Thoughts on Leadership: Customer Service Matters for Success

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California, taking meetings, participating in conference calls and digging into the second week of 2018. As an organization, we have very specific Wildly Important Goals (WIGS) to accomplish this year and we’re laser-focused on achieving them.

As part of our 2018 goal alignment, we’re making several changes including switching the name of what was once our Affiliate Assistance Hotline (AAH) to Customer Success Team.

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Predictive Analytics, Big Data and the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

By Christ Stuart

In the evolution of analytics, we’ve come quite a long way but to quote Alice Cooper, we still got a long way to go. Imagine the early 1990s, when slow, basic, back-office reporting reigned. Numbers weren’t connected to the actual front-office business and were used mostly to support internal decisions. For argument’s sake, let’s call this the 1.0 phase of analytics.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Routines and Collaboration

This week my travels find me in Scottsdale, AZ for the Executive Leadership Conference put on by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, where the theme was “collaborate.” I’m excited to attend this meeting not only because I perceive collaboration to be one of the cornerstones of great leadership—we cannot achieve our success alone—but also because the conference wrapped up with Walter Scott, who sits on the Berkshire Hathaway Energy board, answering questions from Berkshire Hathaway Energy CEO Greg Abel and audience members. Scott has been named by Forbes as one of the world’s richest people and is a lifelong friend of Warren Buffett.

There were many takeaways from his Q&A but the one that stuck with me was the three most important things that Walter told his kids to cherish: 1. Health (don’t do anything to hurt it). 2. Education (once you have it, you have it for life). 3. Community. Be a giver and not a taker. Be part of the community and understand that once you have acquired great things it’s your responsibility to give back.

Another reason why I’m happy to be in Scottsdale has to do with legendary swim coach Bob Bowman, who helped Michael Phelps win his record-setting 28 Olympic medals and was the men’s swimming head coach for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bowman is currently the head swimming coach for the Arizona State Sun Devils and through mutual connections, I was able to have dinner with him and also visit the ASU aquatic complex.

Bowman has long inspired me by his persistence on the importance of a morning routine. In fact, one could argue that Michael Phelps’ dedication to his routines directly correlated to his status as the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time. Bowman started working with Phelps when he was just a child but recognized early on Phelps could be a champion with the right training and the right routine. Their long history working together brings us back to the theme of collaboration from the Berkshire Hathaway Energy conference.

Phelps followed a morning routine and race-day routine that included a hearty diet, stretches and getting in the right mindset for success. He also trained his mind with positive affirmations and reviewed his goals daily. Phelps once said, “I have my goals somewhere I can see them, so when I get out of bed I know I’m waking up to work on what I’m trying to achieve.”

There’s science behind regular routines that create positive mindsets, too. A study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging found that subjects who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. And Robert Emmons, a psychologist at UC Davis, conducted research to show that keeping a regular gratitude journal can significantly increase well-being and positive emotions.

So, what’s the message? Follow a morning routine with diligence and dedication if you want to find greater success. The philosophy not only works for Olympic athletes but also for leaders in any field. My own routine involves taking my M.E.D.S.—Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Sleep. This routine helps me with my keystone habits that create small wins. I know this helps prepare me to have a great day. (If you’d like a copy of my morning routine, I’d be happy to share it with you. Email me: ginoblefari@hsfranchise.com.) And when it comes to maintaining your morning routine, always remember the wise words of Artistotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Thoughts on Leadership: Goals for the New Year

By Gino Blefari

“When it comes to setting goals, the law of diminishing returns is as real as the law of gravity.” – The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

This week my travels find me in Northern California, finishing up meetings and planning for the new year.

It’s an age-old tradition: The clock strikes midnight. It’s Jan. 1 and we mentally run through our list of resolutions for the new year, ready to conquer all of them. And by New Year’s Eve of the following year, we celebrate our accomplishments, satisfied with the fact that we’ve achieved every single goal we set out to attain, right? Well, maybe.

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Thoughts on Leadership: The Example of St. Nick

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a gingerbread cookie-cutter template for the perfect leader. All leaders are intrinsically different yet they do share common traits: They always inspire, they motivate, they lead by example, they spread joy and cheer to every member of their team.

And when we think about fantastic leaders, one unconventional yet universal example comes to mind: Old St. Nick! There’s no denying St. Nick has got a lot on his cookie-filled plate but he handles it all with finesse and experience year after year. Here are a few reasons why St. Nick is the epitome of a great leader:

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Thoughts on Leadership: Networking at Holiday Parties

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Irvine, CA at our HSF Affiliates HQ for meetings and for our annual HSF Affiliates pancake breakfast and holiday party. We’re celebrating an incredible team I’m proud to be a part of, with members as hard-working as they are dedicated to achieving our organization’s Wildly Important Goals. It’s with deep gratitude that I find myself among such esteemed colleagues and as I always say, “I love what I do largely because of who I get to do it with.”

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Thoughts on Leadership: High-Performance, Great Success

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in San Diego for Darren Hardy’s High-Performance Forum, a private master class engineered specifically for entrepreneurs and business leaders committed to building high-growth, high-impact and high-performance companies. I’m fortunate to call Darren not only my friend but also my mentor, and I was able to spend some quality one-on-one time with him during our lunch break.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Leading through the Storm

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Southern California for meetings at our Irvine HQ. For my message today, please watch the below video and remember that strong leadership is great to have when things are going well but it’s an absolute necessity when faced with overwhelming challenges. In fact, it’s one of the only ways to overcome them.

Thoughts on Leadership: Giving Thanks to Dwight “The Catch” Clark

By Gino Blefari

“[Quarterback Joe] Montana … Looking … Looking … Throwing into the end zone … Clark caught it! … It’s a madhouse at Candlestick …”

This week my travels find me in Northern California, working and preparing to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. I’m feeling particularly grateful this year not only for my wonderful family but also for the friends who enrich my life in ways inextricable, intangible and extraordinary.

Leaders, as you know, are not born, they’re made, and the fabric of leaders is sewn from all the intelligent, inspiring people around them. One leader I’m thankful to call my close friend is Dwight “The Catch” Clark,” once an obscure, 10th-round draft pick in the 1979 NFL draft—the 249th player chosen—who went on to become Sports Illustrated’s NFL Player of the Year in 1982.  

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Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: The Importance of Diversity

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Irvine, CA for a Town Hall meeting at our HSF Affiliates HQ and next in Las Vegas for the Zillow Group Broker Forum at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. As I travel across the country and attend meetings led by some of our industry’s most powerful and innovative minds, I keep circling back to a theme prevalent in so many keynotes, panel discussions and coffee-break chats: diversity.

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