Thoughts on Leadership: Guided by Authenticity

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting Monday off with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy weekly executive team meeting and the monthly CEO Leadership Meeting. On Wednesday, I joined the HomeServices of America monthly corporate team gathering then traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Mark Stark, Gordon Miles and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties leadership team.

If there’s one word that definitely does not describe the city of Las Vegas, it’s authenticity. This is a place for escape, where showstopping entertainment meets extraordinary dining experiences under the glitzy lights of Las Vegas Boulevard. But maybe when we’re confronted with such geographic charisma, we recognize the importance of authenticity even more.

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Thoughts on Leadership: A Rescue to Remember

By Gino Blefari:

This week my travels found me on Coronado Island, California for the 2021 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Summit Conference. One highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Jessica Buchanan, a former humanitarian worker turned bestselling author, who shared her story. Of course, the networking and seeing people in person was fantastic (the Global Conference and Meeting team does an incredible job each year), but Jessica’s talk had everyone in the room glued to their seats. It was extraordinary. The standing ovation she received at the end of her speech was undeniably deserved.

Blinded by the hot Somali sun, warmed by the head scarf wrapped around her forehead, Jessica remembers every detail of being in the Land Cruiser. It was October 2011, and she was in Somali teaching, helping children learn how to avoid land mines. It was a day like any other, until it wasn’t.

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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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THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: MAMBA MENTALITY

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.

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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THE INFLUENCE OF MENTORS

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 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: 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: Habits for Happiness

By: Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me at home, starting with my typical Monday WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Executive Team Meeting and on Wednesday, I joined the monthly HomeServices of America Corporate Virtual Team Gathering. Today, I presented Time Management to the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, followed by a Mindset & Leadership presentation for the team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Leading through Change

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls, though Monday wasn’t typical at all. (More on that soon.) On Tuesday, I participated in the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Executive Team Meeting and on Wednesday, I presented time management to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty followed by a HomeServices of America-hosted commercial real estate market update with National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. I finished the day with a global/domestic alignment session and today, I’m writing this post for all of you.

Let’s travel back in time to Monday, which I mentioned was far from usual. In the morning, we announced that Christy Budnick, former CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, was promoted to CEO of HSF Affiliates and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. I’ve worked with Christy over the years and have seen her lead with confidence, compassion and care. She brings experience and charisma to this role, and I look forward to supporting her growth.

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