Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Tribute to Pierce Allman

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in an early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call and was a guest speaker for the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, where I spoke on “Ways to Thrive in a Shifting Market.” Today, I presented to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Lifestyle Properties, and tomorrow, I’ll wrap up 15 succession planning calls that happened over the course of this week with leaders from across HomeServices.

Read more: Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Tribute to Pierce Allman

While my work schedule was typical, this week was anything but, as I mourned the loss of my dear friend, Pierce Allman. He passed away on November 25 with his beloved family by his side, including his wife, Allie Beth of Allie Beth Allman and Associates, which is widely recognized as one of the most productive and fastest-growing residential real estate companies in Dallas. Pierce’s legacy no doubt contributed to this overwhelming success.

We’ve all experienced that special moment when you meet someone and have instant chemistry. That’s what I had with Pierce.

He lived an incredible life. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, entrepreneur, community leader, preservationist and philanthropist, Pierce co-founded Allie Beth Allman and Associates with Allie Beth. He was renowned for his marketing brilliance, industry expertise, sharp wit and impeccable style. Pierce was not only an integral part of our HomeServices family but also an integral part of American history.

Born January 5, 1934 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Pierce showed a penchant for the extraordinary at a very early age. As a child, he earned 104 out of 105 available merit badges with the Boy Scouts of America, becoming the youngest Eagle Scout in the nation. He also started a paper route for The Dallas Morning News, which he continued into his college days, and thanks to a later scholarship from the publication, was able to enroll at Southern Methodist University (SMU) where he studied radio and television broadcast.

He graduated from SMU in 1954 and joined the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Strategic Air Command in Austin, Texas from 1955 through 1957 before moving to Dallas to work for WFAA radio. He made his way quickly up the ladder from announcer to program director.

Pierce told me his time at WFAA was “an adventure,” recalling how as a crew cut-sporting professional in his mid-20s, he was about 25 years younger than the average age of a WFAA employee. During his time there, he pioneered many innovative programs and initiatives, including a call-in talk show (“in those days, it was a little edgy,” he said) and much of his programming would evolve into what we know as standard, modern-day radio and podcasting today.

At WFAA, Pierce met a young Texas Christian University graduate named Allie Beth McMurtry, who became the absolute love of his life. They married in 1963 and about one month after the wedding, on November 22 (exactly 59 years and nine days before this tribute is published), Pierce witnessed an event that would change his life forever.

Where were you when JFK was shot?

It’s a question that defines three generations – The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers. A moment of tragic remembrance …

I was in my third grade class …

But Pierce was there. And not just standing among the crowds as the motorcade passed by but across the street from the Texas School Book Depository and then, inside it minutes after shots were fired.

Pierce told me, around noon on November 22, he decided at the last minute to walk with a WFAA colleague the four blocks to see Kennedy’s motorcade – with President Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy inside. (“The closest thing to royalty was coming to town,” he said.)

Together, Pierce and his colleague walked along Houston Street in the early afternoon. Here’s the story he told me: “I remember a couple of blocks over, I kept looking at the buildings and rooftops and the open windows and I kept wondering, ‘How can they secure all that?’ And I don’t know why, but we got about a block away and I turned to my colleague and said, ‘You know, if there were to be anything like an assassination attempt, it would probably be here.’”

They kept walking, finally arriving on the corner opposite the front door of the Texas School Book Depository, a seven-floor building facing Dealey Plaza that housed a school textbook distribution firm.

The First Lady was closest to Pierce as he watched their motorcade drive by; JFK sitting on her other side. He saw the President brush hair out of his face, saw the “marvelous” Jackie O and got so carried away in the awe of the moment, he hollered, “Welcome to Dallas, Mr. President.”

The motorcade turned a corner.

Pierce told me when the first shot happened, no one around him even recognized it as a shot (he asked his colleague if it was firecrackers), but then there was a second and a third shot … Pierce said he looked up to where the sound was coming from, to the Texas School Book Depository building. The motorcade car sped off and Pierce thought, ‘I’ve got to get to a phone.’ (All this happened in the span of 18 or 19 seconds.)

He crossed the street and went up the steps of the Texas School Book Depository, passing a man on his way and asked him where a phone was.

“In there,” the man said.

Inside the lobby of the Texas School Book Depository, Pierce found a phone and called in to the radio station, all the while wondering exactly what to say and unsure of what he just witnessed. Was the President dead? Was it a solid hit? What condition was JFK in now? Pierce had no idea, but with the Russian Cold War still raging, he told me he wasn’t about to go on air from the lobby of this building and say the President had been shot, only to inadvertently initiate WWIII.

“There was an unreal quality to the entire thing,” he told me.

But Pierce would forever go down in history as one of the first media representatives on the scene during the Kennedy assassination.

And the story gets even more intense.

Pierce said less than two weeks after the assassination, he received a call from the Secret Service, asking for an interview. He went down to the police station and started detailing the afternoon to them. He went through the entire ordeal several times, and finally the Secret Service said, “In the testimony of Lee Harvey Oswald, he states that as he was leaving the Depository building, a young man with a crew cut identified himself as a newsman and asked for a phone. Based on what he’s said and what you’ve said, this is you.”

Yes, Pierce not only reported live from the scene of JFK’s assassination but also came face to face with JFK’s assassin moments after the shots were fired. He didn’t just witness history; he was part of it. Over the past 59 years, countless news organizations have used his eyewitness report. And because he was live on the scene, Pierce started what would become the 24/7 news cycle we know today.

To keep JFK’s legacy alive, Pierce was a key player in the founding of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and his voice is the one you’ll hear if you take an audio tour.

After his work at WFAA and later at SMU, Pierce started a public relations division for Tracy Locke, winning the prestigious Clio Award (among others) for his work. When Pierce and Allie Beth founded Allie Beth Allman Real Estate (known now as Allie Beth Allman and Associates) in 1985, he served as the company’s Director of Marketing and instituted brilliant and visionary initiatives – the use of color in newspaper advertising, catchy taglines like “Some firms follow the Market, We Make the Market,” The Allmanac and more.

In addition to his marketing and communications genius, he was dedicated to giving back, becoming heavily involved in several local foundations and non-profit organizations that positively impacted the lives of thousands within his community, a patriarchal figure to the city that gave so much to him. In 2017, he was named Dallas Father of the Year.

So, what’s the message? I feel incredibly fortunate to have met Pierce and wish I had met him sooner in my life so we could have spent more time together. He was insightful, smart, kind and humble – everything a great leader should aspire to be.

Pierce, we all miss you. Though you are no longer with us, the tremendous legacy you leave behind is a testament to the extraordinary life you lived.

Thoughts on Leadership: Happy Thanksgiving!

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I visited a Bay area studio to record a voiceover for our HomeServices of America year in review video project and then at exactly 1:17 p.m. had my puppy pick-up at the San Jose International Airport. (Welcome to the family, June!) Today, I closed up the short holiday week and am looking forward to spending time with the family and little June, for which I am so grateful.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Happy Thanksgiving!

And gratitude really is the name of the game this week. I feel grateful to have a job that’s my calling and for the opportunity to work every day with leaders who have become more like family. From service staff members to our CEOs, to our network brokers and owners, to our agents — everyone deserves my ultimate gratitude today and always. As I say, I love what I do largely because of who I get to do it with!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s non-denominational, making it more widely celebrated; and the Thanksgiving message of gratitude is such a fantastic way to commit to a positive mindset as we get close to the end of the year and get ready to start anew in 2023.

It’s not hard to get into the Thanksgiving spirit. We sit back, relax and eat delicious food. Plus, we have the Bills vs. the Lions, the Giants vs. the Cowboys and the Patriots vs. the Vikings to look forward to …

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

And Zig Ziglar reminded us, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

Oprah famously remarked: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

One of my favorite leaders, John F. Kennedy said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”

So, what’s the message? I received this thought in my weekly CEO update from Shawna Alt, CEO of First Weber, and I liked it so much, I want to share it with all of you: Please take the time this week to enjoy the people that mean the most to you. Cherish them for who they are, not who you wish they would be. There is so much power in letting go. Let go of assumptions. Let go of being offended. Don’t let the past cause resentment that interferes with the beauty of the present moment. Choose forgiveness. Choose gratitude. Choose love.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Veterans Day

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by a session of handwritten notes for the holidays. (Let this be a gentle reminder to start working on your handwritten holiday cards if you haven’t already.) On Wednesday, I joined the Global Leadership Meeting for our leaders in Europe and Asia then drove to Union City, California to present on the real estate environment and specifically, 16 actions agents can take in a declining market. Today, between succession planning calls, I sat down to write this post to you.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Veterans Day

As you may have read, early last week I said goodbye to my beloved Kona – for those following the story, I take home my new little best friend on November 22. Then at the end of the week, I celebrated Veterans Day, not only for all brave veterans who protect our freedoms but also for my dad, my Pappy. When my dad turned 18 years old, he was drafted to the Army. He went through training and became a Technician 5th Grade in Company B, 134th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division.

He landed on the beaches of Normandy, and his regiment was assigned to the Third Army. Yes, that was old Blood and Guts himself, General George Patton.

He was in General Patton’s Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge, a major World War II German offensive fought in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany from December 1944 to January 1945. My Pappy would go on to receive two purple hearts for his bravery fighting with Patton’s Third Army.

The most famous part of the Battle of the Bulge occurred around Christmas time in Bastogne, Belgium. Bastogne had a bridge and seven different roads in and out of the town; it was very important strategically. The upshot is the Allies had been surrounded and cut off in Bastogne and needed help.

There was a famous meeting held among all the field generals. The only general that committed to getting to Bastogne was Patton. He said he could attack in three days.

The only problem was my dad, and the rest of the Third Army were 100 miles away and had to hike for three days through tough winter conditions, including deep snow. You heard that right. 100 miles in three days in deep snow during the coldest winter on record. A distance greater than a marathon in boots and combat gear … walking. But they got there.

So, what’s the message? My Pappy’s story proves the resilience and perseverance of veterans –  and that’s just one of so many veterans’ stories. On Veterans Day and every day, the key is not just to thank these brave veterans but also to listen, giving them a chance to share their incredible experiences, so they may live on forever.

Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons from Kona

By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels find me starting off en route to Minnesota for the in-person HomeServices of America CEO/Leadership meeting taking place at the Westin Edina Galleria. From there, I flew home, participated in meetings and sat down to write this post to you … without my beloved Kona by my side.

Kona passed away in my arms earlier this week and as a dedication to a dog that was so much more than a pet, I am writing this week’s Thoughts on Leadership for her. To me, dogs are the greatest pals we can ask for. One of the greatest feelings in the world was coming home from a trip, pulling up to the front door in my Uber and seeing my dog, Kona, through the window, wagging her tail like crazy as I walked up to the house and stepped inside.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons from Kona

It makes you feel so good, so loved by this animal in front of you that your heart can practically burst from the joy of it all. It’s just what dogs do.

The American Kennel Club outlines several science-based benefits of dogs:

  • Dogs reduce feelings of loneliness.
  • Research shows the bond between humans and dogs reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.
  • 10 minutes of petting your dog can reduce cortisol, a major stress hormone.
  • Dogs help us psychologically cope with crises – PTSD in military veterans has been shown to improve when they get a service dog.
  • Dogs encourage us to move – dog owners are 4x more likely to meet daily physical guidelines than non-dog owners.
  • Dogs can improve your photography skills – in a study by Rover, 65% of dog owners said they took more photos of their dog than their significant other!
  • Dogs help us connect – an estimated 40% of dog owners report having an easier time making friends when out with their dog.
  • Dogs make us happier – staring into your dog’s eyes raises your level of oxytocin, the “love hormone.”

And I truly loved my Kona. When I was at Intero she came to work with me every single day; she never missed a day. We’d go to Starbucks together; she’d sit under my desk during meetings when I was working from home. She was just there, a constant, loyal source of unconditional companionship and support.

So, what’s the message? I believe we are connected to our dogs in ways perhaps even science has yet to understand. About a month ago, when Kona started really deteriorating, I was feeling dizzy and off, something just wasn’t right. Of course it wasn’t. Kona was part of me and if she was feeling sick, I was too. When I left for Hawaii, a sense of foreboding followed, like stepping on that plane I knew that this was the beginning of the end.

I moved my return flight up – Kona was in bad condition – and she waited for me to get home, just like she always did on every trip I took before. That sweet, adorable pal of mine – a mainstay at Intero, a regular at Starbucks, a curled-up sleeper beneath my desk – waited until I got home to say her final goodbye. And when I did say goodbye to my sweet Kona, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to my dog, I was saying goodbye to my best friend.

P.S. This story has a silver – or golden – lining. I called the place where I originally got Kona to let them know how great of a dog she was and offhandedly during our conversation happened to ask, “Do you by any chance have an F1 Half-Golden, Half-Miniature Poodle puppy?” And the breeder pauses then says, “You know, as a matter of fact we have a whole litter of puppies right now!” And because I knew somehow this news was Kona smiling down on me from the great dog park in the sky, I said, “Can you just check if they might be related to Kona?” And guess what? The breeder replied: “They are. The parents of Kona were Toby and Goldy and the father of the litter is Cody, the grandson of Toby.” Right then and there I decided I’m going to get one of the girl puppies … and I was thinking of naming her Kona. What do you think I should name her?

Thoughts on Leadership: The Value of Meeting

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Hawaii, attending a wedding and recharging.

Today I’m writing this post to you as I look out my hotel window at the wind-churned Pacific Ocean, and the waves meeting the sand reminds me about the value of meeting people face to face – our Thoughts on Leadership topic for today.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: The Value of Meeting

In-person meetings serve so many purposes. They:

  • Strengthen connections
  • Allow you to learn information as it’s being delivered live
  • Provide opportunities to spend time with your peers
  • … and so much more.

It’s why we put on the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention each year. It’s why we organize the HomeServices Stronger Together conference annually. It’s why at industry events you’ll always find the top-of-the-top because they understand the importance of meeting for their personal and professional growth.

Steve Jobs, whose iPad, iPod, iPhone and iEverything provided the foundation for today’s hyper-digital connectivity, once said: “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.”

This concept actually reminds me of our daily accountability calls – many times in talking to my accountability partner toward the end of the conversation is when the ideas truly get spurred.

In person, you are privy to side conversations and comments, body language and real time feedback that creates an environment ripe for idea-generation.

How many times have you been at a conference and, while grabbing a quick coffee, bumped into someone you haven’t seen in years? You chat, you exchange contact information, and that person delivers a random nugget of knowledge that then helps you in your next deal, or casually mentions a referral they’d like to send your way … business is not only about structure and systems, but also about spontaneity and serendipity working together to create the alchemy of success.

Another benefit of in-person meetings is the sheer energy in the room. It makes you feel part of something larger than yourself. As we said many, many times during our HomeServices annual top-performer’s event: You are amazing when you’re apart, but WE are STRONGER TOGETHER.

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Individual commitment to a group effort: That is what makes a team work, a society work, a civilization work.” And my mentor Jim Rohn said: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Put these two concepts together and you can see why spending time with tens or hundreds of like-minded individuals will perpetuate the kind of continual improvement necessary for high achievement.

Further, when you’re in person, you can exhibit all the positive signs of someone willing and ready to connect. You can be friendly, maintain eye contact and project an optimistic self-image. Don’t forget to smile! Smiling is free and helps form an instant connection. While smiling sends a clear message about your upbeat state of mind, not smiling can be interpreted negatively as grumpiness, aloofness, or anger. And nobody wants to do business with a grump … or given the upcoming holiday season … a grinch!

So, what’s the message? Remember: Ideas flow where people go, and learning from others’ experience, skill and expertise is what growing together is all about.

Thoughts on Leadership: How Not to Die

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday at home with my typical WIG calls then flying to Salt Lake City, Utah for the Berkshire Hathaway Energy 2022 Executive Leadership Conference. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended conference sessions on topics ranging from the vision and plan for the future of energy to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Today, I’m on my way to Las Vegas for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 2023 Sales Convention Creative Review hosted by Corporate Magic, and as the clouds roll past my airplane window, I write this post to you.

I’ve been listening to nutrition expert Dr. Michael Greger’s compelling book, “How Not to Die,” as I implement healthier changes into my diet and lifestyle. (Remember, it’s all about continual improvement!) Dr. Greger, with extensive research, explains the importance of whole food, plant-based nutrition.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: How Not to Die

I first learned about the book on a recent WIG call with Martha Mosier, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

With the HomeServices philosophy of continuous improvement, we end every leadership call with the answer to the question, “What am I doing to improve so I’m better this week than I was last week?” And in Martha’s response, she mentioned the book.

Her brother – an anesthesiologist in San Diego – was a fit, healthy individual who rode his Peloton every day, but at 60 years old, he was faced with an extremely serious heart condition that required heart surgery. His cardiologist told him, “The only way you will live with this condition is to read the book, ‘How Not to Die.’”

He was (rightly) scared, and he read the book cover to cover and is now transitioning to a plant-based diet. Dr. Greger’s book was an eye-opening experience and launched the family into a new phase of a healthier lifestyle and nutritious eating. In fact, he’s become such a follower of Dr. Greger’s nutritional philosophy that Martha said they will have a vegan-style Thanksgiving!

After Martha’s moving story, I got the book and listened to it every night before I went to bed. Like Martha’s family, reading “How Not to Die” had a similar impact on me.

Dr. Greger says 85% of the leading causes of death in the U.S. can be directly tied to nutrition. He also believes the answer to proper nutrition is through whole (or minimally processed) food and a plant-based diet.

There are so many popular diets and fads and food trends but according to Dr. Greger, what’s far more important than any number on a scale is your overall health. And the dietary choices we make directly contribute to what that overall health will be. Dr. Greger says nutrition isn’t about a quick juice fast or a week-long program, it’s about making sweeping lifestyle changes that will benefit your wellbeing forever. He believes:

  • Poor diet is a huge problem that goes largely ignored.
  • Proper diet must be balanced with daily exercise (90 minutes of moderate exercise or 40 minutes of intense exercise).
  • Eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water will help thwart off disease.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should run to the grocery store and switch out all your meat for broccoli (if you know me, you know I love my steak) and you should always consult a medical professional before making any major dietary changes, but the premise of Dr. Greger’s argument is solid: Eat healthier, be healthier.

The typical U.S. diet contains dairy, meat, eggs, and a ton of processed foods. Dr. Greger points to a study that showed when Japanese Americans switched from the Japanese diet – high in vegetables and low in sugar – to a more American-style diet, their risk for heart attack increased. He also names countless groundbreaking studies that show how detrimental processed food can be to your health.

Dr. Greger says any healthy diet should consist of whole, plant-based foods to avoid these harmful, toxic processes. He recommends four servings of fruit, and one of those servings should be berries, which are high in antioxidants and have immune-boosting properties. He also recommends five servings of vegetables each day as vegetables keep cells healthy and aid in liver and lung functions, among many other beneficial qualities.

Overall, Dr. Greger advocates for:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating beans, or bean products, like lentils, miso, and chickpeas
  • Having berries like cranberries, strawberries, and blueberries
  • Adding cruciferous vegetables to your diet like broccoli, kale, and cabbage
  • Putting greens into your meals like kale, spinach, and arugula
  • Eating nuts and seeds like flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
  • Flavoring your meals with healthy herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, and pepper (with an emphasis on the health benefits of turmeric)
  • Exercising each day (moderately)

So, what’s the message? Even a small change like drinking more water, adding moderate exercise to your morning routine, or having a few servings of berries throughout the day can make a huge impact. And healthier eating could make you happier! Dr. Greger cites a review in Nutritional Neuroscience that found eating a significant number of fruits and vegetables positively supports brain health, which means being a happier, healthier leader for you and your team.

P.S. If you’d like to purchase the book, click here. Dr. Greger generously donates all proceeds from the book to charity!

Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons from Nick Saban

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Washington D.C. on Sunday, where I prepared for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Marketing Forum that kicked off on Monday. The fantastic event was hosted by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty (a special thank you to Karmela Lejarde who organized, MCed and hosted the event, along with Kevin Wiles, Jessica Holt and their team). On Tuesday, in addition to the Market Forum, I also joined the monthly HomeServices of America CEO virtual leadership meeting. Wednesday, I traveled back to Northern California. Today, I’m en route to Palm Springs for a site visit to begin planning the second annual Stronger Together HomeServices of America top performer’s event. Between meetings, I sat down to write this post to you.

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Thoughts on Leadership: How’s that Business Plan Going?

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday at home, completing my WIG calls and participating in meetings. On Tuesday, I had the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by business planning, which I continued Wednesday. Today, I write this post to you as I prepare to attend a wedding in Arizona.

You already know the question I’m going to ask: Did you complete your business plan? In this previous post, I talked about the importance of business planning and why in our 90-day real estate cycle, October 1 is the start of the “new year.” To set yourself up for success in 2023, you must plan NOW.

And while a business plan is important every year, it’s especially important this year as we work through the challenges of an economic downturn. Why? Let’s list the ways:

  • In a tougher economic climate, a business plan will keep you focused, preventing any knee-jerk, quick reactions to unforeseen obstacles. It will also help you reduce uncertainty by outlining your next steps, goals and the concrete details (like budget and expenses) of your business.
  • It’s a time to evaluate what was working in the past year and what wasn’t (the SWOT Analysis in the Business Planning Essentials is perfect for this).
  • Writing down your monthly goals makes it a lot likelier you’ll achieve them. One famous study from Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California found writing down goals makes it 42% more likely you’ll accomplish those goals.
  • Goals should be specific, measurable and actionable – and a business plan ensures yours will be.
  • A business plan is like a beacon of light should you find yourself in the shadows of the unknown; it is always there to guide you to a place of success. It’s a proven strategic device you can rely on through roadblocks that may hinder your path to progress.
  • During your business planning process, you’ll likely encounter new opportunities for growth that arise organically from your brainstorming and planning sessions.

So, what’s the message? As Sun Tzu once said, “In the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.” Countless businesses started during periods of economic challenge – Netflix (1997); Trader Joes’ (1958); Microsoft (1975); Warby Parker (2010); Revlon (1932); Disney (1923) to name a few – and were able to stand out because they worked hard, met every challenge and planned for success, just like you’re doing right now.

Thoughts on Leadership: Perfect Practice

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Scottsdale, Arizona to attend the HousingWire Annual event and participate in an onstage fireside chat with my mentor, coach and more than anything, one of my best friends, Tom Ferry. On Tuesday night, I hosted a team dinner with Prosperity Home Mortgage where we entertained a potential acquisition with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada, Arizona and California Properties CEO Troy Reierson; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada, Arizona and California Properties General Manager John Thompson; and HomeServices of America CFO Alex Seavall. And before I flew back to Northern California yesterday, I spent time meeting with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties leadership team. Today, I sit down to write this post to you.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Perfect Practice

Have you ever thought about those common phrases we use in everyday conversations that don’t seem to make sense? “Low-hanging fruit” is one example. Plant experts say fruit that’s higher up on a tree is often exposed to the sun and will ripen faster; low-hanging fruit should be picked last to give it the proper time to develop. Or how about the saying, “cut the mustard”? Mustard seeds are notoriously difficult to chop.

Another common phrase I encourage you to question is: “Practice makes perfect.”

Famed football coach Vince Lombardi debunked that one when he said: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Hence the aptly named pregame “perfection drill.”

“Perfect practice makes perfect” is a fascinating concept to think about; imagine being a piano player and practicing a scale incorrectly. You can play that scale 5,000 times every day for a week and yet, you’ll only be mastering your mistakes, and getting nowhere near that elusive state we call “perfection.”

Growing up dyslexic, I experienced this first-hand. I had a hard time spelling as a kid and in school, I misspelled the word “which,” instead writing “witch.” My teacher told me I had to write out the word 100 times … so I wrote “witch” 100 times. When I was finished, she showed me the proper way to write the word and I had to write it “which” 100 more times. That was my perfection drill!

This applies to anyone in any field. If you’re a basketball player, a football player, a tennis player, or a sales professional and you’re using bad form, ineffective techniques or miscalculated theories, you’re only reinforcing bad habits and getting nowhere near perfection. As Atomic Habits author James Clear once said: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

But if the system you’ve enacted is faulty, you’ll never get off the ground.

“Perfect practice makes perfect” is another reason it’s so important to have mentors and coaches, those people guided by experience and wisdom to correct your missteps and put you on that path toward perfection. Sometimes, we can’t see the mistakes because we’re too close to them. A writer may not be able to spot a typo because they’ve read the sentence too many times; their brain literally skips over it. But an editor can see that typo right away; they haven’t been practicing the imperfect way of reading the sentence.

On the flip side of all this, is The Perfect Practice, which does get you that much closer to achieving your goals. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, the author popularized the idea that it requires at least 10,000 hours of practice at something to become an expert.

So, what’s the message? Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Before you practice anything, make sure what you’re reinforcing from action into habit is the very thing that will bring about – and not counteract – the perfection you seek. It’s an important lesson, witch (which) I learned the hard way.

P.S. Remember last week’s post when I wished you a happy (real estate) new year? Well, let’s check in on your scheduling progress. Did you schedule yourself out for the rest of 2022? Let me know!

Thoughts on Leadership: Happy New Year!

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I joined the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting then on Wednesday, traveled to Las Vegas where HomeServices of America and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices hosted a networking reception honoring LGBTQ+ RE Alliance Top Producers and LGBTQ+ RE Leadership. This morning, I presented a keynote at the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance Conference 2022 about “Where There’s Chaos There’s Opportunity” and gave them 16 points on how to thrive in a changing market. This afternoon, I’ll hop on a plane home to Northern California, and as I sit in the Las Vegas airport eating macadamia nuts and almonds from the famous Ethel M. Chocolates shop, I am writing this post to you.

Of all the posts published throughout the year, today’s Thoughts on Leadership might be the most directly tied to how your next quarter (and next year) will play out in business. Saturday is October 1, which means we’re done with the third quarter and into the final 90 days of the year. Why is this so significant? Because for real estate, October 1 marks the start of the New Year – well, the Real Estate New Year. (Get out your sparkly hats and streamers – it’s time to celebrate 2023!)

In real estate, we operate on a 90-day cycle. All the prospecting, lead generation, planning and marketing we do now is going to pay off three months from now. It’s precisely why our new year doesn’t start when the clock strikes midnight and January 1 arrives. Our new year begins Saturday.

There’s something else to keep in mind as we ring in the Real Estate New Year: This is when your 2023 business planning must begin. (You can download the Business Planning Essentials here.)

Having a solid business plan will keep you from the dreaded Q1 slump. Each year, when Q4 – and the holidays – roll around, with all their sugar cookie, holiday-party reverie, people tend to get off schedule. But if you skip ahead 90 days from the holiday-themed celebrations, you’ll get to Q1, which is exactly where most real estate agents see the lag from a slower holiday season.

During my 30+ years in real estate – as an agent, manager, and owner of a company – I’ve found there’s always a cash flow problem in the months of January and February. This applies to agents as much as it applies to brokerage owners.

A business plan allows you to plan for what’s ahead and avoid that problem. It ensures the busy holiday season won’t stop your momentum in 2023. At a minimum this weekend, schedule out every day for the remainder of the year, including every single day off, and every day you’ll work for the rest of 2022. And make sure on those days you work, you work. On your workdays, follow your schedule, do your prospecting, and complete every task that will drive business for you in the first quarter of 2023. As a challenge, after you’ve completed scheduling out the rest of 2022, post a picture of yourself filling out your schedule this weekend and tag me on Facebook or Instagram, so I know you’ve finished it. Hey, that’s a little accountability!

You should also complete your schedule for 2023. The first things to schedule are the most important business meetings you can’t miss. Knowing when these happen allows you to plan for your days off, so you’re not taking time off during those critical meetings. The next thing to do before you schedule anything else is to put in whatever gives you balance, like vacations and days off. This ensures you take the necessary time to recharge, and that you won’t schedule meetings on your days off. Once you’ve done all that, stick to your schedule! Never make a commitment with your time without checking your schedule first. 

So, what’s the message? Consider this post your reminder to begin your business plan now, so you can start the Real Estate New Year planning for a 2023 – and a future – that’s shiny and bright.

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