Thoughts on Leadership: Let’s Celebrate!

This week my travels find me in Southern California, celebrating the holidays with our HSF Affiliates team at our Irvine, CA headquarters. In fact, as I type this to you now, I’m preparing to leave for our annual holiday party, a chance to reconnect with colleagues and deepen the bonds that make us not only co-workers but also friends.

At a quick glance, the event may appear to be a typical company gathering but if you scratch the candy-cane-coated surface, it’s so much more.

Why? Because celebration, defined as the act of taking deliberate time from your day-to-day work to commemorate accomplishments, is actually a major component to effective leadership.

Yes, you read that right. As you swirl your eggnog and dance to “Jingle Bells” this December, you’re executing on an important tenet of leadership.

For one, a holiday celebration like ours at HSF Affiliates—and really, any celebration—is essential when building the kind of collaborative and supportive culture you should constantly strive to create. Remember, culture is an unbeatable competitive advantage and it’s also a byproduct of inspiring leadership. By showing your team you recognize and applaud the achievement of their goals, you’re motivating them to achieve even more. Your team’s accomplishments—no matter how big or how small—always deserve to be commended.

I’ve long been a fan of celebrating the small wins because in the aggregate, these little celebrations add up to major self-esteem boosters that can positively affect your team’s collective mindset. (As you know, a positive mindset is critical in business and life.) Plus, when you celebrate and have fun, you’re motivated to do more things that will allow you to celebrate yet again. As Oprah Winfrey famously said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Here’s another quote that applies from Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great: “Those who build and perpetuate mediocrity … are motivated more by the fear of being left behind.” And as Henry Ford once said, “Mediocrity is the worst enemy to prosperity.” To summarize, anyone who prefers to be mired in mediocrity rather than basked in brilliance, is taking the safe, easy way out. But success isn’t easy. Success is hard. The road to real, true success is not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer to travel light, carrying a single suitcase filled with only the comforts of the commonplace.

In order to avoid mediocrity, every opportunity must be taken to call out those amazing accomplishments that make your team, your business and your leaders great. It’s for that very reason we’ve gathered our HSF Affiliates team in Irvine for our holiday party. We’ll laugh, we’ll reminisce, we’ll remember the milestones reached this past year, and in doing so, motivate ourselves to make the coming year even better.

So, what’s the message? Well, it’s one I hope you take to heart at every holiday party you attend: To celebrate is to remember the good in life. It’s a chance to refocus your energies away from whatever challenges you may face, recall how very far you’ve come and align yourselves in the direction you want to go.

Thoughts on Leadership: A Tribute to George H.W. Bush

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me first in Northern California and next in Orange County for meetings with our team. Instead of discussing the current state of our brands, or what I’ve read this week, today I want to reflect on a leader recently lost, the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush.

I watched the funeral service of President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday morning—I was lucky enough to meet him at a conference in 1998—and was profoundly moved by how many important leadership lessons he imparted and how many leaders he inspired throughout his life.

The funeral service was expectedly massive and brought together leaders from all sides of the aisle—every living President sat side by side—and produced so many stirring speeches from those who knew Bush best.

Historian Jon Meacham, Bush’s biographer, spoke at the service first, telling the gripping—and true—tale of Bush as a young Navy pilot, when his bomber plane was tragically downed by enemy fire somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, Bush’s crew members perished in the attack and when the young pilot realized he was the lone survivor, “felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden and he wept,” said Meacham. “The rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant morning.”

The experience solidified the virtues by which the President led: selflessness and sympathy. Even as a world leader, Bush was forever ready to offer a warm word or sympathetic tear.

Brian Mulroney, former Canadian Prime Minister, described the past President as someone with a “delightful sense of humor.” He said he was a leader who was “a lot of fun.” Bush loved to laugh, especially at himself. And as Bush’s leadership style affirmed, if you can have fun doing what you do, the infectious, joyous energy you project will shine onto all those you lead. President Bush was “genuinely content with the thrill and promise of each passing day,” Mulroney said.

Bush also lived by a simple credo: What would we do without family and friends? Alan Simpson, the former Senator of Wyoming from 1979-1997, spoke about how Bush was there for him years ago, when the future of his political career was uncertain. At the time, Bush was at the top of his game and Simpson’s own approval rating was fast sinking toward zero. Simpson asked Bush why he was willing to help him out, even after the former Wyoming Senator pledged his allegiance to the presidential candidacy of Ronald Regan. Bush simply replied: “This is about friendship and loyalty.”

Bush understood the importance of upholding friendships not only when his friends were doing well and thriving but also—and more importantly—when his friends were at their lowest. If others turned their backs, he offered an outstretched hand.

Bush’s son, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, also spoke at the service. “To his very last day, dad’s life was instructive. As he aged, he taught us how to grow with dignity, humor and kindness,” he said. Like Meacham, the 43rd President said his father was profoundly changed by the tragedies in his life. “I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life,” he explained, characterizing his father as a “genuinely optimistic man.” President H.W. Bush looked for the good in each person and usually found it.

So, what’s the message? Let’s end this tribute with words from the former President’s inaugural address: “What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?” In all endeavors, as George H.W. Bush proved, we shouldn’t lead with a desire for our own success but instead with a desire to build and grow the success of others. Because success, as the 41st President of the United States defined it, wasn’t about titles or accolades. It was about family and friends who will carry on your legacy of benevolence long after your final day.

Thoughts on Leadership: A Business Philosophy

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Orange County, attending meetings and alignment sessions with prospective brokerages for our Real Living Real Estate and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (domestic and global) brands. We usually conduct alignment sessions at least once per month, and they’re a great chance for leaders to get to know our team and how we can align on customized strategies to help execute their Wildly Important Goals (WIGs). Our mission is to always help them achieve their goals faster than they would in our absence.

My role in these alignment sessions isn’t really to provide an in-depth overview of the brands—although I’m happy to answer whatever questions they may have—but instead to talk about our overall business philosophy, unique to us and our team, which I believe is a distinct competitive advantage of joining our brokerage networks.

We all have industry-leading technology, we all have systems and tools, (and those are incredibly important facets to any well-run organization) but what really separates one brand from the next is the distinct philosophy introduced by its leaders to guide the business through innovation, iteration and the achievement of its WIGs.

Speaking of WIGs, part of the overall philosophy I review with our prospective brokerage leaders is our specific West Coast Offense for running a real estate company, which includes the Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) system followed by every leader in our own organization. I also discuss our fundamental view on leadership, and how a leader’s No. 1 role is to lead by example, the most basic and most violated tenet of leadership. And leading by example means being the very best version of yourself you can be, so that those who follow in your footsteps operate at their best, too. As famed basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”

A leader must always be the most disciplined, most consistent, most persistent, most authentic, most service-oriented and most personally developed member of the team.

A good leader is all of those things (and more). A great leader practices those traits every day so they become part of her or his non-conscious brain. Remember, the non-conscious brain is servile; it sets no goals of its own. It doesn’t judge the merit or value of the goal, it only tries to carry out the given order.

Goals are, in fact, a huge part of my discussion at these alignment sessions, along with the importance of committing to what you say you’ll accomplish. The truth is, a lot of people think they’ve instituted a system of monthly commitments but very often the system falls short.

Commitments are not goals. Anything you commit to declare, you’re expected to accomplish.

Commitments are also empty promises unless you track them to completion. As part of our philosophy, our team members prepare 10 monthly commitments—I usually do seven business commitments and three personal commitments—and send these commitments to me on the 1st day of each month. Here’s an example of what a list of January commitments might look like:

  1. 24 days worked (1 holiday + 4 half Saturdays) + 5 days off
  2. Write 20 handwritten notes
  3. X hours prospected for listings
  4. X hours prospected for buyers
  5. X listing appointments set
  6. X buyer appointments set
  7. X calls to Circle of Influence
  8. Read/listen to X book
  9. Work out X days/week
  10. Drink X ounces of water/day

So, what’s the message? Sometimes, it’s not enough to show prospective brokerages, or clients, or business partners all of the things your organization has. Sometimes, you have to show them the reasoning behind all that your organization does. This begins and ends with leadership, and the specific philosophy the leader sets as the ultimate example for the rest of the team. Because at the end of the day, a company is only as good as its people. It’s only as integrous as the integrity of its team and it’s only as successful as a leader allows it to become.

As Jim Rohn, a mentor of mine, once said: “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” Success, at the end of the day, isn’t found in a machine. It’s found in the mindset of leaders determined to be the best.

Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Thanksgiving Tale

By Gino Blefari

As my video message above explains, this week my travels find me in Orange County, recording videos like the one you just watched and meeting with our team. It’s fortuitous Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, because it means my blog posts can always land exactly on the day of giving thanks.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Leadership: Planning for Success

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels took me to not only three stops, not only three companies but also three countries: London for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co; Berlin to spend time with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate; and finally, back to the U.S. in Las Vegas, for a meeting with Corporate Magic to finalize the creative planning for Sales Convention 2019.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Leadership: Connecting for Change at NAR Annual

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Boston for the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo, also known as NAR Annual. From Boston it was off to London to celebrate the launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co. (In fact, I write this very post from the UK.) Finally, my 10-day road trip ends in Berlin, visiting with the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Leadership: Are You Happy, Always?

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Orange County, conducting meetings and strategizing with the team at the HSF Affiliates headquarters in Irvine. Next, I traveled to Minneapolis for a HomeServices of America, Inc. board meeting. From there, I traveled home to Northern California, where I sit writing this to you now, preparing for a 10-day road trip.

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Leadership: Affirmation that “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not”

This week my travels found me in Irvine, California at our HSF Affiliates headquarters for alignment sessions with prospective franchisees from Paris, France and from Maine, Vermont and Minnesota. It was a pleasure to meet with the brokers of these firms, as each is a dynamic leader with a clear set of goals.

My good friend Johnnie Johnson, former All-Pro football player, and CEO and Founder of World Class Coaches, also knows about achieving goals. Johnnie rose from poverty, earned a college scholarship and became a successful professional football player with an extended playing career.

Johnnie’s new book, “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not,” reinforces the important point that any goal is achievable with the rights steps and the right system in place. Check out my review of Johnnie’s book in this video and pick up a copy when you can. I hope you enjoy “You’re Closer Than You Think Whether You Realize It Or Not” as much as I did.

Thoughts on Leadership: Courage, Compassion and Ohana

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in Lake Tahoe, California attending Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ annual CFO Conference, a gathering of brokerage and finance leaders from franchisees throughout our network.

What I like most about the CFO Conference is that it harnesses the input and best practices of our network’s finance professionals, so all attendees leave with ideas and information to help their companies grow and prosper. Susan Erway of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beazley, REALTORS® in Augusta, Georgia, said the conference helped her examine challenges in a different light and, when talking through issues with like-minded leaders, “the real brainstorming begins. I am immensely grateful for the value the CFO Conference brings me and my company.”

Continue Reading

Thoughts on Leadership: Reflecting on Diversity and NAGLREP

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California taking conference calls and meetings, catching up on work and writing more than 70 handwritten notes. (You can see the evidence of that endeavor here.) The week kicked off, however, in Palm Springs at the National Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) 2018 convention, which was a veritable hot spring of inspiration in the California desert.

Continue Reading

No more posts.