By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in Honolulu, HI (yes, you read that correctly, my business travels found me in Hawaii) for the 2016 Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) Global + Luxury Summit. While at AREAA, I had the honor of taking part in a panel discussion during the closing session of the conference to talk about luxury real estate, high-end consumer preferences, luxury lifestyle and housing trends. Joining me in the discussion was Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and Anne Miller, director of The RE/MAX Collection as well as Cedric Choi, CEO and director of Choi International, who was a superb moderator for the panel and participated in the discussion as well. It was a fantastic few days in the Aloha State and I have to thank the leaders of AREAA—2016 AREAA National Chairwoman Vicky Salvano; 2016 AREAA National Vice Chairwoman Angie Lee; Allen M. Okamoto, AREAA National Founding Chairman and AREAA Education Foundation, Emeritus; John Yen Wong, AREAA National Founding Chairman & Emeritus; Jim Park, AREAA National Chairman Emeritus and the rest of the fantastic AREAA team—for putting on such an engaging and dynamic event.
In Hawaii I also had the opportunity to meet with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty partners Tracy Bradley, Scott Bradley, Herb Conley and Earl Lee as well members of the Hawaii Realty team for a sail aboard Scott’s boat, the Via Mida, a historic, 61-foot wooden yacht that was recently restored to its original glory.
Before sailing on the Via Mida, I did a little bit of reading and discovered that the yacht was built in 1929 and traveled up and down the California coastline during WWII, protecting the shores from potential enemy invasions. When the war was over, it crossed the Pacific Ocean to Hawai’i where it is now docked at the Waikiki Yacht Club.
As I was walking up to board the yacht, I remarked to a member of the crew, “Wow, I think I’ve seen this boat before in Florida. I think JFK owned this boat once.” Later, while aboard, Scott told me that yes, there are rumors that say the Via Mida is actually the sister yacht to the Honey Fitz, JFK’s onetime cruiser still moored in Palm Beach, FL to this day. Back in October, I wrote about the Honey Fitz for a blog post about the importance of the past and the rich lessons on leadership our history contains. Scott was impressed that he now had visual confirmation his boat was connected to JFK’s historic Honey Fitz.
So, what’s the message? Connection is often a funny thing. To use a business term, sometimes the ROI of connection isn’t discovered until months or even years later, much like my discovery this week that the Via Mida is connected to the Honey Fitz. But the power of connection is incredible, whether it be the connection between two yachts docked thousands of miles apart or the connection of two business leaders who find common ground, connection can get deals done, allow new ventures to be made and foster lifelong friendships because it makes us realize we’re really all in the same boat.