Hers is a face and name known by virtually everyone in the Twin Cities real estate enclave. And, for the few that have yet to meet Shannon Lindstrom of RE/MAX Results, it’s certain that once you do, she’ll leave a lasting impression. Friends describe her warmth, terrific sense of humor, generosity and wisdom. Associates admire her expertise, competence and seemingly limitless energy. The general consensus, however, is that Lindstrom is a ball of energy, with a passionate drive to see wrongs righted and that human kindness be the order of the day.
One might assume, given her indomitable spirit and positive perspective that Lindstrom is one of those rare creatures that life has not bruised with cruel surprises. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite her sunny demeanor, she has fielded more than her share of life’s ups and downs. The difference is in how she responds. And for Lindstrom that means one thing: make the best of the situation and carry on.
“I’m very open and direct,” she says, “and I just like to get things done.”
In addition to building and sustaining a thriving real estate business, caring for her husband who had an aortic dissection and then suffered a debilitating stroke during surgery, along with raising their child, Lindstrom has shared her gift of passion and persuasion with a number of worthy causes over the years. Like a self-described mother bear, for many years she has been intensely involved in the LGBTQ community. Fighting for rights, dignity and most of all education, Lindstrom developed some fiercely strong muscles. With a fight that began close to home, she soon became a respected leader lobbying for transgender citizens to be acknowledged as a protected class.
“Education is really important,” she stresses. “It’s human nature to react fearfully in a new situation. Education can create a bridge between people regardless of their differences.
“It gives me great pleasure helping other families reach that true American Dream.”
“I’m also very strong-willed,” Lindstrom adds with a laugh. “I have a hard time with people telling me no. We can help change a situation, or we can walk away. I believe in people, so walking away from an issue that can be resolved, is very difficult for me. When I believe in something, I tend to jump in with both feet. It’s hard for me to walk away.”
It’s this same passion and commitment that Lindstrom brings to everything, and eventually led to her crossing paths with another intensely passionate advocate of human rights, Ricky Cheath. Cheath, who is the area manager for Stearns Lending has experienced first-hand how prejudice can impact a life.
Cheath’s family fled to the U.S. to escape genocide in Cambodia. Typical of those not born to freedom, his parents worked hard, frequently at two jobs to ensure that he and his siblings might have the education and other opportunities in their new homeland.
“Our lives changed dramatically when my parents could finally afford to buy a home,” says Cheath. “Everything they say about homeownership and its impact on children I experienced myself. The security and stability of staying in one place, making friends that continue through the years, and a real sense of pride. I truly believe that was the turning point for our family and one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about lending and real estate. I lived it, so I know exactly what we went through, and it gives me great pleasure helping other families reach that true American Dream.
“In fact, when people ask me what I do, I proudly tell them I make dreams come true,” he adds, his smile radiating the sincerity of every word.
Birds of a Feather
Two people, in the same industry who share the same fervor with the strength, knowledge and backbone to put that passion into action, were destined to meet. For Cheath and Lindstrom this encounter came about, not surprisingly, due to a shared objective.
“I met Shannon about three-and-a-half years ago when I was first introduced to the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA),” says Cheath. “I knew of her long before that, but it wasn’t until then that I had the opportunity to get to know her and soon call her a friend.”
“You don’t need to be Asian to be part of AREAA,” says Lindstrom. “In the fall of 2015, I got a call from Johnny Lee, assisted with the start-up of the Twin Cities chapter of AREAA, asking me to join as the membership chair.”
At the time the chapter was still very new and Lindstrom’s reputation for change and ardent advocacy was well established. She was serving on the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® Diversity Committee as well as frequently volunteering for various LGBTQ organizations.
“I was intrigued by the offer to join the chapter since my passion is advocacy and education,” she says. “Plus, as a member you have the opportunity to network with other REALTORS® and also, volunteer to help the community. It might be cliché, but it’s also true, it takes a village to effect change.”
From membership chair Lindstrom moved to education chair. It was while serving in this post that her new friend Cheath asked if she’d be interested in serving as vice president for 2018 and 2019.
“It took a couple of months for me to get on board,” she says, “primarily because I was involved in so many different committees. But, ultimately the idea of working side-by-side with Ricky AREAA Twin Cities president was something I just couldn’t pass up. Working with him has been a true blessing. He’s very organized, extremely articulate and has a deep internal drive to get things done.”
AREAA is a nonprofit professional trade organization dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities by creating a powerful national voice for housing and real estate professionals that serve this dynamic market.
Currently AREAA boasts more than 17,000 members in 39 chapters throughout the United States and Canada. As the largest Asian American and Pacific Islander trade organization in North America, the organization offers members discounted pricing to all AREAA events, free webinar training for those wanting to fine-tune their skill sets and the opportunity to participate in International Trade missions. Perhaps the most important goal of this group is to bring to the forefront discrepancies and to help educate others within their industry of the problems that still exist.
“AREAA nationally has a mission statement,” notes Cheath, “however, the Twin Cities chapter has its own, which is different. The reason it is different is because I wanted it to reflect the needs of our local community. So, our local mission statement is: To bridge the home ownership disparity in Minnesota and be the trusted resource for the people in the AAPI community when it comes to sustainable homeownership.”
Cheath and Lindstrom both point to startling statistics that show just how huge a gap there is between the average, Caucasian family and that of an Asian or Asian Pacific Islander when it comes to the means, knowledge and ability to purchase a home. Again, through education and providing the right resources they hope to close that gap.
“ It’s an organization that gives back to the community and respects individuals in it.”
“One of the main reasons I chose to work at Stearns Lending is because their business philosophy and vision is one that recognizes these racial gaps and they try to cut the red tape and open doors for more people, when it comes to sustainable homeownership,” says Cheath. “Although Stearns Lending started out in the West Coast back in 1989, the organization has Midwestern core values. Plus, the company is committed to growing their presence in MN and other Midwest states.
“Stearns Lending is more than just a Mortgage Company. It’s an organization that gives back to the community and respects individuals in it.”
For her part, Lindstrom continues to be the passionate dynamo she’s always been, leaving behind an ever-expanding impression of her devotion and stamina. With all these commitments, how does her business continue to thrive?
“My clients love that I’m so passionate,” she says. “They recognize it as proof that once I’m committed to something or someone I’m fully there. I’m very honest and direct, I don’t pull any punches.
“But, I do it tactfully,” she adds with a grin.