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Is 30 the New 60?

Blog Contributor Being a REALTOR®, Personal Fulfillment, Young Pros in the Spotlight 33 Comments

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Brian Copeland

By Brian Copeland

This week, I turn 40 and my future with you is, well, uncertain.  While we’ve never defined “under 40” as what the Young Professional Network’s age limit is, it has turned into an awkward elephant in the room no one is willing to talk about.  So, let’s talk about it.

We’ve heard “young and young at heart” as the basis for who we are and who we want to be.  Is this program of NAR about youth, leadership entry or new, bright attitudes?  I don’t know, but hopefully in this dialog today, I’ll have a clearer picture.

2012 YPN Advisory Subcommittee

What if YPN is in the middle of turning the statement “60 is the new 30” on its head?  What if 30 is the new 60?  Huh?  We’re in the middle of equipping, training and inspiring a new generation to have the knowledge, street-smarts and tatters of a seasoned veteran to this industry.

I look at REALTORS® like Tiffany Curry who is 32 years old.  Already, she has been the REALTOR® of the Year for one of the largest associations in America.  She has served as president of a major metropolitan’s Women’s Council of REALTORS® chapter.  She has chaired her local YPN, served on a heavy-weight NAR Presidential Advisory Group (PAG), and sat on numerous NAR committees.

I see Kenny Parcell. Kenny hovers below that 40 mark with a resume that would support the “30 is the new 60” hypothesis perfectly. He’s been his local president, state president, NAR Leadership Academy graduate, NAR liaison, and chair of several leadership groups.

Are these examples the exception?  They could be, but I would argue that this type of mentoring and nurturing is part of a new breed NAR has started to grow.  So, that leads me to the most troubling question, should we be called the Young Professionals Network?

Austin Hill, Brian Copeland and Shannon Williams King

When you wear this badge, it’s one that could be placed on you the rest of your life.  Do you want to be labeled as an entry-point person?  When do you stop being labeled that way?  I ask because I constantly hear in leadership circles, “Oh, you’re the YPN guy for this group,” when they don’t know that the appointment to the PAG or committee from YPN is someone else.  I’m there because a president or leader saw me as valuable, not just because the date of birth I bring to the table.

I argue the YPN label will tire on all of you soon.  As I question the label, think with me, should YPN become more of a farming group, a horizon family of members who are interested in becoming an integral part of their local, state and national association and have chosen this group as their point of entry.  What if age had absolutely nothing to do with it, rather a connectivity to the larger picture for the first time through this doorway.

Sure, we have leadership academy, but it’s tough to obtain for the masses with classes between 13 and 20 REALTORS®.  What happens to the 47-year-old guy with a killer leadership resume who gets his license and is new to the industry?  He wants to get plugged in somewhere and is looking at a point of entry. In most associations, he would be directed to the YPN group, or would he?  He may not jump to top of mind because his gray temples and distinguished forehead lines may stereotype him as “not qualified.”

Should a 34-year-old firecracker who got her license when she was 18, became a local board member at 22 and board president at 25 be quietly whispered about as too young to be qualified now?  She has 16 years of experience while her trendy fashion sense and obvious youthful appearance pigeonholes her into the corner of the “rookie ranks.”

Brian Copeland and Bobbi Howe

I’ve had amazing days in this network, serving as the first chair when we became an official part of the NAR governance structure.  It’s amazing to think I’ve been in this industry for seven years now, with five of those years in the YPN ranks.  Through it, I stood beside one of my friends for life in his wedding.  I was the second person, after her husband, who my virtual little sister told she was pregnant.  When my son was born, one of you held him in the first three days, although we should have been 579 miles away from each other.  All of these amazing things happened thanks to my involvement in YPN.  I’m not going anywhere, however, I do want to challenge each of you to become more than just a YPNer.  While it’s a cool label to wear, labels can eventually impede your growth.

Brian Copeland is a real estate practitioner with Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, Tenn. You can follow Brian on Twitter: @NashvilleBrian

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Comments 33

  1. Brian – I had this very discussion a couple of weeks ago while explaining YPN to a group of local brokers and managers. The name really is a misnomer for what YPN truly has become and as it continues to transform.

    Being that YPN really is an adopted mindset rather than a label with a cut-off date, it would be more appropriate for it to stand for the more all-inclusive “Your” Professional Network rather than “Young” Professional Network.

    See you in a few days.


  2. This is something I talk about all the time at my local association. I do not believe YPN is for young in age but young in the business. Thanks for the post, I hope this starts some people talking!

  3. Given that the average age of the REALTOR pool is mid 50’ish, I say guys like you and me can hang around for a number of years to come. At the end of the day, if people want to hang out, share ideas, and ultimately have a good time, “Who Cares about age?”

    Happy Birthday BTW!

  4. This has been bubbling around YPN conversations I’ve been having for at least a year now. This is spot on and well-written! Thanks, Brian! Here’s to all of our amazing leaders at every age!

  5. Brian,

    I really enjoyed your post. I can relate completely as I turned 40 last year and find myself in the same position as you. I’m a NAR Leadership Academy graduate, a past local president and moving on to state leadership as next year’s treasurer. The people you mentioned in your post are all amazing. Kenny Parcell is like a brother to me and has been an incredible mentor. He’s blazing a trail for all of us at the national level.

    You are absolutely right about labels and their double edge sword. This hit home to me at Midyear this last May. As I attended the FPC reception someone came up and asked me what I was doing there. The funny thing is I am an FPC to the youngest US Senator – Mike Lee of Utah, who just so happens to be the same age as me!

    We need to stop looking at age and start looking at what a person brings to the table and a big part of that is their willingness to serve. I’ve sat on too many committees at all levels of our organization and seen empty seats that could have been filled by someone who was willing to serve.

    Great post, can’t wait to see where this discussion goes!

  6. Thanks Brian for another great article and “food for thought”. I attended the YPN meeting with other well over 40 attendees last week. I found so much value in the meeting because there was shared knowledge, experience and willingness to listen to opinions. I have 27 years in the industry and if I ever thought I “knew it all” I would hang it up. I love the energy, enthusiasm and new ideas that come from shared discussion and they aren’t from any “one” group but from people who choose to open their minds and hearts. We have a real opportunity to make a difference in lives and a name change may be necessary so all “young in thought and action” participate. I just hope to continue to be invited…Keep doing what you do best! Eileen

  7. Nice post, Brian and some interesting points. I think it’s entirely appropriate to have an aggressive YPN organization and from what I have seen over the last several years, it has become more of a driving force for image and professionalism in the industry. And the beauty of it? It has not been “exclusive” to those of a certain age bracket. It has welcomed those who may be “younger” in the field, but bring experience and ideas from outside experience/industries that can add flavor and ideas to the mix. Whether it’s the new 60 or not, I can’t say…but I will say, keep on aggressively pursuing change.

  8. Brian, you make some interesting observations. I’ve wondered the same thing. Our YPN chapter is in its infancy and there are only 40 members under 45 in our entire Board. We want this group to breathe life into our association but many of even those people feel like they may be “too old” for the group! Some of our YPNers are among the top producers in our industry here because they have been able to balance their obvious youth with their insight, knowledge, and expertise to an aging population of buyers and sellers. Our association(s) needs their vibrancy, energy, and talents, but how do you pull them in and keep them there if you are using their youth as the label for their value?

    You are clearly not less valuable to your local, state, or national association because you turned 40! You have just as many talents, skills, and abilities as you did when you were 35, even more so from your experiences. Is youth what we are really tapping into with these networks? My answer would be no. Youth for youth’s sake does not make someone a future leader or a leader at all. Everyone has once been there or will pass that stage and then what? If we have defined your relevance by your age how do we keep you contributing when that stage passes?

  9. Love your thoughts, Brian! The questions you present are similar to what I’ve thought myself. The word “young” takes on different meanings and I appreciate that you’ve brought it up for discussion. I believe our local network is an entry point for new leaders – for a few of our committee members, their involvement with YPN is their first taste at getting involved with their local association. It’s rewarding to see their growth as a leaders in the last 8 months. I see bright futures ahead for them.
    With tremendous support from our state board of directors, our local network will continue to grow and evolve. There are many new leaders to reach – new ideas, new perspectives, new attitudes – it’s simply about being sure these potential leaders hear our message and understand that they too can get involved by starting with YPN.

  10. Happy Birthday Brian!

    I am reading this right now, while in Strategic Planning, 2013 budget planning at California Association of REALTORS, for our 155,000+ member state association. There are twenty committee members and I am the “young one”; yes I am a YPN’er, but I’d like to think I am here because I have valuable input and insight…

    I turned 36 last week and I’ve been licensed since 2005… I had a prior career in corporate America… In my short time involved, I have had the honor of graduating from NAR Leadership Academy this year, I am President Elect for my local association., I was Rookie of the Year and REALTOR of the Year… While I may be young (er), I am capable, qualified and in leadership, serving our members now.

    My job is to show my value, listen, contribute and bring other leaders on this journey…. The ones that are ready, identify new leaders, the young and the “not so young”…

    YPN is the Future, and we are the Present! I am proud of YPN’s accompaniments at the local, state and national levels. I am happy to be affiliated with such bright stars, and the ones who are just beginning to sparkle. And I agree, I am not just the Token YPN member in the room…

  11. Happy Birthday my friend.
    Age is but a number, and YPN is but a name – and like the bard said “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – interesting thoughts, well put. Welcome to the inner examination that comes with milestone birthday 😉
    I hope that your birthday is amazing , that the new year holds more love , fun , and success for you, and that we get to see each other more 🙂

  12. Brian,
    You do narcissism better than anyone…and I mean that as a compliment. According to what I’ve read, there will be more Gen X and Y in the workplace by 2015. In the next 10 years we will go through amazing changes as boomers retire at a pace of 10,000 per day and Gen X and Y take over.

    My point is that 40 is not the magic number for YPN, nor is YPN the correct name for the network. This is a generational issue and these generations have been very well defined. It is not about how many years you’ve been in the business, it is about how many years you have left in the business.

    At 40, you have a potential of 30+ years left to be a Realtor. You have to step forward and lead because it is your future. The Boomers (and I am one) have a shrinking YLIB (Years Left In Business) and X and Y generations better be gearing up to run the show.

    As a side note, the real trick to remaining young is to shave all the grey hair off your head…but you already know that. Happy Birthday!

  13. I think you bring some great points to the table, Brian! I think it goes back to the 4 directives of the organization and if you are a member, regardless of age, those are the things you are focusing on: community involvement, leadership de
    velopment, networking & knowledge of policy/advocacy. Although I’m sure boards focus on this themselves, us “forward thinkers” do it in a different format and have new fresh ideas on how to tackle these goals. Maybe we take a spin on the kids show and call ourselves the “Fresh Beat Realtors”…for those with kiddos, you’ll know what that show is! 🙂 Great blog–thanks for the thoughts–it’s something I’ll bring up with our local chapter, too!

  14. It felt really weird turning 40 with regards to my real estate career. I felt as if I weren’t a “young’un” anymore, yet I still felt less “seasoned” than many of my counterparts. I love Anand’s “Your” replacing “Young” in YPN.

  15. I understand the entire “your” concept, however if we’re going to make this an entry point network, do you still see the need for a safe place for REALTORS below the age of…say…30…to have a space to network. I could argue there’s a need for both.

  16. It’s funny, my birthday is coming up in three week (I have a few more years before I have to worry about the big “40”) but I was talking with a colleague about a similar topic I’m soon to leave that 18-34 demographic and I do find that shaving away the gray is a great tip 😉

    But in all seriousness I have used to being, for a long time, that “young kid” it is PAR for the course when your family has been in the business. The “young” label IS hard to overcome and I have often felt that the easiest way to overcome it is … BE GREAT… By that I mean … Get involved, volunteer your time, be active, educate yourself, share ideas and teach others. Those ideas should not be a factor of age.

    I’ve been fourtunate, I’m a local board president, on the executive committee of my state & attempting to breaking into the national committee structure. One of the many things I am lucky to be able to do is speak with the new members at thier orientation, one of the things we talk about is YPN… when some of the more “distinguished” new memebers ask about it and I explain what the letters YPN stand for I truly believe a perceived barrier is created because of the “young” … But what to do? Rebrand? If we take the “young” out of YPN does this movement that we are part of drastically change and do we collectively loose our voice. I often say that in theory YPN has always been around… By that I mean there have always been young memebers but what is Differant about these last few years is the focused & inclusive group that has become a loud & respected voice in the REALTOR world. Do we dilute that if we change too much? If we are not YPN do we regress and then potentially loose the young members? We also don’t want to “ice float” a member once they turn 40 and send them out on thier own. YPN, or what ever it should be called should be a group with a mission broad enough to include any member that that is young, new to the business or enthusiastic about real estate and being a REALTOR. What ever this evolves into it must continue to attract those members that have plenty of, as Dave Phillips put it, YLIB. Maybe we should take a clue from Star Trek when they created thier second TV series and call it REALTORS: The Next Generation


    Happy Birthday Brian

    Great post…

  17. Brian, great post. Like you, I crossed over the 40 bridge this summer. I have on more than one occasion in the last few months had to say to people “really, it means 40 and under!” But what it really means is a way of thinking about the future of our industry that can include change…major change…if that is what we see is necessary. Age has nothing to do with inclination for change.

    Like many of the other contributors above I have found my way to get involved in many committees at both my state and local association. Like you, I first found my involvement was as “the YPN guy”, but now it is as someone who my peers trust and respect, and who can promulgate change without it seeming like mutiny. If YPN gave me that opportunity as 30-something REALTOR with little association experience, then let it live on in that same capacity.

    Happy birthday….and welcome to the 40-club. Look forward to celebrating in Chicago with all my YPN (young and old alike) friends.

  18. Brian, I’m going to guess that was the original intent of creating the network, but when YPN got introduced to an industry that is so stuck in old school ideology it really shook things up. It has become more than just a group of youngsters wanting to network. I agree there is a need for both. I think YPN though has become a broader “movement” as it represents a shift in thinking that unfortunately has been absent for the most part. YPN is more than just an entry point network now. There is a need for both, but the latter could probably fall under a larger YPN umbrella. Just my two cents as a guy who has only been a part of YPN for about a year and half now.

  19. Brian – well said! You made some great points! Doesn’t turning 40 make you a YPN alumni now?!? Happy Birthday!

  20. YPN’er …. feels a little like being labeled a “baby boomer” in the industry. Personally, I detest labeling of groups within industries, but not necessarily the people in the groups. It serves no long term purpose to anyones business or more importantly to the industry. Being labeled a YPN’er or “baby boomer”, or GEN X etc. is to dummy down professionals into categories that do nothing to increase professional standards or abilities. It pushes perceptions onto colleagues that are not necessarily true. It pulls collaborative efforts further apart with independent groups sometimes just being groups or safe places to hang.

    On the other hand understanding the generations to increase collaboration is much more appealing and sustainable to an industry. Especially in an industry that faces many challenges.

    The fact that a YPN group even feels they need to form means that the industry is failing our younger generations. The fact they actually form says they are also being exclusive and not adding to the collaboration of an industry.

    Labels are scary to any person, place or company as our cerebral cortex has a tendency to remember what you see first or what you see often. Choose your labels carefully. As you said Brian they can hinder growth. BTW, My personal favorite label is Mom!

    Brian, you bring up excellent points and I applaud you, but I also challenge you to help un-label the industry from the inside out going forward. For me, I want to hang out with those who are smarter than me, no matter their age or label. That is why I like hanging with you:)

  21. Brian,
    First of all, Happy Birthday! Forty is certainly something to celebrate. Your piece is certainly timely. Being among the 40 club, I started in real estate when I was 26 and was volunteering way before YPN. I had served in leadership for WCR, chaired committees at my local association, served on the board of directors and was a new state director. However, I never felt there was the right “fit” for me to really develop as a leader. When our local association was looking to the younger members on our BOD to start our YPN, I pounced. I don’t think I even knew that I could have so much passion around it.
    Fast forward 3 years, because of my involvement and the relationships inside of YPN and the amazing leaders I have met because of YPN, I developed the confidence to forge ahead. Whether this is an “entry point” or a group for under 30, 40 or whatever. There is a need for such a group to encourage, teach, support and be leaders of change. I have learned more in the past 3 years from my peers than the previous 11 years in the real estate industry. There is something to be said about the YPN group!
    On the flip side, your point about being labeled YPN by all those that aren’t, is amazing. Similar to the Scarlet Letter, YPN can both be detrimental to your leadership path or can enhance it. We wear the letters proudly but with that youthful label, inexperience is naturally associated with it. We are labeled “future leaders” and are accused of “not having enough experience” and “having to pay our dues” etc. We have all heard some part of this.
    YPN is an integral part of our industry and needs to continue so our future leaders will have the same opportunities as many of us have had. For those of us that move through the leadership journey we will appreciate and embrace the YPNers of tomorrow…Great post Brian!

  22. Happy Birthday Brian!

    Thank you for letting the “elephant out of the room”. I am 38, been licensed since 1999 and during my time as a REALTOR have had the honor and privilege to serve my local association as President (2010 &2011), graduated from N.A.R. Leadership Academy (2012), served as Treasurer (2011) and now Secretary of the California Chapter of Women’s Council of REALTORS, serving a 3 year appointment to N.A.R. Strategic Planning and appointments at National Women’s Council of REALTORS. I have many times been the youngest person in the group or on the team. I, like many others, worked hard, volunteered by time, and give with passion to this industry.

    I have always believed a true leader provides value, listens to others, contributes, mentors and help tap new talent, aka new leaders, to bring along the journey. It should not matter the age of the leader but the talent that they can provide to the project.

    Along my personal journey I have been told: “your too young”, “you should be home with your family”, “your to young to understand”, “why are you here?”, “YPN is just a fad” and many other statements along the way.

    Our REALTOR community is diverse and so our our clients. We all need to embrace great talent and leadership no matter what the age.

  23. Brian, I agree with your comment that there could be a need for both. I think there is real value to keeping the “young” mindset even as I stare down the big 4-0 myself (HA! I’m YOUNGER than you! Who knew?)

    Our industry isn’t particularly focused or receptive to the very young who wish to enter it. With one third of all REALTORS over 60, and only one eighth under 39, the population leans heavily toward the gray end of the spectrum.

    Communication styles, sensibilities, and social mores all create a gap between Millennials/X’ers and the predominantly boomer leadership of associations and brokerages, and I think that’s the void that YPN helps to fill.

    That said, I’ve been a YPN member since not long after it’s inception, before there were local chapters, an advisory subcommittee, and Rob Reuter. My sense of YPN then was that it was all about newbies, and the receptions at Annual Convention were superficial. Back in 2006 when we started, I was 33 years old, in my 8th year in the business, managing an office and about to become local association president. I wasn’t a newbie, and I wanted something MORE.

    But the connections I began to make through YPN grew as the network did. I met Aaron Wheeler via a Facebook and Twitter discussion about the #NARlando YPN event and Heidi Fore’s session at that event. In San Diego, Aaron introduced me to Bobbi Howe and others, and I walked away from that event saying thinking of the fire, drive and professionalism I saw and saying “This is it! These are the future of our industry, and encouraging their development is the true calling of YPN.” I returned from that event and founded our state network.

    It was then through Bobbi that I first met you, my dear friend, as I know neither of us will ever forget. Many more of my friendships throughout the industry have been strengthened by the common bond of “youth” for lack of a better descriptor.

    I looked around my Leadership Academy class and saw no less than 5 YPN’ers represented, not because they were young, but because they were the best darn candidates for the class. But every single one of my NARLA classmates is YPN at heart- committed, no PASSIONATE about the development of new talent and leadership in our industry. And as I teter on the brink of “YPN Emeritus” status, I’m more passionate about it than ever, because I LOVE seeing the next generation of real estate rockstars get in, get successful, and get engaged in the industry.

    So a short response by me turned out long (I can hear Bobbi snickering already). But here’s my take. Keep it Young. We need a place, real or virtual, for the truly young to feel at ease, valued and encouraged. Maybe we won’t turn older members away at the door, but when they start to displace the young people who are underrepresented in our business, we’d better turn the music up until they seek out somewhere quieter.

    I can handle the noise.

  24. Heather, I’ve heard MANY and yes, I mean many, YPN females report the same “you should be home with your family comment.” I’m appalled and shocked at the same time when people come to me hurt/mad/speechless that someone said this to them. Thanks for bringing that point up.

    Julie, I agree mostly, however labels are not only a NAR thing, it’s a business-wide issue. There truly is a “wait in line” mentality among many ages. When does leadership become about a true, quality group leading in the best interest of the body removing a line and creating a leadership cluster?

    Jennifer, what do you feel held you back from being truly engaged in your late 20s and early 30s?

    Missy, I hope 60 is not the new 30. If so, our under-30s overall in America are going to be unemployed for a lot longer waiting for the 60s who took over 30-age-spot to reach the “90 is the new 60” mentality.

  25. Great article Brian and excellent comments from everyone. It sure is a timely article. I serve on my state’s advisory board/ sub-committee for YPN. We just had a meeting last week. Concern was expressed that YPN does not promote to those that are simply new to the business, only to the young. While anyone is certainly welcome to hang out with us youngsters and all are embraced just the same I had to speak out!

    I will be very proud to pass the torch someday when I no longer fit the profile. I do see how it can be a double edge sword! So is the title of “Rookie of the Year” that I shamelessly carried around on my shirt collar for all of 2007! This is a group that I will be more than proud to say I belonged to in my youth and I helped pave the way and make other young professionals feel welcome within their chosen industry. We should not feel bad nor guilty about promoting YPN and all that it offers. YPN is a voice and a comfort zone for an amazing minority group that faces many unique obstacles.

    I began my real estate career at 22. 8 years later, still, the majority of my colleagues and clients have at least a decade on me! More than most have 3 decades easily! My clients could not help but ask my age, they were constantly trying to introduce me to theirs sons or grandsons! Give me a break!! I had to take drastic measures! I now feel very fortunate that I was put in that position. In order to prove my worth I decided to get involved with my local and state associations. I loved it and went above and beyond! I also earned more designations that I can fit on any business card! I have a resume like most of you.

    Truth is the young professional faces many more challenges that someone “of an experienced age” my clients knew right off the bat that there was no way I could be a homeowner yet here I was promoting it. Unfortunately I was not introduced to YPN until 2 years ago. I walked the lonely halls at state and national conventions for 5 years looking for people I could relate to!!! Always few and far between.

    Leadership positions are an amazing opportunity for personal growth and I think YPN is a great place for young people to break in, as soon as they do they thrive and take it to the next level. It also encourages higher learning by offering a fun social group while traveling to conventions. There is nothing wrong with that! What I think YPN does more than anything else is screams to young people who are thinking about getting into real estate “YES YOU CAN!! and be successful at it!!You don’t have to wait for gray hair to be respected in this industry! Come on in!!”

    I can handle the noise and well and I’m happy to turn it up!

  26. Ok..well, I am like 2 /25 year olds this year., and plan to attend as many YPN events as I can, and I’m hanging with a few of the 2/30 year olds that I know because we love YPN energy. I am hoping that we are planting seeds, demonstrating that age has nothing to do with passion, professionalism or leadership goals.

  27. Happy Birthday Brian! Interesting post and concept. The YPN lable can be uncomfortable on many levels. I think YPN is more of a mindset of “new fresh and cutting edge” ideas and ways of thriving in the Real Estate industry. I do think that NARYPN shoud visit or consider identifying the YPN brand of lable so that substainability of the group will always thrive! Rett Harmon. -32

  28. Brian,

    Is it time for you to tackle the YPN alumni? Or maybe it’s time to start the ‘Realtor Mentor Program’. You take a new to the business Realtor under your wing and mentor them through their first year (or several years). Location doesn’t matter, just need a little FaceTime, text messages and phone calls. YPN’ers know the value of learning from seasoned Realtors (age makes no difference as it only takes a few years to get a little seasoning) and the attrition rate amongst Realtors is worse than Marine Corps bootcamp. I hope your birthday was the bomb!

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