Thoughts on Leadership: How Do You Actually Achieve Your Goals?

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in the Pacific Northwest – Seattle on Tuesday, Portland on Wednesday and Eugene, Oregon on Thursday for awards ceremonies with agents from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Real Estate Professionals, led by president and CEO Jason Waugh. As I celebrated the achievements of these teams across the Pacific Northwest, I was reminded about the importance of taking time to understand the mental dexterity necessary to accomplish your goals.

Have you ever stopped to think about achievement? Have you ever wondered why one person becomes successful—rich in opportunity, income, friendships, family and professional connections—while another person seems to constantly flail or worse, exists in a state of career stagnation? Some might think it’s just luck or circumstance that decides how successful a person can be. But as experts widely agree, there is no chance when it comes to success.

Dating as far back as Aristotle, when most people believed in the idea of fortunes singularly dictating their future, the great philosopher put forth the idea that proper knowledge is knowledge of the cause. Aristotle believed in reason, in the notion that these causes can explain everything that happens in the world. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states: “Since Aristotle obviously conceives of a causal investigation as the search for an answer to the question ‘why?’ and a why-question is a request for an explanation, it can be useful to think of a cause as a certain type of explanation.”

In the realm of Aristotelian causality, the question still remains: What causes one person to be successful while another person is not? Researchers say success is the result of the psychological framework that structures your every thought because your thoughts ultimately determine your actions. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, 350,000 business professionals were asked what they think about most of the time. The top 10% surveyed—the “successful” professionals—said they think about the kind of income growth they’d like to achieve and specifically how they’re going to achieve it. The unsuccessful survey respondents said they think about what they don’t want, what they don’t have and who was to blame for the unwanted state of their existence.

As the study explained, when you revise your thinking to envision the positive completion of your goals, your thoughts go to work helping you achieve them. When you focus on the negative, your goals remain unfulfilled. Your thoughts determine your actions. What you think about every day is sketching the real picture that will become your actual life. If you tell yourself you can achieve anything, you will perform the actions necessary to make it happen.

It’s widely understood your thoughts are a result of your self-concept, which in psychological terms is the collective beliefs you hold about yourself, your capabilities and the condition of the world around you. Each person experiences the world as a culmination of his or her self-concept, so each person experiences the world in a completely different way.

Self-concept is broken into three parts:

  1. The ideal self. This is the combination of all your goals and aspirations throughout your entire life. The ideal self is the very best version of yourself and it’s the version successful people see themselves becoming, no matter what. There isn’t a setback or challenge that can ever stand in the way of a person who has a clear vision of his or her ideal self.
  2. Self-image. This is how you see yourself and think about yourself at the present moment and it determines your productivity, output, efficiency and ability to accomplish your goals. Have you had a big meeting and prior to the meeting pictured yourself nailing the presentation or commanding the room with such confidence and poise, every objective you wanted to accomplish comes to fruition? Then, when you do step into the actual meeting, these thoughts become reality and you really do ace it. This is your self-image at work. Unsuccessful people imagine themselves failing. Their mind goes directly to the worst-case scenarios. Successful people imagine themselves succeeding … and then they do.
  3. Self-esteem. This part of self-concept is about how much you like yourself. When you have greater self-esteem, you are more positive and happier, which is a state that is highly contagious, so you attract and retain more positive, happy people around you. People like to be around those with optimistic, upbeat attitudes and see them as high-value individuals; your worth in the world increases just because you believe in your ability and potential.

So, what’s the message? Over the next few weeks I want to dive deeper into the thinking behind achievement to determine exactly how we can re-shape our thoughts to proactively revolutionize our personal and professional lives. Every single thought that escapes our minds lands somewhere as a real, tangible action and affects the outcome of our goal-attainment. By changing our thoughts, we can change our ability to succeed.

 

 

Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels first found me first in Midtown Manhattan, for dinner with a Berkshire Hathaway Commercial Real Estate prospect. Next, it was off to Farmingdale, New Jersey to celebrate the merging of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® and The Trident Group. As CEO of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate Pat Bell mentioned in her speech during that momentous event, the powerful combination of these two brokerages will generate incredible accomplishments for all. Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, led by CEO Larry Flick V, Chairman Larry Flick IV and President Joan Docktor, is a company with a legacy of greatness dating back to 1886. Now more than 6,000 strong, they will continue to grow and be unmatched in their ability to serve the real estate needs of their new and existing clients.

And on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, which garnered several leadership lessons we can all take to heart. It’s incredible that an entire lifetime of legacy can be solidified over the span of a single game—or even a single catch—but once you win that coveted trophy, your status as champion remains forever.

A stunning example of leadership perseverance was Andy Reid, the Chiefs’ head coach. Before the game in Miami, Reid was the winningest head coach without an NFL title with 221 wins. His 222nd win would turn out to be the one we’ll always remember.

“You get one [win], you want to go get another one,” Reid said after the career-defining game. “But we’ve got to backpedal for a minute and enjoy this one and [then] we’ll get busy on the next one.”

Like Reid emphasized in his post-game words, a persistent leader is focused on the future; there is no resting on the laurels of your last win, there is only forward movement toward even more victories yet to come.

Still, this victory is one Reid deserves to relish for a little bit longer. Before these past seven years spent as head coach of the Chiefs, Reid was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons. Collectively, the teams he head-coached over his career reached the playoffs 15 times, won 10 division titles and reached conference championships seven times. Even with this impressive resume, Reid still had no Super Bowl win. Sunday marked Andy’s very first Super Bowl win and he achieved it on the last game of the league’s 100th season.

Not too bad for someone the local press deemed would be “eaten alive” when he first joined the Eagles as head coach in 1999. During his tenure with the Eagles he garnered 120 wins and sent 19 players to 44 Pro Bowl appearances. Still, his team finished 4-12 in his 14th and final season coaching the Eagles (Reid’s worst record to date) and so he’d have to take his characteristic perseverance elsewhere.

When he joined the Chiefs they too were in a rough spot. The team just had their worst season in franchise history—with a 2-14 record—and looked to Reid to turn things around. (As the story goes, he did.)

Perhaps Reid’s reputation as a hard worker and diligent, forever-student of the game stems from his heritage, which can be traced back to Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense. In 1982, Reid accepted his first job as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young University, working under head coach LaVell Edwards who was an early adopter of Walsh’s West Coast Offense. Walsh implemented the model as an offensive coordinator for Paul Brown’s Cincinnati Bengals, where he successfully guided BYU alum Virgil Carter to capitalize on his strengths. Reid was witness to Edwards’ version of the West Coast Offense from his very first job, which ties him ironically back to the San Francisco 49ers and the great leadership of Bill Walsh as a Bill Walsh disciple. Another connection to Walsh is that Reid was hired by Mike Holmgren at Green Bay and Holmgren coached the 49ers quarterbacks from 1986 to 1988 under head coach Bill Walsh.

In a November 2018 interview with Sports Illustrated, former Eagles president Joe Banner explained the process of hiring Reid for his head coach position: “I don’t recall who first raised Andy’s name to us. What I do remember is panning coaches and players and agents, laying out our criteria for the job, and asking, ‘Give me the name of someone, regardless of job or title, whom you’ve met and immediately thought, ‘This guy is a great leader.’ And Andy’s name kept coming up.”

So, what’s the message? As a pivotal moment for a winning coach who was previously without the big win, this year’s Super Bowl proves that if you have the mindset to never give up, anything is possible.

Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons Learned from Kobe

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in San Diego as a guest of Tom Ferry’s Elite+ Retreat, a two-day event for learning, networking, masterminding and recharging. I presented on a system for Geometric Growth, helping attendees execute on their 2020 goals.

From San Diego I headed to Northern California to attend the Intero Symposium, to also present on a system for Geometric Growth. Tomorrow, I’ll spend time at Intero’s 2020 Kick-off party, which takes place in one of my favorite hometown spots: Levi’s® Stadium, home of Super Bowl LIV contenders, the San Francisco 49ers.

On the subject of sports, the biggest news event this week as you know was the tragic passing of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. As the news outlets widely reported, Kobe died suddenly along with his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers aboard a helicopter that crashed Sunday morning into a hillside in Calabasas, California.

This week, the world mourns all those lives lost in the crash. And while we collectively grieve, there are patches of hope to be found in the important leadership lessons the basketball luminary left behind.

Kobe was an undeniable master of his sport. He was a five-time NBA Champion and the youngest player to ever start an NBA game at 18 years and 158 days old. At 18 years of age, Kobe was also the youngest Slam Dunk Contest winner when he took first place in the 1997 competition during All-Star Weekend. In his final NBA game, Kobe scored an incredible 60 points. He was also an 18-time NBA All-Star and a two-time Olympic
gold medalist.

But even with his massive accomplishments, he made just as profound an impact off the court, especially through the development of his unique approach to sports, business and life. After watching Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Kobe coined his own nickname, Black Mamba, which was code in the movie for the world’s deadliest assassin. Inspired by the nickname, Kobe developed a mindset called “Mamba Mentality,” applicable to any situation and every leader. Speaking with Amazon Book Review, Kobe defined the term: “Mamba Mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most. It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit.”

Here are a few examples of Kobe’s unrelenting Mamba Mindset:

  1. He was a fierce competitor. Even during Kobe’s high school years playing at Lower Merion in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, he would show up to practice at 5 a.m. and stay on the court for a solid two hours. He’d also play one-on-one games with his teammates … to 100 points. (During his worst match-up, Business Insider says he still won 100-12.)
  2. He never let anything—even injury—sideline him in the execution of his goals. During his years as a Lakers player, Kobe was always the first player in the gym, even when he was hurt. He once played left-handed because he had an injury to his right hand and was determined not to let it keep him off the court.
  3. He combined physical practice with mental motivation. He was a proponent of the mental aspect of the game; former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neill wrote in his book that Kobe would often practice dribbling and shooting without a ball and exhibit the same physical intensity as if he had a ball in his hands.
  4. He was a student of continuous improvement. According to Sports Illustrated, in 2008 he requested Nike shave a few millimeters off the soles of his sneakers to get “a hundredth of a second better reaction time.”
  5. He believed in authenticity and the power of personal storytelling. “Be yourself,” he once said to Bloomberg. “That’s it. Be you. There’s no gimmick. You don’t have to contrive anything. Who are you? Where are you today? What is your story? And all you’re doing is communicating that story to the public.”
  6. He was committed to accountability in leadership. Speaking with NBA TV, Kobe said in February of 2015: “There’s a big misconception where people [think] winning or success comes from everybody putting their arms around each other and singing ‘Kumbaya’ and patting them on the back when they mess up, and that’s just not the reality. If you are going to be a leader, you are not going to please everybody. You have to hold people accountable, even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.”
  7. He programmed the non-conscious portion of his brain to reject failure. To Showtime, Kobe explained: “When we are saying, ‘This cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done,’ then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure,’ I think that is … almost worse than death.”

So, what’s the message? What makes Kobe’s passing even more heartbreaking to people across the world is the painful understanding that he died in what could be said was only the second quarter of his life. For many there’s been a tendency to compare the death of Kobe Bryant at 41 years old with the death of President John F. Kennedy at age 46; it’s been said everyone will always remember where they were when they heard the news of Kobe, his daughter and the other passengers’ horrific tragedy. There are innumerable qualities Kobe’s legacy will always remind us of but the most memorable characteristic that will linger the longest for me is how so many of his teammates remarked that not only was Kobe the most gifted athlete but he was also the hardest working athlete, and encouraged that same relentless drive in those around him. Kobe taught us your leadership greatness is not measured in the actions you achieve but in the accomplishments you inspire in others. Above all else—the awards, the championships, the incredible shots taken and even those missed—that’s the gift Kobe passes on to the world. His Mamba Mentality is now a blueprint for extraordinary living, so like the superstar himself, we can all win in the game of life.

 

Thoughts on Leadership: Healthy, Wealthy, Wise and Minimize

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first working from my Northern California office and next in San Diego for the HomeServices of America, Inc. CEO Leadership Conference. The conference brought together leaders from our HomeServices of America companies to discuss financial updates, ideas for growth, diversity and inclusion initiatives and more. We also reviewed company scorecards because when performance is measured performance improves; when performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates. The conference will wrap up tomorrow with Tom Ferry, top real estate coach and speaker and founder/CEO of Tom Ferry International, delivering a presentation on “leaning into change.”

And on the subject of change, with each new year, I review and revise my life plan. In fact, completing and editing a life plan is the subject of my upcoming University session at the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention in Nashville. Each year, I give my plan a theme and this year the theme is healthy, wealthy, wise and minimize.

 When you’re running a company, it’s important to centralize your goal-accomplishment and execution efforts around a central theme. For example, our theme for the 2020 Sales Convention is LIVE IT. A simple but effective and powerful theme will keep everyone on track and on the same page.

I’m focused right now on the last word of my 2020 theme – minimize. The phrase may seem counterintuitive to growth but by minimizing or eliminating the unnecessary from your personal and professional life, you’re making room for only the essential components to thrive. It’s hard to discuss minimal living without mentioning Marie Kondo, whose KonMari method of organizing has taken the world by storm. In her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo explains her simple approach: When tidying up, critically ask yourself: “Does it spark joy?” If it does, it stays. If it doesn’t, you’ve found something that is excessive and in the way of a more calming, minimal life.

A March 2019 article published by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business dissected the KonMari method and applied it to the workplace. Decluttering doesn’t have to be a physical act like cleaning up your desk or office space, although that’s helpful. It can also be about decluttering your mind. Quoting KonMari consultant Amanda Jefferson, the Wharton piece explains: “Clearing out mental and physical clutter opens up enormous space and clarity … at its heart, KonMari is about … stopping to take stock of what’s truly essential to fulfilling your mission and then doing the hard work to eliminate all the other noise.”

As the saying goes, it’s the hard that makes us great, so don’t expect decluttering of your office desk or clearing your mind to be an easy endeavor. Wharton Executive Coach Erin Owen recommends a digital decluttering, too. This might include auditing the apps on your phone to delete those you don’t use, cleaning your inbox so it’s back to zero new emails or unsubscribing to newsletters you no longer read.

Owen also says leaders can utilize the “sparking joy” parameter to identify the best possible tasks for team members to execute on. Perhaps you have a brilliant sales professional who doesn’t enjoy writing proposals—this simply doesn’t spark joy—and another team member who enjoys putting together proposals but finds no joy in make the sale. Prioritizing tasks based on joy-sparking could make your team more efficient and minimize the non-joy-sparking elements of someone’s day.

So, what’s the message? For today’s post, it’s twofold: First, decide if you haven’t already on your overall theme for this year. Second, if you want to be part of my theme for 2020—healthy, wealthy, wise and minimize—then take these next few days to analyze those mental and physical messes in your life you can de-clutter and rearrange. Just by eliminating even one small thing, you might find greater happiness or spark joy not only for yourself but also for those around you.

Thoughts on Leadership: The Science of Your Brain

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first at our HSF Affiliates headquarters in Irvine, California to attend alignment sessions—global and domestic for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and domestic for Real Living Real Estate—where I shared our system of execution and goal-accomplishment with prospective brokerage teams. Next, I traveled to Nashville and it’s here, on the location of the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention where I find myself now.

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Thoughts on Leadership: The Mindset to Succeed

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Salt Lake City for the Berkshire Hathaway Energy 2020 Executive Leadership Conference (ELC). This year’s conference covered cross-business panel discussions and presentations related to key challenges and opportunities for Berkshire Hathaway Energy leaders. In particular, the agenda highlighted teamwork and how it can help advance and grow any organization.

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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NEW YEAR

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Hawaii, recharging, resetting and putting the finishing touches on my 2020 goals while keeping my calls and actual work to a minimum.

In fact, here’s a practice I employ from the book “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done” by Peter Bregman: Set your alarm clock or phone to go off every hour during the day … that’s eight 1-minute check-ins. When the clock goes off, it’s your reminder to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate and refocus. And that’s what I’m doing in Hawaii.

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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: HAPPY HOLIDAYS

By Gino Blefari

This week I’m in Northern California, working right up until the holidays to ensure a merry and bright new year for all of our brands. The holidays are such a special time with friends and family, and as far as leadership goes, St. Nick happens to be an iconic leader. Why is he such a shining example of leadership? Here are 12 reasons:

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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: NETWORK, CELEBRATE, CONNECT

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California. On Monday, I met with technology experts who are helping our organization tackle the complexities and subtleties of putting together an effective technology plan. In a world driven by technology and competition, it’s important for non-biased experts to recommend a path forward for our company. They examined what we’re doing without agenda or predisposition and we were able to have constructive conversations. The combination of business and technology is an art rather than a science and having the right people in the room allowed for creative collaboration to flourish.

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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN EXCELLENT ORGANIZATION

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Orange County and next in Washington, D.C. where I had a chance to attend Long & Foster’s Company Executives and Senior Leadership Meeting. In September 2017, HomeServices of America, Inc. announced the acquisition of The Long & Foster Companies, Inc. According to the REAL Trends 500 report released that same year, Long & Foster ranked as the largest independent residential real estate brand by volume and the second-largest independent brand by units.

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