5 Ways to Secure Your Company’s Reputation

best placesThis week we moved into a brand new state-of-the-art office building – the new headquarters for Hergenrother Enterprises (KW Vermont, Hergenrother Realty Group, Adam Hergenrother Training Organization, BlackRock Construction, and Hergenrother Foundation). Last week, Hergenrother Enterprises was named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont. Both of these accomplishments were a testament to the hard work of my incredible team and garnered a lot of positive press.
I’ll take it! Because it’s not always this way. These moments in the spotlight are great, but fleeting. They will be up for a day, maybe two, and then replaced by the next big story – usually something controversial or provocative – whatever will get the most attention. For every positive piece of news about you in the media, there are five conversations swirling around the business community maligning your reputation, questioning your business practices, or just spreading rumors about you and your leadership. The funny thing, is the more success you have, the more people will try to tear you down.

There are two ways to build the biggest building in town:
1. Build the biggest building in town.
2. Tear down all the other buildings around you.

I will always choose option one. But my competition and your competition may choose option two and you’ve got to be prepared. So how do you get your company to stand out among the noise? How do maintain your company’s reputation day after day? How do you secure your company against the competition who may be determined to tear you down?
Perception is reality. It is your job to ensure that your company’s perception is pristine, that you are leading your company from a place of integrity, and that you are sharing your successes widely and often. No one else is going to do it for you.

strategic givingHere are five things you can implement to secure your company’s reputation against the competition:

  1. Earned media. Public relations. Free press. Whatever you want to call it. Go get it. The more good news you are putting out into the world, the better. It can be as simple as sharing a press release about your company’s latest charity event or sharing each new hire on social media. It’s great when your company receives an industry award, but if you aren’t sharing that with your followers, your customers, and your clients, they will never know. Publishing a weekly blog or monthly newsletter that highlights an employee or the success of a recent wellness initiative, all stack the cards in your favor. I’m not talking about paid advertising here. I’m talking about sharing your company’s story and inviting people to get involved – whether that’s with an upcoming volunteer project or to submit their resume for a career opportunity. I know your company is doing great things. It’s time to let the rest of the world know.
  2. Strategic giving. At a certain point in your career, you’re going to start getting asked to donate or sponsor events several times a week. I get it. There are thousands of amazing organizations, all with limited funding and resources. But your resources and charitable donation pool is limited too. This is where you’ve got to get strategic. With the funds that you do have allocated to charitable giving, make sure to work with organizations that you are passionate about and who align with your vision and mission. Your giving will go much further when you not only give monetarily to two or three organizations that your believe deeply in, but that you will also wiling donate your time to.
  3. Company culture. Your employees and business partners can be your biggest allies (or your biggest adversaries) when it comes to protecting your company’s reputation. Who knows the inner workings of your company better than your staff? What will they say about your company?  Is your culture strong enough to withstand your competition’s attempts to tear you down? Do you have weekly, monthly, and yearly company events to bring everyone together? Are you transparent when there are issues? Do your employees know they can come to you with concerns? Focus on your people. In fact, your people are the ones that create the culture, not you. Culture does not come from the top down, but from within the organization, based on each of the people you bring into your world. Protect your company culture fiercely. If your culture is strong your team will be your biggest defenders and advocates when there is a bump in the road.
  4. Leave your ego at the door. As you build your empire and start having more success, the target on your back becomes bigger. You are a threat to other businesses, and really at the core, you are making other people feel less significant. You will have people attack you personally and you are going to want to attack back; it’s just human nature. Don’t. It is not about you anymore. You have a company and hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, who depend on you for your sound judgement, integrity, and ability to remain calm and collected in the face of chaos. The decisions you make are not for you, they are for the good of the company. It doesn’t matter what is said about you, it’s about what is best for your company’s reputation, and what is best for the people you are responsible for. There is no room for ego at the top.
  5. No comment. When you’re faced with negative press, when rumors are flying, and when you’ve got reporters calling for an interview (and at some point this will happen to all of you as you’re building a business), just pause and consider your words carefully. Haters are gonna hate. You don’t want that negativity in your life. Take the high road. Simply reply no comment, or consult your lawyer for an appropriate response. If you don’t add fuel to the fire, the fire will die. Instead, focus on your team (point 3) and all the positive work you are doing and share (point 1)!

Did you notice that all of the points above are about YOU and your company? They have nothing to do with you competition. Keep your focus on bettering yourself and your company every day and you will always win.

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Focus on Daily Execution for Big Results

half ironman floridaLast Saturday I completed my first triathlon – a half-Ironman – in Clermont, Florida. On the Friday before my race, I had a call with my coach and he told me to forget about the time goals that I wanted to hit, because I was putting too much pressure on myself. He told me to focus on the second by second, minute by minute execution. Literally focusing on breathing every stroke cycle, high turnover and staying long, then having a quick transition, and executing my hydration plan on the bike, drinking every few minutes and eating every 30 minutes, staying at a high cadence, and not exceeding a certain heart rate. Forget the goal, focus on the small activities that my training had prepared me for. I placed 2nd in my age group, and 14th overall. That’s what happens with models, systems, training, coaching, and finally, pure execution.

Focusing on the small points of execution got me thinking about how important our daily, our hourly, and even our minute by minute execution is. Every day we start with extreme focus and clarity on our big goal, or our big why, our one thing, but can often get sidetracked, if we don’t focus on the activities, the execution, that will get us there. But it’s in those small, often mundane moments, where growth really happens.

I didn’t place in the top 15 in the Florida Challenge because I was telling myself to run faster, swim harder, hit your time goals! I placed in the top 15 because I forgot all about that and focused on putting one foot in front of the other, focused on my heart rate, focused on fueling myself properly. Yes, I had a goal. But the goal became secondary to the execution. Because I knew that if I executed on the activities, the goal would take care of itself.

Now, it’s simple to sit here now and say this, but is really hard. It’s hard to focus on the small, purposeful execution when your body (or business) is screaming and telling you to stop and give up. In any intense physical training (marathon, CrossFit, dance, etc.), just as in business, you are going to hit rough patches where your mind goes sideways and wants you to quit. Halfway through my race, my mind started trying to convince me to cancel my full-Ironman this summer! The key is to be able to pause long enough to get your mind right – everything ends and this is where grit is developed. It is the ability to push through the rough patches that allows you to find the sweet spots. Grit and character are not forged in the midst of success, they are developed when it’s completely dark and you can’t see your way out.

Will you allow it to make you or break you?

Anyone can train, build a business, or lead when things are good. But how many people can lead themselves and others when times are tough? The good news is, it is something that can be learned. Grit, resilience, and perseverance can all be developed, as long as you’re willing to do the work and get uncomfortable. The next time you hit a rough patch in life or business, just stop and breathe. Control your breath, say an affirmation (mine is “I demand of myself to create massive and pure energy within me now.”), or count to 100 3-5 times. These small actions will center you again, clear your mind, and enable you to fight forward.

I’ll say it again, small actions. Small actions to clear your mind and refocus. Small acts of execution to lead you to big results.

I knew I needed to leave the comfort of my stable job (making $42,000 a year, private office, expense account, assistant) to be an entrepreneur in order to grow and live the life I wanted. But the first step was actually quitting! And I did quit to become a real estate agent. In 2006. People thought that I was crazy because of the crash, but I knew that if I focused on just setting ONE appointment a day, I’d hit my goals. That became my small action every day. It didn’t matter how long it took. I could prospect for 12 or 16 hours a day. I just knew that I needed to start small in order to go big. Fast forward a couple of months, and my one small action became hiring an assistant. And slowly, then suddenly, I had an entire team around me. Next thing I knew, I woke up with five companies. Small actions.

bruno-nascimento-149663Let’s look at another example – weight loss. If you have a goal of losing 6 pounds in one month, you must focus on the small things – daily caloric intake of food and daily caloric output through exercise. Every bite matters. Every step matters. Start small to go big.

These examples are all around us. Just ask anyone who has ever accomplished anything extraordinary how they did it. I guarantee they won’t tell you about some momentous moment when extraordinary just showed up. They are going to tell you about their daily habits, their extreme time management, their hourly execution, their small actions that got them there. Again, simple, but incredibly hard. But this is your competitive advantage! Most people can’t handle the mental discipline it takes to execute on the small (often monotonous) daily actions. They give in and give up. But not you. Not if you want to win.

Remember, don’t lose sight of your future self or your big why. That will always be what drives you and guides your daily actions. But if you just shift your focus to the daily execution of what must get done to move the needle forward, you will win.

 

 

How to Move Forward When You Can’t See the Path Ahead

 

the falls 1I just got back from three days off the grid, completely unplugged and fully immersed in the natural beauty at the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls. Clarity and inspiration were a given.

The business world is such a whirlwind. Some days you have extremely clear vision, tons of energy, and feel unstoppable. Other days? It can feel like you are in the middle of the Northern woods of Maine on a foggy day with no idea which way is out. You can feel trapped, confused, frustrated, and lost. It can paralyze you. The fear can stop you and cause you to shoot off your last rescue flair and call it quits. But this is where the magic happens. This is where you can either retreat, or find out what you’re made of. And you know what? Most of the time when we’re lost, we are only 10 feet from the edge of the forest. It’s when you can’t see where to go or what to do next that you must use all the courage, models, emotional fitness, and grit you possess to find a way out. Stop, re-calibrate, take a look around, and find a path through the trees (even if you have to create it).

falls 5I felt this fear and uncertainty about halfway through my expedition to Havasupai Falls. We had finally made it to the waterfall and were on the edge of one of the cliffs overlooking a huge pool below. The pool was super deep and only about 55 degrees. The wind was whipping at 25 mph due to the energy of the falls. The current below was incredibly strong. Our guide lead us out on to the cliff, tiptoeing on a 2 foot wide shelf so we were over the middle of the pool. The five of us, plus our guide, were huddled on this ledge about 8 feet away from the crashing falls and then shit got real. Our guide explained that we were going to dive into the pool and swim through a four foot underwater tunnel that would lead us into a huge cave. He reminds us to swim really hard because the current is strong. Our guide prepares to jump. To make it worse, he crouches down, takes 4-5 really deep breaths and then launches head first into the current at the base of the falls and disappears. I’m up next. As soon as he hits the water, we’re supposed to count down from 10 and jump. I get to 5… and think, is this guy f’ing kidding me, right now? I can’t see where I’m going. I have no idea what to expect. But I breathe deeply, remember his words, “Dive deep, swim hard, and you’ll be fine.” …1… I jump. The current is stronger than I thought it would be, the waterfall pushing me down, and then I hit a wall. Literally. I think, shit, I need to come up for air, but I don’t. I just go deeper and reach for the opening. I keep swimming. I keep moving. I push my way through the water and BOOM. I enter a magnificent cave – one of the hidden gems of the world. I made it.

We all made it. Each one of us had the same thoughts and feelings before we jumped, but we were strong enough to get out of our heads and find a way to move. One of the guys in my group even hit the wall, got turned around and just kept at it until he found the hole through the water. The look on his face when he made it through and into the cave was priceless. We all had that look. Overcoming fear, pushing your limits, and coming out the other side knowing what you are capable of, knowing you can accomplish something like that is an incredible feeling.

Little did we know that jumping off a cliff and swimming through an underwater tunnel was not the only way to get to the cave. We could have just swam right up to it on the west side of the falls. But I guarantee we wouldn’t have had the memories or the feeling of accomplishment that we did if we hadn’t tested our physical and emotional fitness. Our willingness to dive in and to keep moving without knowing exactly how to get there was the real gift. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other in that moment.

So, when you’re deep underwater or lost in the woods, what do you do? Do you freeze? Panic? Give up? Or do you take a step forward? Do you keep moving? Do you take action?

adam mountainYou are 20x more capable than you think you are. You must trust yourself and be confident in the fact that you can get through anything… if you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Life and business are all about failures. Failures allow you to see what is working and what needs to be fixed or improved upon. And you won’t always know the answer. You won’t always see a clear path out. If success were easy, it would be as natural as breathing; we would all just be doing it.  But it’s that challenge of not knowing and moving forward anyway that forces us to grow.

How do you test your emotional fitness? When was the last time you pushed the limits of what you thought was possible for yourself?

Build a Business Platform For Leaders to Stand On

Real estate teams will soon dominate the entire industry. We have been building a real estate expansion team without borders for almost six years. And we’re not the only ones. There are several other industry leaders who have also been building a foundation, a platform, for real estate expansion teams. On the surface, it seems like we’re doing the same thing and building the same company. It’s just real estate, right? The same could be said for any insurance company, any construction company, any car dealership, or any industry where one company doesn’t dominate the market. But the truth is that we all have our own flavor, we all have one thing that we do exceptionally well, and we all have different personalities and leadership styles that attract different talent into our world. We each have a different platform that we are building our empires on.

Definition of platform

1:  plan, design
2:  a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands

What is your platform? What do you stand for? What does your company stand for? Do you have a job or are you building a business? Are your systems scaleable? What products and services are at the core of your business? Have you defined who you are? Are you communicating your flavor?

Your platform can be broken into three components:

Models + Systems + Structure = Platform

Models: This is the vision and the belief system that your company is built upon. This is the direction that your team is headed and must have a clear plan on how to get there. That doesn’t mean that it won’t change. Stay flexible. Your model will evolve as your business develops and grows until you hit your desired result. Communicate these changes clearly and confidently to your team and your model will guide all of the decisions you and your team make as your business grows. Models (and systems) are what will allow you to break through your ceiling of achievement and move from entrepreneurial to purposeful.

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Systems: Systems are how you execute your model. Will you build an army of Inside Sales Agents? Will you double down on video marketing? Will you use Salesforce or Hubspot? Systems are the procedures, the checklists, the reporting, the software, the marketing strategies, etc. you implement to operate your business. Systems play an important role in making sure you stay purposeful on your model and continue to move forward to higher and higher levels of success. Again, don’t get bogged down in finding the prefect system. Find what works for you, your team, and your platform.

Structure: Structure is the daily accountability, coaching and training (for example, daily huddles, power-ups, team lead generation sessions, or daily check-in emails) that you provide for your team. The structure is there to ensure that the models (i.e. the vision) is executed. The systems are simply the HOW to achieve the end result and those can be vastly different depending on your model. Just as someone’s chosen structure can be totally different depending on their leadership philosophies or overall company vision.

You have to have all three components – model, systems, and structure – to build the platform for your company that others will stand on, grow from, and build upon.

Which brings me to my final point. You could have the most kick-ass platform in the world, but it’s not going to get you anywhere if you don’t have a team of smart and driven people to move your organization forward. People are the x-factor. People will implement the platform and drive the platform forward which is what will ultimately build a big business.

Your platform is what differentiates your businesses from someone else’s and is why someone will want to work with you versus another organization. Build your platform, with your flavor, and it will attract the right talent and empire builders into your world who will see that platform as the foundation for their success.

 

 

Do You Have a Heart for Business?

One of the very first things we do with any new leadership team member is hand them a copy of my User’s Manual (email Hallie for a blank copy to create your own). It’s basically a cheat sheet of my idiosyncrasies, my values, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Actually, we talk about all of these things before we even bring someone on-board, but everyone needs a little reminder once in a while. I don’t ever want there to be any surprises for people when they join my organization. I am a hard-driving, obsessively growth-oriented, high standards, results not stories, push you until you almost break because I want you to reach your potential kind of guy. Not everyone is going to like it. And that’s okay.

users_manual

We even go so far as when we ask for our candidates’ references, we give them a list of MY references – including people who have been fired or no longer with our company. Why? Because I want anyone who is coming into my world to get the full picture. We can tell people that I’ll push you to grow or that we move lightening-fast, but people only understand that to the degree that they have been pushed or been in a “fast-paced environment.” One of the biggest comments we get from people who may not have worked out at our company or decided to take a different role in one of our organizations is, “You guys move REALLY fast. Like, you don’t operate like any other company I’ve been a part of…” Now, I’m just used to it and so is my team. But, to an outsider it can be completely overwhelming and sometimes debilitating. So, we do everything we can to mitigate that. We may have the most talented candidate – great behavioral match, moves quickly, has all the skills and experience in the world, but they still may not be able to keep up!

It is not my job to slow down to accommodate. It is not my job to provide an opportunity to everyone. It is not my job to hold people’s hands. It is not my job to save everyone.

By now, you must be thinking, “Who is this guy and why would anyone work for him!?” And to that, I would say, ask the 230+ people in my organization who work WITH me. Just because I have high standards, expect my team to work hard and push towards our goals, and to move quickly, that doesn’t meant I don’t have a heart. Just because I don’t stop in the halls to chit-chat about your weekend, doesn’t mean that I won’t sit down with you to talk about your goals for your family’s future. Just because I don’t go out for drinks after work, doesn’t mean I won’t join you for a hike at sunrise the next day.

Here’s the thing: I care more about who my employees and team members become as a person, than I do about being their friend.

Their personal, professional, spiritual, financial, and physical growth is of the utmost importance to me. And if I have to push a little harder than someone likes, point out their blind spots, or play the bad cop, I will.

I’ve been told by a couple people (okay, maybe more than that) that I need to have more of a heart. I think they’re wrong. My version of heart and their version of heart are just different. You can have a huge heart, but that doesn’t mean you need to save everyone. You know how I show love? By making sure everyone that comes into my world is hitting their goals, that they are transforming their lives and the lives of their family, that they are reaching beyond their potential and growing every day, and that they are living the biggest life that they can imagine.

The people that are attracted to that type of leadership are the people who survive and thrive in my organization. I’m not trying to be anyone I’m not, which is why I’m so transparent from the get go. You better be damn sure that when you join my organization that you are ready, because I will push you, you will grow, and your life will change.

If that sounds like something you’d be in to, email me. We always have opportunities for those who hustle and have heart.

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