Thoughts on Leadership: Super Wildcard Weekend and a Tribute to Dwight Clark

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me starting Tuesday at home with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by my typical WIG calls (one day later due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday) and our monthly CEO meeting. There were 11 calls in total that day and I thoroughly enjoyed them all – when you love what you do and who you do it with, it never feels like work! On Wednesday, I traveled to Nevada to meet with Mark Stark, Troy Reierson and several of our HomeServices of America leaders, including HomeServices of America Chief Administrative Officer Dana Strandmo, Chief Financial Officer Alex Seavall and Chief of Staff Deitra Catalano.

Being an NFL fan, this past weekend was my favorite weekend of them all. Why? It was Super Wildcard Weekend, which meant two Wild Card games on Saturday, three games on Sunday and one game on Monday night. And they’re all games that you win, or you go home.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys played my San Francisco 49ers, and it marked the eighth time these two franchises have met in the postseason. That is a tie for the second-most common matchup in the Super Bowl era of the NFL. The 49ers won the game 23-17 with strong defense, rushing attacks and the ability to capitalize on the Cowboys’ mistakes.

As I watched this historic matchup, there was so much nostalgia. It made me think back to my dear friend, Dwight Clark. January 10, 2022, was actually the 40th anniversary of “The Catch,” when “Too Tall” Jones and what seemed like the entire Dallas Cowboys defense was chasing quarterback Joe Montana and Dwight was trying to lose Cowboys’ defensive back Everson Walls running across the back of Candlestick Park’s end zone. What happened next has been memorialized in sports history books forevermore: Dwight caught the winning touchdown pass thrown by Montana and the 49ers won the NFC Championship Game that year. Today, “The Catch” is known as the #1 play for the 49ers.

In analyzing the top 10 moments in the epic 49ers-Cowboys rivalry, Sports Illustrated recently named “The Catch” as No. 1. Other ranked moments included: “Roger Staubach’s rally; T.O. standing on the star in Texas Stadium; Deion Sanders and Charles Haley, swapping sides; John Madden and Pat Summerall; The Guarantee, in three-inch headlines; Brass vs. papier-mache; Tony Romo’s punctured lung; Troy Aikman’s concussion; Jimmy Johnson’s “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?!”; Bill Walsh; Tom Landry; Joe Montana; Steve Young; Emmitt Smith; San Francisco’s Team of the 1980s; Dallas’ dynasty of the 1990s; Six NFC Championship Games, leading to five Super Bowl champions …”

… but “The Catch” remains No. 1.

This time is also especially profound because January 8 was Dwight’s birthday. (He turned 25 just two days before “The Catch.”) Dwight’s career with the NFL began in 1979; the NFL draft took place, and he went in the 10th round to Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers.  (You can read the story in Dwight’s own words here.) As my dear friend once described the experience: “[It was] the ultimate meeting between opportunity and preparation [that] resulted in the start of my pro football career. Yet, I know this tale could’ve had a very different ending if I hadn’t spent years running drills, if I hadn’t practiced all those long hours, if I hadn’t worked my hardest on the field each and every day.”

So, what’s the message? Dwight continues to inspire me and all those who knew him. We look up to the legacy he left behind as an extraordinary football player, leader and friend. Abraham Lincoln once said no man stands as tall as when he bends down to help a child in need. And for me, when I think of my friend, Dwight Clark, I don’t think of “The Catch” and how high he had to jump, I think of the many times I watched him bend down and help a child in need.

Thoughts on Leadership: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had a Berkshire Hathaway Energy call and celebrated five new HomeServices of America acquisitions (four brokerage companies and a moving company) that added 1,400 sales associates, 15,000 transactions and nearly $8 billion in closed sales volume to HomeServices’ portfolio, while strengthening the commitment we’ve made to fulfill a “customer-for-life” business model. The five acquisitions include: Bennion Deville Homes; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Alliance Real Estate and Alliance Title Group; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida; Hegg Realtors®; and Joe Moholland Moving. (Here’s the link to read the full press release.) In the afternoon, I participated in an at-home photoshoot for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention, March 13-15 in Louisville, Kentucky. Today, I participated in a virtual “Welcome to HomeServices” orientation with the team at Bennion Deville Homes.

It’s here in my house in Northern California where I sit writing this post to you now, reflecting on one of the greatest leaders, ever, Martin Luther King, Jr., a few days before we celebrate his achievements on Monday, the official Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Though I believe his accomplishments should be celebrated every day as we work toward even more diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, in our industry and in our lives.)

His trajectory to excellence has always fascinated me, not only because his work would change the course of history but also because when he was a student at Crozer Theological Seminary, he received a C in public speaking. Yes, the “I Have a Dream” legend got a C. The following term, he raised the C to a C+ and do you know what happened next? In classic leadership fashion, his professors held him accountable because they knew what he was capable of, and what he could achieve. Famed Stanford history professor Clayborne Carson once wrote of MLK’s pivotal transformation that he “quickly immersed himself in Crozer’s intellectual environment.” King himself once recalled of this time in his life: “If I were a minute late to class, I was almost morbidly conscious of it … I tended to overdress, to keep my room spotless, my shoes perfectly shined, and my clothes immaculately pressed.”

The newly focused MLK did get his grades up and was not only an A student by the time he graduated but also student body president and class valedictorian. It’s the ultimate story of accountability in action and what one can achieve if they commit to and believe in their capacity for greatness.

After graduation, the stage was set for history to be made.

Over the course of his 11-year career in civil activism, MLK traveled an estimated 6 million miles and delivered 2,500 speeches. At age 35, he was the youngest man to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. (An interesting fact that speaks to the character of this leader and selflessness: When notified he had been selected, King announced that he’d turn over the $54,123 in prize money to the civil rights movement.) He also has about 900 streets named after him today and is widely regarded as one of the greatest public speakers to ever live.

But let’s return to Oct. 26, 1967, when Dr. King delivered a speech to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. Tragically, the speech happened just six months before he was assassinated but his profound sentiments would endure as part of his legacy forever.

At the opening of the speech, Dr. King asked the students a single question: “What is your life’s blueprint?”

He explained: “When a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well-erected without a good, solid blueprint.”

He said that in their life blueprint, the students should put two things:

  1. A deep belief in their own dignity, worth and “somebodiness.”
  2. The determination to achieve excellence in whatever their life’s work turns out to be.

So, what’s the message? In his 1967 speech to the students, Dr. King quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, who famously said: “If a [person] can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” While King inspired through his civil activism, his ability to see the prejudices of the world and do something about creating positive change, he also inspired through his commitment to his life’s work, in his own pursuit of excellence as he honed his unique and extraordinary ability to shape the world into a place where equality isn’t just a dream, but a truth universally accepted. In this world, everyone is focused not on bringing people down but lifting people up and becoming the most exquisite version of whoever, it is they are meant to be. As Dr. King said to end his speech in Philadelphia, “Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.’s incredible contributions to civil rights, his life and legacy, visit

Thoughts on Leadership: Winning the New Year

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday at home with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting in the morning then filmed videos for multiple HomeServices of America acquisitions we’ll be announcing very soon. Today, I spent the morning at the virtual Berkshire Hathaway Energy Executive Leadership Conference, themed “Building for the Future.”

It’s noteworthy that this is the very first Thoughts on Leadership post of the new year. Ah, the new year, a time for resolutions to make … or break.

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By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels find me in Hawaii for my Annual Dad’s & Daughters Family Holiday Vacation. It’s been a fun week but a sad one too as I learned on Tuesday about the passing of NFL legendary Hall of Fame coach John Earl Madden, who died at the age of 85. For more than three decades, his iconic presence brought brilliant color to football commentary which ESPN called “one of the most influential TV analysts of all time.”

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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 three succession calls and on Wednesday I had meetings and spent time writing this for you.

Of course, this week we celebrate the holidays and for some, that means spending time with friends and family. Each year around this time, I think about St. Nick, and what a wonderful leader he is and always will be. Wondering about the reasons why? Let’s list a few:

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Thoughts on Leadership: The Edge and The Edgers

By Gino Blefari:

This week found me starting off Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had my weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by a monthly CEO leadership conference call. After the meetings, I joined the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties “Go Live” virtual event where I presented on life planning. Wednesday, I joined the virtual HomeServices of America corporate team gathering and throughout the week, I completed nine succession calls and attended various office holiday celebrations.

Between meetings, presentations, and celebrations, I had an interesting conversation with avid football fan and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Vice President of Business Development Troy Reierson about the new Tom Brady documentary “Man in the Arena” and its parallels between sports and leadership. In the third episode, the team’s 2004 journey is recapped by Brady and former New England linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel.

In 2004, led by Coach Bill Belichick, the team embraced an “edge” mindset. Winning for them was all about honing, sharpening, and maintaining the physical and mental edge against the competition. Here are a few leadership lessons we can learn from the episode:

Team members shouldn’t be afraid to call each other out when necessary.

At the time, Brady had moved to downtown Boston and simply wasn’t taking care of himself like he should have been. He was going out and staying out late. He wasn’t eating right or prioritizing his health. Patriots’ linebacker Willie McGinest, who Brady once called “the Godfather of the locker room,” noticed he was not taking care of himself and wasn’t afraid to call Brady out for it. He recognized Tom’s potential to be a great, long-lasting player, so he suggested Tom meet with his body coach, who at the time was Alex Guerrero. That chance meeting turned into what is now known as TB12 Method. It was also an example of McGinest holding Brady accountable. And speaking of accountability …

It’s great for a leader to hold team members accountable but team members should hold each other (and themselves) accountable, too.

Part of “the edge” the Patriots maintained was because of their impeccable level of accountability. Team members weren’t just held accountable by Coach Belichick or Brady; they were held accountable by the person right next to them.

Bruschi noted that if the team wins “3 out of 4” Super Bowl championships they could rightly be considered a dynasty. So, on the line was the chance to become one of the greatest teams, ever, and you don’t just become that with hard work and dedication, it takes unanimous accountability from every single member of the team. No one was bigger than anyone else. No one was a superstar while the others watched on the proverbial sidelines. Everyone was an equal in this game of extreme accountability. Teams knew the Patriots not as individual players but as a cohesive unit working in perfect synchronicity and that is a very, very scary opponent to face on the field (and in business).

“The edge” was all about accountability.

Before I talk about this one, let me tell you a story. After I watched Episode 3 of “Man in the Arena,” I was so shocked by its parallels to my time at Contempo Realty years ago that I sent text messages to 15 agents who were in that office telling them to watch the show. Back then, the policy at Contempo was that you had to produce a certain amount of income to qualify for your own private office. As manager, every year I would have to confront someone who did not meet the production standard and move them either into the bullpen area or a shared office. The practice was so well known that after a while, agents took accountability upon themselves. If a few agents weren’t doing the production, other agents in the office would stick a “for lease” sign up on their private office. I didn’t even have to make my rounds to tell anyone their production was too low; the agents held themselves accountable to achieving the production necessary for the private offices. As a result of this accountability, two agents who weren’t going to qualify (and had a “for lease” sign stuck on their door) proactively came to me and said, “Hey if you need us to, we’re happy to share an office because we didn’t do enough business to qualify for a private office.”

That level of accountability is what drove the Patriots in 2004. If one player showed up to practice at 6:30 in the morning, someone else who got there at six asked why they were late. If a player said they reviewed two hours of tapes, another player said they reviewed three. They not only outworked, out-competed and outplayed their opponents, they also out-competed, outworked and outplayed each other to ensure everyone was held to an even higher standard of what it meant to be an “edger.” So, what’s the message? The people you spend time around determine the person you will become. That’s why it’s so important to be among people who will not only push you beyond the limits of what you think you can achieve but will also speak up when your accountability is lagging, so you can always maintain your “edge.”

Thoughts on Leadership: Dedicated to AAPI and AREAA Leaders Worldwide

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels started on Sunday when I flew to Orange County. On Monday I completed my WIG calls and attended the HSF Affiliates holiday party followed by a holiday dinner with business associates. On Tuesday, I joined the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call in the early morning followed by four succession calls. In the evening, I was honored to be at the 2022 Installation Gala for the Orange County chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). Julie Tran, friend, and REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, was commemorated as the outgoing chapter president and helped install the 2022 president, Peter Au, also of California Properties. Today, I am writing this post between a virtual presentation at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty Statewide Managers Meeting and various conference calls.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Living the Good Life

By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me starting Monday with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had three succession planning calls and Wednesday began with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties virtual life planning session, which was attended by five California Properties offices. In the afternoon, I drove to the spectacular Carmel Valley to spend time coaching Intero’s No. 1 team, the TSE Group led by the unstoppable Andy Tse, at the Tse Group Retreat. Today I recorded a presentation for the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance then met virtually with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hawai’i Realty for life/business planning followed by the virtual launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Area Realty and in the afternoon, I participated in the grand opening event for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Los Cabos Properties.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Giving Thanks

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting off Monday with the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had succession calls and today, I’m reviewing slide decks and material for upcoming presentations and meetings. Of course, tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.

As we approach Thanksgiving, this week is all about gratitude, though as leaders, gratitude is the foundational element to a positive mindset, so gratitude is always an ongoing aspect of our work and lives. But this week especially, gratitude takes center stage.

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Thoughts on Leadership: The Power of Giving Back

By Gino Blefari

This week started out Sunday in Las Vegas where I attended the Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night football game. Then Monday I flew back to San Francisco for the 49ers-Los Angeles Rams game. as well as taking a WIG call. On Tuesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy call and monthly virtual CEO leadership meeting. I also attended the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame announcement of the 2021 inductees where Intero Real Estate Services was a sponsor for the event. On Wednesday, I traveled to Palm Springs to attend the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Arizona Properties and California Properties yearly management retreat with CEO Mark Stark. I held a fireside chat with Mark then took part virtually in the monthly HomeServices of America corporate team gathering. Today, I was a guest speaker at the HomeServices Marketing Conference then had a photoshoot and interview with Andrew Flachner of RealScout. Between today and tomorrow, I’ll participate in three succession planning calls. Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to being a guest speaker on the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® Friday Forum.

It’s been a productive week and there’s one word that characterizes how I’ve been feeling, especially as we lead up to Thanksgiving: grateful.

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