gary vaynerchuk

Thoughts on Leadership: Getting Back to Basics

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Irvine at the HSF Affiliates headquarters with a series of meetings and one very special meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk.


With @hsfchrisstuart and my new pal @garyvee in SoCal earlier this week. Pretty awesome day!

A post shared by Gino Blefari (@gino_blefari) on

Then it was on to Las Vegas for Mike Ferry’s 2017 Superstar Retreat, a four-day intensive from one of our industry’s finest leaders all about strengthening your mindset, building your skills, increasing your productivity and catapulting profits to the highest level possible—in other words, the basics.

This year marks my 27th appearance at the event and I’m honored to say Mike Ferry hasn’t only been a longtime inspiration in my career but also a cherished mentor for more than three decades. Mike has been in the real estate business—on both the sales and management side—for 40+ years. In this time, he’s earned himself an unparalleled reputation for outstanding professional accomplishment that derives from decades of hard work, dedication, passion and an unyielding commitment to achieving his goals and helping clients achieve theirs, too.


I attended my first Superstar Retreat in 1986 and the entire experience had a profound impact on me. While the conference covers many of the same topics year after year, there’s a reason for this repetition. In an industry characterized, and in many ways propelled, by the technological winds of change, the core tenets of real estate will forever remain unchanged. It’s this “Back to Basics” philosophy I’m reminded of each time I watch Mike Ferry take to the stage, the very picture of motivation and success. It seems the theme of each retreat goes something like: In order to remain relevant, we must embrace the new but remember it’s imperative to retain the fixed fundamentals that are time-tested, industry truths. Here are some of those “basics” I jotted down as I sat in the Superstar Retreat sessions this week:

  1. Work ethic. Mike Ferry, at 72 years old, still works as hard as he did 30 years ago. It’s an inspiring thing to behold someone who has such a strong commitment to work, just like our own Warren Buffett. Mike said your competition may have more innate talent than you do but tell yourself they’ll never outwork you and keep on pushing!
  2. The benefits of challenge. As an agent, going to a Superstar Retreat wiped out any feelings I had that were close to complacency or any ideas I had that I’d done really well for myself in real estate that year. There were so many people sitting in the room who had done so many more transactions than me, whose business was even better than mine. This goes back to the idea of humility and a concept I feel is so important, it gets a permanent spot on my email signature: “Don’t join an easy crowd … where the expectations are low … or where they don’t care … the problem with that is you won’t grow … go where the expectations are high … go where you’re challenged to study, to read, to change, to develop, to learn the next skill. Because it’s the challenge that creates the muscle. The mental muscle, the vocal muscle, the actual physical muscle to become better, stronger, wiser, more unique!”
  3. The worth of reunions. It’s funny how we can be so connected to friends and colleagues in this digital, social age and yet, so very disconnected at the same time. It’s nice to catch up with old friends via Facebook status updates but it’s even better to have a person-to-person interaction with them. At this Superstar Retreat, I was able to reunite with so many longstanding friends, deepening our connection and sense of trust in each other in a way no text on a screen could ever create. Tim Rohan, it was great catching up with you on Wednesday night and congratulations on being an MFO coach!


Just as we have spring training in baseball and training camp in football, we must prepare for a successful season ahead and to do that we must remember the basics, the elemental insights that have been proven over decades and centuries to create and foster success. They’re basic because they won’t fail you and they’re basic because the truth is, as Mike Ferry reminded me at this Superstar Retreat, they really work.

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

Thoughts on Leadership: Facebook and a Reminder for the Future

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me back at my Los Altos, CA home office following a restful family vacation in Hawaii. On Wednesday, I made a short drive to Menlo Park for a visit to Facebook and its sprawling, world headquarters.

I admire Facebook, its philosophy and corporate culture. From CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Sinmi Tinubu, an intern who helped greet my small group, everyone is encouraged to “be bold” and “focus on impact” – constantly collaborating and innovating to solve the most important challenges.

In fact, Facebook embraces a mindset that helps keep the company fresh and progressive in a tech world that quickly casts out those who don’t. Its phrase “this journey is 1% finished” reminds all involved that Facebook has only started to fulfill its mission: “To make the world more open and connected.”

The company’s iconic sign board outside its headquarters, at 1 Hacker Way, carries the mindset one step farther. On the reverse side remains the sign of Sun Microsystems, a pioneering computer and systems firm that used to occupy the premises before it collapsed and was acquired. The old sign reminds employees and others what can happen when you grow complacent and do not innovate.

As I toured the Disney-inspired facility – one of the coolest places in corporate America with colorful buildings, a Main Street with shops and cafes, wide-open work spaces, fun amenities and even a huge park atop the warehouse headquarters – I thought about how quickly Facebook arrived on the scene, how much it has grown and how disruptive it’s become.

“Attention is the No. 1 currency in our society before you tell me how great you are at what you do, or how great your service is, or what you do, or how nice you are dressed.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk, bestselling author, speaker and internet personality, said that the world trades on people’s attention and companies like Facebook have removed the middle man. It enables practically anyone with a laptop or hand-held device to reach any combination of people with low or no cost. “Attention is the No. 1 currency in our society before you tell me how great you are at what you do, or how great your service is, or what you do, or how nice you are dressed,” said Vaynerchuk in June at the Relentless conference, held in Southern California. “Before you do that, you need my attention to even tell me that.”

And Facebook is one of the primary conduits. It has changed the way many communicate, market and advertise. That’s why Vaynerchuk advises, “You are a media company first and then whatever else you do for a living because the cost of being in the media business is now zero in distribution opportunity and low in production.”

Vaynerchuk, like Facebook, has a watchful eye on the future. “Your entire life regardless of industry over the next decade will be eaten up by technology and either you’re on the eating side or you’re on the other side, and I don’t think that most people want [to be on that side],” he said.

I want to thank Facebook for an enlightening tour. We met with Client Partner Scott Shapiro, Industry Manager Keith Watts, and Client Solutions Manager Lindsay Mitchell, and each was incredibly welcoming and provided a wealth of information.

So, what’s the message? Facebook’s vision and its ongoing promise to innovate should provide inspiration for any business. Avoid complacency while embracing change, constantly questioning and testing the boundaries of your operation. Be on the “eating side” as Vaynerchuk urged, and thrive.

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

[Pictured in feature photo above: Gino Blefari (second from right) joins Facebook staff members (from left) Scott Shapiro, Sinmi Tinubu, Lindsay Mitchell and Keith Watts during his tour of Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.]

Thoughts on Leadership: Be Relentless

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Northern California for a lunch with best-selling author and communications guru, Carmine Gallo, then in Southern California—specifically in the City of Industry, CA—for Relentless. The annual event, through interactive educational sessions and keynotes, details ways attendees can navigate daily obstacles while improving their lives both personally and professionally. As always, it was hosted by my friend Danny Morel, also broker/owner at Intero Real Estate Services of Southern California and a real estate coach. I’ve known Danny for almost 20 years, even well before his Intero days and then when he came to own an Intero real estate franchise. Now, he’s crushing it in his brokerage’s market of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, on social media, and through the inspiration he imparts to tens of thousands of aspiring real estate agents nationwide.

Relentless is all about that passion Danny so clearly possesses, and it’s a passion not only to make his own wins a reality but also to help others accomplish their goals, too. I couldn’t have been more honored to join Danny onstage to talk about such an important topic.

“The quicker you realize this, the sooner you won’t be paralyzed by the thought of making a mistake in business.”

Also on the agenda for the day was keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder/CEO of VaynerMedia, four-time New York Times best-selling author and the leading expert on social media marketing. I’ve been following Gary’s no-nonsense philosophies on leadership, entrepreneurship and social media for a long time, ever since we had the chance to meet at a Tom Ferry event years ago, and it was motivating to hear him recount his ideas about relentlessness and the importance of resolute determination in the pursuance of personal and professional success.

Additional speakers included: Kelli Ellis, founding partner of Design Campus, The Design MasterMind and author of a best-selling design psychology coaching book; Iz Avila, one of the original developers of the Beats headphones and four-time Grammy award-winning producer; Greg Harrelson, an expert on developing talent and leadership to garner huge business growth; Alejandra Font, co-founder of Southern California’s fastest-growing fitness movement, The Camp; and John Tsai, who sold more than 100+ homes last year using the power of accountability.

For our Q&A session, I spoke with Danny about my own principles of success and how there are certain undeniable characteristics we must all possess to achieve. Together, we discussed what it means to live a life characterized by fierce relentlessness and how to have a lasting career in real estate, which often means pushing past insecurities and setbacks, and when faced with what may seem like overwhelming defeat, remaining relentless in the execution of your goals.

Honored to speak at the Relentless event today, hosted by my friend Danny Morel! Next up on the stage: Gary Vaynerchuk,…

Posted by Gino Blefari on Thursday, June 1, 2017

So, what’s the message? Recognize that losing and defeat are close relatives of triumph and that they will always be necessary components in the much larger picture of enduring success. As Gary Vaynerchuk once wrote in a blog post on his site, “The quicker you realize this, the sooner you won’t be paralyzed by the thought of making a mistake in business.” Because being inexorable in the pursuit of your goals means not being afraid to fail. It also means fully understanding that a letdown isn’t a loss, it’s merely another opportunity to dust yourself off, pull it together and, in the spirit of true relentlessness, try again until you win.

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