By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday off with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I presented Time Management during Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty’s companywide meeting and today I’m attending a top producer’s event at Intero Real Estate Services.

If you read my Thoughts on Leadership post last week, I referenced one of my mentors, Jim Rohn, and even posted a photo from us in the ‘90s. (I guess funky sweaters were in back then?) Anyway, sharing that story made me think back to when I first met Jim at the very beginning of my real estate career.

When I started in the real estate business, I was working at a company called Fox & Carskadon, a prestigious firm in the San Francisco Bay area. At the Sunnyvale office, I was fortunate enough to end up sitting behind an agent by the name of Mike Ray and to this day, I consider him the best real estate agent I have ever been associated with. Why? He was so, so, so knowledgeable about everything related to real estate and the market. Back then people didn’t have assistants, and even without help, Mike would list more than 50 homes per year, which was a lot for that time. He was just that good. Without the benefits and efficiencies of technology, without social media, without anything but his skills and service, he listed that many homes a year.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from Hawaii

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Wailea, Maui, recharging with my family – that is, until I wasn’t.

“Let me know how I can help. Ginger chews? Gatorade? I have some ginger chews already and will send ginger ale. Our Chef is also putting together some assorted teas. Wishing you all the best and let me know how I can assist in any way.”

It was a text from an unlikely source, though not as unlikely as you’d imagine.

Well, I’ll back up a bit and tell the full story.

On Tuesday, I was walking around the beautiful grounds of the Wailea Beach Resort. If you’re ever in Maui, it’s the place to be, with 22 meticulously landscaped acres. (The former golf course superintendent in me appreciates the care taken to preserve the property.) It’s located on a perfect stretch of beach in Wailea and the staff provides impeccable service.

I also had the opportunity this week to meet Samuel Spurrier, director of group sales at the resort, who ate breakfast with my wife and I, and gave us a tour … but more about breakfast later.

Anyway, I’m strolling through the resort when I started having excruciating pain on my left side. Who do I call? Samuel. I asked him where the urgent care and hospital were located and he immediately provided me with the information.

At the hospital, nurses drew blood, doctors conducted tests and it turns out the best of the worst possible scenario had happened: I passed a kidney stone. As I write this post, I feel completely fine.

Anyway, the text above was from Samuel, who had ginger chews for nausea and tea waiting in my room. He also checked up on me during the day – if that’s not convenience, service and value, I’m not sure what is.

During that earlier breakfast with Samuel. Angela Vento, general manager at the resort, stopped in and had a cup of coffee with us. After she left, I told Samuel how impressed I was with her, and he proceeded to share her story with me.

Angela is one of the few female GMs at a major resort in Maui. As a female GM, she was deeply influenced by Queen Kapi’olani, who was one of Hawaii’s last reigning and beloved queens, known for her deep commitment to philanthropy, health and education for the Hawaiian people. In 1890, Queen Kapi’olani founded the Kapi’olani Maternity Home.

Queen Kapi’olani lived by the Hawaiian proverb, Kulia I Ka Nu’u, which was defined in a book Angela read called “Managing with Aloha” by Rosa Say:

Kūlia i ka nu‘u is the value of accomplishment and achievement. The literal translation for Kūlia i ka nu‘u is “strive to reach the summit.” Those who have this value continually pursue improvement and personal excellence. For them, the most satisfying competition is with their previous selves: They consider their life and everything within it to be a work in progress, and they enjoy the effort. ‘Hard work’ is good work when it employs the energies of striving and reaching higher.

This motto and the idea of being a constant work in progress guides Angela’s leadership style and motivates her to seek excellence in all that she does. It is also the foundation of the resort culture, which is about upholding superior service to associates and guests.

As service-oriented leaders, Angela and Samuel live and demonstrate this most important leadership value in every aspect of their roles. I witnessed first-hand the extraordinary service provided by the Wailea Beach Resort team, and it left a lasting impression on my time spent in Maui.

Sometimes, the leadership lessons for these blog posts are found in books, articles or podcasts. Sometimes, the lessons find me. This was one of those times.

So, what’s the message? Leadership lessons can come from anywhere, even a beach resort in Maui where a brief stint in the hospital is followed by the best hospitality you’ve ever seen. Leadership is about service, perpetual improvement and being open to new ideas, and when one arrives for coffee, listening to exactly what she has to say.

Thoughts on Leadership: Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, presenting about time management on Tuesday to our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global franchisees. (We had about 60 attendees join the virtual session from Mexico, Italy, Germany, Dubai, Spain, Portugal and the U.K.) On Wednesday, I participated in the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty Awards Celebration and today, I presented and participated in the Prosperity Home Mortgage Sales Summit.

Monday marked the beginning of Women’s History Month, a celebration of extraordinary women who lead—and have led—the charge to positively transform our world. At HomeServices of America, we’re fortunate to have Teresa Palacios Smith, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, leading our initiatives to showcase and support women leaders across the globe. Outside of HomeServices of America, Teresa is very involved with women’s leadership programs and councils, and within our organization, has spearheaded Women Who Lead, which highlights the women leaders throughout HomeServices of America and beyond. (If you aren’t already connected to the Facebook page, follow it here and tune into Teresa’s Women Who Lead panel discussions every other Wednesday on Facebook and YouTube.)

Teresa told me Women Who Lead began from a desire to highlight all the phenomenal women leaders in different roles throughout the real estate industry, and to provide a platform for them to share their insights and stories.

And speaking of platforms to spotlight women leaders, here are 10 quotes to enlighten and inspire:

  1. “Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities—the good ones—are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.” – Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube, who was hired as Google employee #16 and worked on important programs like AdSense, Google Analytics, Google Books and Google Images. (Fun fact: In 1998, she rented her carport in Menlo Park, California to two Stanford graduates named Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who used it as an office for a little startup they called Google.)
  2. “I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” – Ginni Rometty, Executive Chairman of IMB, and an advocate for education and job opportunities for disadvantaged populations around the world. In 2018, Rometty was honored with the Catalyst Award for advancing women and diversity in business.
  3. “A leader has two important characteristics: first that she is going somewhere; second she is able to persuade others to go with her.” – Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. who was named by Baylor University as the “Greatest Female Entrepreneur in American History.”
  4. “What I always say is, ‘Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership in it.”– Mary Barra, CEO and chairman of General Motors Company, the first woman to lead one of the big three automakers. Notably, in a 2020 report on gender equality practices by Equileap, GM was the only company surveyed with no gender pay gap.
  5. “No matter how senior you get in an organization, no matter how well you’re perceived to be doing, your job is never done. Every day, you get up and the world is changing; your customers are expecting more from you. Your competitors are putting pressure on you by doing more and trying to beat you here and beat you there.” -Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, chairman since 2016 and named “Most Powerful in Finance” by American Banker in 2020.
  6. “I really think a champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fall.” – Serena Williams, professional tennis player and former No. 1 player in women’s tennis. At 23 Grand Slams, Williams has won the most titles by any player in the Open Era and the second-most titles of all time.
  7.  “People regret far more what they don’t do rather than what they do.” – Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithCline and the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company.
  8. “Always work hard, never give up, and fight until the end because it’s never really over until the whistle blows.” – Alex Morgan, American professional soccer player and winner of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a key player on Team USA.
  9. “It’s the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and the first woman to serve on the company’s board.
  10. “The media and the interviews are great, but that does not help me make a call on the field. To me, I’ve got to work the game and I’ve got to be great at it.” – Sarah Thomas, official for the National Football League and the first woman to officiate a major college football game as well as the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl. (In 2015, she was the first female hired as a full-time NFL official.)

So, what’s the message? While Women’s History Month is an amazing way to spotlight our women leaders, it’s also not just a month-long endeavor. Supporting and highlighting women leaders is something we should always do, no matter what month it is. Because like my mom says, women leaders aren’t just a part of history, they’re the ones making history every day.

Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from Hank Aaron and Larry King

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting the week with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Wednesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Weekly Executive team meeting. My WIGs for this week were to film seven videos, present Time Management (virtually) to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Keys Real Estate and hold three virtual interviews for the regional mortgage manager position at Prosperity Home Mortgage.

In between meetings, I also got a call from Bob LeFever. I’ve known Bob for years, since we were both senior vice presidents of NRT. (But more on Bob later because he’s really the connection to everything I’ll write about in this post.)

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Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons from MLK

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, but actually going into the Cupertino, California office of Intero to safely host the virtual HomeServices of America CEO Leadership Teleconference. The conference covered topics ranging from productivity to positive culture, Diversity & Inclusion and best practices for remote leadership.

And speaking of leadership, earlier this week, we celebrated and commemorated the life of an incredible leader – Martin Luther King Jr. He was truly an extraordinary leader whose words and example continue to inspire us to eliminate racial injustice. For inspiration this week, there are a few key leadership lessons from Martin Luther King Jr.:

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Thoughts on Leadership: Total Responsibility

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting the week with my typical Monday WIG calls and on Tuesday, attending the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Team Meeting. The rest of the week, I’m preparing for our HomeServices of America CEO Leadership Conference, coming up soon.

This Monday night, I watched the Alabama game, as the incredible college football team won the national championship against Ohio State, 52-24. Watching that game, I couldn’t help but think about two great leaders, two great friends and two great franchisees—Dewey Mitchell and Allen Crumbley, broker/owners of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group, who both played football under the leadership of legendary Alabama coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. (Allen is pictured with Coach Bear Bryant in the photo.) One of my favorite quotes, spoken by their former coach Bear Bryant, is this: “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes well, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”

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Thoughts on Leadership: Success and Your Personal Philosophy

By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting the year off with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had a Berkshire Hathaway Energy weekly executive team meeting and on Wednesday, I attended the Berkshire Hathaway Energy 2021 Executive Leadership Conference, “Transforming Our Business,” a four-and-a-half-hour virtual session about leadership in 2021 and beyond. The rest of the week was spent planning for the virtual, two-day HomeServices of America Leadership Conference, which will take place January 20-21.

The Executive Leadership Conference was a great lead-in to this blog because Bill Fehrman, Berkshire Hathaway Energy president and CEO, and Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., vice chairman of non-insurance operations and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, talked about the culture of Berkshire Hathaway as one marked by continuous improvement.

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By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, just as they did since March 11. Throughout the week, I completed seven CEO reviews and as I write this, there are mere days left in 2020, a year that challenged us as much as it strengthened us while we led our teams through the unknown, into an entirely new world.

To inspire your ensuing fresh start, here are some of my favorite New Year’s quotes from some of my favorite people. Because for this post, I thought it was only right to pass the mic to others and let their wisdom guide us as we contemplate all the good this new year will bring:

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By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had my weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy Presidents Meeting and five CEO reviews, followed by two CEO reviews the next day. It’s been a busy week of conference calls and Microsoft Teams meetings as we tie a bow on this challenging year while looking forward to the next. The holidays are such a special time, even though this is the year many of us can’t be with our family and loved ones or hold the traditional holiday parties, but the spirit of the season remains. Surprisingly, the holidays are also filled with leadership lessons and they come from the boss of yuletide cheer, St. Nick. Here are twelve tips he can teach us:

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By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting off with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had the Berkshire Hathaway Energy President’s Meeting and the end of year HomeServices of America CEO leadership virtual meeting and on Wednesday I presented 4DX to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties then filmed a few videos for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention 2021 and presented Mindset Leadership Amid COVID-19 to the team at Intero South County. Today, I had the HomeServices of America corporate team virtual holiday gathering and Iowa Realty’s employee service recognition virtual event. In between, I hosted six CEO reviews.

It was a long and busy week, filled with interactions among leaders I admire and respect. Famed self-help and business author Napoleon Hill once said: “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others succeed.”

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