Thoughts on Leadership: Storytelling and Connecting at Summit Conference

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Rancho Mirage, CA for our 2016 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Summit Conference. The theme for this year’s event is “storytelling and connecting,” and the two ideas couldn’t have been more central to every activity, networking opportunity, presentation and gathering that together encompassed our Summit meeting. 

Summit kicked off with a keynote from Laura Schwartz, former director of events for the White House, who left the crowd riveted with tales from her experience working among presidents and the world’s most important dignitaries. She also shared the very real ways some of the most exciting business ventures came to be. (Did you know Oprah’s decision to syndicate her talk show was the result advice from film critic, Roger Ebert, who doled out his wisdom during a first date at a burger joint? Or that DreamWorks was really the brainchild of one momentous conversation between Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and David Katzenberg at a White House state dinner?)

On Day 2, best-selling author Carmine Gallo fascinated our attendees with a speech about communicating our ideas through stories because storytelling is the single-most effective way to stir emotions and drive change. “Ideas that catch on are wrapped in story,” he said. “You need to reach people’s hearts before you can reach their heads.” How? Not just by telling stories but by telling them passionately. “Passion is contagious,” Gallo explained, then quoted Steve Jobs, who famously said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.”

Listening to Laura and Carmine speak—the first about connecting, the second about storytelling—I couldn’t help but realize that our two themes are closely related in a very specific, very actionable way: We connect with others through the stories they tell and we use our stories to connect. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is, when done right, powerful beyond anything we can imagine.

Even our luxury panel during our Day 2 General Session connected with the crowd through stories; for instance, Andrew Manning, agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Sherman Oaks, shared the incredible story of showing a home to Will and Jada Smith while BJ Adams, broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Aspen Snowmass Properties told a narrative about foxes that had settled into a prospective client’s listing, which the sellers asked if she could care for while they were out of town.

So, what’s the message? Connecting is storytelling and the two concepts allow us to create a network that’s lasting and true. Because if you think about it, the bonds holding a relationship together must always first and foremost be based on a strong connection, which happens through the stories we listen to and the stories we share. As Carmine told the Summit crowd, the power in connecting through storytelling is nothing short of “magic.”

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

2 responses to Thoughts on Leadership: Storytelling and Connecting at Summit Conference

  1. Excellent !! Reading speaking and journaling 2000s the best way to communicate is through stores personal stories – in the stores that bring the point back to them to make them realize I’m grateful and thankful They really are ! We are all one that connected together when you reach up with stories that touch their heart their heads will follow .


  2. Beverly Flinn

    Gino, you did an amazing job summarizing the 2016 Summit. I also enjoyed participating in the speed networking workshop and made some new friends doing so.
    The question from Carmine, “what makes my heart sing” got me thinking. My heart sings when I receive a survey back form from a completely satisfied client(s) along with their heartfelt note.


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