An interview with new CEO John Geha

Born in Albuquerque and raised in Toledo, John Geha is returning home to Ohio as he assumes the position of Chief Executive Officer for Columbus REALTORS® following Stan Collins retirement.

As the CEO of one of the largest real estate associations in Canada, John created a regional collaborative relationship with federal, provincial and municipal leadership, spearheaded a new joint education and training initiative with a local college and has been actively and directly engaged with the development and governance of a merger of 22 real estate boards/associations into a regional MLS data platform.

Prior to his association leadership, he was Senior Vice President of Strategic Growth for Century 21 Canada Limited Partnership, President of Canadian Operations for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, and Director of National Accounts, Franchise Development for Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.

A forward-thinking strategist, John has also consulted with universities, city governments, the largest global corporate owned real estate brokerage and 20 of the largest privately held brokers in the U.S. and Canada.

John got his real estate license while he was completing his Political Science degree from the University of Toledo and coaching the South Toledo YMCA swim team.

His wife of 28 years, Susan, is originally from Long Island and works as an international flight attendant for American Airlines.

Together, they have four children, one in Toledo (John and wife Lisa), two in Chicago (Abigail and Eli) and the last (Sarah and husband Tony) in Detroit with their two grandchildren, Hannah and Noah.

John loves to golf, is an avid reader and collects unique wines. He and Susan are foodies and enjoy trying to replicate different foods they’ve had, the spicier the better!

What excites you most about Columbus REALTORS®?

Columbus REALTORS® has an excellent reputation nationwide for its accomplishments over the years due to talented staff and visionary leadership.

You’ve also developed good relationships with government, education, home builders, developers, etc. which provide further opportunities for successful initiatives.

I look forward to building on that foundation as we work together on this next chapter of our story.

What are the first things you would like to tackle as CEO?

First, I’ll be reviewing everything — the budget, governing documents, business plan, strategic plan, etc.

One of my priorities is a strategic plan which we’ll be working on this year.

In addition to getting to know the members, I’ll also be working to build relationships with stake holders — outside counsel, entities associated with our industry, our legislators, etc.

How would you describe your personal working style?
I’m very focused on moving the needle and doing it in a timely fashion. With me, there’s no clock involved — you work until you get the job done.

When considering issues, I like to poll a lot of people to see what they think, what ideas they may have. It’s all about collaboration. Then action.

Although I want to know what’s going on, I’m not a micro-manager. You build the right team based on talent and skill, then empower them to make a difference.

What words would you use to describe your ideal work environment?
Open. High energy. Collaborative. In other words, a welcoming atmosphere where people are energized and able to focus.

Who has made a significant impact on your life?
My parents established a foundation for me. They bought the Old Mystic Theater and turned it into a small grocery (you may remember the Old Mystic Theater as Jamie Farr — ‘Klinger’ — used to talk about it on M.A.S.H. episodes).

Although my dad died in 1978, people still talk about him today because he had such an excellent reputation when it came to his ethics and commitment to community.

I want mention my wife and children who continue to inspire me with their energy, independence and strength.

What are 3 things colleagues might say about you?
You’d have to ask my colleagues that question. But what I hope they would say is that I’m loyal and true to who I am. What you see is what you get.

I don’t have a hidden agenda. Don’t mistake me, I do have an agenda, but it’s a shared agenda.

In summary…
My career path has allowed me to be involved in every aspect of the business of real estate.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to develop relationships with people all over the U.S. and Canada.

As a strong leader is not an island, I plan to tap into those resources and their knowledge as I help navigate Columbus REALTORS® through the major changes facing organized real estate today.

Favorites:

  • Food – Lebanese
  • Ice cream – chocolate chip
  • Dessert – Susan’s lemon cake
  • Vacation destination – Naples, British Columbia and the Mediterranean coast
  • Natural wonder – the Northern Lights seen in Yellowknife, NW Territories, Canada
  • Road trip – driving through southern Spain with Susan
  • Place you’ve traveled – seeing Canada east to west (Newfoundland to British Columbia) and north to south (the Artic to the vineyards of Niagra on the Lake)
  • Book – so many to choose from! The last good book I read and couldn’t put own was 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  • Authors – Paulo Coelho, Ernest Gaines, Thomas Friedman, Doris Kearns and Anthony Doerr
  • Movie – “With Honors”
  • Disney movie – “Toy Story”
  • Classic movie – “Casablanca”
  • Band – Mumford & Sons
  • Song – “I will wait”
  • Sports teams – Cubs, Tigers, UT Rockets, Buckeyes
  • Hero – my dad
  • Superhero – “Mork”
  • Where would you like to visit – the Amalfi coast of Italy and the remaining four states I’ve not been to (Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and Hawaii)