Ironman Lake Placid Round 2: Train for Life

I’m going to take you all back to 1992 for a minute. Alabama released their hit single, “I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why).” I was 11 and had my entire life ahead of me. Twenty-six years later, while I was trudging up a hill in 78 degree windy and rainy weather at Ironman Lake Placid that song came back to me in a rush. I think I finally got what Alabama was talking about.

Ohh, I hear a voice
That says I’m running behind
I better pick up my pace
It’s a race and there ain’t
No room for someone in second place

I’m in a hurry to get things done
I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why?

Life isn’t about the race. It’s not about rushing from one thing to the next. Life isn’t about just wishing for the next phase of your life to begin. I can’t wait to graduate high school and move out. I want to make more money. I need to move on to a new relationship. When will my kids grow up? Why are they growing up so fast? We need to move into a bigger house. Do any of these sound familiar? You want to push through the growing pains of life or a tough situation just to get on to the next part of your life. But for what? Just to get closer to death? What are we running towards? Why do you want to eliminate a phase of your life? It’s part of the journey! Don’t wish it away. Savor it.

Easier said than done when I was on mile 18. It was brutal. I was in excruciating pain, but I knew that the pain would pass eventually and eventually it did. Just like that I was done the race, crossing the finish line and the past 10 hours and 39 minutes seemed like a blur! Remember, it’s all part of the process.
Now, I didn’t come in first or even second (contrary to what Alabama sings, there IS room for people even if they don’t place in the top five!), but I was really happy with my results for one reason: I laid it all on the line. I held nothing back. I gave this beast of a race everything I had and flawlessly executed the plan my coach, John Spinney from QT2 Systems, had laid out for me. The execution is what mattered and I executed with precision. I actually did pretty well and I improved from 151st place overall from my first Ironman to a 50% increase in position to 74th place overall out of 2,300 people (which included the pro athletes as well). Top 3% at IMLP? I’ll take it!  
Here’s a few things that changed during my second time at Placid:
  1. Confidence. Since Ironman Lake Placid 2017, I have raced nine times, including several half Ironmans, stand-alone half-marathons, Olympics and more. More racing experiences gives you so much more confidence to really understand what your body is capable of. You know how to push your body. This year, I was able to hold a higher threshold during the race because I knew my body would respond. The first Ironman you compete in, you’re just trying to survive and figure it all out. Your second Ironman, you can really test your limits.
  2. Training & Durability. This time around, I had 18 months of training under my belt instead of just nine months. I was more durable and had increased my pain threshold. That has been some of the most fun over the past year. I learned how to increase my pain tolerance during training, which led to my ability to increase my capacity on race day.
  3. Finding Minutes. Racing at the level I’m competing at means that I need to find every minute and every second available to me. For example, by sprinting down the 1/4 mile runway from the lake to Transition 1 (T1), I shaved off a minute from last year’s T1 time. My increased confidence and training allowed me to be more efficient with my time. Your body just starts to flow and knows it’s got to go to work.
Specifically, let me break down the swim, bike, and run for you:
  • SWIM – I improved 11 minutes on my swim time year over year, which is huge. I went from 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 9 minutes. I worked all winter with my swim coach, Emily Mitchell, and built up speed, durability, and efficiency with my technique through consist yards in the pool. I also became obsessed with videos and articles about swim technique and not only practiced swimming, but studied it as well. Swimming is an art and it’s all about the relaxed application of power.
  • BIKE – Every race is different due to the weather. Last year there was zero wind and sunny skies. This year, there were 40 MPH head winds, pouring rain, and hail. Yeah, it was tough. But I loved it. So many people were freaking out because of the weather, but I relished in the challenge and just kept smiling through the downpour. It’s all about mindset, right? IMLP also changed up the course this year, increasing the elevation on the bike from around 7,000 feet of vertical gain to just about 8,400 feet of vertical gain, making the course, in general, about 10 minutes slower.
  • RUN – The wind was still pretty strong. My legs were shot from the vertical gain on the bike. The run was brutal. However, I was able to come out of the gate much faster than last year and just hold that higher heart rate the entire time. I improved my marathon time (on a much tougher course) from last year. One thing is certain, there isn’t a way to explain the pain that you feel the last 6-8 miles of the run. It’s not a winded kind of pain. It’s a deep down, to the core pain where every fiber of you body is telling you to STOP! This is where my emotional fitness kicks in. This is where I say, “fuck it,” and keep going. This is where I turn off my mind (and any Alabama songs) and find a way to take one more step, ten more steps, and just keep going.
  • POST RUN – When I crossed the finish line, I felt fine. My legs hurt, but I had had enough caffeine in me to kill a small rhino. Then, about two minutes later, when my body realized it was done being beat up, I got extremely cold, dizzy, and nauseous. I had to wrap myself in a blank, sit down, and have volunteers talk to me to make sure I was okay. After about 40 minutes, a recovery shake and a shower, I was back at it. But, man, when you put it all on the line, shit gets real! But I earned that pain. And I definitely earned that shower.
Are you always in a hurry? Why? Slow down and enjoy the pain, the progress, the process. That is life!
Now, who’s signing up for an Ironman?
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Gary Keller Stands Up for Realtors at Inman Connect

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I’ve been a Realtor for about twelve years now and I still remember my first client. I was working with a seller and brought a 178 page listing presentation to their home. After about an hour and 15 minutes of selling to this client like my life depended on it (after all, my rent check three months from them did!), the client stopped me and said, “Well, how much do you charge.” My reply? “How much will you pay me?” I can’t remember the exact amount, but I know I accepted whatever she said and a Realtor was born.

There are so many different reasons people begin a career in real estate (natural sales ability, desire to work for themselves, love of HGTV, interest in investment opportunities, etc.), but you can’t be in the business if you don’t fundamentally believe that homeownership (buying, selling, investing, flipping, etc.) is a life transforming event that you want to be a part of. Because buying, selling, investing, flipping, etc. really means helping someone create a home, a business, a legacy. A lot has changed in those 12 years – I no longer operate from a scarcity mentality and always, always, put value first. Price is only an issue when there is an absence of value. I’ve gone from being a single agent, to building five organizations with over 300 agents who have chosen to partner with me. Where once I was transforming the lives of individual home buying or selling clients; I’ve shifted my focus to transforming the lives of the Realtors and CEOs I get into business with. The game changed. And I owe much of that to Gary Keller’s mentorship and leadership.

Two days ago, Gary Keller took the stage with Brad Inman at Inman Connect and I couldn’t have been prouder to know our company is led by such a strategic, innovative, and fearless leader. Not just a leader of our company, but a leader of the entire real estate industry. He’s been blazing a trail for the rest of us (agents, business owners, and real estate company competitors alike) for over 30 years. The next 30 years? Damn. I can’t wait to see where he takes us next.

Gary’s mission has always been about the Realtor and he is still completely committed to protecting the real estate agent as a partner, professional, and the industry as a profession. For Gary and Keller Williams, it’s about arming agents with tools, rooted in technology, to allow them to create a seamless end to end consumer experience for their clients.

Here are my top 3 takeaways from watching the man himself stand up and share what’s really happening in the real estate industry:

  1. The real estate industry hasn’t really changed in the past several decades, but it’s on the cusp. Think of it as the water getting to 33 degrees and any moment now it’s going to drop to 32 degrees and ice over. We’ve been traveling from warmer temps to colder ones and we are hovering around 33 degrees. Any second now, people are going to wake up and they are not going to recognize the real estate industry. It will seem like it happened overnight, but it won’t. Changes of this magnitude happen slowly, slowly, slowly (over many years), and then suddenly. We are on “slowly” number three. We are in the calm before the storm. It’s the lull right before Netflix dominated the market and put Blockbuster out of the business. Slowly, slowly, slowly and then BOOM!
  2. For real estate agents, our database is our most important resource and we must own it together (Agents individually or Agents and the company they have partnered with). It’s how we communicate with the database via clubs, members, discounts, value adds, client events, philanthropic endeavors, etc. that really matters. One database. One mission to provide a seamless, life time, service to our clients. Creating relationships with our database is critical. Then using technology to make the client experience, faster, easier, and cheaper.Owning as much data as possible, utilizing that data to optimize the consumer experience, and using artificial intelligence to personalize that experience in real time will all very quickly become the most important foundational pieces of a real estate agent’s value proposition to their clients.
  3. As real estate agents, we must align ourselves with a company that is suited up for the game, ready to play, not a company that is still at practice and working on creating plays that won’t be ready for another three years. It takes 2-3 years to build a massive technology platform. In three years, it will be too late. Keller Williams is ready. KW Command offers a platform to manage the Realtor’s business, communicate with clients, and generally enhance the client experience. Kelle (KW’s version of Siri) takes it all to another level. Keller Williams does not believe in the agent enabled technology, but rather the tech enabled agent. Gary puts the customer and client first by supporting Realtors at every turn. Just as we must own the data, we’ve got to own the technology.

As we move into this next phase of the real estate industry (get ready, it’s coming!), Realtors have got to align themselves with a visionary who’s proved time and time again that he cares more about the agent than any other real estate company. Gary will fight to protect the agent instead of trying to remove the agent. Align yourself with Gary and buckle up!

Behind the Scenes of Success

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I’m one week away from my second Lake Placid Ironman. One more year of training under my belt. One more year of discipline, sacrifice, emotional and mental fitness, all in the pursuit of celebrating my fitness with one long ass day of swimming, biking, and running. It’s not really about the race. Yes, it is an incredible day. The energy is amazing. It’s a true test of your mental and physical endurance. But at the end of the day, it’s not about the sixteen hours and 50 minutes of competition (this year I’ll be sub 10 hours), it’s about the 365 days of purposeful practice and preparation.

You see, success happens behind the scenes. When I cross the finish line in Lake Placid, it’s because of my 3am wake-up calls, my carb cycling, my heart rate monitoring, my foam rolling, my swim lessons, and more. When my company lands on the Inc. 5000 for the second year in a row, it’s because of my team attending late-night town planning meetings, connecting with investors, putting together pitch decks, pricing projects, choosing interior finishes, and more. These awards, accolades, summits, and finish lines are achieved only by months and sometimes years of hard work, focus, grit and determination. We know overnight successes are a fallacy. It’s truly what happens behind the scenes that matters.

What’s going on behind the scenes of your life, your relationships, your fitness, or your business? If you want to achieve success, in any sense of the word, you’ve better be putting in the work. And not just when people are watching. It’s what you are doing when there isn’t an audience, when your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder, or when their isn’t a cell phone camera waiting to capture the moment, that really counts. It’s the difference between a pro and an amateur. The real victory happens before or after hours, before or after a game, when no one is watching. It’s when the pro athlete or the pro business leader is alone. Are they getting an extra work-out in? Are they pouring over the company’s numbers? Are they reading about how to scale? Success is not about natural skill or ability; it is all about hunger and resourcefulness. There are no participation trophies on the road to success.

When you are putting in the time, energy, and extreme focus to accomplish your goal it’s going to be messy. Think about your favorite TV show. You’ve got hundreds of cameras, a catering crew, props, trailers, cast members milling about, wires running everywhere. It’s a complete mess. But when you settle down to binge watch The Suits, it’s pure art. Behind the scenes of business or a fitness competition isn’t that different. Things are breaking, employees leave, your feet are bleeding, but it’s those moments of pain, that if you can endure them for long enough that ultimately leads to success.

Emotional fitness is your ability to stay focused on a singular task that leads to the greatest result over time. I’m really practicing my emotional fitness right now as I’m in the home stretch to Lake Placid. Think about emotional fitness like this: If you hold your hand over a flame, you’ll likely rip it away as soon as you feel the heat. You put your hand over the flame again, and again you rip your hand away. You do this over and over. You can’t take the heat. You can’t take the pain. But… as you develop emotional fitness, you are able to hold your hand over the flame for longer amounts of time. You are able to endure the pain, just a bit longer. As you do this, your baseline for pain increases and you’re able to take on even more the next time. Over time, overall, your life improves! But how many of you rip your hand away from the flame before you’ve really tested your limits? What are you ripping your hand away from? Ultimately, you’re moving away from lasting success. Hold the line longer today and then tomorrow. Incremental growth will lead to geometric growth.

And, as I said before, though it bears repeating, no one is going to see you test your limits. This is all going on behind the scenes. It’s those day long training sessions. Those late nights working on your blog. People are going to call you crazy. Let them. Be committed to running your own race and to hell with the naysayers. You may not be smarter or physically stronger, but you can beat people mentally. You can out-work and outlast the competition. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

I’ve endured the past 365 days of training. I’ve endured the past 10 years of building 5 business with 40 employees and over 300 independent contractors. Now it’s time to execute, to deliver, to celebrate. But only for a minute. Then it’s back to the grind. Because that grind is the real success.

The Big Impact of Little Moments

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I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday with their friends and family! There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned family BBQ, parade, or fireworks display to remind you to slow down and be present (it’s hard to check email on your phone when you’re manning the grill or chasing your kids around the yard!). These are moments and memories that will truly last a lifetime. I guarantee your kids will be reminiscing about these times together 25 years from now when they’re hosting their own family gatherings. It’s easy to make holidays special, but how do we channel that energy and presence into every day life? How do we make every moment count? How do we create defining and memorable moments every day?

Last week, I read the book, The Power of Moments by Dan Heath & Chip Heath, and it really resonated with me as a father, a husband, a friend, and a leader. The concepts are simple, but so applicable to every aspect of life. From your relationship with your partner to the experience you create for your clients, it’s all about little moments of surprise and delight. The beauty of this concept is that it costs little to no money – when you’re talking about the power of moments, it really is the thought that counts – the more novel the better. Think about this, up until your mid-20s, so many moments are new, exciting novelties (your first kiss, first night away from your parents, first beer, living on your own, moving in with your partner, marriage, etc.) As you near your 30s, these novelties decrease and it’s easy to get stuck living the same life year after year. And if you’re feeling this, imagine how your co-workers, employees, clients, and customers feel? There is a huge opportunity to create new moments for your customers and that is something they are not going to forget anytime soon (considering it could be the only surprising moment they’ve had in years!).

About a week ago I challenged my team CEOs to test out this novelty idea with their children, partner, or a complete stranger. Again, the novelty didn’t have to be extravagant, the simpler the better. It was all about disrupting their daily routine and creating a moment, that could turn into a wonderful memory for the recipient years from now. Here are some of the moments that were created in less than 24 hours:

  • Met [my wife] at the new house we’re building to check on progress. I was coming from the office and beat her there. I picked some wildflowers and gave them to her when she pulled in. Cool novelty moment for sure!
  • Well in one hand I had a jug of washer fluid for [my wife’s] car and she thought that was so sweet! And then Boom!!! Flowers in the other hand! [She] loved them both! Thanks for the reminder!
  • Took my daughter to her favorite place to eat (after telling her I was cooking a meal I know she hates).
  • I texted some very special people in my life this message: “Hola, Today I was reminded to let the important people in my life know that they are special and they make my world go round and a better place. That person would be you 🙂 Thanks so much for being in my journey and I honor the light in you. Xoxo.”
  • I brought home treats for the kids last night and brought in breakfast for my team this am!
  • I got my girlfriend some flowers, she had a huge smile on her face. I got [my Executive Assistant] a gift card from PetSmart for her 2 cute little puppies that she adores!!!
  • Over 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometrial cancer that required extensive treatment and surgeries. SOMEHOW [my husband] was attracted to me during this time and was doing everything in the book to get me just to date him. He was taking me to and from doctor’s appointments and since I couldn’t hold anything down at the time, he found that I was only able to hold down a Wendy’s Frosty. For MONTHS at a time he would ring my doorbell and leave a Wendy’s Frosty on my doorstep (not the smartest move considering we live in Texas and you can fry an egg on the sidewalk), but nonetheless, it was the thought that counts! Yesterday he walked in carrying 2 Frosty’s one for me and one for our sweet [son], It was [our son’s] very first time experiencing the deliciousness of a Frosty and for me….it had been over a decade since I last had one. It was the best reminder of  how blessed we truly are. The moment was priceless… Adam, thank you for pushing [my husband] to be the best version of himself!

The really cool thing is that these moments were just as incredible for the GIVER as they were for the receiver. Even my team who were just reading the responses were inspired and moved. One small moment can have a ripple effect. Take this concept and apply it to your business, your career, your home life, and your daily interactions. What an incredible impact you could make in the world!

Now, I will challenge all of you to do what my CEOs did. Go create a novel moment for someone and share it in the comments! Let’s inspire each other to be better, to do more, to give more. You can transform a life today.

Speed Interviewing: The Best Screening Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

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It’s Summer in Vermont. Yes, I know we’re known more for being a quintessential Winter Wonderland. And, yes, winter does pretty much last for six months. But have you seen Vermont in Summer? That is when Vermont really shines. The days are long and hot. Nature becomes our playground – from kayaking and swimming in the lake, to hiking and biking in the mountains, to exploring farmer’s markets and vineyards during the day, to tasting craft brews and listening to live music in sprawling fields at night. Vermont is where people come to live, work, and play. We’ve got the live and play thing on lock (and the media tends to focus on that). But we’ve got the whole work thing down too. Vermont is full of nationally renowned employers, global enterprises, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. The innovation is real. So is the war for talent.

The Federal Reserve estimates that the unemployment rate is going to be 3.5% by 2019, and we’re already at 3.8%. What does that mean for growing companies? It means that the pool of people actively searching for jobs is smaller. Top talent is already out in the workforce kicking ass. It means that employers need to be even more aggressive and diligent about sharing their mission and vision and attracting talent to them (which sometimes means selling them on the maple syrup and mountains too). In fact, now more than ever, you’ve got to be a corporate talent scout. Professional sports teams spend billions of dollars and many, many years on scouting for and building a bench of talent (sometimes as early as middle school!). Are you that committed to talent acquisition for your organization? At our company, we have one of our best people (my Chief of Staff, Hallie Warner), constantly screening, recruiting, networking, connecting, building relationships, and building a bench of talent for current positions, as well as for positions we’ll need to fill 3-5 years from now. We are deeply committed to building a pipeline of talented people and keeping our foot on the gas in order to grow the business through others. This also means that while we’re out hunting and fishing for talent, we have to be cognizant of where the top people are hanging out. It’s not enough to just go fishing for talent, you’ve got to fish from the highest level talent pool you can think of.

We have found that while we get hundreds of resumes a month, we may do screening interviews with only 20% of those, and then less than half of those candidates will make it to round two. Because of our incredibly high standards and uniquely fast-paced, results-oriented organization we need to get in front of a lot of people in order to bring only the best of the best into our world.  Sounds like a tall order for our hiring managers, right?

Well, it is! However, we’ve gotten pretty good at spotting talent and one way we create massive efficiency is by having mastered the screening interview. Like I mentioned before, we may screen 10-20 candidates a week. And 2-3 of those candidates will move forward to an in-person, in-depth interview. So, how do we get through that many candidates quickly, while still learning a great deal about whether or not they will survive and thrive in our organization? It’s all about the art of the 15 minute screening interview (which we do over the phone to save even more time for everyone).

Why the screening interview? It’s a great way to save time and identify the top talent to take through the rest of the hiring process. It’s a efficient way to review their resume and their track record of success. It’s a place to evaluate their communication skills and their email etiquette (usually while scheduling the phone interview).

During the screening interview we’re not so much looking for specific answers, as we are about what is and isn’t being said. We’re on the hunt for information that we can use to determine if they are the right fit for our company, for this position, or for another opportunity in our company. How quickly do they respond to answers? Are they internal or external processors? Do they give concrete examples or skim over the question? Do they have goals? Do they have daily success habits? How self-aware are they? Can they admit to their failures and mistakes? Do they call you on time, three minutes late, or five minutes early? Have they done any research on your company – if so, how much? What kind of questions do they ask? Do they even have any questions?

You’ve only got 15 minutes, so ask great questions and listen carefully. Below are some of our favorite screening interview questions:

  1. What do you know about Adam Hergenrother Companies?
  2. What interested you most about this position?
  3. Is there anything that worries you about this position?
  4. How does your experience relate to this position?
  5. Why are you looking to make a change now?
  6. What’s your daily routine?
  7. What energizes you outside of the office?
  8. What’s the biggest misperception people have of you?
  9. What’s most important to you in your work?
  10. Tell me about a big mistake you made at work in the past 6-12 months. What did you learn from it?
  11. What are your personal and professional goals for the next 2-3 years?
  12. Why wouldn’t we hire you?
  13. What’s your timeline for making a move?
  14. This position pays between $X and $X. Is that consistent with your expectations?
  15. What questions do you have for me?

After, the initial screening interview, if we determine that the candidate might be a good fit for either that position, or another position in our company, then we will invite them to take our behavior assessment and come to the office for a second interview. Getting in front of as many potential candidates is critical and the screening interview helps us do that efficiently.

A few things to note:

  • Make sure you tailor your screening interview questions to the specific position as needed
  • If you are doing a general talent meeting, prep questions that will identify specific behavioral traits you are looking for or overall alignment with your company and culture.
  • State and federal employment laws are constantly changing. If you are ever in doubt about what you should and shouldn’t ask, consult with your Human Resources team or your attorney.

We’re a fast growing company and the only way we are going to keep growing is to bring talented individuals into our organization. If you want to learn more about career opportunities at Adam Hergenrother Companies, click here.

Interested in learning more about our hiring process and how to recruit and hire top talent? Join me in Portsmouth, NH on September 13 & 14 for Career Visioning.

For a complete break-down of our screening interview process, check out our Director of Marketing, Erin McCormick’s webinar, The Art of the 15 Minute Screening Interview.

What screening interview questions would you add to this list?