Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: Travel to Learn

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in the city of St. Louis to meet with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, an amazing group of real estate professionals who prove with crystal-clear assurance what you can achieve when you have a strong, vibrant culture at your brokerage business.

I have to tell you, being in St. Louis was really an eye-opening trip for me. I’ve long been a fan of the idea that new eyes see old things in new ways and sometimes, these “eyes” aren’t literal eyes but instead places, things and experiences that widen your perspective in ways you never thought possible. Travel, in this sense, is more than just going from one place to another but instead a complete mindset shift and a chance to learn what you otherwise would never have known. For instance, who knew that there’s an area of St. Louis called “The Hill,” home to baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Gargiola Sr., who spent their childhood living across the street from one another on Elizabeth Avenue?

“Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues,” Gargiola once famously said, “I wasn’t even the best catcher on my street!”

I would never have known about the location of The Hill had I not been in St. Louis, in that area where Yogi and Joe grew up.

But The Hill isn’t the only St. Louis landmark steeped in history; Forest Park, where the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties Sunshine Kids charity golf tournament took place, is also a region with a rich past. And it certainly made for an incredibly picturesque setting befitting of our charity event; I was honored to participate and raise money for the Sunshine Kids!

At the event’s reception, I was able to catch up with my good friend Jim Schutzenhofer who was there for a portion of the event and rattled off some interesting facts about Forest Park. For example: Located in the western portion of St. Louis, Forest Park spans 1,371 acres of the city. It first opened in 1876 and has since hosted many significant events including the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 and the 1904 Olympics. Contained within its expansive bounds is also the St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, the Steinberg Skating Rink, the Boathouse Restaurant, the Highlands Golf and Tennis Center and more. (Yes, all that fits into this amazing park, which is approximately 500 acres larger than NYC’s Central Park.) In the early 2000s, the park underwent a $100-million restoration, which has since improved its facilities and restored its prairie and wetland areas, allowing birds and wildlife to flourish among these newly refurbished natural habitats.

Forest Park in St. Louis, MO. Image Credit: Josh Kelahan

So, what’s the message? Sometimes, it’s all about the grind, about sitting at your desk, with laptop in front of you and working until you see real results. Sometimes, however, it’s about getting up from your desk, your office, your town even, and traveling somewhere completely new. Because you’d be surprised what you can discover and just how much you can learn and be inspired by the history of a place you’ve never seen before.

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

[Pictured in feature photo above: Back Row – Deb Colburn, Angie Ignatowski, Shannon Lillis Malone, Julie Morrow, Destinee Penigar and Gino Blefari. Front Row – Rick Colburn, Maryann Vitale Alles and Chris Pauley.]

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