• Michael Valdes

Gary Acosta, Co-Founder and CEO of NAHREP

I remember vividly when I first met Gary Acosta at the board room of my former employer. I learned all about NAHREP -- The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals -- the organization he co-founded 20 years ago and he leads to this day. I was so impressed with his mission of elevating the Latino professional in our industry and fighting for our community to have the ability to achieve the American dream of homeownership in greater numbers that I asked to serve on his Corporate Board of Governors.

The first speech I gave was to the NAHREP 250 -- the top Latino real estate agents in the country and we began to elevate the conversation immediately. I spoke about targeting the global billionaires and how they differ across the globe. When I finished, I had a line of people waiting patiently to ask me more questions. I was immediately hooked on the desire for knowledge and advancement as an organization.

However, none of this can happen without the leadership at the top with Gary Acosta. I am certain that the traits he learned from Gregg Popovich, who is now a Hall of Fame coach but back then was the varsity basketball coach at Pomona College in California, stayed with him all these years later. Gary has built the organization up to 40,000 members and 100 chapters across the United States.

Some of the incredible mandates which he has spearheaded include "The Hispanic Wealth Project", which was co-chaired by former Secretary, Henry Cisneros whose mission statement is to triple Hispanic wealth by 2024. Now just let that sink in for a moment. Think of the impact that this signifies to not only the community but society as a whole.

The other initiative which I find so special is THE NAHREP 10:

These principles empower members, give them a roadmap, and allow them to be mentors and leaders.

The other initiative was a partnership with Sol Trujillo, who is the first person to be the CEO of three public companies on three different continents. In three short years, this has become the premier Latino event -- a sort of SXSW for the Latino community. The name of it is L'Attitude which stands for Latin Attitude, and the biggest names in business, entertainment, sports, and politics all participate. Last year Emilio Estefan became the third partner in the venture.

When I asked him the three pieces of advice for a new agent entering the business today, he said:

1) Find a mentor. Have someone guide you who has done this before.

2) Remember that nothing great comes without patience

3) Remember that this is a cyclical business. Prepare for the hard times and make sure you have enough to get you through.

Finally, on the concept of wealth, he eloquently said, "Wealth is freedom."

Thank you, Gary, for being such an amazing leader in our community and our industry.

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