Thoughts on Leadership: Planning for Success

This week my travels took me to not only three stops, not only three companies but also three countries: London for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co; Berlin to spend time with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate; and finally, back to the U.S. in Las Vegas, for a meeting with Corporate Magic to finalize the creative planning for Sales Convention 2019.

But let’s back up and dive deeper into each of these three stops, because at every place I went, I left with an important takeaway that applies to all of us as leaders focused on growth and the accomplishment of our goals.

In London, I toured several Kay & Co offices, attended a black-tie launch event and an awards ceremony, and walked through a $55 million listing, or more accurately, a property priced at 42.3 million pounds. (It was just as spectacular as you could imagine it might be.)

I knew right from our initial meeting that the team members at Kay & Co were special but my days in London solidified the notion that they are an extraordinary group of leaders. Kay & Co Chairman Samuel Bikhit founded the brokerage in 1982 and now leads it with Managing Director Martin Bikhit. The estate agency was recently named “Smaller Managing Agent of the Year” at the prestigious ARMA ACE Awards, which recognizes the U.K.’s leading residential asset managers and suppliers. It is also a perennial honoree of the British Property Awards, a recognition program that helps consumers choose estate agencies. Samuel and Martin have assembled a passionate, hardworking team of professionals and I have no doubt they will revolutionize the London market. As Winston Churchill once famously said, “There is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

Kay & Co, this is your time., now let’s go out there and take it!

Visiting the Hyde Park office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co to celebrate the brokerage’s launch as a member of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage network.

From London, I traveled to Berlin to spend the day with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate and Carsten Heinrich, the brokerage’s co-founder and CEO. I began the day with Bloomberg News, sharing insights on the global expansion of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the influences of the U.S. market on international real estate. The team at Rubina Real Estate were exceptional hosts, leading property tours, recording a video and in the afternoon, gathering together for a reception to celebrate the brokerage’s success in the Berlin marketplace and beyond.

Like in London, my overall positive impression of Rubina Real Estate was strengthened tenfold watching our German franchise team in action. Rubina Real Estate is a brokerage focused on helping its clients through technology, service and sharply honed skills. As Albert Einstein, who was born in Ulm, Germany, once said: “Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value.”

My time in Berlin proved that Rubina Real Estate agents, like all great leaders, are characterized by their desire to add value to the lives of those they serve. This sentiment isn’t just one I recognized, Rubina Real Estate has won several impressive awards over the years. Rubina Real Estate is a perennial honoree for Germany in the prestigious International Property Awards held each fall in London. In 2017, the brokerage was named Best Real Estate Agency and Best Property Consultancy (Marketing) for all of Europe. The brokerage was also honored at the 2018-2019 Asia Pacific Property Awards, named an Award Winner for Property Consultancy (Hong Kong), Best Property Consultancy (Germany) and Best Real Estate Agency (Germany).

Lastly, I traveled from Berlin to the bright lights of Las Vegas, also home to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 2019 Sales Convention. And while Sales Convention will take place March 10-12, (learn more at, we already have everything planned out. We know exactly how the show will run, a whole four months before the curtain will rise on General Session, Day 1.

The lesson here is about planning and how crucial it is to success. I can’t stress this point enough: For leaders, it is critical to plan in advance. Whether it’s your own business plan, a listing presentation, a meeting with thousands of attendees or a small, office event, the chances you’ll find success are exponentially increased with careful and thorough planning. (As a side note, after completing our creative planning meetings with Corporate Magic, I tell you this Sales Convention will be the best show ever.)

So, what’s the message? If we combine the three lessons learned in my three stops this week, the overall takeaways are: to surround yourself with competent leaders; always provide value to those you serve; and finally, when tackling anything, plan in advance. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” In fact, Franklin’s quote has had a significant impact on my life. When I was a junior at San Jose State, I remember my professor, Dr. Pete Zidnak, would start his business class with the quote of the day and that Franklin quote was among those he gave to our class. Even now, years later, it still means so much to me and really, should mean so much to everyone reading this post. In any endeavor we take on, we should never fail to plan.

Thoughts on Leadership: Connecting for Change at NAR Annual

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Boston for the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo, also known as NAR Annual. From Boston it was off to London to celebrate the launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co. (In fact, I write this very post from the UK.) Finally, my 10-day road trip ends in Berlin, visiting with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Are You Happy, Always?

This week my travels found me first in Orange County, conducting meetings and strategizing with the team at the HSF Affiliates headquarters in Irvine. Next, I traveled to Minneapolis for a HomeServices of America, Inc. board meeting. From there, I traveled home to Northern California, where I sit writing this to you now, preparing for a 10-day road trip.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Affirmation that “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not”

This week my travels found me in Irvine, California at our HSF Affiliates headquarters for alignment sessions with prospective franchisees from Paris, France and from Maine, Vermont and Minnesota. It was a pleasure to meet with the brokers of these firms, as each is a dynamic leader with a clear set of goals.

My good friend Johnnie Johnson, former All-Pro football player, and CEO and Founder of World Class Coaches, also knows about achieving goals. Johnnie rose from poverty, earned a college scholarship and became a successful professional football player with an extended playing career.

Johnnie’s new book, “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not,” reinforces the important point that any goal is achievable with the rights steps and the right system in place. Check out my review of Johnnie’s book in this video and pick up a copy when you can. I hope you enjoy “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not” as much as I did.

Thoughts on Leadership: Courage, Compassion and Ohana

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in Lake Tahoe, California attending Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ annual CFO Conference, a gathering of brokerage and finance leaders from franchisees throughout our network.

What I like most about the CFO Conference is that it harnesses the input and best practices of our network’s finance professionals, so all attendees leave with ideas and information to help their companies grow and prosper. Susan Erway of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beazley, REALTORS® in Augusta, Georgia, said the conference helped her examine challenges in a different light and, when talking through issues with like-minded leaders, “the real brainstorming begins. I am immensely grateful for the value the CFO Conference brings me and my company.”

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Thoughts on Leadership: Reflecting on Diversity and NAGLREP

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California taking conference calls and meetings, catching up on work and writing more than 70 handwritten notes. (You can see the evidence of that endeavor here.) The week kicked off, however, in Palm Springs at the National Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) 2018 convention, which was a veritable hot spring of inspiration in the California desert.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Leaders

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Vancouver, BC for the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Summit Conference and today in Palm Springs, CA for The National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals 2018 convention. But more about that great experience in next week’s post …

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Thoughts on Leadership: Five Stars Video #4

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in New Jersey with Chris Stuart, COO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, for a very special companywide event, “The Power of the Brand,” hosted Sept. 21 by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties. The event included a company update from Bill Keleher, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Properties, and guest speakers, including CEO of Prosperity Home Mortgage, Tim Wilson. Here are some photos from the event:

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Thoughts on Leadership: Five Stars Video #2

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