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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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: HAPPY NEW YEAR

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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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: HAPPY HOLIDAYS

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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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES

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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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: LET’S TALK TEAM CHEMISTRY

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, beginning the week with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Presidents Meeting and presented 4DX Tune-up to the leadership team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®. I also presented on time management to the Intero Academy and celebrated by beloved dog Kona’s 12th birthday. On Wednesday morning, I presented “Mindset Leadership Amid COVID-19” to the teams at Huff Realty, Rector Hayden REALTORS®, Semonin REALTORS®, and WR REALTORS®. On Wednesday afternoon I gave the presentation to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties. Today, I kick off the day with a HomeServices of America corporate team gathering and I’m hosting four CEO reviews. 

For our Thoughts on Leadership post this week, I want to talk about team chemistry. In sports, chemistry is everything. You win or lose based on the chemistry of your team. The same concept applies to business. A good leader not only understands their team’s chemistry but also can utilize it to effectively accomplish ‘Wildly Important Goals’. A leader knows who works best together and who doesn’t. A leader knows how to bring out the chemistry between a team and strengthen it every day.

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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: HAPPY THANKSGIVING

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting off with my typical Monday WIG calls. After the calls, I met virtually with two groups of students at the San Jose State University School of Business Entrepreneurial Venture Lab class. Listening to their pitches and delivering critiques was the closest I’ve gotten to becoming a Shark Tank judge. On Tuesday, I participated in the weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy Presidents Meeting and today I was invited by Ken Baris (CEO of Jordan Baris Inc., REALTORS® Real Living) to give a 30-minute presentation about gratitude during the West Orange New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving luncheon, held via Zoom.

And gratitude really is the name of the game this week. I feel so grateful to pursue my calling with leaders who have become more like family. From the staff members to our CEOs to our network brokers and owners to our agents — everyone deserves my ultimate gratitude today and always.

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