Bob’s Blog: Introducing …!

By Bob McAdams Jr.

This past year was another great one for us at Real Living Real Estate, with our network members across the country diligently supporting home buyers and sellers, their communities and of course, each other. It’s no secret why Real Living Real Estate consistently achieves such high levels of overall consumer satisfaction; our focus is and always will be on maintaining the best customer experience in the industry.

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is when I can sit down and connect with our network members, whether it be at their office or at a local restaurant, talking and brainstorming about how they can better serve their clients, grow their business and thrive in their marketplaces. I love hearing about our agents’ passion for real estate and look forward to strategizing on new ways to help their businesses grow.

One way to do just that is through social media, which brings together our Real Living Real Estate network under one common screen, one common hashtag (#PowerOfUs) and all of the incredible ideas that can be so easily digested and shared. With that in mind, I proudly present to you a new way for us to connect and inspire each other——your new online home for updates about Real Living Real Estate as you work to help your clients achieve the American dream.

Happy reading!

BOB MCADAMS is President of Real Living Real Estate. You can follow Bob on Instagram and Twitter.

Thoughts on Leadership: Face-to-Face Leadership

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Irvine, CA at our HSF Affiliates LLC headquarters for a Sales and Service conference. The conference brought together our sales, service, operations, education and business consulting teams for a collective, three-day event filled with presentations, team-building activities and idea-sharing. As you know, I’m a firm believer in setting Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) and not just setting these WIGS but also limiting them to only the very most important achievements you need to get done. These were our two WIGs for the meeting:

  1. Increase the collaboration between our sales and service teams relative to working with our affiliates to help them achieve their goals faster than they would in our absence.
  2. Expand on and improve the way we connect with potential franchisees for whom we share our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices value proposition and its important tenets of trust, integrity, stability and longevity.

Beyond these two WIGs, it was an important conference for another reason: The face-to-face interaction of business associates who have in many cases worked together for years but haven’t yet had a chance to meet in person.

Trust cannot be formed through a cell phone or computer screen. Trust, a pillar of not only our particular brokerage organization but also a pillar to sustainable success, must be built through genuine connection. This genuine connection, I should add, is found when you can look into someone’s eyes, shake his or her hand and be present in a room to feel the energy and passion this individual has for the work he or she does. That’s real trust. That’s real commitment to a shared goal. Emails and conference calls will never replace what it’s like to sit right beside your colleagues as they explain, illuminate and ultimately, inspire.

So, what’s the message? I made it a point to sit through our entire three-day Sales and Service conference to hear every presentation given and proposal offered. In the end, I believe we achieved the two WIGs we set out to accomplish. How? Well, of course it was due in part to the strength of our great sales and service teams but it was also largely because of the face-to-face time we spent together that helped show us just how very strong we are. Business is done with people, not companies. And applying this concept to your own leadership style means the next time someone asks to schedule a conference call or video chat for your meeting, tell him or her you’d rather sit down in your office or grab a coffee instead. Trust me, the future success of whatever business endeavor you’re setting out to achieve will be better off because you did.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Thoughts on Leadership: Omaha, Change and an Exchange with the Oracle

By Gino Blefari

Last week my travels found me in Omaha, NE attending the Berkshire Hathaway Energy January 2017 Executive Leadership Conference and related workshops. More than 350 officers and managers from throughout the enterprise attended the three-day event, which included cross-business panel discussions and presentations related to key challenges and opportunities.

Panel discussions centered on managing competitive risk, modernizing assets, reducing our environmental footprint, enhancing cybersecurity plus an overview of political and economic effects on our businesses – all great material.

I also loved the interactive Leading Change Workshop, which leveraged the creative input of participants for greater understanding of the impact of change on people and for leading changes to meet continuous goals.

Still, without question, the highlight of our meetings came Tuesday afternoon when Berkshire Hathaway Energy Chairman and CEO Greg Abel conducted an interview with Warren Buffett. The session lasted about 60 minutes but we could have listened to Mr. Buffett for hours. He seemed all-knowledgeable with important perspectives on every question. At the same time, he was straightforward, witty and positive.

When the interview concluded Mr. Buffett remained for questions from the audience. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so I quickly stepped up to the microphone. Admittedly, I was a little nervous but I got the words out — but Mr. Buffett gave me a welcoming smile and carefully answered my question, making eye contact with me the entire time.

The moment was not lost on me and never will be.

What’s the message? Very simple. Leaders, no matter who they are, must take the time for the people they lead. They listen, process and respond with respect and, in the process, enrich and grow their entire organization.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Lesson For the New Year

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me in Northern California, working from my home office and preparing for the new year (although as I told you in an earlier post, my business plan has been set for months). Whenever I’m home, I meet my friend and former All-Pro defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams, Johnnie Johnson, for a weekly breakfast; this week was no exception. Fortunately, Johnnie’s sons, Kirk and Collin, were also in town—on break from college at the University of Texas—so they joined us as well.

Now, when I say these boys come from impressive lineage, I mean it. Johnnie himself played for the Longhorns almost 40 years ago, a two-time, unanimous All-American defensive back during his time at Texas and in 1978, named by the New York Downtown Athletic Club as the nation’s best DB. As described Johnnie’s football legacy, “In other words, he won the Thorpe award before the Thorpe award was in existence.”

His two football-playing sons, however, are shaping up to be no less impressive and have so far carved out quite a reputation as not only strong players on the field but also strong leaders off the field, motivating their fellow teammates and leading by example.

It’s a lesson for every one of us to learn—leaders come in all shapes, sizes and ages—and a testament to the fact that true leadership, the kind that inspires, impassions and invigorates, cannot be defined by anything other than one’s own will to succeed.

Former Texas Longhorns Head Coach Charlie Strong once said this about Kirk during a press conference: “I always tell my players if I want to just watch a player and watch the way things are done right, I tell them to watch Kirk Johnson.” Coach Strong went on to describe Kirk’s work ethic, technique and commitment to his job (he’s “always the first guy in the room”) and how those characteristics make him a shining example of leadership.

What’s the message? I couldn’t say it any better than Collin Johnson did when he explained his football philosophy to “It’s not really about the size of the dog in the fight; it’s about the size of the fight in the dog,” he said. “But I got both, because I have fight in me and heart.” (He’s also 6’6”, so he’s got some size himself.) This sentiment is similar to an idea echoed by John Wooden, who was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. Wooden said,

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

As the new year speedily approaches, think about these wise words and leadership concepts from Kirk, Collin and John Wooden. Remember, you shouldn’t feel limited or confined by what you don’t have; play full out and do your best to win every time. This way, no matter what the outcome of any situation, as long as you maintain a positive mindset and a fighting spirit, you can never really lose.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

How to Handle Impostors

HSF Affiliates COO Stephen Phillips wrote the following blog post at the end of 2014. We publish it again because we liked it and the messages are as appropriate for the upcoming year as they were two years ago. Happy holidays!

By Stephen Phillips

Like many companies, we have a television in the lobby of our Irvine, California headquarters.  At one time it was continuously tuned to a cable news network, but then at some point our receptionist was tired of hearing about nothing but terrorism and pandemics and she switched to HGTV.  That makes sense to me.  I never watch television news, and I like HGTV.

Recently, I was walking through the lobby when I heard an HGTV promotional spot that stopped me in my tracks.  The ad was for a show named Rehab Addict.  The star of the show, Nicole Curtis, was talking about what she does in remodeling old houses in the Midwest.  She was describing her response to both the successes and the failures, and she said, “I want the good days; I want the bad days.”  I was immediately struck by how much wisdom there is in that simple phrase, “I want the good days; I want the bad days.”

How much time, precious irreplaceable time, do we spend trying to foresee the unpredictable future, while trying to sidestep life’s unavoidable difficulties?  Isn’t it better to move forward confidently every day without regard to whether the path is perfectly clear?  Won’t we ultimately be more successful if we learn to accept that life’s challenges are just as much a part of the program as its blessings?

As I travel around the country talking to affiliates and agents, especially at this time of year, I am usually expected to say something about the residential real estate market and make a prediction about the future.  Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about the market, but at the same time, I sometimes wonder what I would do differently, what any of us would really do differently, if we knew with certainty how the market was going to perform in the following twelve months.  Would we totally change our approach to the business?  Would we put in twice as many hours, or half as many?  If it didn’t look so hot, would we pull up stakes and leave town?

Not so long ago, this industry went through a dreadful downturn during which annual unit sales of existing homes dropped 42%, and a well-known national home price index declined 27%.  Those were tough years.  And yet, here we are.  Unit sales have rebounded 28% from the bottom and existing home prices have increased 25% nationwide, while the median price of a newly constructed home in the U.S. recently exceeded $300,000 for the first time.

So how should we approach the uncertainty of a new year?  In one of his most famous poems, Rudyard Kipling wrote,

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”

Will we have triumph or disaster in 2015?  Who knows?  I certainly don’t.  But either way, following the astute advice of an insightful rehabber from Detroit, I say, “Bring it on.”

STEPHEN PHILLIPS is COO for HSF Affiliates LLC, responsible for the daily operations of the company. Find him on Twitter.

Thursday Thoughts on Leadership: A Jolly Leader

Everyone knows there’s not one mold from which great leaders are made. Yet it’s also known that all leaders share common traits: They inspire, they motivate, they bring about joy and cheer to every member of their team.

What leader inspires, motivates and spreads cheer and joy more than jolly, old St. Nick? If you think about it, he’s got a lot on his cookie-filled plate. And we can’t deny he’s one busy guy. Here are three reasons why St. Nick is the epitome of a great leader:

  1. Nick must always maintain a positive mindset. In fact, we count on him to be steadfastly optimistic, always. Could you imagine a grumpy St. Nick?
  2. Time-management is hugely important. If his time isn’t managed properly, he can’t succeed at his job, shimmying down chimneys and delivering presents all across the world in the span of a single night.
  3. Nick abides by the four disciplines of execution: First, he focuses on his Wildly Important Goals: bringing cheer and holiday spirit to everyone around the world and putting smiles on our faces during the holiday season. Second, he acts on his lead measures. He loads his sleigh, maps out his gift-giving route and slides down chimneys to deliver gifts. Third, he keeps a compelling scoreboard, checking his lists twice and keeping score of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Finally, he creates a cadence of accountability by meeting with his elves once per week all year long. During these meetings, his elves announce how many toys they’ve assembled that week and how many they’ll assemble in the week ahead. (“This week I made ten nutcrackers and five dolls and next week I’ll make twelve nutcrackers and seven dolls …”)

So what’s the message? St. Nick’s greatness as a leader also springs from his universality. We can relate to certain aspects of his leadership style and take whatever works best for us, which is exactly as it should be. Because the holiday season means so many things to so many different people. For some, it might be about spreading joy, observing the spirit of the season, spending time with friends and family; for others, it’s about reflecting on the year gone by and resolving the make this new one even better.

No matter what this holiday season means to you, my hope is that it’s one filled with health, happiness, peace, prosperity and joy for one and all.

Happy Holidays,


GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Northeast Nebraska Start-Up Firm Joins Real Living Real Estate Brokerage Network

Real Living Real Estate, one of the nation’s leading real estate franchisors and a member of the HSF Affiliates LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, today announced that a Northeast Nebraska-based start-up firm has joined the network operating as Real Living Advantage Real Estate.

“I’m very excited to be part of such an extraordinary team that will be able to leverage a higher level of real estate expertise,” said Sandy Wolfe, managing broker and co-owner of Real Living Advantage Real Estate. “The brand’s commitment to customer service exemplifies the approach Real Living Advantage Real Estate will bring to Norfolk and Northeast Nebraska.”

“It was important for us to maintain our individuality but have the backing of a national franchise,” said Co-owner Jade Lafleur, noting that the brokerage wanted a fresh, national name but also wanted to keep its local, community-focused approach. “As a member of the Real Living network, we’re looking to grow and become No. 1 in our marketplace. Still, we don’t want just a lot of agents; we want the best agents who work to help people and can fit into our positive, friendly environment.”

Ron Thompson, an agent at Real Living Advantage Real Estate, is looking forward to boosting business with the philosophy and services provided by Real Living Real Estate. “Sales and sales success comes from implementing the resources that are available to us,” he said. “Real Living Real Estate is a progressive team of real estate professionals with great ideas and high goals.”

With their affiliation, Real Living Advantage Real Estate agents gain access to a comprehensive and integrated suite of resources aimed at helping real estate agents and their clients successfully navigate the home buying and selling process. “It’s amazing how much Real Living Real Estate offers in terms of tools and services,” said Lafleur. “From the ease of placing pictures in promotional materials to marketing open houses, the technology is professional and engaging.”

Robert McAdams Jr., president of Real Living Real Estate, welcomed Real Living Advantage Real Estate to the network. “Sandy, Jade and their team are well respected in their community and throughout Northeast Nebraska for their quality service and expertise,” he said. “We’re excited they’ve chosen to join us and we value their membership in our brand.”

Added Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates, “We’re proud this innovative, new brokerage has joined Real Living Real Estate and we are eager to help the brokerage grow.”

Thoughts on Leadership: Recharge to Renew

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me in Northern California, taking a few days off before I get back to work on Friday. (Yes, you read that right!) I know my usual Thursday Thoughts recount how I flew to New York on Monday and was in Arizona on Tuesday but this week, I stayed put and did something that is important, powerful—yet underrated—for all leaders to do: I recharged.

In The Power of Full Engagement, an influential book about leadership by best-selling authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, the mindful duo had this to say about sprinters vs. long-distance runners:

“Think for a moment about the look of many long-distance runners: gaunt, sallow, slightly sunken and emotionally flat. Now visualize a sprinter … Sprinters typically look powerful, bursting with energy and eager to push themselves to their limits. The explanation is simple. No matter how intense the demand they face, the finish line is clearly visible 100 or 200 meters down the track. We, too, must learn to live our lives as a series of sprints—fully engaging for a period of time and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.”

How does that relate to the way in which we should lead? Thoughtfully, attentively, fully engaged and ready to win but conscious that in order to keep up this level of intense focus, we must take breaks that allow our minds and bodies to disengage, relax and prepare for our next “sprint.”

So, what’s the message? Be a sprinter. As the busy holiday season approaches, make sure you’re taking time—block it out in your schedule—to recharge and step away from it all before beginning your next sprint. In my time management class, I teach that you should schedule yourself out a year in advance. And what is the first thing I always say you should schedule? Time off. For now, this might mean taking a long stroll through your neighborhood, listening to your favorite band or audio book, walking your dog, enjoying a cup of coffee in solitude and silence. However or whatever “recharge” and time off means to you, be conscious about fitting it in. You’ll find that the quality of work you produce and the service you can provide to your clients when you’re charged up and completely engaged will be so much better because of it.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.