Thoughts on Leadership: How Not to Die

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday at home with my typical WIG calls then flying to Salt Lake City, Utah for the Berkshire Hathaway Energy 2022 Executive Leadership Conference. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended conference sessions on topics ranging from the vision and plan for the future of energy to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Today, I’m on my way to Las Vegas for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 2023 Sales Convention Creative Review hosted by Corporate Magic, and as the clouds roll past my airplane window, I write this post to you.

I’ve been listening to nutrition expert Dr. Michael Greger’s compelling book, “How Not to Die,” as I implement healthier changes into my diet and lifestyle. (Remember, it’s all about continual improvement!) Dr. Greger, with extensive research, explains the importance of whole food, plant-based nutrition.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: How Not to Die

I first learned about the book on a recent WIG call with Martha Mosier, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

With the HomeServices philosophy of continuous improvement, we end every leadership call with the answer to the question, “What am I doing to improve so I’m better this week than I was last week?” And in Martha’s response, she mentioned the book.

Her brother – an anesthesiologist in San Diego – was a fit, healthy individual who rode his Peloton every day, but at 60 years old, he was faced with an extremely serious heart condition that required heart surgery. His cardiologist told him, “The only way you will live with this condition is to read the book, ‘How Not to Die.’”

He was (rightly) scared, and he read the book cover to cover and is now transitioning to a plant-based diet. Dr. Greger’s book was an eye-opening experience and launched the family into a new phase of a healthier lifestyle and nutritious eating. In fact, he’s become such a follower of Dr. Greger’s nutritional philosophy that Martha said they will have a vegan-style Thanksgiving!

After Martha’s moving story, I got the book and listened to it every night before I went to bed. Like Martha’s family, reading “How Not to Die” had a similar impact on me.

Dr. Greger says 85% of the leading causes of death in the U.S. can be directly tied to nutrition. He also believes the answer to proper nutrition is through whole (or minimally processed) food and a plant-based diet.

There are so many popular diets and fads and food trends but according to Dr. Greger, what’s far more important than any number on a scale is your overall health. And the dietary choices we make directly contribute to what that overall health will be. Dr. Greger says nutrition isn’t about a quick juice fast or a week-long program, it’s about making sweeping lifestyle changes that will benefit your wellbeing forever. He believes:

  • Poor diet is a huge problem that goes largely ignored.
  • Proper diet must be balanced with daily exercise (90 minutes of moderate exercise or 40 minutes of intense exercise).
  • Eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water will help thwart off disease.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should run to the grocery store and switch out all your meat for broccoli (if you know me, you know I love my steak) and you should always consult a medical professional before making any major dietary changes, but the premise of Dr. Greger’s argument is solid: Eat healthier, be healthier.

The typical U.S. diet contains dairy, meat, eggs, and a ton of processed foods. Dr. Greger points to a study that showed when Japanese Americans switched from the Japanese diet – high in vegetables and low in sugar – to a more American-style diet, their risk for heart attack increased. He also names countless groundbreaking studies that show how detrimental processed food can be to your health.

Dr. Greger says any healthy diet should consist of whole, plant-based foods to avoid these harmful, toxic processes. He recommends four servings of fruit, and one of those servings should be berries, which are high in antioxidants and have immune-boosting properties. He also recommends five servings of vegetables each day as vegetables keep cells healthy and aid in liver and lung functions, among many other beneficial qualities.

Overall, Dr. Greger advocates for:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating beans, or bean products, like lentils, miso, and chickpeas
  • Having berries like cranberries, strawberries, and blueberries
  • Adding cruciferous vegetables to your diet like broccoli, kale, and cabbage
  • Putting greens into your meals like kale, spinach, and arugula
  • Eating nuts and seeds like flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
  • Flavoring your meals with healthy herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, and pepper (with an emphasis on the health benefits of turmeric)
  • Exercising each day (moderately)

So, what’s the message? Even a small change like drinking more water, adding moderate exercise to your morning routine, or having a few servings of berries throughout the day can make a huge impact. And healthier eating could make you happier! Dr. Greger cites a review in Nutritional Neuroscience that found eating a significant number of fruits and vegetables positively supports brain health, which means being a happier, healthier leader for you and your team.

P.S. If you’d like to purchase the book, click here. Dr. Greger generously donates all proceeds from the book to charity!

Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons from Nick Saban

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Washington D.C. on Sunday, where I prepared for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Marketing Forum that kicked off on Monday. The fantastic event was hosted by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty (a special thank you to Karmela Lejarde who organized, MCed and hosted the event, along with Kevin Wiles, Jessica Holt and their team). On Tuesday, in addition to the Market Forum, I also joined the monthly HomeServices of America CEO virtual leadership meeting. Wednesday, I traveled back to Northern California. Today, I’m en route to Palm Springs for a site visit to begin planning the second annual Stronger Together HomeServices of America top performer’s event. Between meetings, I sat down to write this post to you.

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Thoughts on Leadership: How’s that Business Plan Going?

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday at home, completing my WIG calls and participating in meetings. On Tuesday, I had the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by business planning, which I continued Wednesday. Today, I write this post to you as I prepare to attend a wedding in Arizona.

You already know the question I’m going to ask: Did you complete your business plan? In this previous post, I talked about the importance of business planning and why in our 90-day real estate cycle, October 1 is the start of the “new year.” To set yourself up for success in 2023, you must plan NOW.

And while a business plan is important every year, it’s especially important this year as we work through the challenges of an economic downturn. Why? Let’s list the ways:

  • In a tougher economic climate, a business plan will keep you focused, preventing any knee-jerk, quick reactions to unforeseen obstacles. It will also help you reduce uncertainty by outlining your next steps, goals and the concrete details (like budget and expenses) of your business.
  • It’s a time to evaluate what was working in the past year and what wasn’t (the SWOT Analysis in the Business Planning Essentials is perfect for this).
  • Writing down your monthly goals makes it a lot likelier you’ll achieve them. One famous study from Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California found writing down goals makes it 42% more likely you’ll accomplish those goals.
  • Goals should be specific, measurable and actionable – and a business plan ensures yours will be.
  • A business plan is like a beacon of light should you find yourself in the shadows of the unknown; it is always there to guide you to a place of success. It’s a proven strategic device you can rely on through roadblocks that may hinder your path to progress.
  • During your business planning process, you’ll likely encounter new opportunities for growth that arise organically from your brainstorming and planning sessions.

So, what’s the message? As Sun Tzu once said, “In the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.” Countless businesses started during periods of economic challenge – Netflix (1997); Trader Joes’ (1958); Microsoft (1975); Warby Parker (2010); Revlon (1932); Disney (1923) to name a few – and were able to stand out because they worked hard, met every challenge and planned for success, just like you’re doing right now.

Thoughts on Leadership: Perfect Practice

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Scottsdale, Arizona to attend the HousingWire Annual event and participate in an onstage fireside chat with my mentor, coach and more than anything, one of my best friends, Tom Ferry. On Tuesday night, I hosted a team dinner with Prosperity Home Mortgage where we entertained a potential acquisition with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada, Arizona and California Properties CEO Troy Reierson; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada, Arizona and California Properties General Manager John Thompson; and HomeServices of America CFO Alex Seavall. And before I flew back to Northern California yesterday, I spent time meeting with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties leadership team. Today, I sit down to write this post to you.

Read more: Thoughts on Leadership: Perfect Practice

Have you ever thought about those common phrases we use in everyday conversations that don’t seem to make sense? “Low-hanging fruit” is one example. Plant experts say fruit that’s higher up on a tree is often exposed to the sun and will ripen faster; low-hanging fruit should be picked last to give it the proper time to develop. Or how about the saying, “cut the mustard”? Mustard seeds are notoriously difficult to chop.

Another common phrase I encourage you to question is: “Practice makes perfect.”

Famed football coach Vince Lombardi debunked that one when he said: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Hence the aptly named pregame “perfection drill.”

“Perfect practice makes perfect” is a fascinating concept to think about; imagine being a piano player and practicing a scale incorrectly. You can play that scale 5,000 times every day for a week and yet, you’ll only be mastering your mistakes, and getting nowhere near that elusive state we call “perfection.”

Growing up dyslexic, I experienced this first-hand. I had a hard time spelling as a kid and in school, I misspelled the word “which,” instead writing “witch.” My teacher told me I had to write out the word 100 times … so I wrote “witch” 100 times. When I was finished, she showed me the proper way to write the word and I had to write it “which” 100 more times. That was my perfection drill!

This applies to anyone in any field. If you’re a basketball player, a football player, a tennis player, or a sales professional and you’re using bad form, ineffective techniques or miscalculated theories, you’re only reinforcing bad habits and getting nowhere near perfection. As Atomic Habits author James Clear once said: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

But if the system you’ve enacted is faulty, you’ll never get off the ground.

“Perfect practice makes perfect” is another reason it’s so important to have mentors and coaches, those people guided by experience and wisdom to correct your missteps and put you on that path toward perfection. Sometimes, we can’t see the mistakes because we’re too close to them. A writer may not be able to spot a typo because they’ve read the sentence too many times; their brain literally skips over it. But an editor can see that typo right away; they haven’t been practicing the imperfect way of reading the sentence.

On the flip side of all this, is The Perfect Practice, which does get you that much closer to achieving your goals. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, the author popularized the idea that it requires at least 10,000 hours of practice at something to become an expert.

So, what’s the message? Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Before you practice anything, make sure what you’re reinforcing from action into habit is the very thing that will bring about – and not counteract – the perfection you seek. It’s an important lesson, witch (which) I learned the hard way.

P.S. Remember last week’s post when I wished you a happy (real estate) new year? Well, let’s check in on your scheduling progress. Did you schedule yourself out for the rest of 2022? Let me know!

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