What is the Difference Between Talent, Leaders, and Empire Builders?

Last week I had the privilege of teaching a business and leadership course with Kristan Cole, VP of KW Mega Agent Expansion. Yes, the class outlined how to take your local real estate business and expand it into another market, city, or state, but the course was much more than that. It was about building a business, not just a real estate sales team. It was about creating the best systems and models in your current location so that you can duplicate your success wherever you go (no matter what industry you’re in). And most importantly, the class was about people. Without people you do not own a business, you have a job. Without people you will experience marginal gains instead of geometric growth. Find your people. The best people.


First WHO, then WHAT. People drive your organization. Get into business with the best people on the planet and then figure out what they are going to do. Here’s a little secret for you. If you hire the best WHO, then they will figure it out for you!

There’s a lot of jargon out there about talent. We should all be searching for talent and hire talent for our organization, right? Right. No-brainer. But it’s a little more complicated than that. There are three tiers of talent, if you will – talent, leaders, and empire builders. All are valuable to bring into your organization. But what’s the difference between the three?


Talent is someone who has natural aptitude or skill at something. This could be your listing specialist who just crushes it by securing listings, providing an awesome client experience, and generates massive referrals. This could be your personal assistant who never lets a detail of your day go missing. Or the IT professional at your office who never met a virus he couldn’t handle. These people are exceptional at what they do; the very best in the business in their role. Talent, for the most part, will follow the rules and systems of an organization or industry. You want these people in your organization – get them on board and see what they can do. Some will thrive in their role and never want to leave and others will start itching to get out of the role and into leadership. Watch your talent closely and see who starts naturally leading those around him/her without a title.


Some people are born leaders. Others can develop the skill with enough time on task over time. Leaders are your Lead Buyer Specialists, your Chief Operations Officers, your Principals, your police chiefs, your CFOs. They usually operate at a very high level within an established system where they are leading other people and managing systems. Leaders will often be intraprenuers and will implement. They will constantly be thinking about ways to improve the team and organization. They have a thirst to grow daily and at times leaders can can look like empire builders. Keep an eye on the mavericks – these may very well be your empire builders.


Empire builders are leaders, but not all leaders are empire builders. Empire builders break shit. They wake up every day and ask how they can disrupt the organization, their industry and the world. They don’t really care what people think and they let their actions show who they are. Empire builders will not allow the fear of the unknown stop them. The key difference between empire builders and leaders is that empire builders will hire other empire builders. They will not be afraid of hiring people bigger and better than them. In fact, they will understand that in order to grow and for the the company to grow, they can’t afford NOT to hire the biggest, baddest people in the world. Empire builders are the individuals who you will hire to lead a company for you, when you don’t even know what that company will do or look like yet. First WHO, then what, remember?

So which one are you? All are necessary to build massive organizations. First understand who you are and then who you need to bring into your world to achieve you goals.



Guest Blogger Pat Kilner: Win at the Little Things and Massive Results Will Follow

What drives you? Is it fear of failure that gets you out of bed or the recognition that failure is an opportunity for growth?

Do you challenge yourself habitually, or do you honestly not want to take on “too much” in the way of challenges?

At what point does a challenge cause paralyzing fear for you?

In our incredibly comfortable culture (in the history of the world, no culture has enjoyed as much wealth as we do, here in the US) the lessons in life that afford us natural opportunities to build the muscles of intestinal fortitude and perseverance simply do not present themselves. We pay for trainers to “really kick our butts” realizing that we need to stretch ourselves as human beings. But no longer do we have to walk a few miles for water. No longer do we lay our hand to the plow. On the whole, our kids cannot even be found playing outside, developing the playing skills that would prepare them to persevere later in life.

Add to this lack of natural habituation of these virtues the ability to get anything we want almost immediately. Fast food, shoes arriving same-day, even the thrill of a car chase on our game console… without the possibility of enduring pain or even minor inconvenience, for that matter. We get all of the thrill without any of the sacrifice.

This is what we wanted, though, right? Less pain, more convenience, more control, less responsibility?

But what happens when we dream to achieve something that cannot be obtained immediately? We’ve trained ourselves to not wait for anything AND not built the fortitude to go make it happen. In facing down obstacles, we say to ourselves: “If I were talented, it would happen immediately for me. I guess I’m just not cut out for it.” or “She’s a natural, that’s why she does so well at that. Even if I worked at it I couldn’t do that.”

We have, in the words of Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, a fixed mindset.

Growth mindset people realize that failure is the process by which they grow. Fixed mindset people see failure as an affirmation of their lack of talent. We tend to believe that talented people are that way by nature. Most of these high performers would tell you that they have had to work incredibly hard to get to where they are, that their talents had to be nurtured, and that they began as very average or even low achievers.

Michael Jordan is a classic example of perseverance. Having been cut from his high school squad, he put in the hard work to become the greatest player of all time. He came into the NBA as a dunking showman and exited as the most complete player we may ever see. Other, more naturally talented players of the same era made excuses for their failings. Michael failed, then worked on his weaknesses.

What excuses are holding you back? What fixed mindset (some may also call these limiting beliefs) do you have that keeps you from being excellent or from even attempting something new? Who else are you holding back in your life through a fixed mindset?

The power to persevere – to grit through tough times – is the weapon of men and women who grow and ultimately change society.

What is the opportunity cost of not persevering daily, of not winning the battle to get out of bed, or to get to bed on time?

Or of not exercising?

Or of not planning your week?

Or of not making time to read?

Or of not allowing yourself to be coached?

Of checking your email when you need to stay focused?

Persevere and win at the little things, and massive results will appear.


pat-kilnerPatrick Kilner is the CEO of the Kilner Group, based in the DC Metro area. The Kilner Group has represented hundreds of buyers and sellers in a variety of real estate transactions in the past decade. Passionate about forming leaders through the vehicle of real estate, the Kilner Group has tripled in size in the past two years and has begun to expand operations and coaching of agents outside of their home base.  A graduate of the Catholic University of America in 2001 and earned his Master’s degree from the University of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain in 2003. Patrick currently resides in Maryland with his wife, Elena, and their five children.


What I Learned About Business from Army Snipers

Last week, my custom-made 7MM rifle arrived. Which naturally meant I needed to go shoot something. Not even going to try to be humble about this: it’s B A D A S S. So badass, that the other guys at the range thought I was Delta Force. Just saying. So anyway, I called up one of my fellow Realtors, Shawn Cheney, who happens to be a member of the Smalls Arms Readiness Training Section (SARTS) and we headed to Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vermont.


Shawn Cheney

Just a quick note about Shawn: SFC Shawn Cheney has four years in the United States Marine Corp and 19 years in the Army, for a total of 23 years of service. He was also a Mountain Warfare Instructor, an Infantry Instructor, and the Founder of the Army’s only Mountain Sniper Course that is based in Jericho. Oh, and he recently won the Winston P. Wilson All Guard Sniper Championship which is an Army and Air Guard National Match (held annually in Little Rock, Arkansas). Thank you for your service, Shawn, and for being a badass in general!


Here are a few of the lessons I learned at the range:

  1. Precision and Clarity Dictate Success  The routines of the snipers are religious. Every time they got behind their rifles, they would check the parallax, check the eye relief to ensure crisp crosshairs, check the windage, check distance – near and far – and memorize the landscape and objects in case they had to move quickly to find cover. When they lay down, they don’t lay down and prop themselves up on their elbows. They completely sink into the ground, their feet out flat, without any pressure on their shooting hand, and become one with the earth.

    Aside from these rituals, the triggers and optics are the most important part of the sniper’s process, just as they are in my world of business.You must know when to pull the trigger and make a decision, often quickly. And you’ve got to not only make the decision, but follow through and execute. You must also know your optics and know exactly what you are aiming at. Make sure the entire team knows what the target is. Once you are 100% clear on the goal, it will show up. Snipers must execute precision when shooting. Business owners must provide precision when casting the vision and leading their team.

  2. Breathe, Then Move  When snipers are shooting, everything comes down to their breath. It must stay even and fluid, with no deep inhales or deep exhales. They must train themselves to breathe normally and naturally no matter what is going on around them. They work on finding the space between their breaths, so when it’s time to shoot, they inhale, hold their breath, squeeze the trigger, then exhale. In business, when shit hits the fan, you too, must remember to breathe! Remember, the snipers breathe and take action. When the challenges of business are coming at you from every direction, breathe and take action, breathe and take action. Again and again. Make a decision and then move forward, closing the gap on your target.
  3. Aim Big and Inch Forward After I had practiced on my rifle for a while and started to learn some of the ways of the sniper we toured the range and then started shooting at 300 yards (that’s 3 football fields!). When snipers are training at 800 or 1000 yards, going back to those 100 or 300 yard shots seem easy. Which is why it is important to create big goals! Once you start setting massive goals, it changes the way you think and you start asking bigger and better questions. When you change your mindset and start thinking bigger, the every day trivialities of life become easier. You must constantly stretch yourself to grow. But it will not happen all at once. When military personnel move towards a target, they do so slowly and strategically, gaining ground inch by inch, feet by feet. Changing one aspect of your life by just 1% each day will have a huge impact over time. Not only will you see results, but you will have creating a habit of stepping up your life by 1% every day. Think about the long-term impact of that! One particular event will not impact your life one way or the other. It’s the small changes over time that create growth.
  4. It’s All About the Numbers Another thing I learned is that once I had dialed in my rifle at 100 yards (at 2″ high), there are 200 yards where my shot was dead on. From there, you can get a ballistics trajectory of the bullet and understand exactly where your rifle needs to be to make a 1000 yard shot. 1000 yards is over 8 football fields, but once you determine where you are at 100 yards (2″ high) you can determind where you need to be at 1000 yards (6’4″ high). It’s just a numbers game folks. Just like in business, you have got to use numbers to guide your decisions, not your gut and not emotional conversations. Being purposeful in your life is all about numbers. No matter what industry you’re in, from the military, to NASCAR, to fashion, to teaching, to business, it’s all about the numbers.

sniper-2I have the utmost respect for anyone who has served or is currently serving in the military and it was awesome to spend some time shooting with some of the best. The way they operate has so many parallels to business and it was interesting to be in the field and then be able to reflect on it later and solidify these lessons into the way I lead my companies: precision and clarity are paramount to success, breathe and take action, set huge goals then strategically start chipping away at them, and remember that it’s all about the numbers.





No Pain, No Gain. Increase Your Pain Tolerance for Maximum Success


bruce kink visitEarlier this summer (yes, summer isn’t over yet!) I had the privilege of hiking Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, with Bruce Kink. That hike would have been virtually impossible for me in high school. But over the years, I have increased my pain tolerance through emotional fitness and by continuing to push through even when it is uncomfortable.

Think about it. If you’ve ever trained for a half marathon, there is a certain mile when you hit a wall. But over time, and by the time you run the race, you have increased your pain threshold and your physical conditioning such that even though the physical pain or mental discomfort is there, you are able to delay when you actually hit your pain threshold  – instead of mile 8, it’s now mile 11.

This applies to all aspects of your life. Lost a client? Had to fire three employees? Risked $250,000 on a capital injection? With each pain point, you fail forward and increase your pain tolerance allowing you to expand your entire thinking about life and business. As you continue to raise the bar on your personal pain threshold, you will never be able to return to your previous level of consciousness. Each challenge you encounter will now be solved with, and set against, your new pain threshold. By raising your pain threshold, you can actually allow yourself to move faster towards the pain, move through it faster, and again, set a new pain threshold for the next time. Failing forward as fast as possible allows us to increase our pain tolerance faster than anything else, which allows conditioning to come into play and work it’s magic.

Here’s another example: In the moment, it is often very difficult to say no to work (the endless emails, that next phone call, the after-hours networking event) in order to spend time with family and friends. Work offers an immediate tangible reward. And while we all like to say family does too, let’s be honest, we can all only play “Frozen” so many times. But here’s the thing, without friends and family what are we working so hard for? It takes practice, a lot of it, to say no to work when family is calling your name and while the results may not be as immediate and in your face, those moments and memories will last a lifetime. Is it painful to say no to work? Yes. In the moment it can be incredibly painful. But with practice (and realizing that there are no real ramifications, in fact there are a myriad of benefits) you will see your pain tolerance increase. Before you know it, you will be on vacation, completely unplugged, building sand castles with your kids!

Sometimes you have to push yourself beyond your perceived limits to truly know what you are capable of. This is where growth happens. When that voice inside your head says “no,” use whatever affirmations, self-talk or slap across the face you need in order to not take the easy way out. Pain is not a bad thing. Pain helps you grow. Look, life (and your tricky little mind) will always give you an out. And most of us will take it. The majority of the population will never challenge themselves and that’s why the majority of the population continues to live in mediocrity.

pain eric thomasBut not Herg Life Nation. I know you all want to live the biggest life possible and the only way that is going to happen is if you embrace the suck, prepare yourself for the grind, hustle, and take action. Success is not just going to show up. You have got to put in the work. It’s hard and it’s painful. But it will get easier. Every time you take that leap outside of mediocrity you will be increasing your pain tolerance. And the next time you come up against the same challenge (an intense workout, public speaking, a work obligation) it won’t hurt so much, in fact it may not hurt at all and you’ll be plugging along with no problem. Where it once terrified you to speak in front of 5 people, perhaps now it takes 500 people to make you sweat. That’s your pain threshold increasing. And the really cool thing is, because you stretched yourself, conditioned yourself and grown, speaking in front of 5 people will never be an issue. And pretty soon, an audience of 500 will be a walk in the park. As long as you keep breaking through your existing pain threshold. You have elevated your level of thinking, your emotional fitness, and your pain threshold. Imagine doing that once a year, once a quarter or more. Imagine how much you would grow and step up your life.

By the way, have you ever noticed that when very successful business owners go bankrupt after building their company for 20+ years (often because they enter into too many long term debt obligations early in their career), they are able to build their company back to that level of success or higher in a fraction of the time? That is because they have already put in the grind, gone through a lot of pain, and gained a ton of knowledge. Their thinking is so expanded that what took them 20 years before, will now take two. That’s the power of increasing your pain tolerance.

Pain is weakness leaving the body. Increase your pain tolerance, embrace the suck and you will truly be living a life without limits.

The Best Way to Learn is By Teaching Others

Yup, it’s that time of year again. Kids are heading back to school, the mornings are getting cooler, and the leaves in Vermont are changing. Winter is coming.

If you can imagine, I never really liked school. Sitting still all day. Conforming to someone else’s ideas and way of thinking. Following rules. Not exactly my cup of tea.  I didn’t always complete my homework and struggled throughout high school, barely getting into the University of Vermont’s guaranteed admission program. But the funny thing is, now, without the structure and imposed learning (algebra? iambic pentameter? really?), I am a voracious reader, a life-long learner, and I love teaching others!

In fact, over the years, I have made it my mission to teach, train, coach, and consult as many people as possible. It is an honor and a privilege to pour into others, but let me let you in on a little secret – I’m really doing all of this teaching for myself.

learn and teachYou see, the best way to learn is by teaching others. When I learn a new concept or read about a new leadership technique, the first thing I do is go teach it to someone on my team, write about it in my blog, talk about it on my radio show, or share it with my wife. This enables me to not only share what I do know, but helps me understand what I do not know. And then I can go back and either study the concept more or dive deeper into the particular subject and fill the gaps in my knowledge. I encourage you all to do the same!

Let’s take this a step further. When you are at a training event or watching a webinar or even a random YouTube video, listen with the intent that you will be teaching what you learn to someone else. It completely changes the way you absorb the information. You will be more focused and you will process the information better. I encourage my team members to teach as much as they can too, whether that is leading a book club, teaching a class at our company, or taking on coaching clients of their own. The best way for my team to get better is by teaching others.

Teachers are leaders. When you teach you’re creating this virtuous cycle of reading, learning, teaching, growing, reading, learning, teaching, growing. Have you ever noticed that the more successful people get and the more money they make, they start to share their success secrets? When you’ve reached a certain level of success and you’re living in work-life harmony, you just want to share that with the world so that others can achieve success that much faster. I truly believe that the secret to living is giving, and what better way to ensure the evolution of the human race, than by sharing your knowledge?

Here’s my challenge to you: The next book  you read, the next class you take, within 48 hours, go teach the main concepts to someone else. Not sure where to teach or who to teach to? Shoot a quick YouTube video or go live on Instagram Stories and share what you learned to the world! Hashtag it #herglife and let’s keep the conversation going!