A Letter from Leadership: Dalton's Dream

While it is not typical for any of us, and especially CEOs, to share our personal dreams within the workplace for fear of political correctness or worse, I feel compelled to share a recent nocturnal hallucination as it has to do with the Real Living Luxury Lifestyle Division. Hopefully my recalled dream and this unexpected form of communication, might heighten interest in our recently developed and introduced Real Living Luxury Lifestyle Division … here goes!

In my dream I was brought before the “Truth in Advertising” court and challenged to defend the introduction of the Real Living Luxury Lifestyle Division. My judicial encounter however unfolded more as a nightmare as you will understand by the following transcript:

Judge Jones:

Mr. Dalton, how can Real Living claim to have a luxury lifestyle division? Especially considering how your Real Living brand was indirectly and informally influenced by two former brands neither of which symbolized luxury real estate. One of those brands was symbolic of mainstream America and the other for middle-of-the road automobiles and finance.  Moreover, you do not appear to have anywhere near the number of million and multi-million-dollar listings as do the other brands. Ironically these other so-called upscale brands here in court today, don’t even claim to have divisions. Instead, they only promote that they have luxury marketing without bringing lifestyle into the mix. What say you?

Defendant Dalton:

Mrs. Jones, or rather Your Honor, Real Living is the most natural brand for the upscale market because of the words that describe our organization and our division, which represents luxury lifestyles. With all due respect, if anything, you might consider asking these other brands to defend their presumptuous and excessively elite selection process along with the dismissive assessments they make every year regarding the merit of thousands of remarkable luxury lifestyles that to them do not qualify for their elevated marketing and rarefied categorization.

Judge Jones:

Oh, so I guess it should be up to you or Wendy Durand or Marie Cabo to define luxury. Or is it just because of your name alone that you believe that every home you represent automatically constitutes luxury … or Real Living? Mr. Dalton are you basing your decisions of what makes a luxury lifestyle based upon etymological research on the interplay and interconnectedness of the words “Real,” “Living,” “Luxury” and “Lifestyle,” or the gosh darn property itself?

Defendant Dalton:

What does that word “etymological mean Your Honor?

Judge Jones:

Essentially the history of words.

Defendant Dalton:

Well since you mentioned the importance of the history of words I did some research. According to WebsterBusinessDictionary.com and the Cambridge dictionary, I learned the following:

That “Real” can mean very, extremely or especially as in … get real. “Living” can mean existing, and “Luxury” can mean something adding to the pleasure or comfort of something, but that is not necessary. “Lifestyle” is widely defined as the way in which a person lives.

Judge Jones:

This is beginning to sound like jabberwocky or real estate gibberish, please get to the point.

Defendant Dalton:

Your Honor, there are millions of homes that I believe are so “real” that they belong in an “especially” or “Real” category, not only because of the physical structure but also the overall and special lifestyle they represent. Also, there are millions of homes and their surroundings that go well beyond what is “necessary,” making them luxury lifestyles that are being under appreciated and under marketed by our industry.

And finally, “lifestyle” meaning the way that one lives, must by definition include more factors than square footage, curb appeal and arresting amenities within the domain. Therefore, we must rethink, recalibrate and re-engineer our approach to marketing homes, which is not only good for our home sellers, but also will help to improve the perception of our marketing value. Such re-engineering means re-evaluating how millions of homes have been defined or labeled for decades.

By making our marketing more magnanimous your Honor, we will appropriately be honoring more lifestyles and greater numbers of people whose new-age real estate decisions coincide with a mass movement that displays preference towards selecting overall lifestyles versus making life-altering decisions based upon the myopic attraction to the property alone.

Judge Jones:

Allan, I have a three-bedroom home on a little less than an acre that we purchased two years ago for $350,000. It is located in a section of town that has many million-dollar homes. We are close to Whole Foods, the museum and the most beautiful park. I know we would not qualify for the programs of these other real estate companies, but would Real Living, if you will forgive the pun, judge our property as a luxury lifestyle?

Defendant Dalton:

We would not put our luxury lifestyle sign rider on our iconic Real Living sign or create a customized luxury lifestyle marketing program if we did not understand how luxury lifestyles do not begin or end at the curb. I’m happy to come to your home personally and together we can evaluate.

Judge Jones:

Case dismissed.

Mr. Dalton, would you please approach the bench? Allan, here is my contact information. We want to sell, especially after hearing your expanded view of the meaning of Lifestyle.

Also, I don’t know if you have any program like say a Neighbors Know Best or something like that one in which you could ask for testimonials from my neighbors about our overall lifestyle. I think this would help because all of us believe we are enjoying Real Living at its best and are the fortunate residents of luxury lifestyles.

Ring, ring, ring. And then my alarm clock went off.
All my best,

 

Allan


Allan Dalton on Image vs. Value

Image vs. Value

Our industry is prodigiously photoshopped, resplendently dressed and we essentially (along with Hollywood) invented personal promotion.

Moreover, we have been writing self-glowing reviews for decades, and the highways and byways throughout our local communities are brimming with BMWs and a litany of other luxury automobiles.

We are universally polite, the world’s leader in thank-you notes (thank you Brian Buffini) and we are keeping the calendar and refrigerator magnet sectors in business!

No, we do not have an image problem. Our challenge is that we do not do a similarly outstanding job in promulgating our value. Regrettably, many consumers from where I sit still perceive a real estate transaction as a fee-inflated event that they must subsidize to promulgate an inefficiently-run industry.

Or, if you prefer, consumers believe they are paying too much for our services.

If consumers think all they are receiving are our services – as remarkable as “we” believe them to be – then to them, they are paying too much.

How do we begin to change the perception of many consumers that they are paying too much for real estate services?

1. Stress our skills of negotiating, marketing, merchandising and networking far more than the value of our service.

Service must be the frosting on the cake and not the cake.

Our greater value, like other professionals we romantically refer to as our contemporaries – doctors and lawyers – should be a reflection of our outstanding skills rather than our exceptional service.

Consumers believe we are charging surgeon-like fees while we are myopically celebrating our outstanding service. Bringing the bedpan, as indispensable as it may be, does not enjoy the same value as performing surgery or prescribing the proper medical course of action.

I know this first-hand, as many of you also do, as last year I donated my kidney to my wife and the word “service” never came up. Instead, we were seeking, and very content in paying, commensurate skills.

2. Begin referring to listing presentations as “marketing proposals.”

A listing presentation is about you, your company and what you have done in the past. A marketing proposal is about their home, your marketing and what you will be doing now.

3. Change your thinking from “homes do not sell because of price” to “ineffective marketing.”

Why? Because price is just one part of marketing. Remember the 4 Ps of marketing: Price, Product, Placement and Promotion. If all four Ps do not enter into success or failure when marketing a home, we are inadvertently undermining our own value. Additionally, you are charging a ‘marketing fee’ or a ‘pricing fee?”

4. Begin to refer to the individual who represents the seller as the marketing agent vs. the listing agent.

When consumers hear us ask “who is the listing agent?” it reduces the value of the entire industry. Language like the listing agent suggests one’s job is complete with the securing of the listing agent. You do infinitely more than merely list the home and it’s time you get more credit and higher value.

5. Stop “servicing the listing.”

Just as Elsa in Frozen sang, “let it go, let it go, let it go!” How about letting go of this all-time value killer? Rather, you serve and service (in most cases, represent) your clients, you do not service your listing. Without this more accurate language, you underserve your higher value.

Similarly, an open house should not represent how you are servicing your listing. Rather, it is merely one element in the marketing of the property while in the act of representing your home seller (if that is the agency relationship you are in).

Another example of greater value positioning is when you are introducing your property to the world of buyers through realtor.com. Again, your decision to differentiate your property on the site is one that reflects upon your overall marketing strategy to represent and service your clients and not the listing.

If you think such advice represents a distinction without a difference or is a matter of mere semantics, then please consider the words of Confucius: “All wisdom begins by properly naming things.”

6. Shift from celebrating how you “sell more homes” to how you “market your homes for more.”

This is why I am forever proud to have spent several years with realtor.com® because you do not need the site to merely sell a home but rather to market your property for more by leveraging the laws of supply and demand.

Allan Dalton is the CEO of Real Living Real Estate. This article was originally published on April 18, 2019 on realtor.com.


A Letter from Leadership: Don't Let HomeLight Take Away the Spotlight on Your Credentials

Two personal examples of the resonance and relevance of real estate, were front and center this past football season. During the televised football games, two real estate-related commercials constantly appeared. One was a source of pride. As the former CEO of realtor.com I loved their ads that exclaimed that they are the, “Home of Home Search.”

The other oft-appearing commercial about HomeLight left me with mixed feelings. HomeLight, a seemingly honorable company, seeks to serve the public by algorithmically determining on their behalf who are the best real estate professionals. While I love the fact that someone finally, and on a big scale, is challenging the notion, if not the delusion, that all real estate professionals are alike, I also have concerns.

My concerns can be found in the specific difference between how realtor.com and HomeLight seek to serve consumers. While at realtor.com, I remember our metrics reporting that 98% of visitors to our site clicked on the “Find a Home” button and only 2% on the “Find a Realtor” button. My strong sense was that the 2% represented real estate agents checking on their bios.

Realtor.com attracts consumers based upon property search. The HomeLight differentiator is to encourage the search for the “best agents.” Defining who the best agents are is quite ambitious for the following reasons:

  1. Some agents focus on selling more homes rather than selling or marketing homes for more.
  2. Some team leaders who accrue credit for the volume of their transactions are akin to professors who have graduate assistants teaching their classes.
  3. Some agents market or sell fewer homes but get better results.
  4. No one can ever categorically document what any sold home might have been purchased for through a different agent or company.

Because homes are not stocks or commodities, it is impossible to declare any outcome as being superior to what other agents might have been able to achieve. My reason for expressing my thoughts is that while I believe that realtor.com and other third-party portals have ably served the public by extending the range and reach of homes for sale, I have concerns regarding any third party serving up who they believe are the best agents.

All this means is that all real estate agents will have to work even harder and more strategically to keep the spotlight on their credentials.

Allan Dalton

Chief Executive Officer, Real Living Real Estate


A Letter from Leadership: Let's Get More Political in Real Estate

by Allan Dalton

I have always been of the view that real estate professionals can learn a lot from politicians and politicians can learn even more from those of us in real estate. For those of you who are either disgusted, or who think all of politics is a joke, I disrespectfully say: I no longer approve of political jokes as I have seen too many of them get elected.

So why then, do we need more politics in real estate?

The reason is that approximately 90% of members of congress, down from a one time high of 98%, get re-elected. To the contrary and despite our decades’ old plea, “I want to be your real estate agent for life,” according to the National Association of REALTORS®, fewer than 13% in our industry enjoy a vote for their real estate candidacy the second time around.

One definition of politics is, “the activities, actions and policies that are required to hold power in government.” Notice how the definition is about holding power more than accomplishing anything. Speaking of activities and actions, elected politicians, given their insatiable desire for career longevity, have mastered the following:

  • Social media
  • Mobile and overall digital marketing
  • Networking, door knocking, direct mail
  • Hyper local targeted messaging and advertising
  • And, of course, prodigiously photoshopped personal promotion

They also invest in their campaigns. Above all, however, they are responsive to the needs of the community.

Being community centric is in the DNA of all politicians. Unsurprisingly the word politics is from the Greek word “affairs of the city.” I will leave the possible jokes that can result from that double entendre about affairs to others.

Seriously, if we are going to get elected and re-elected, then we must illustrate the same demographic acuity that is found in the political world.

Those who seek to gain and keep political office have distinct messaging for seniors, different income groups, ever-changing needs, as well as an overarching theme or campaign message. Their messaging, like all good advertising, is almost always consumer centric … as in “I love New York and not, “I love me.”

Therefore, I am pleased that Real Living can now reach out through Real Living. Real Answers.SM to people who are either downsizing, moving up, moving with children or pets, looking to develop a lifestyle plan for life or who relish the idea that where they live is where Real Living begins.

Additionally, we have two universal campaigns “Real Living, The Home of Lifestyle Advisors” or “Real Living, The Leader in Customized Real Estate.”

Where we can coach all politicians is on how we work together to get things done. We accomplish real and relevant results for the good of humanity because of the exemplary and highly ethical way we individually and collectively do business.

Indeed, we can all proudly point to the following:

That our industry is not known for scandals, deception, negative campaign advertising or being divisive.

The same cannot be said for our elected officials on either side of the aisle. In fact, as unifiers we represent the opposite. We as an underappreciated industry, masterfully and sensitively, unite the inherently divided or polarized interests of buyers and sellers.

Our immense professional and people skills enable us to majestically create an outcome whereby both parties leave the closing table or high-tech enabled transaction with smiles and gratitude.

We also differ in how politicians attend partisan-only conventions while we attend both brand-only as well as industry-wide gatherings. It is there where we continue to celebrate the most mutually respectful, collegial and collaborative of all professions.

Also, despite the realities of our competitive environments, we maturely put aside our company and political loyalties to the benefit of our clients and thus to the greater society; a society whose very economy is inextricably interwoven with real estate results. Politicians are compensated regardless of their governing success or failures. Because they are rewarded richly for their political strengths, this is where their remarkable talents lie, notwithstanding the lack of trust the public has in the political class.

Real estate agents, regardless of surveys, categorically engender trust. Therefore, consumers write checks and come into open houses as strangers. Experience has taught them that both their money and physical presence is safe with real estate professionals. Regarding trust, while it appears so few politicians seem to trust one another, real estate professionals embody complete trust in one another, in my opinion.

Throughout our industry all real estate professionals know that they can trust the referral they send to another professional. Such trust extends the referral to an agent that they may not have never met and who lives and works thousands of miles away.

Real estate professionals have come to learn, and deeply appreciate, that after the transaction – regardless of the brand or brokerage affiliation or how formal or informal the referral was – that the referring agent will be paid a referral fee.

While I do wish that we would be more political to protect our “books of business” from all potential disrupters, it is even more important that politicians might learn from us and govern themselves with the same ethics and ethos replete throughout our industry … and that is no joke!

See you in California at the Real Living Real Estate Connection convention, where we will introduce programs designed to help you get new and renewed clients. And … please leave your politics at the door.


Real Living Real Estate Applauds Network Agents Honored with the NAHREP Top 250 Latino Agents Award

Real Living Real Estate is proud of the three network sales professionals who ranked among the top 250 Latino agents by number of transactions in the U.S. as tracked by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals® (NAHREP®).

The honorees include Andres Serafini of Real Living at Home Real Estate, The Washingtonian Group located in Chevy Chase, MD ranked No. 26; Marisol Franco, Real Living Real Estate Professionals in Wilbraham, MA ranked No. 112; and Daniel Llerena, Real Living at Home Real Estate, Chevy Chase, MD, No. 134.

“We are incredibly proud of these exceptional network agents and the wonderful service they provide to their clients,” said HSF Affiliates CEO Gino Blefari. “Their inclusion on NAHREP’s prestigious lists underscores their skill and dedication to their profession.”

Now in its seventh year, the NAHREP Top 250 recognizes agents whose hard work and dedication has led them to close an outstanding number of transactions in an effort to increase the rate of sustainable Hispanic homeownership in communities across the country.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to work among the talented individuals who represent the diversity we seek in our network,” said Teresa Palacios Smith, vice president of Diversity & Inclusion at HSF Affiliates. “Together, we are helping minority families achieve their homeownership dreams.”

 


Real Living Carolinas Real Estate Joins the Real Living Real Estate Brokerage Network

Real Living Real Estate welcomes Real Living Carolinas Real Estate to the network!

The brokerage remains independently owned and operated by real estate veterans James and Kathleen Rebhan and serves clients in the counties of Mecklenburg, Union, Iredell, Gaston, Cabarrus, Lancaster and York throughout the Carolinas.

Kathleen Rebhan said joining the Real Living brokerage network was a natural choice as both organizations share a common philosophy focused on the needs of clients. “Real Living is the most recognized and highest-rated brand among the only group that counts – consumers,” she said. “As a brokerage, we understand that leveraging the Real Living brand name, as well as the support of its parent companies, would position the company competitively in the Charlotte market.”

Jim Rebhan added that the brand will appeal to buyers throughout the bustling Charlotte area. “We believe that people moving to the Carolinas will place more value on a brand that connects with clients and the reasons they move,” he said. “Charlotte is a world-class leader in financial services and other industries, and an incomparable hub of opportunity for families and individuals looking to call the region home.”

“Real Living Carolinas Real Estate brings a unique consumer-centric approach that strongly aligns with the Real Living brand,” said Allan Dalton, chief operating officer of Real Living Real Estate. “The brokerage accepts that as lifestyle advisors they’re doing more than marketing homes, but instead marketing overall lifestyles. To many people in the region, and particularly Charlotte, the Carolinas represent where real living begins.”

The full-service brokerage is proud to be nationally certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Greater Women’s Business Council® (GWBC®), a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates, congratulated the Real Living Carolinas Real Estate on its network membership. “Kathleen, Jim and their team are highly-respected in the metropolitan Charlotte marketplace and we’re excited to help them grow within their dual-state region.”

Visit www.RealLivingCarolinas.com for details.


New to the Network: Real Living Home Realty Group

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 independent brokerage Properties at the Market Common has joined the network. Real Living’s newest member will operate as Real Living Home Realty Group.

“We’re proud to be joining the Real Living Real Estate network family,” said Jim Parker, co-owner. of Real Living Home Realty Group. “We see this relationship as an opportunity to leverage Real Living’s marketing tools and industry resources. Working with Real Living will expand our reach and help even more homebuyers and sellers in the Myrtle Beach area.”

The brokerage already has a long-standing reputation for connecting with the community and local businesses through its print and online publication, The Insider at the Market Common. The Insider has a readership of over 77,500 and is currently mailed to over 21,000 residences and businesses; 10,000 copies are distributed through 100+ business locations along the Grand Strand.

With their membership in the network, the brokerage will also benefit from Real Living’s comprehensive and integrated suite of resources aimed at helping real estate agents and their clients successfully navigate the home buying and selling process. The technology and systems provided by Real Living will allow the brokerage’s current agents to provide an even higher level of support to clients while encouraging new agents to join the brokerage.

“The Real Living brand is synonymous with lifestyles. Real Living Home Realty Group is a natural fit to market the distinctiveness of Myrtle Beach and the surrounding communities,” said Allan Dalton, chief operating officer of Real Living Real Estate.

Robert McAdams Jr., president of Real Living Real Estate, welcomed Real Living Home Realty Group to the network. “We look forward to providing this already exceptional firm the support it deserves to grow even further,” he said. “We’re thrilled they’ve chosen Real Living and we’re confident they’ll continue their tradition of serving the community of Myrtle Beach under the new name and brand.”

CEO of HSF Affiliates Gino Blefari added, “Jim and the Real Living Home Realty Group team will be exceptional ambassadors for the Real Living network and we’re excited to support them in their strategic growth.”
Real Living Home Realty Group will celebrate joining the network with a community ribbon cutting in the spring of 2018. Details regarding the event, the new branding and new opportunities to work with the brokerage will be available online atwww.reallivinghomerealtygroup.com.


Thoughts on Leadership: Altruism and Tragedy

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in San Diego for the 2017 AREAA National Convention. The conference focused on how real estate can better serve buyers and sellers of diverse backgrounds and I was honored to participate in a panel discussion about the Fair Housing Act, created to ensure homeownership for all. The onstage dialogue was detailed and thoughtful, meant to get to the core of the Fair Housing issue and figure out how we can create a better way to protect renters and buyers from unlawful discrimination.

Next, my itinerary would’ve taken me to Las Vegas for the Zillow Group Broker Forum. The event is invite-only and happens each year, bringing together the nation’s largest brokers to meet with Zillow Group executives and industry leaders to share ideas about trends in real estate. It would’ve been enlightening and informative, I’m sure, but Monday morning I received an email the event was cancelled, and the cancellation was of course the right thing to do.

As you know, Sunday night marked the largest mass shooting in our nation’s history and on behalf of our organization, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the awful tragedy in Las Vegas. This entire week has felt expectedly heavy on our hearts as the country mourns great losses, consoles and slowly, somehow attempts to heal.  

It’s incredible to me that while our world turns ever-tech—more connected, more digital—that when true darkness falls, we find bright spots not in the light from our cell phones but in the lights of those shining, valiant leaders who step up amid tragedy and show unyielding compassion, bravery and poise. We’re not defined by the technology we possess but by the character we display, and stories about the incredible heroes of the Las Vegas shooting prove that fact now more than ever before. I just read an article about the police officers who willingly put themselves in harm’s way by entering a hotel with reports of an active, heavily armed shooter inside. Now that’s leadership and heroism at its finest.

The idea of the unselfishness of people is actually one that is central to our industry. When you think about the essence of real estate, we are not really in the business of buying and selling homes, we are in the business of helping others. We assist buyers, we assist sellers; we help people and always will. Those interested can contribute to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund here.

So what’s the message? This week, I’ll keep it short because the focus must remain on the fallen and wounded in Las Vegas. But as I said, there is goodness that can be derived from such tragic horror and it’s found in the unwavering selflessness of people ready to help those in need.

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


Allan Dalton Named as COO of Real Living Real Estate Brokerage Franchise Network

HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates the real estate brokerage franchise networks Real Living Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Prudential Real Estate, announced the appointment of Allan Dalton as chief operating officer at Real Living. Dalton, reporting to network president Bob McAdams, will oversee franchise sales and, with McAdams and the team, is working to reposition Real Living for long-term growth. He will remain as a special consultant to Gino Blefari, president and CEO of HSF Affiliates.

Dalton has served HSF Affiliates in a consulting role for two years. Working with McAdams and the Real Living team, he is re-engineering Real Living to offer maximum branding flexibility for franchisees. This will enable new brokerages to retain more of their local identity when they join the network, such as incorporating their existing logos and brand identity with the familiar Real Living markings and tagline, “A Real Living Network Member.” It will also help the brand to attract more independent brokerages that want brand support and resources without compromising their unique brand identity, and will establish Real Living’s new direction, “The Leader in Customized Real Estate.” The brand transformation will be introduced later in the fall.

“Allan knows the real estate business from so many angles – he’s a true asset,” said Gino Blefari, president and CEO of HSF Affiliates. “His energy and ideas are already shaping our Real Living network and value proposition.”

Dalton brings a wealth of real estate experience to his position. He is the former CEO of realtor.com and past president and co-owner of a 32-office Regional Brokerage – Murphy Realty Better Homes and Gardens. He was also named by the National Association of REALTORS as one of the real estate industry’s 25 most influential thought leaders.

“Real Living has developed many exceptional programs and services and Allan will help us better communicate Real Living’s value within our network and to consumers and prospective franchisees.”

Dalton, a former draft pick of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, brings with him deep branding and franchising experience. While growing Murphy Realty, he was credited with creating the Better Homes and Gardens Pacesetter networking group, and co-created its business-to-consumer marketing systems. As a consultant to Cendant (now Realogy), Dalton co-created national marketing systems for NRT, Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA.

Dalton, author of several books on real estate, is a former SVP for NRT, president of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty and chief marketing officer of RISMedia. He is also a sought-after public speaker for the real estate industry.

Such experience, leadership and industry-wide respect will help Real Living blossom in the months and years ahead, said Blefari. “Allan possesses a remarkable ability to construct, package and present a real estate value proposition,” he explained. “Real Living has developed many exceptional programs and services and Allan will help us better communicate Real Living’s value within our network and to consumers and prospective franchisees.”

McAdams said Dalton is an ideal fit for the brokerage franchise network. “I worked directly with Allan the past several months to reposition Real Living,” he said. “The experience was terrific and made it clear we needed Allan to help us grow the network as ‘The Leader in Customized Real Estate.’ Of course, Allan’s knowledge of the industry, of consumers and of the web and emerging technologies will help us in our ongoing strategies and planning.”

Dalton said he’s excited to join HSF Affiliates and the Real Living brand. “Real Living has attracted a legion of fiercely loyal brokers and associates who possess a deep connection to the brand and to one another,” he explained. “Their integrity, independence and optimism make it inspiring to work with them and for them.

“Of course, having the full support of Gino Blefari and the broader HSF Affiliates team bodes extremely well for the long-term growth prospects Bob and I see for the Real Living Real Estate network,” Dalton added.


Thoughts on Leadership: Clear Your Mind

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels unexpectedly find me working from home, and not, as originally planned, meeting in Miami. My event was canceled due to Hurricane Irma and its impending destruction and my thoughts are with those in Florida currently dealing with the terrible aftermath of the storm. On behalf of our entire organization, our prayers go out to all of you.

The unanticipated change in schedule did afford me days to fall back into my usual routine, which starts with a 5 a.m. visit to Starbucks, my dog Kona by my feet, writing in my journal and doing my meditation and prayers.

I actually enjoy time off—the hours before the work day starts, the weekends—because they’re opportunities to examine yourself and create a better you with a clear head. As I say, do stuff for yourself in the morning and things for everyone else in the afternoon. Why? Because you have a much greater chance of getting them done in the morning and less of a chance in the afternoon when interruptions often come up. In the morning, you can really focus on what’s working and what’s not working without the whirlwind of your daily activities pulling your thoughts in other directions. On weekends, on late nights and during those early morning hours, you can sit somewhere quiet and THINK. (Did you know Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up every day at 3:45 a.m.? Or that Xerox CEO Ursula Burns wakes at 5:15 a.m. for a workout?  Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey wakes up before the sun rises for a 6-mile run. I’d argue there’s a direct correlation between utilizing downtime and the success of your leadership.)

Every Saturday I ask myself this question: What am I doing in the upcoming week to improve so that I’m better than I was the week before?

This past weekend I was talking with my friend, David Bergman, during our weekly book club meeting. David was coughing so I asked what was wrong. “Dave, are you still not over that cold?” I said, because the week before he had been sick. “I am,” he told me, “I just ordered a mocha and I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to dairy.”

Right then I resolved to eliminate dairy from my coffee. It was a small discipline, a small change as a result of speaking with Dave but it will allow me to be a better version of myself in the weeks and months ahead.

In fact, here’s a change-oriented practice I employ from Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done: Set your alarm clock or phone to go off every hour during the day … that’s eight 1-minute check-ins. When the clock goes off, it’s your reminder to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate and refocus.

So, what’s the message? If you find yourself with a stretch of time where you can relax, make sure you use it as an opportunity to contemplate the current state of your mind and body. Make a small change to better your health, shift your mindset toward even greater positivity, think about ways you can be more productive in the week ahead. I promise you, when you next sit down to work, you’ll be glad you made good use of your time off.

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