Find Your Path to Innovation

Each year, hundreds of "30 Under 30" hopefuls answer a series of questions. Their responses help us select a diverse group of young people to "represent" the next generation of real estate practitioners.

June 1, 2011

We look for evidence of real estate success (increased production from one year to the next, for example), leadership, and innovation—and, of course, we look for good stories to tell.

Generally speaking, when I meet candidates who’ve been selected for "30 Under 30," I’m struck by two things. The first is that they’re even more ­impressive in person than they are on paper. Our brief stories in the magazine really don’t do them justice. During this year’s cover shoot, I spent time at the photo studio where five members of the "class of 2011" were being primped and made to stand on ladders (they were amazingly game), and I had a chance to talk with them between photos. All were articulate and gracious, and they approached their business with a sense of adventure and invention.

The second thing is that the candidates often talk about how the honor of being selected for "30 Under 30" means a lot to their career. That’s wonderful to hear because, in some sense, the purpose of the magazine is to educate and elevate its readers, and the "30s" are a sign that we’re succeeding.

That brings me to the larger population of young people in the business: the 600 or so candidates who apply for "30 Under 30" but don’t make the list, as well as those who don’t make the birthday cutoff or don’t take the time to apply. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say there are plenty of impressive practitioners in that group, too. That’s why we started the Young Professionals Network (—to build relationships with a broader cross section of those who are the future of this business.

By the same token, the young have no monopoly on innovation. There are many experienced practitioners and second-career practitioners who are well over 30 but aren’t saddled down by "the way things used to be." They’re successfully reinventing their careers and their approach to business, and they’re thriving through this difficult time.

So as you read the profiles of this year’s class, I think you’ll be impressed, and I hope you’ll be inspired. But don’t think of the "30s" as an exclusive club. This is just one of the avenues practitioners are using to distinguish themselves in the competitive world of real estate. As Tyler Smith of Sacramento said in his application, "Every day, I ask myself, how can I stand out, and how can I connect with my clients so they think ‘This guy is different’?"

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is director of content strategy for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine. In addition, she oversees the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine and manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 30 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.