Hancen Sale, Knoxville Area Association Realtors

Hancen Sale, 24, Director of Government Affairs and Policy, Knoxville Area Association of Realtors

At 24, Hancen Sale understands how crucial his role with the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors is when it comes to solving issues like affordable housing and helping Knoxville’s economy thrive. He wants to continue his work by “listening more and speaking less”.

Following:Announcing the Knox.biz 40 Under 40 Class of 2021

When you reflect on your career so far, which accomplishment stands out the most?

This is not a singular achievement but something I do on a daily basis, but above all I am proud of my work to make housing a bipartisan issue. Housing is a basic human need – not a partisan political issue. Raising the conversation about the importance of affordable and accessible housing, and its place as a precursor to economic development and a thriving community, is an achievement of which I am proud.

Hancen Sale, Director of Government Affairs and Policy, Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, 40 under 40 Class of 2021. Photographed in Knoxville, Tennessee on Wednesday October 27, 2021.

What is the biggest professional obstacle you have had to overcome?

One of my biggest professional hurdles has been transcending the assumptions people make and the boxes people want to put you in – and doing it without sacrificing who you are and what you value. In the political world, labels and identities often play an outsized role in what others expect of you and what we expect of ourselves. Thinking for yourself and remaining aware of the human propensity to confuse popular opinion with our own is an obstacle that I think all professionals face and must overcome.

What are you going to focus on in 2022?

I plan to focus on a few things in 2022, in no particular order: listening more and talking less, using social media less, and spending more time reading for pleasure. Personal growth and self-care are necessary ingredients for success.

Hancen Sale, Director of Government Affairs and Policy, Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, 40 under 40 Class of 2021. Photographed in Knoxville, Tennessee on Wednesday October 27, 2021.

What is your biggest professional goal?

To better bridge the partisan political divide, particularly with regard to housing.

What mistake did you learn the most from?

Failing to question my preconceptions about people is a mistake I’ve learned a lot from – and continue to learn every day. Very often, our preconceived ideas about other people are simply wrong.

What motivates you?

Use data to better understand the present and the future.

What’s the most overrated business advice you’ve heard?

“Never turn down an opportunity.” While it’s certainly important to broaden your horizons and say “yes” sometimes, time is your most valuable asset. Even the most dedicated professionals can only help solve a small fraction of the problems they identify. Sometimes we need to recognize the limits of our time and attention, choosing instead to focus our energy and attention on the most fruitful opportunities.

What is the characteristic you look for the most in a colleague?

Willingness to give feedback, even when negative.

What about Knoxville that you would like to improve?

Knoxville is already a great place to live, but it has the potential to be so much better. If I had to choose one thing, I would love to see the riverfront redevelopment along Neyland Drive and downtown. This is prime real estate and is currently underutilized. Mixed-use development (including restaurants and retail), green space, and walking paths along the river would greatly enhance downtown Knoxville.

Who in Knoxville is underrated?

I think the old saying “It takes a village” applies here. There are so many workers who play an essential role in our daily lives, but who hardly receive the appreciation they deserve. Our police, firefighters and first responders. Our nurses and doctors. Our garbage collectors and postmen. Our teachers and educators. Our merchants and grocery clerks. Without these people, our society could not function properly.

Years worked in current company: 1.5

Diplomas and certifications: Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science

Community involvement: mentor tnAchieves; Member of the Council of Young Graduates of Haslam; Infrastructure Council; Knoxville Chamber

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

— Tee Willis

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