An Interview with 2020-2021 President-Elect James Ronald Whitney
James Ronald Whitney, REALTOR® with Bennion Deville Homes, was recently voted to the position of President-Elect on the 2020-2021 Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS® Board. After serving as a Board Member on the 2018-2020 Board, Whitney decided it was time to put his stamp on the direction of the local professional association, calling upon his passion for the industry and leadership skills.
As Whitney embarks upon this new chapter of his real estate legacy, we caught up with him to get his thoughts on the direction of the industry and his vision for the PSRAR after an interesting year.
Bennion Deville Homes (BDH): Why do you think you were successfully voted into the President-Elect role on the PSRAR Board?
James Ronald Whitney (JRW): Whether I’m on a Board of Directors, serving as a Committee Chairman, or President of an organization, I have a reputation for being a strong, enthusiastic, and motivated leader who leads by example. I am known for thinking out of the box creatively, especially when it comes to problem-solving, which I consider to be an ‘opportunity knock.’ My M.O. is to candidly express my opinion or solution to a body of decision-makers and respectfully allow everyone to engage in what is hopefully a robust discussion, before finally putting the best plan into immediate action. I don’t believe that we need to respect one another’s opinion, we simply need to respect one another and accept each other’s opinion. As a community and industry leader I am guided by a few principles that have held true over the ages:
(1) Deliberate often, decide once.
(2) Although everything that needed to be said has already been said, since not everyone was listening, it needs to be said again!
(3) In order to truly take a journey, you must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
BDH: How does it feel to be voted into such an important role within the PSRAR organization?
JRW: I truly appreciate the votes of confidence that I have received from the association members, past and present board members, as well as the official endorsements of 10 association presidents. As much as I have enjoyed serving as a Director on the PSRAR Board of Directors for the past two years, I am ready to use my vision, expertise, and passion for presiding over boards to direct the PSRAR Board Members to laser-focus on what will best serve the association members. I bring an ability to simultaneously see all of the layers within our organization and energize the key players to create an engaged, enthusiastic membership base. To put it another way, as a filmmaker I have a penchant for simultaneously capturing the wide-shot, the close-up, and the ECU (extreme close-up). Multiple perspectives traditionally allow an audience to more fully see a macro-level picture, affording them the opportunity to become far more engrossed in the story.
“I am ready to use my vision, expertise, and passion for presiding over boards to direct the PSRAR Board Members to laser-focus on what will best serve the association members.” – James Ronald Whitney
BDH: What sets you apart from past professionals who have held this role?
JRW: Traditionally, I think that most PSRAR Presidents have been Ferris wheels; very nice rides with predictable highs and lows, consistent ups and downs, and an overview that generally faces one direction. On the other hand, I am a roller coaster with perfectly unpredictable highs and lows, exhilarating ups and downs, and an overview that is constantly changing. I hope the association members are prepared to fasten their seatbelts in the not-too-distant future, as they are waiting in line for what I promise will be an exciting ride!
BDH: What legacy would you like to leave at PSRAR when your term is through?
JRW: It is imperative that PSRAR focus on three things: (1) Core Values, (2) The Mission Statement, and (3) a Strategic Business Plan. I would like my legacy to be that under my tenure PSRAR set the example locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally for how an association such as ours can make a difference both to its members and to the community under which they serve.
BDH: In your platform bullets, you stated that you want to help bridge the post-merger vote divide. How do you plan on tackling this issue and overcoming the strong emotions from both sides?
JRW: To cite Facebook status, “It’s Complicated!” but, our members need to be reminded that the merger was a win/win for PSRAR. Palm Springs is and always has been the diamond of the Coachella Valley. PSRAR was either going to remain the brilliant 24-carat gold diamond bracelet that we’ve been for more than 90 years or become a brilliant 24-carat gold diamond bracelet with semiprecious gems on each side of said diamond named Rancho Mirage (ruby), Palm Desert (topaz), Cathedral City (amethyst), etc. The merged name would have been Greater Palm Springs Association of Realtors – not Greater California Desert Association of Realtors. It is not surprising that CDAR voted in favor of the merge and PSRAR was almost split down the middle.
“I would like my legacy to be that under my tenure PSRAR set the example locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally for how an association such as ours can make a difference both to its members and to the community under which they serve.” – James Ronald Whitney
BDH: If you can discuss, where are some of the opportunities for PSRAR to monetize current and future areas of the organization and how do you plan to execute?
JRW: In order to fully realize the absolute potential in PSRAR, everything from the retail store, the PSRAR building, and association dues to the Wednesday morning caravan mee#southerncalifornia #coachellavalley #californiarealestate #realestatebroker #socalrealtor #realestate #realestateagent #smartagents #homesales #housesales #realestatemarketing #agents #socalstyle #bdhomes #herewegrowagain #family #culturetings, continuing education, and affiliate-sponsored events, to name just a few, needs to be reviewed. In order to accomplish this, among other things, I will immediately form a President’s Council comprised of all past presidents, wherein they will meet quarterly and weigh in on what they feel could be done to best serve the PSRAR association members.
BDH: How are you going to encourage membership growth at PSRAR, and what do you think is the biggest objection to overcome with potential members?
JRW: Word of mouth from our PSRAR association members is key. As just one example, if they proactively inform their fellow Greater Palm Springs colleagues who belong to other associations about how robust, vibrant, and enthusiastic PSRAR is and invite them to a Wednesday morning caravan meeting with breakfast on the house, I am convinced that they will see the benefit of joining our association. Additionally, traditional print, radio, and television advertising coupled with the power of strategic social media marketing will help to inform non-member real estate professionals about the PSRAR member benefits and further spread the word about our organization. Not incidentally, this same formula holds true for Greater Palm Springs’ affiliates who have yet to join PSRAR.
BDH: You cited enhancing the education program as a part of your running platform. What are your plans for adding additional value to this membership benefit?
JRW: I intend to reach out to a number of real estate professionals and have them host educational seminars and classes on some of the more neglected, yet much-needed areas within the real estate industry. Additionally, to cite just two examples, I would like to have coaches on our roster who are experts in areas such as body language and motivational speaking in an attempt to help the association members fine-tune their craft and become the best professional versions of themselves that they can possibly be.
BDH: What is the biggest challenge you think the PSRAR faces in the next 12 months and how do you plan on addressing it?
JRW: There are currently two factions within the PSRAR membership. Since I am still relatively new and assuming a prominent leadership role, I intend to lead by example and remind people that we are one body with one set of core values, one mission statement, and one strategic business plan. We are at our level best when we work together to make this powerful association that has been around for nearly a century even stronger, more vibrant, and the model for REALTOR® associations nationwide.
“I intend to lead by example and remind people that we are one body with one set of core values, one mission statement, and one strategic business plan.” – James Ronald Whitney
BDH: How does your very impressive, well-rounded background set you up for success in this role? Is there anything specific from your current or past careers that you think will lead you to a successful term?
JRW: In that both my personal and professional pedigree are extremely diverse, I bring something different to the proverbial table than past PSRAR presidents. Connection is key, and I am able to connect with almost anyone, as my interests and skill-sets are vast. When people understand that I am simply spearheading the team of which they are a part, and when those same people feel confident that I genuinely have their backs, not through words but through actions, the team begins to fire on all cylinders and there is no limit to what we can do together. That is what excites me most about becoming President-Elect – welcoming those possibilities!
About James Ronald Whitney
PSRAR President-Elect (Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS®), C.A.R. Director (California Association of REALTORS®), CARETS Director (California Real Estate Technology Services) for Palm Springs, former Wall Street Vice President, and Emmy® Award-winning HBO filmmaker, James Ronald Whitney lived in New York City for nearly two decades, but has been a full-time resident of Palm Springs since 2007. Throughout the 90’s and until 2005, Whitney worked extensively with Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), and served as Vice President at several Wall Street firms including John Hancock Financial Services and The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC’s Wealth Management), where, among other things, he managed the portfolios of both celebrities and high net worth clients. As a financial expert, Whitney has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, On Wall Street, Registered Representative, and has been on the cover of Wall Street periodicals such as Research Magazine. Additionally, he served on Goldman Sachs’ Funds Blue Chip Council, Munder’s Millennium Advisory Council, and Oppenheimer’s Executive Council, and has received countless financial achievement awards. In addition to working with Real Estate Investment Trusts while on Wall Street, Whitney’s passion for real estate evolved from finance to include development and management, and he eventually served as President of two real estate development companies, as well as numerous HOAs. As both a New York City and Palm Springs resident, Whitney has been an avid ‘House-Flipper’ for decades and has flipped houses ranging from traditional homes and beach houses to penthouse lofts, multi-family residential units and condos, which have been featured in a number of publications including The New York Times.
About Bennion Deville Homes
Founded in 2001 by Bob Bennion and Bob Deville, Bennion Deville Homes is one of the top independent real estate brokerages in the nation and serves home buyers and sellers throughout Southern California in the primary markets of the Greater Palm Springs Area (Coachella Valley) and San Diego and Orange counties. Coachella Valley offices include locations in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta. Spring-boarding off the massive success of the company in the desert, Bennion Deville Homes began serving coastal Southern California communities in 2010, with offices serving Orange County in Laguna Niguel, and San Diego County in Encinitas, and Carlsbad. Bennion Deville Homes also has a presence in Glendora in Los Angeles County, and Garner Valley, Redlands, and Lake Arrowhead in Riverside County.
The exclusive LUXE Collection program complements the company in listing and selling the finest luxury homes in Southern California, thanks in part to exclusive partnerships with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, Luxury Portfolio®, and Mansion Global, creating a strong presence to help high-end properties gain digital and print exposure to an affluent international client base.
For the location of the Bennion Deville Homes office nearest you, visit our website at BDHomes.com. Follow us on major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube, @BDHSoCal for the latest local and national real estate and lifestyle news.
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