Thoughts on Leadership: Dedicated to AAPI and AREAA Leaders Worldwide

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels started on Sunday when I flew to Orange County. On Monday I completed my WIG calls and attended the HSF Affiliates holiday party followed by a holiday dinner with business associates. On Tuesday, I joined the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call in the early morning followed by four succession calls. In the evening, I was honored to be at the 2022 Installation Gala for the Orange County chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). Julie Tran, friend, and REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, was commemorated as the outgoing chapter president and helped install the 2022 president, Peter Au, also of California Properties. Today, I am writing this post between a virtual presentation at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty Statewide Managers Meeting and various conference calls.

But let’s return to Tuesday night, and the spectacular scene that took place at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It was an evening of celebration, and I’d like to dedicate this week’s post to Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and AREAA leaders of the past, present (and future):

“When you learn something from people, or from a culture, you accept it as a gift, and it is your lifelong commitment to preserve it and build on it.” – Yo-Yo Ma

The lesson: Continuous learning is the everyday state of any leader but in Yo-Yo Ma’s sentiment we’re reminded that learning is a gift. Our ability to absorb new information, find fresh perspectives and comprehend new ways of thinking is a present, and once received it’s one we’ll keep forever.

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” – Chinese proverb

The lesson: Challenges are growth opportunities. It’s what we do next that really makes the difference between a leader nimble enough to weather the storm of the unexpected and one who relents to the winds of change without a fight.

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” – Amy Tan

The lesson: A positive mindset is the difference between feeling grateful for whatever comes your way and harping on the negative. What you focus on expands. Focusing on optimism and cultivating an optimistic mindset provides leaders with the mental fortitude to withstand anything.

“The best part of my job is being able to meet new people and make new friends.” – Julie Tran

The lesson:Last week’s post talked about living the good life, and how for many, it’s not only about loving what you do but also having strong connections to the people you surround yourself with. As Julie reminds us, when clients become friends and team members become family, your job becomes your calling, and you can find even greater passion for what you do.

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” – Lisa See

The lesson: I try to listen to at least one book a week, because reading is one way to consistently acquire new knowledge. New eyes see old things in new ways, and when you read the words of others, you’re able to keep your eyes forever new.

“I hope that anyone who reads this can find it within themselves to stay optimistic and believe the best in people around you.” – Ivan Choi

The lesson: Optimistic people aren’t just more positive, they also have so much optimism, it’s infectious and their mindset transfers to everyone around them. Have you ever spoken with someone who is just such a bright light, you feel happier being in their presence? That is the leader we should all strive to be, and the pivotal lesson Ivan reminds us of today.

“A core reason for AREAA’s existence is to be a voice for those not heard, to empower AAPI real estate professionals to voice their positions and to effectively ensure that these voices are heard.” – John Wong

The lesson: When you’re a leader, giving back can mean a lot of different things. It can mean positive contributions to your community or organization, and it can mean creating a platform for those without a voice, so their words are able to create the positive change we seek.

“As a leader, the greatest impact you can leave is not only the impact you’ve made on the community but also the influence you have within the organization to help shape its future leaders.” – Peter Au

The lesson: Focus on the future. Leadership is as much about setting an example as it is about empowering others to become the best leaders they can be.

“The [person] who thinks [they] can and the [person] who thinks [they] can’t are both right.” – Confucius

The lesson: Your success is directly related to your ability to believe in yourself and believe that no matter what, you can – and will – succeed.

So, what’s the message? From these leaders we learn the importance of continuous improvement, loving what you do and who you do it with, a positive mindset, the ability (and gift) of learning new things, and much, much more. AAPI leaders are innovative, they’re groundbreaking, they’re game changing, and they have fundamentally transformed not only their industries and teams but also the world.

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