Guest Blogger Cari Heibel – When Everything is Going Right, Make a Change

walking

My kids are back at school, the leaves are starting to change, and Summer is slowly fading into Fall. This time of year always causes me to pause and reflect. Recently, I was thinking about the professional moves I’ve made over the last 15 years in the real estate industry and I noticed something interesting. Each time I decided to make a move, two things were true.

First, each opportunity that I decided to take advantage of was one I needed to take a financial step back for, knowing it would bring me much further long term. And each time, I was excited to take that short term risk because I was able to see the long term benefit very clearly!

Secondly, each professional change came when everything was going exceptionally well and I was very content in my role. Somehow, despite being happy and successful, I was open to opportunity and ultimately, excited for a change.

So, it got me thinking, why do people decide to make a professional change or a life shift? It just so happens (and science shows) that change stimulates your brain, broadens your perspective, and boosts your performance!  And if you make the change at unexpected times, like when everything is running smoothly, it can be especially powerful! Who knew? It was what I was craving and I just didn’t know it!

Here is what I know today, I am a completely different person than I was 15 years ago, and much of it has to do with the challenges, experiences, and growth I had during these times of change. I am forever grateful I took the opportunities and that I embraced these times of change as they have stretched me and helped me reach levels of achievement that I didn’t even know were possible.

And as easy breezy as that story is, I get it, you probably aren’t always jumping for joy when thinking about making a change. After all, change is a bit scary and definitely pushes you outside of your comfort zone. These are the challenges that come with change.

Remember – what you focus on expands!  So I am going to give you something else to focus on… change prevents you from getting stuck or losing steam. It takes your skills to the next level and boosts your confidence!

For example, after a year or so at your job you tend to feel a sense of competency and steadiness that is reassuring. Gradually, though, your work starts to feel routine and you become comfortable. This is the time to shake things up and make some changes because you will be doing it while you are a high level of mental fitness and confidence. This type of forward-moving change will help you evolve, grow, succeed, and ultimately get you to reach your highest levels of achievement!

In fact, according to Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert and author, “The most successful and happy people are constantly evaluating themselves and their circumstances and are looking to make changes that will help them grow.”

You too, can embrace change, and benefit in a big way!  You see, the number one thing that holds people back from pursuing a positive, productive life shift or change, is doubt. We worry about things not working out or making our life or career worse. So, instead of allowing doubt to creep in, realize you are in control. You are choosing the change, you are doing so on your own terms, and it is going to work out in the best possible way for you because of this. You are making the change when you are competent, confident, successful and ultimately, empowered!

Here’s the truth – you are more flexible and adaptable than you give yourself credit for. Of course you can handle a change. In fact, there are no limits to the amount of changes you can make! Don’t underestimate your abilities. Don’t cheat yourself out of personal and professional growth by avoiding change! Embrace it, look for it, choose it at the most unexpected times, and watch who you will become along the way!

Cheers to your journey!

 


cari heibelCari Heibel was a Top Producing Real Estate Agent in the Twin Cities for 10 years prior to becoming the CEO of the Maple Grove office of Keller Williams. During those four years, the Maple Grove office became the number one office in the state of Minnesota in closed transactions. Cari has recruited over 500 real estate agents and assisted in the growth of over 50 real estate teams in the past four years.

As Director of Growth for Hergenrother Realty Group, Cari recruits and coaches all expansion Regional Directors and CEOs and assists them in growing their teams through recruiting and increased productivity.

Cari is also a coach and trainer for Adam Hergenrother Training Organization. Her next online course, Recruiting Without Limits, starts on October 24. Click here to register.

Connect with Cari at cari@herggroup.com.

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From Fat Kid to Freedom – How I Got Started in Business

grand opening party with Gov Scott

I get a lot of question from other entrepreneurs and business owners, but especially from the young guns – college seniors or recent graduates – about how I got started in real estate and development, and in general how I built multiple businesses. So, I figured I would take you all on a little journey down memory lane and show you exactly where I started and some of the pivotal moments and decisions that led me to where I am today.

This is a long one, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine (Mine? Pinot Noir), and get comfortable. It’s story time.

[1993] I’m going to take you back about 24 years to when I was in 6th grade. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s interesting now to look back and see that even then, I was a bit of a rebel. My mom found these forms that I had her fill out for me (i.e. leverage). Even then, at 12 years old, I refused to have anyone put a limit on my thinking. Cowboy? Model? Astronaut? Hell no. I was going to be a business owner.

[1996] School was never my favorite place to be (and that is definitely an understatement). I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs, smoking cigarettes heavily, and using food as a way to numb my feelings and escape from this life that I was living, but hated. I hated the way I was living for a long time and in the process ended up over 100 lbs overweight, failing classes, and driving a POS car. My self worth was non-existent, I was in a dark place in my life, and was completely unsatisfied by how my life was going. Enough was enough.

One day, when I was 15, I came home from school and just started crying. My dad found me like that in my room and said, “You have two choices. You can accept where you are or you can change.” There is that moment, and you know it when it happens and I’m sure you’ve had moments like this before in your life, when you’ve wanted to change, but nothing really happens. And then you’ve had those moments when you said, “F*$k it. No more.” And in that moment, your life changes forever. You are fully committed to the new direction and you cut ties, burn bridges, and leave behind the old you for good. That’s what I did that day. I stopped caring what other people thought of me. I stopped hanging out with my friends who turns out weren’t really friends after all (Quick side story: These “friends” broke into my car and stole all of my belongings which erupted into a series of fights over the next couple of weeks. My big brother had to come down from college with some of his friends, things got physical, and the police got involved. It was a total shit show. But I never backed down. I was committed to this new life. And eventually, they started bullying someone else.) I stopped letting other people dictate who I should be. From that moment on, I was determined to never let anyone put a limit on what I could do or who I could become. I was writing my own story.

[1997-1999] A year after one of the lowest points in my life, I was 100 lbs lighter – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I really started getting into sports at that point, hockey, snowboarding, and eventually settled on football. My Junior year we won the state championship and my Senior year I was Captain of the team along with a couple other guys. What a difference those friends were from the ones I was hanging out with before. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, right? Well, today, I am in business with two of those former football Captains. Pretty cool…

[2000] School and tests still weren’t really my thing. I wasn’t good at taking tests, so my SAT scores sucked. Combine that with the fact that my grades my Freshman year of high school were terrible. College was an option, but only in the guaranteed admissions program at the University of Vermont (UVM), which meant that I had to get a 3.0 my first year of college to be fully accepted as a student there. Challenge accepted. There were five people from my high school who did the guaranteed admissions program, but I was the only one to be accepted as a full time student. 3.2 GPA my first year. I’m really proud of that, because I had a clear vision and was going to work harder than anyone else to get there.

[2000] During my Freshman year at UVM, I had a friend who crashed on my couch, but didn’t actually go to school there. We all had one of those, right? He was selling cars and had this great opportunity for me to make a little extra money. We bought a car for $1000 – $500 cash in, each. It was all the money I had at the time (he was a good salesman!). So he bought the car, fixed it up, and sold it a week or so later and we doubled our money. What!? All I had to do was hand over some cash, do nothing else (I never even saw the car), and two weeks later my $500 was $1000. It was the first time I experienced leverage in the business world. But I would never have had that experience if I hadn’t been willing to take the risk. No risk, no reward. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me, so I kept putting the money I made back into more car purchases with my buddy. After about six months and grossing about $40,000 each, he didn’t need my capital contributions anymore and was going to move forward on his own. And that’s when I learned about the value of an agreement – putting this shit in writing! Though really, shouldn’t they be called disagreements? The only time you need that piece of paper is when you don’t agree.

[2003] So, I took my cash and bought a condo with my brother. It was a pre-construction unit (part of a large new condo complex) that we bought for $160,000. Brand new, spacious, great location… and once it was complete, we rented it out. Meanwhile, I was living in a basement (literally). I’d seen it before with the cars, so I understood how important it was to put money into the business or business deal first. Personal comfort be damned! Everything was going fine until 2005 when our note was pulled and we were forced to sell (yeah, we weren’t supposed to be renting the unit and the bank found out). I thought it sucked to have to sell when everything in real estate was booming! But, that peak, meant we ended up being the highest sale in that development for almost 10 years. Not a bad deal. Life was happening for us, not to us.

[2004] When I graduated college, I started working as a commercial underwriter. That only lasted six months. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say I was fired for sticking up for my mom. So there we were, both my mom and I, without jobs. But I just kept going. I found a great job with the help of my professor (Build relationships with your professors! They can do a lot more for you than you know!).

[2005] The new job was great. I was still a recent college grad, making $42,500/year, I had an assistant, and an 1.5 hour lunch break where I went to the gym (I wasn’t going to give up that habit!). I stayed there for about a year and a half. But there were limits that came with working for someone else, at least at that organization. I needed to be free to think and explore and experiment with my own ideas, my own business. I needed to be in control of my life.

[2006] So I did what every sane person would NOT do in late 2006, during one of the biggest, if not the biggest, real estate bubbles in history, I quit my job, became a Realtor, and started building a real estate team. Everyone thought I was crazy, including my parents, and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, they supported me, but they still thought I was crazy. I think Steve Jobs said something about the crazy ones changing the world, so it’s all good. Still, everyone tried to talk me out of the making this move and to go back to a stable job. I just said, “F*!k you,” as nicely as possible and just kept doing my thing and allowed their doubts to fuel the fire inside me.

[2006] My Papa really came through. He let me borrow $8000 to start my real estate business and I took $4000 of it and immediately flew to a Howard Brinton sales conference with my wife Sarah (who was my girlfriend at the time and was also getting back into real estate). Yup, I spent 50% of borrowed cash to invest into us and our education. It paid multiples. I remember being at the conference for about an hour and saying, “I’m good now,” because I had gotten so much info in such a short period of time. But we stayed, made connections, took a ton of notes and I started dreaming about being on stage like one of those top producing Realtors one day.

When I was back in Vermont, I put three homes under contract in my first 30 days of business. At the time, we didn’t even have an office yet and nobody knew who we were. Sarah and I worked from a 450 square foot apartment. I would lead generate for 10-13 hours a day, every day, until I had set one appointment. That’s why I never understand people who tell me that they lead generated for three hours and checked it off their to-do list. Well, did you set an appointment? If not, then you’re not done. We shouldn’t reward ourselves for the activities, but for the results! We just didn’t quit. We put our heads down and did whatever needed to be done to hit our goals. Our next step was getting an office and within a few months we hired an assistant. We still had very little money and I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to pay them, but I knew that we had to leverage out the administrative work, so we could go sell real estate and grow our business. I went through about five assistants in five months (that was a learning experience!) and hired a dear friend as my first Buyer Specialist who still works with me ten years later at KW Vermont and owns multiple other successful businesses.

[2009] I had a lot of success quickly. Within my first couple of years of real estate, I was the REMAX Associate of the Year, the NVBR Rookie of the Year, we had one of the top teams in New England, and I was named one of the nation’s Top 30 Under 30 Realtors by Realtor Magazine. The awards were great. People definitely knew who we were now. But it wasn’t enough.

top 30 under 30

[2010] I wanted more freedom, more growth, and more opportunity for myself and for those I was in business with, so I decided to open up the first Keller Williams Realty office in Vermont. The challenges with all of that definitely warrants a separate blog post! We had the fastest office launch in New England history. Brian, my business partner for KW Vermont, and I recruited 40 people in less than 3 weeks in a rented building with nothing but a folding table and a couple of rickety chairs. With only 400 Realtors in our entire real estate board (in about a 3 hour radius), I would say we did a damn good job! Anything is possible when you have a clear vision and are willing to do the work. Seven short (and long) years later, we are the largest real estate company in Vermont.

 

[2011] I founded Hergenrother Realty Group, currently the #28 real estate team in the country, with teams in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Idaho, and California, as well as Vermont.

[2012] I partnered with my brother, Tom, to start BlackRock Construction – a residential construction, commercial construction, and development company. We also partner with investors on several of our projects and host seminars on how to build wealth through real estate and development. BlackRock Construction was just ranked #42 on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of companies.

[2016] After training and teaching leadership and business classes around the country for years, I founded Adam Hergenrother Training Organization to reach an even wider audience through live training events, online webinar series, and one-on-one coaching. This month, we partnered with Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering to provide even more professional development opportunities through our organization.

Owning a real estate franchise, along with my real estate team, was the foundation for the rest of my entrepreneurial journey. From an early age, I was willing to take risks, reinvest my money into my business and into my training and education, and leverage jobs to other people. Several years ago I also learned the value of working ON the business, rather than IN the business and that is when I ultimately found freedom. I didn’t want to have a job, so before I started any new business, I always found a WHO first – someone else to run the company or research a new business venture. Freedom is what drives me. It drove me when I was 15 years old and I wanted to be free of the physical weight holding me down and free to create the life I desired. Freedom continues to drive me – financial freedom (the freedom to give by richly blessing other people’s lives), physical freedom, spiritual freedom to truly embrace other people’s growth and success, social freedom to experience the journey of life with other people when and where I choose.

And for all those young, aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners who want to know my secret to success? It’s simple – there is no secret – you’ve got to do the work, put in the time, do the activities (consistently), say no to late nights out and yes to early mornings of exercise and working on your personal development. Do. The. Work. There are no limits, except for those you impose on yourself. Either accept where you are or make a change. I chose to make a change and haven’t looked back.

AHC logo

 

What is Life?

family

Over the summer, my brother and I (and our better halves) threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my Mom and we flew our grandmother (Nanny) in from Texas. She was flying in from Dallas and I was on my way back from a business trip in Austin, so I had the privilege of meeting up with her in Atlanta and helping her get to Burlington, Vermont. We had a bit of a layover and some time on the plane, so I asked her… What is life?

I love asking that question to people who have much more wisdom and experience than I do. I mean, really, what is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of life… what is life? You may ask yourself that question from time to time (probably when you are going through something tough), but we really should be asking that question every day and then actually listening to the answer.

Which is exactly what I did with Nanny. When I asked her, “What is life?,” she paused for a while and responded with one word – family. But she then went on to explain: Life goes by in a flash, so enjoy all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because that is life. Never settle. Be grateful for what you have in the moment and the best part is that happiness can be found in any experience, it’s just our job to find it.

I think she was spot on.

Have you ever gotten a killer deal online for a $99 week-long vacation on a beautiful beach and the photos made it seem like it was the deal of the century and too good to be true? Turns out, it was. The place was a dump. But you had the best time ever anyway. Has that ever happened for you (see what I did there? It happened FOR you, not TO you). And why did you have the best time? Because you were surrounded with the right people – laughter, engaging conversations, adventure – those can happen anywhere, anytime. On the flip side, you can have everything money can buy in life and still be miserable because you are in relationship with the wrong people or missing a relationship with the right person.

Life is a journey, an experience, an experiment.

We all get so caught up in the BS of life that we forget to actually enjoy it and just live! There are moments of joy when life turns out exactly the way you wanted it to, but why can’t we enjoy it when it doesn’t? Most people are still trying to GET something from life instead of realizing that life is something we experience. And it’s the relationships that are the key – which is why Nanny first said FAMILY when I posed the question. Now, that doesn’t always mean that family or relationships are going to be prefect. Relationships will come and go, which is why the second component of experiencing it all (and not placing any judgement on it) is so critical. Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly – just like Nanny said. Don’t let life pass you by without embracing every moment.

Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile,
you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

So, what is life to me? Life is an experience that we witness to help shape us for our next celestial journey.

And let me just leave you with this. My man, Tony Robbins, always says that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions that you ask. So make sure you are planting incredible questions into your own mind every day and asking great questions to those in your world.

What is life for you? Take it even deeper. Ask yourself, “If I died today, would I be happy with all that I gave and with the legacy I am leaving behind?” If the answer is no, change your life today.

 

 

Guest Blogger Matt Bex: Overtime, Over Time, is Overrated

overtime

I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of books that talk about grinding, hustling, and working your ass off. Go in early, stay late, repeat. I agree, at the end of the day, most people lack the work ethic required (especially long-term) to be as successful as they say they want to be.

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot over the past three days after dropping my oldest son off at kindergarten this week. For me, being a great husband and dad, getting enough sleep, and improving myself every day matters more than work. I love real estate. I’ll be nest, some days I love it more than my kids! But the reality is, if you don’t find that balance, if you’re not fulfilled on a personal level, you’re not going to be the best you can be on a professional level.

As we head into this holiday weekend, I want to leave you with this: Overtime is overrated. Overtime, over time, is highly overrated. You don’t have to be a workaholic to work super hard. The grind and the hustle have to be purposeful. When we’re hustling, we often neglect the things that matter most. It’s okay to love your job. Take time this weekend to reflect on what truly matters in life. Be purposeful. Turn off your phone, pick up a book, and enjoy life. The grind will still be there on Tuesday, and after a long weekend of friends, family, and fun, you’ll be fulfilled and ready to hustle even harder.

Make it a great weekend and a great holiday everyone!


ABOUT MATT BEX

matt bexMatt Bex is the CEO of Hergenrother Realty Group at KW Vermont.

Matt is an active duty military veteran and is married with five children under five years old. Matt has lived in Alaska for the past nine years and is excited to return home to the east coast, as he and his wife, Martina, grew up in upstate New York. While in Alaska, Matt built a $30M real estate team in three years, and was also a KW ALC Member, the chair of the Technology Committee, an Ignite Instructor, and a four-time BOLD graduate.

Matt loves learning, building businesses, finding new opportunities to lead, teaching others, trying new restaurants with his wife, playing with his kids, and fly fishing.

If you are interested in a career in real estate, please contact Matt at mattbex@herggroup.com.

What Emotional Wake Are You Leaving Each Day?

wake

Last week I was in the wild woods of Canada on vacation with my family. No WiFi and limited cell phone service (except for this one spot on the edge of the woods where if I stood just right I could get a few bars). There is nothing like being basically off the grid, using solar power, to help you unplug and decompress. If nothing else, it gives you a lot of time to think!

I thought about family. I thought about my business. I thought about systems and controls. I thought about integrity. And, because we we weren’t distracted by TVs, email, or iPad games, we did a lot of face-to-face communication. So, I thought a lot about the power of words.

If you’ve ever read Fierce Conversations, you know that two of the core concepts are that the conversation is the relationship and that you must take responsibility for the emotional wake you leave.

Simply put, words hold a tremendous amount of power. Are you wielding that power responsibly?

Words leave a ripple effect on the person you are communicating with, just like the wake of a speed boat. Every comment, every email, the tone of your voice, etc. leaves an emotional wake – and it can change a person’s life, positively or negatively.

You get to decide what effect you want to leave on others. It’s your choice. You can either be careful or careless with your words and either one can spiral. Let me give you two examples:

  1. You walk into a gas station and someone opens the door for you, you walk right through and don’t even say thank you. You’re short with the cashier as you purchase your coffee and fail to make eye contact as you’re scanning your phone. That cashier, impacted by your rudeness, is short with the next customer in line. That customer walks out the door and doesn’t hold the door open for the couple behind him. As the door slams in that couple’s face, the man mutters something derogatory under his breath and then gets into a fight with his wife because she doesn’t like it when he talks like that… You see where I’m going here. One comment, one rude interaction on your part, sets off a whole chain reaction.
  2. You walk into a gas station and someone opens the door for you, you thank them and smile as you walk up to the cashier to pay for your coffee and gas. You ask how they are doing and thank them before walking out. The cashier, uplifted by your kindness and the fact that you actually made eye contact and connected with them, is pleasant to the next customer in line. That customer walks out and holds the door for the couple behind him who thank him and reach for each others’ hands as they walk towards their car… Again, one comment, one positive interaction on your part, sets of a whole chain reaction.

It can go either way. It’s your choice. You can’t control other people’s reactions or actions. But you can control your own and be committing to making a positive impact with your words. In one moment you can changes someone’s attitude. In one moment you can change someone’s life. Will you choose to be kind or to tear someone down?

As you grow in a leadership role, your emotional wake continues to increase. Your words will carry more weight. Every word needs to be thought about before you speak or press send on an email. In times of stress or challenges, this becomes especially critical. As a leader, you cannot allow yourself to blow up – not in public, not in private. Hurtful words, half-truths, bulldozing, evasive maneuvers, etc. will be with people forever. It’s not always the word itself, but the meaning that the individual you are speaking to associates with that word. If you aren’t speaking the same language (i.e. different meaning for different words) and you aren’t conscious of the impact your words have on others, you can do some major damage to your kids, your friends, your family, your team, and your business partners. But if you are conscious of the power of words, you can do some serious good!

What type of emotional wake do you leave every day? Be honest with yourself. I’m sure you can do better. We all can. The first step is awareness. So know this, every word you speak can change someone’s life – just make sure it’s in a positive direction.

 

 

Winners Want the Process, Not the Prize

sumit

“The summit is for the ego, the journey is for the soul.”

You know when you’ve had a long day, or an argument with a family member, or even when you’re celebrating a promotion and you circle around the dessert table and after about seven minutes you pick up a brownie and take a bite and then you keep eating it and you don’t even know why and you don’t taste it anymore (it doesn’t even taste good!) and you’re only feeling pissed at yourself for having taken that first bite in the first place!?

You know what I’m talking about. And you know why you get so pissed eating that brownie? Because you let your mind win! You had goals, needed to stick to your nutrition or training plan, and you talked yourself out of it. You gave in. You didn’t earn it. You broke.

We live in a world of instant gratification and overnight successes. There is an illusion that the faster, easier, less complicated way is better. But it’s not. I guarantee that if I gave you all $1 Million right now you might appreciate it for about an hour (okay, maybe a week); you will think your dreams have been realized and that you got the feeling of success you were after – but that’s just not true. You didn’t earn it. If you don’t earn it, it doesn’t feel nearly as good. In fact, you may even get depressed or frustrated by being handed what you thought you wanted. What you were really after was the growth, the learning opportunity, and the experience, not the cash!

Let me give you a couple of examples. Did you know when people win the lottery, that they are in a worse off financial position after 10 years than before they won!? It’s because they did not earn the right, they did not become who they needed to be in order to handle that kind of money. The same happens to professional athletes. Have you noticed how many go bankrupt? They are handed million dollar contracts without having gone through the girt and grind of building a financial model or the financial knowledge in order to manage it properly.

Whether you eat a brownie that you weren’t supposed to, had an unexpected windfall, or took off three unplanned days of workouts, it might feel good in the moment, but you are going to be kicking yourself later.

Being handed what you think you want is never really what you want.

Success is hard; it’s a struggle. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this, but I think it bears repeating. Those “overnight” successes? They worked their asses off. You have to choose your struggle. Choose what you will say no to, and consequently, choose what you will say yes to. When you look back ten years from now and see the struggle, the grind, the success, the failure, the results, the setbacks, etc. that you had along the way you will be thankful for those experiences and the journey. I never fear losing money or going bankrupt, because I know that I have the knowledge and skills to build it back up again, no matter how fall I’ve fallen. Because I’ve done it before. If success had just been handed to me, I wouldn’t be able to say that, nor would I have the confidence to go out there, take risks, write checks, and break necks.

You’ve got to earn the right to success. Sure, it gives you more credibility in the marketplace, but more so, it gives you the confidence you need to get shit done and to weather the storm. On your journey you must find models (and role models), systems, and rules to guide you which all starts with daily habits and activities. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing really worth having ever is. Find the biggest and best habits to support your journey, your struggle, your growth, so that when you do get there, when you do earn that right, you’ll be able to enjoy every bite.

 

Lessons From the Finish Line: What I Learned From Completing My First Ironman

Well, my first Ironman has come and gone. Nine months of discipline and training for 10 hours, 50 minutes, and 43 seconds of pure execution. People keep asking me what it felt like to cross that finish line. Did I feel relief? Or euphoria? Or pride? Or a sense of accomplishment? Or joy? I guess I felt a little of all of those things. I was honored to be able to run into the oval and see my coach, John Spinney, my beautiful wife, Sarah, my parents, my brother, and my friends. But as I stepped over the finish line, and before I even clicked STOP on my watch, I mostly felt like I needed to sign up for another Ironman. I feel like I have more to do, more to accomplish. I’m not done with Ironmans, yet. And yes, I’ve already registered for the Lake Placid 2018 Ironman.

So, let me take you on a little journey through Ironman #1 and what I learned along the way.

PRE-RACE PREP —> All around me people were crazy nervous getting ready to plunge into Mirror Lake. Right before the swim, I sat down to stretch my feet and the kid next to me was shaking. Nervous energy comes out in weird ways for people and was pouring off the people around me. I stayed calm. I actually slept really well both nights prior to the race and was just grateful to be there, to be racing with all these incredible athletes, to just be physically able and ready to compete. I credit a lot of my calm state to my mediation practice. I’ve been practicing TM for several years now and it not only helps clear your mind and calm your body before you put your face in the water to swim 2.4 miles, but it helps in any business or life situation. Meditation helps you stay calm, which enables you to gain clarity and solve problems faster. We all know that when life hits, it’s about how you overcome those obstacles – either on the race course or in the board room, it doesn’t matter. Ironman training has given me a unique structure to push me to the next level of my emotional fitness, which ultimately just makes me a better father, husband, leader, person.

SWIM —> My swim time sucked and I’m committed to improving it for Ironman #2. I got caught in the middle lane and got slapped around a bit, but generally it wasn’t too bad except for when my goggles got kicked off on my second lap and I had to stop. Don’t ever stop in the swim lane! I learned that real quick. It was hard for me to get back into a rhythm on my second lap, but I just kept grinding and pushing through. Because that’s just want you do. I was very excited to get back on land where humans belong.

BIKE —> The first transition is long, but a great little run to get your legs ready for the bike. The bike ride was amazing – not much wind, perfect conditions, and closed to traffic. I felt super strong on both laps of the course and the time flew by. I had 3 or 4 bad patches during the hour and 20 minute swim, and only one bad patch during the five hour and 20 minutes of biking. Not bad! I was anticipating these bad patches – I knew they would show up and I knew they would go away, so I was able to keep working until I hit a good patch again. That’s such a great analogy for business and life. Rough patches show up and it’s about how we overcome them – do we show up, handle them, and push through or do we retreat and give up? Some days the wind is blowing in our favor and sometimes it’s a shit storm. Are you working constantly on your mental and emotional fitness so that these bad patches don’t derail your business or your relationships? I know I am.

RUN —> I was fired up and feeling strong after the bike and the first 5k of the run is mostly down hill so I was flying. One of the QT2 coaches basically stopped me and told me to slow the f*!k down. I looked down at my watch and I was at a sub 6-mile pace. So, yeah, I had to put on the brakes and back down to around 8 which is what my coach had set for my opening mile pace. Control my speed and maintain. Running a marathon after already swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles can be daunting to think about, so I broke it down into manageable tasks. In my mind – 26 miles just became 26 sets of one mile runs (thank you to Tim Snow for that little piece of advice!). I’m not going to lie, the run hurt. But I just focused on what I had practiced in training and just executed. The training, the practice, and the emotional fitness is what makes a top business leader. It is what makes an Ironman.

Overall, the Ironman was a day of celebration. My mantra throughout the day was, “My fitness will carry me through.” I was saying that a hell of a lot, especially on the second lap of the run when shit got real tough. I wasn’t nervous because I had practiced my emotional fitness, meditated, and put in the time. I knew I wouldn’t give up. It wasn’t even an option. The cool thing with Ironmans is that there isn’t any magic here. You’re not going to show up the day of the race and all of a sudden be a different person or be 10 times better than you were in training. Instead, you create who shows up on race day based on the level of intensity and disruption you create during your training days, weeks, and months. Actually, the biggest mistake people can have at Ironman is trying to be someone they are not on race day – going out too hard, thinking you can go harder than you can, instead of focusing on the execution of each activity. Being able to access your preparation and potential on race day is critical and that happens from mental control and emotional fitness. If you get too hyped up on the big day and put too much external pressure on yourself (like hitting a specific time) you can get paralyzed. It’s about the emotional fitness and the execution.

The emotional fitness and the mental challenge during nine months of intense training is much harder than it ever is on race day. Race day, the adrenaline is flowing, you’re excited, you have your family and 18,000 random people cheering you on, and you are about to compete. This is what it’s all about! The race is the easy part! It’s the six 100+ mile bike rides, the 20 mile runs, the 5000 yard swims week after week that suck. You’re all by yourself. No one is cheering you on. No one is motivating you. Embrace it. It’s a freaking grind and requires extreme amounts of focus, discipline, sacrifice, and time. But that is where athletes are made. They are not made at the finish line. They are made long before that, during the hours of training. Testing your limits, getting outside your comfort zone, experiencing the next level of you is what life is all about.

And by the way, this is what business is all about. It’s the day in and day out of how you show up. The number on your tax return or your next promotion are purely a result of the daily activities that you do. This is the grind, the hustle, the ability to be fearless and relentless, not for a short period of time, but every. damn. day. If you focus on your execution, you’ll be able to access the drive and clarity that you need. You’re not as good as you think you are on your best day and you don’t suck as much as you think you do on your worst day. You are who you are (physically, mentally, emotionally) in that moment based on the person you created through daily habits. You shape and control who you become. It’s easy to see it in the physical world, such as sports, but we sometimes lack clarity or vision to see it show up in our social, financial, spiritual, and professional self. This is why the daily activities, the daily habits are so important. Daily habits are who you are!

Want to know the secret to success in the Ironman, in life, or in business? Focus on the daily habits and activities that you can control. Commit to them and practice them over and over again over a long period of time. And when it’s time to step into the arena – draw upon all of your training and execute.

5 Tips to Keep New Hires Engaged Before Their Start Date

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Finding talent is hard (which is why I attend and teach a course several times a year designed to teach me how to recruit and hire). Keeping them excited and engaged when you’ve got them on the bench for five years is even harder (and the topic for another post). But, what I want to talk about today is what to do once you’ve made a hire, but there is a delay in their start date (for example, if they are moving across the country, need to give 30 days notice at their current job, or are waiting for a major bonus before making the move).

In the past three years alone, Adam Hergenrother Companies has attracted talent from Utah, Florida, Maine, Texas, Colorado, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota, Connecticut, as well as all across Vermont. The majority of these top candidates did not accept our offer on a Friday and start two Mondays later. Nope. Some of these candidates accepted an opportunity at our company and then joined us 30 days, 60 days, or even several months later.

The potential is pretty high for an employee to back out of an offer when they delay their start date more than a couple of weeks. But there are several things you can do to mitigate that risk. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources finding the right hire (or at least you should have!), it’s not going to hurt to put in a little extra time and effort to keep them engaged, excited, and ready to hit the ground running on their first day.

Here are 5 ways to keep your new hire engaged before their first day:

  1. ASSIGN A POINT OF CONTACT —> This can be the hiring manager, your HR coordinator, the employee’s new supervisor, or a team member who’s been working at your company for a while. It doesn’t really matter who it is, as long as the new employee has one point person who can answer all of their questions. These are probably not going to be compensation or job specific question. More often than not the new employee is going to want to know how long it will really take to get to the office in morning traffic? Do people bring their lunches or go out? Who should I email for XYZ? Are ties really optional? Having someone to answer these questions and someone they know will be a friendly face on the first day will work wonders in keeping the new employee connected even though they won’t be starting for 1-3 months. It is also the responsibility of the point person to check in once or twice a week via email, phone, or text to see how they are doing wrapping up their old job/packing up their house, make sure they have given their notice in the time frame they had originally indicated, make sure they are still excited and their mindset is right, as well as communicating any relevant information from the company.
  2. INCLUDE THEM ON TEAM COMMUNICATION —> Once your new hire is made, let the team know that they will be joining and when. In the meantime, start CCing them on everything relevant (and non-proprietary). I think this is a great way to get them feeling included immediately. Not only are you giving a new hire a glimpse into the assignments and projects that they will be working on, but on how the team communicates. Giving the new hire insight into the work load and work flow, gets them thinking about the company as theirs. It may even spark a brilliant idea that they can bring to the company and implement on day one. It also teaches them some of the language and culture of your company. Make sure you let them know that they aren’t required to participate, it’s just a way to get their feet wet as they make the transition.
  3. GET THEM INTO THE COMPANY RHYTHM —> Whenever possible, get your new hires on any calls or meetings that they can be on. One of our companies has a morning power-up and a weekly CEO call. Perfect. Have them dial in and listen. If there are monthly company meetings, either invite them if they are local or have them Skype in. Get as many daily, weekly, or monthly calls/meetings on their calendar as possible and have them jump in whenever they can. They have accepted the offer and want to be a part of the team – so get them connected and experiencing the rhythm of meetings, check-ins, etc. as quickly as possible.
  4. INVITE THEM TO TRAINING —> Whether it’s a live training, a webinar that someone from your team is hosting, or a national conference – get your new hire there. Again, it’s simply another touch point, a way for them to feel a part of the team, to start getting a feel for the work, and to understand the culture. Even better, they will get a jump on some of the company training before their first day. That’s a win-win for both of you.
  5. TAKE THEM TO LUNCH —> Lunch, dinner, cocktails, coffee… it doesn’t matter. Get your hiring manager or the new hire’s supervisor and the new employee together in an informal setting and let the conversation flow. This should be the same person as the point of contact in point 1 (and maybe even bring along a couple of other key team members). If this is a new hire that is relocating, instead of lunch, you could schedule an evening Zoom call when everyone’s relaxed and not distracted by the minutia of the work day. This is the opportunity for the new employee and the supervisor to bond early on and help the new hire prepare for their first day.

Okay, I know… this definitely seems like a lot, but you don’t have to do everything and in fact, your staff will do most of it! Pick one or two things that will work for you and that fit into your company culture. It’s worth the time to nurture your new hire and bring them into the fold, especially when they won’t be starting right away.

Now that you’re armed with these tips, don’t ever let the timing of a new hire stop you from bringing the very best of the best into your world. Top talent will be ready when the right opportunity comes their way. Top employers will wait a few weeks longer for top talent if they have to.

3 Ways To Be Relentless in Pursuit of Your Goals

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I finished Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover last week and I can’t stop thinking about the book. So much of what Tim talks about resonated with me – the hunger, the drive, the desire to accomplish more, better, faster.

This quote really stuck out to me: “Being the best means engineering your life so you never stop until you get what you want, and then you keep going until you get what’s next. And then you go for even more.” That’s being relentless.

Some people hear the word relentless and it sparks a fire in their belly and lights them up! Others, hear relentless and immediately conjure up images of destruction and mayhem and ruthless Spartan warlords. Good or bad, being relentless is a core part of my being. And it’s a double-edge sword. Or maybe, it’s just one coin with two sides… Relentless means never giving up until you get what you want, but it also means you may disregard the consequences and hurt some people along the way. Results first. Always.

The author of the book, Grover, worked with professional athletes – mostly NBA players like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Those guys were relentless. They showed up and did the work and listened. Those were Grover’s only requirements. And that’s exactly what Kobe and Jordan did over and over again. They were not satisfied with one practice a day, they hit the gym three times. They were not content with one championship ring, but kept pushing until their hand was covered with them. Hours after hours of practice at one thing. They did not slack off. They did not back down when it got too hard. They put in the time, withstood the grind, and became unstoppable.

Being relentless means getting results and not settling for good or great, instead spending the time on mastering your craft and becoming the best – becoming unstoppable. The really cool thing is that anyone can be relentless, but very few people ultimately have what it takes to get there. Because it takes time! It’s about who can stay in the game long enough – who can finish the job. Anyone can start something when it’s new and shiny and exciting, but very few can stomach the grind and keep going in order to finish.

Do you have what it takes to be unstoppable? Here are 3 ways you can become relentless in pursuit of your goals:

  1. DO THE WORK —> You don’t have to love the work, you’ve just got to do it and love the results. Believe me, I don’t love getting up at zero dark thirty to train for four hours, but I do it because I love being able to beat my last race time (okay, I also love landing in the top spots in my age group). It sounds so simple, right? Do the work. Put in the time and effort. You’ll get there. Sometimes, you’ve just got to do shit you don’t want to do in order to get what you ultimately want. But it’s the hardest thing to do. The real challenge is being able to combat your voice that tells you to go for the short term reward, instead of pushing through, doing the tough stuff, and going for the long term win. It’s not about winning one championship or building one business. That’s great. Being relentless means doing that six more times. And that requires a hell of a lot of work.
  2. BE OBSESSIVE —> I think the question is, “What are you willing to be the best at and give your all to?” You can’t give your all or be extraordinary at everything. What are you choosing to be the best at? Do you want to be the best father, the best golfer, the best leader, the best guitarist, the best dog rescuer? In brief moments you can be the best at more than one thing – like when you’re speaking to an audience or riding a bike with your kids. But to truly master something, to be the very BEST, you have to get obsessive. One area in your life, one skill, is going to overshadow all the others because that is where you are going to be spending the most time – practicing, studying, analyzing those that have come before you and modeling after them. You will become addicted to learning about that one thing, you become obsessed, and that’s how you become the best.
  3. GET COMFORTABLE BEING ALONE —>  You know that old saying, it’s lonely at the top? Yup. When you’re relentless, you don’t make a whole lot of friends. You’ll have a small inner circle of people you trust and that’s it. You won’t go to office parties and after work drinks with the team or even linger too long in the break room. And you won’t hang out for too long at kid’s birthday parties or family gatherings. You have shit to do. You want to be the best and that takes deliberate time and attention. People are going to thing you’re an asshole or that you think you’re too good for them. It’s not the case. You just have your eye on the prize and you’re not going to let anyone get in the way. You’re running your race – fast – and if people want in, they’ve got to get in the race with you and run along side you. There will be very few people at the finish line with you. And that’s okay.

So are you relentless? Do you want to be? If the answer is yes, then all you have to do is put in the time and do the work, get obsessive about the one thing you want to be the best at, and get comfortable being alone. Everyone has the potential to be relentless, but only a few will actually get to the level of being unstoppable.

What Really Goes on Behind the Scenes in Business

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Over the long holiday weekend, we broke out the classic Wizard of Oz for a family movie night. What a completely different perspective you have watching that movie as an adult. The Wizard was nothing but an illusion and Dorothy had the power within her all along to go home, she just had to believe in herself (and go through a musical self-discovery along the way). One quote really stuck out to me: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Pretty similar to how we think about business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s all pretty and shiny on the outside, like tech apps that are being valued for billions of dollars, but produce no revenue, or the celebrity culture of all beauty and no substance. Nobody wants to talk about what is going on behind the curtain, behind the scenes.

But, let me tell you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, behind the curtain of a new office building, top national rankings, and a dynamic brand, it’s one hot mess. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Appearances can be freaking deceiving. When I’m up on stage receiving an award for our company’s success or asked to teach a class on business building, I often feel like a fraud. Sure, I’ve had some success and I’m incredibly proud of my team and how far we’ve come, but it is a shit-show behind the scenes. When I’m speaking about living a life without limits I make it a point to pull back the curtain and share the failures and struggles we have had. We are no different than anyone else. I am not smarter, faster, better looking, more innovative, or more business savvy than anyone else. There is no secret sauce to success. It’s work. Hard work. And hustle, and grind, and late nights, and a whole lot of messes, and lawsuits, and more work. What does give me an edge, though, is my refusal to give up and my ability to keep pushing through the mess and make it work. That, anyone can do.

The Wizard put on a good show. And don’t get me wrong, things are supposed to look good on the outside – it’s how businesses continue to attract talent, make sales, increase the bottom line, and basically have a business. But you’ve got to remember that behind the scenes shit gets messy. No one who has accomplished anything of significance has it easy. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to just believe that successful people were handed things, because really, who wants to hear that it requires a lot of work over a lot of years? It’s the hard work and the mess that no one really wants to talk about… but it’s actually the mess that means the most.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • The mess might be employees leaving – but that just means the ones who stay are loyal and can handle helping you build a massive business.
  • The mess might be customer complaints – but that just means that you need to double-down on your systems and streamline your customer intake process. In the end, better for your team, and better for your customers.
  • The mess might be restructuring your organization for the 11th (or 53rd) time – but each iteration is getting you one step closer to the model that will give you the geometric growth that you are looking for.

Take the time to grind through the mess and refine NOW, and in 3 years you’ll have a well-oiled machine cranking for you. That is what no one wants to see or talk about. Success takes time!

But you can’t be afraid to pull back the curtain on other businesses and most importantly your own. I say, you should pay a whole lot of attention to the man behind the curtain; that’s where the biggest lessons for success (by learning from failures) can be found. You should want to see and hear the truth. Maybe you decide it’s not for you after all and that’s okay. But maybe, just maybe, seeing the truth of what needs to be done to build a business and life you will be proud of gives you the clarity and inspiration you need to keep grinding.

You are not the only one who feels like a fraud. You are not the only one who keeps failing. You are not the only one who has been at it for four years (or ten). You are not alone. There is a whole lot of mess that goes on behind the scenes, but if you can get right with that and keep on pushing, you will win. You will win because you never gave up.