Leadership Lessons from Colin Powell

By Gino Blefari

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” – Colin Powell

This week my travels found me starting Monday with my typical WIG calls, the Berkshire Hathaway Energy weekly call, then traveling to Palm Springs for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Marketing Forum, which I just left today.

Elsewhere in the country, this week we sadly lost Colin Powell. He was the first Black U.S. Secretary of State, the youngest-ever chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a four-star U.S. Army general with combat duty in Vietnam and a national security advisor, and for decades, his leadership has had a profound impact on our nation’s foreign policy.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Happy New Year!

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I began the day with the weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting. Wednesday, I handled some legal matters and Thursday I’ll attend the virtual NAR RES Advisory Group Meeting. I also spent some of the week preparing for the October 12th CEO leadership meeting and next week’s Mavericks meeting in Denver, hosted by Scott Nordby, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Innovative Real Estate, and his team.

To put things in perspective, Friday is October 1 and we just finished up the third quarter. Why is that important? Well, the significance of October 1 in real estate is that it’s the actual start of our new year. Here’s why:

In real estate, we operate on a 90-day cycle. All the prospecting, lead generation and planning we do now is going to pay off three months from now. It’s why our new year doesn’t begin when the clock strikes midnight on January 1. No, our new year starts October 1, so essentially, it begins tomorrow.

Each new “real estate” year requires a new business plan. To get you started on yours, access Business Planning Essentials by clicking HERE.

Creating a business plan now will help you avoid a Q1 slump. Understandably, when the Q4 holidays arrive, people get off schedule. But if you skip ahead 90 days, your holiday lag will show up in January and February, just as you’re kicking off Q1. During my 30+ years in the real estate business—as an agent, a manager, and an owner of a company—I’ve found that there’s always a cash flow problem in the months of January and February. This applies as much to agents as it does to brokerage owners.

A business plan allows you to plan for what’s ahead, and it ensures that the busy holiday season won’t stop you. Remember, business planning isn’t all about business; one important aspect of a business plan is your schedule, which you should complete for the entire year. The first thing to schedule are the most critical business meetings that you can’t miss. Knowing when those occur will help you plan when you need to work and when you can take days off. The next thing you do before you schedule anything else is put in whatever gives you balance, like your vacations and days off. This will ensure that you take the time off you need to recharge and you won’t schedule meetings or calls during the time you’ve blocked off for rest and relaxation. Once you have done that, never make a commitment with your time without checking your schedule first.

Here are a few more reasons why your business needs a plan:

  • To establish goals and milestones.
  • To take time to examine your competition as you outline your own competitive advantages and the areas of your business you need to focus on and improve.
  • To deal with economic conditions effectively. When you look at your business model from a planning perspective (and not while in the midst of a heated obstacle), you have a more objective view of how it can be adapted during times of challenge and change.
  • To discover new opportunities for revenue and growth. As you plan, you’re taking time to critically examine your client base and business model, which may help you discover new ways you can grow your business.

So, what’s the message? Over the years, I’ve been tuned into the cash flow problem of agents and brokerage owners during the months of January and February; but with a business plan, you can avoid those issues. This post is your reminder of the importance of a business plan, which will allow you to start the official new year with momentum and a solid plan for sustainable growth.

Thoughts on Leadership: Leaders as Teachers

By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels find me at home, starting Tuesday with a Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting and my typical WIG calls. Today I attended an input meeting for the 2022 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention in Louisville and presented Time Management to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Remembering Pappy

By Gino Blefari:

For this week’s Thoughts on Leadership, I want to share the story of my father Paul Blefari (Pappy), who passed away last week. My dad taught me to be a better brother, son, father and really, a better person. Below you’ll find the eulogy that I read today during the services. I know from his life story you’ll find endless leadership inspiration.

Hello, my name is Gino Blefari, and I am the proud and loving son of Paul Frank Blefari.  

On behalf of the entire Blefari family, I wish to thank each and every one of you for coming here today to the Church of the Resurrection, to join with us as we honor our beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather, and most importantly, my mother’s cherished husband for 71 years. 

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By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels found me at home, starting the week with WIG calls. On Wednesday I attended a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global alignment session with prospective brokerages in Aruba and Germany. Wednesday through Friday I handled family items and prepared for upcoming speaking engagements at the NS3 Summit in Naples, Florida and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Summit Conference in Coronado, California.

The headquarters for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is in Irvine, California, right in the heart of Orange County, and while on the topic of Orange County, Tuesday August 24 was declared “Kobe Bryant Day” in O.C. and beyond.

Kobe and his Mamba Mentality (a mentality to attack what’s in front of you without fear but with passion and purpose) instill so many important lessons about leadership.

Here are a few things we can learn from Kobe’s Mamba Mentality mindset:

  • He was a fierce competitor. Even during Kobe’s high school years playing at Lower Merion in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, he would show up to practice at 5 a.m. and stay on the court for a solid two hours. He’d also play one-on-one games with his teammates … to 100 points. (During his worst match-up, Business Insider says he still won 100-12.)
  • He never let anything—even injury—sideline him in the execution of his goals. During his years as a Lakers player, Kobe was always the first player in the gym, even when he was hurt. He once played left-handed because he had an injury to his right hand and was determined not to let it keep him off the court.
  • He combined physical practice with mental motivation. He was a proponent of the mental aspect of the game; former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neill wrote in his book Shaq Uncut that Kobe would often practice dribbling and shooting without a ball and exhibit the same physical intensity as if he had a ball in his hands.
  • He was a student of continuous improvement. According to Sports Illustrated, in 2008 he requested Nike shave a few millimeters off the soles of his sneakers to get “a hundredth of a second better reaction time.”
  • He believed in authenticity and the power of personal storytelling. “Be yourself,” he once said to Bloomberg. “That’s it. Be you. There’s no gimmick. You don’t have to contrive anything. Who are you? Where are you today? What is your story? And all you’re doing is communicating that story to the public.”
  • He was committed to accountability in leadership. Speaking with NBA TV, Kobe said in February of 2015: “If you are going to be a leader, you are not going to please everybody. You have to hold people accountable, even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.” Kobe reminded us that you need to be professional, respectful and compassionate.
  • He programmed the non-conscious portion of his brain to reject failure. To Showtime, Kobe explained: “When we are saying, ‘This cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done,’ then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure,’ I think that is… almost worse than death.”

So, what’s the message? One of the most memorable characteristics Kobe possessed was his ability to work hard. He was gifted, yes, but he was the hardest working athlete on the court (and his teammates acknowledged it). He also encouraged that same relentless drive in those around him. Kobe taught us leadership greatness is not measured by your accomplishments, but rather by the accomplishments you inspire in others. Above all else, that’s the gift Kobe passes on to the world, and it’s one that will allow his enduring legacy to live on forever.


By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me kicking off Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the monthly HomeServices of America CEO meeting and yesterday I traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Mark Stark, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Arizona Properties and California Properties, along with members of his team. Today I traveled from Vegas to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties leadership and management team. Tomorrow I am off to Orange County to meet with the California Properties team.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Management & Mentors

By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. From Tuesday through Thursday, among other things, I conducted 14 CEO and company Q2 reviews, which I’m in the middle of completing as I write this post to you today.

The last three blog posts have been about my mentors (read the Zig Ziglar post here, the Og Mandino post here and the Jim Rohn post here), as well as the leaders who have inspired me throughout my career and had a profound impact on my life. In this post, I’m going to talk to you about an incredible leader who also had a profound impact on my life and career, and that person is Alain Pinel.

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Thoughts on Leadership: The Meaning of Mentors

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting the day with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had my call with Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the HSF Affiliates Townhall (virtual) and a “Go Live” with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices President Martha Mosier and her team where I presented time management. On Wednesday, today and tomorrow, I’ll cover seven Q2 company reviews.

These past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about mentors. I explained the impact of Jim Rohn in this post, Og Mandino in this post and for today’s Thoughts on Leadership discussion, I want to focus on Zig Ziglar and his mentor, PC Merrell.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from Paul Blefari

By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels found me first in Capitola, celebrating the three-day weekend at my beach house. On Tuesday, I participated in the weekly Berkshire Hathaway Energy call and spent Wednesday (and the rest of the week) planning for next week’s CEO leadership meeting and other upcoming presentations.

Often in these posts, I’ll highlight leadership lessons from something I’ve read or listened to, but today is a very special Thoughts on Leadership because it’s all about lessons learned from my dad, Paul Blefari.

Today, July 8, my dad turns 96 years young, and for my entire life, he has been a constant source of inspiration on my leadership journey.

Whenever I’m asked the question, “Who had the biggest impact on you growing up?” I always say my mom and dad. To this day, I make time in my schedule each week for my parents. On Sunday, we get in my car and drive for three hours (we call it the “three hour tour.”). We never have a plan; we just drive. Sometimes we cruise to the San Jose foothills or drive through Los Altos Hills or to my house in Capitola. Sometimes we go to San Francisco or Morgan Hill to have coffee with my friend Ben Bruno. Ben brings out coffee and biscotti and we eat right there in the car. My parents are in a hurry for most of the week, and the only place they really hurry to is the doctor’s office. Sunday is our time to have no agenda except to drive.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Setbacks and Success

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting off Monday with a Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting then my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I attended the HomeServices of America monthly CEO leadership meeting and on Wednesday through tomorrow, I hosted (and will continue to host) nine Q1 company reviews with CEOs and CFOs.

Speaking with companies about their progress made me think about success and setbacks, and whether the two are really all that different. In theory, success is what we’re striving for but the relationship between success and a setback is not dichotomous; setbacks are just opportunities to refocus our efforts on our way to success.

Let’s examine famous examples from history. In every one of the below true tales, leaders experienced a major setback that eventually led to a major breakthrough and ultimately, extraordinary success.

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