, I’m defaulting to Carrie on this one, but yeah, it’s Illinois REALTOR® somewhere, but you’ll definitely need your login for it is what I’ll tell you. And I end up having to reset my password way too often. So just be aware, you may have to reset your password, go through it because they switched to a new system. If you haven’t logged in, in a year or three or five, whatever, but definitely have to go to Illinois REALTOR® to do that. Just FYI.

Carrie Little: You can also Google it. You can literally Google it and it will come up. And if you do get stuck, reach out to the local association, the state association and here’s the biggest tip I can give all of you. You know, they say REALTORS® don’t read, some of you just need to read your email and follow the State Association on Facebook and Instagram, maybe Twitter, because I see you on Instagram and Facebook. We’re always getting emails. We just miss the emails. And my other tip is, make sure the Illinois emails are not going to your spam or junk mail. And if they are move it to your inbox, because that was happening to me for about 30 days. So I had to fix it. So it’s probably already in your inbox.

John LeTourneau: Exactly.

Jeremy Goeckner: Literally she just did a promo for our marketing department too. I love it.

John LeTourneau: That’s how we roll. See, this is great.

Kelli Jessup: Well, Carrie and John, you both have been very encouraging and motivating. So if members listening have questions, who can they contact about the program?

Jeremy Goeckner: Young is the state contact certainly with IR, but I’m certainly happy to answer or field any questions. I know Carrie would at any time, and there’s Facebook groups of past attendees. So if someone’s like, Hey, I’m in an area where maybe I’m not local to them, we can always connect them up with somebody local who can serve as a guidepost for them. Happy to do that.

Carrie Little: Yeah. I’m always a DM, direct message or a text, an email or a call away. If you don’t get me, at least say who you are and what you want. And I’ll reach back out or call you back.

John LeTourneau: Now you notice you left call last, right? So it’s all those other electronic media, then call me. Right? So exhaust all options. Then call.

Jeremy Goeckner: There you go. As is the world now.

John LeTourneau: I take phone calls. I love phone calls. So I’m the old school dude, right?

Jeremy Goeckner: There you go. Well, it’s a good mix then, we got a good blend here. Carrie, John, you guys have been so, so amazing. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing all of this vital information today.

John LeTourneau: Cool. Thank you.

Carrie Little: Thank you.

Jeremy Goeckner: Again, if you’d like to know more about the Leadership Development Program, just go to the Illinois REALTORS® website, go to, all one-word leadership development again,

Kelli Jessup: And that’s it for this week’s IR podcast. Thank you for listening and as always give us a rating review on your podcast app of choice. And if you want any more content, simply search for Illinois REALTORS® on your favorite social media app. We’ll see you next week.