By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me in Dallas for REAL Trends 2016 Gathering of Eagles. The event brings together top leaders in real estate and allows us to collaborate and share ideas. It was also my chance to reconnect with my friend, All-Pro Dallas Cowboys/New York Giants defensive back Everson Walls, whom I had met several weeks ago during our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices theme party at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. I didn’t know it when we first connected in Texas—though I could tell he was a quality, great guy—but Everson actually gave a kidney to former Cowboys teammate Ron Springs and documents the moving story in his book, A Gift for Ron: Friendship and Sacrifice On and Off the Gridiron. What an incredible, selfless person! Everson is now a public speaker and can talk on any subject, so while I had him captive at breakfast, I asked him to tell me about the different cultures created by the coaches he played for: Eddie Robinson from Grambling State University, Tom Landry from the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick when Everson played on the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants team. I shared what Everson told me with the REAL Trends group.
Then, while at the REAL Trends conference, I also had the pleasure of delivering a keynote presentation about corporate culture, which I define as the beliefs and behaviors that determine how employees and management interact and conduct business. Corporate culture is often implied, is not expressly defined, and it develops organically over time from the collective input of employees. Culture is incredibly important because it sets the tone for everything from how the team interacts with the kinds of hires made to how customers are treated.
Also on the agenda for today: Keynote speaker and award-winning thinker, author and broadcaster Geoff Colvin. Colvin wrote the groundbreaking bestseller, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everyone Else and recently released a follow-up to this hit business book called Humans are Overrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will.
I found the topic of this second book extremely interesting, especially in light of my discussion at Gathering of Eagles about corporate culture. Colvin’s premise behind Talent is Overrated is basically that our competitive advantage as human beings in the workplace has evolved with the overwhelming prevalence of technology. Machines can now do the tasks for which humans were once responsible. What’s our competitive advantage in a world where technology rules? Those things computers, robots and machines can’t do, like sympathize, empathize, exhibit creativity, be humorous, build relationships, and connect through shared, human experience. In other words, all of the essential components that create a lasting culture also keep us ahead of the technology curve.
These same sentiments were echoed by guest speaker Dave Ridley, current Senior Advisor to the CEO of Southwest Airlines who held several senior executive positions during his 27-year career with the airline company. Ridley spoke about the importance of the intangible qualities that go into a solid brand, like excellence in customer service and leadership and the maintenance of a vibrant corporate culture.
So, what’s the message? As technology charges forward at an almost unfathomable pace and competitors enter our industry to threaten our success, we must foster those competitive advantages—our creativity, our connections, our culture—that make us who we are and we’ll always remain ahead of the game.