Leading Women: Margo Wheeler Willis
When Margo Wheeler Willis, CRS, GREEN, GRI, PMN, SRES, retired from the Army as a First Sergeant after 20 years of service, she decided to pursue a real estate career. After all, she loved working with people, and the promise of flexible hours was hard to resist.
Willis, who is Women's Council's 2011 National President, is a broker with Crescent Realty, where she is a full service residential specialist serving clients in Tacoma, WA, and surrounding communities.
Being close to two military bases, Willis says military buyers are still some of her favorite clients. "I have a profound respect for our men and women in uniform and feel a sense of satisfaction and honor in helping them with their real estate needs."
"The military is like a big family," Willis says. "Even though you move often, you feel right at home and enjoy camaraderie wherever you are, kind of like Women's Council."
Willis has an intimate understanding of the emotions and challenges her clients go through when they relocate often. While serving, she lived in Japan, Germany and Korea, as well as throughout the U.S., which she believes has helped in her real estate career by giving her a broader perspective and appreciation for dealing with people from different cultures and enabled her to provide services to a multi-cultural clientele.
She feels her natural empathy has also made her a good match to serve women in transition – whether they are going through divorce or another loss – and consult with them on their real estate decisions. While Willis says she did not set out to target this as a niche, she feels appreciative that she continues to receive referrals from clients who have been in similar situations. "I can be compassionate and emphatic with them," she says. "If they're going through a hard time, they know I’m there to support them through the transaction, but I’ll also be there after it's over."
Oftentimes, clients are dealing with stress and other emotions when making difficult choices that could result in financial loss. "I'm straightforward and give them the information they need to make the decision," Willis says. "I'm a consensus-builder. That is my personality."
Women's Council Connection
When Willis first joined the real estate business 17 years ago, she also joined Women's Council. "Being a new agent with an independent real estate company, I knew membership would give me additional credibility and immediate access to a national referral network," she says, "to help my clients moving to different parts of the country, as well as provide opportunities to build a referral system and tap into the expertise of individuals with more knowledge and experience than I had."
Seventeen years later, referrals and networking are still major benefits of joining Women's Council.
"Having a good transaction is all about finding that meeting of the minds that will bring about a win-win, as much as possible, for all parties involved," Willis says, "and that's even easier if there's a Women’s Council member on the other side."
Now more than ever, REALTORS® can benefit from the support system of Women's Council – sharing their knowledge and experiences, while learning new business ideas, tips and techniques from their peers at conferences and meetings. Women's Council meetings also contain an unbeatable positive energy, according to Willis.
"Participating in Women's Council meetings gives us an opportunity to learn and network in a positive environment with positive people, and it helps to put your business in context, which is more essential than ever. When networking with members, you can better understand their markets and stay positive," Willis says. "I can find out what's working in other areas of the country, and, if I'm referring clients to that area, then I have a better perspective myself on market conditions there, as well as who to refer to."
For Willis, that support system has also included one-on-one relationships with mentors, such as past national presidents Gail Hartnett, Beth Tolbert and Deborah Battersby, to name a few who have inspired her and motivated her to get more involved. "I remember Debbie sitting down with Gail and me, new members at the time, at a national meeting, sharing with us the bigger picture of Women’s Council and why she is so passionate about the organization. That really inspired me to get more involved," Willis says.
"By giving back as a leader in the organization and networking through Women’s Council events, you are with experienced individuals who really understand the industry and don’t mind sharing ideas and techniques they are trying and what is working in their markets.”
A great thing about Women’s Council, according to Willis, is "we understand our core values and emphasize those." She continues, "It's about the power of relationships, as well as education and leadership."
Currently, Women's Council offers Leadership Skills training at national meetings, as well as an unbeatable Leadership Academy for incoming chapter officers. Women's Council is also developing a leadership course for those interested in an advanced level of training. The difference from past years is, according to Willis, the concentration is no longer on training REALTORS® on procedures and protocol for association management, but rather training entrepreneurs on essential skills to be leaders in their businesses, in the industry and in the broader community.
The new leadership course in development is part of a focus on education, including webinars and other just-in-time training tools offered by Women’s Council to members. It's all part of the organization's new Strategic Framework, which was approved at the November Governing Board.
How does Willis and her leadership team plan to implement the new strategic plan? "That's easy," Willis says. "We have a great team and a great plan, with local, state and regional leaders to implement different pieces of the plan in phases over the next three years."
"As we implement our new Strategic Framework, we will provide more tools and training to help our members be more successful in ways that are meaningful to them and help our chapters attract new and retain current members, which is our ultimate goal," Willis says.
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