Why Virtual Brokerages Will Make Real Estate Expansion Teams Unstoppable

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As soon as I was out of the mountains of Kenauk Nature Resort and back in cell service my email and phone started blowing up. Earlier this week at Mega Camp (one of Keller William’s annual conferences) in Austin, John Davis, CEO of KWRI (Keller Williams Realty International), announced the creation of virtual brokerages. Cue questions, confusion, excitement, and general pandemonium. What does this mean for market centers? How does this effect agents? What exactly is Expansion? What does this mean for caps? Will everyone have access to this? How do I get you in my market center? How do I build an Expansion business and take advantage of this? What is a virtual brokerage?

Let’s slow down a second. Expansion (which we originally called Duplication) is when a real estate team owner, who is part of a brokerage, expands their business outside of their local market. Think of Expansion as a team without geographic borders. Gary Keller actually gave birth to this idea 15-20 years ago. Perhaps agents and the industry weren’t ready for it. Perhaps technology wasn’t ready for it. About 5-7 years later, Gary tried again and it failed for a second time! But, in 2011, Gary and I started to have these conversations about Expansion and it clicked for me instantly. You see, I was in a geographically challenged area, where I would always be limited to a certain size business because of the wonderful (and small) state that I live in, Vermont. We have approximately 2,700 real estate transactions per year – yes, you read that right. 2,700 transactions for the entire state. I don’t like to be limited, so when Gary floated the idea of expanding my team beyond the borders of Vermont, I was in.

Hergenrother Realty Group, Gary, a few other business owners, and I have been the pioneers for Expansion over the past 7 years. The first several years was all trial and error and failing forward. We went through several iterations and eventually solidified a model that exemplifies our passion for leadership and leverage. However, in the past 24 months, our competitors caught on to what we were doing and realized that they could provide an expansion model without all the complexities or challenges that Keller Williams has faced due to franchise rights and Market Center territories. We may have created Expansion, but our competitors were exploiting it.

In order to stay competitive and at the top of the industry, we needed to make a global change to the Expansion model. Enter virtual brokerages. Virtual brokerages are something that I have been pushing (rather fighting for) for over 18 months now. Last week in a private board room with Gary Keller, John Davis, KWRI’s legal team, KW’s CTO, and three other Expansion business owners, we were finally able to nail down the virtual brokerage model. Hence the announcement at Mega Camp last week. This doesn’t mean that Market Centers or traditional brokerages and independent agents are dead. They simply need to shift and adjust to the changing landscape of the real estate industry in order to stay competitive. Expansion only adds to the viability of Market Centers. And independent agents who tap into KW technology will thrive.

There are still a lot of details to work out, but here is what we know about how virtual brokerages will work and how they will impact the industry:

  1. BRAND PRESENCE > Essentially, KWRI will create a single “Expansion” brokerage in each state. Those individuals who have earned the right to have a seat at this new brokerage will experience the freedom to go anywhere within the state with one universal brand. This is huge. Right now, because Expansion businesses are locked into individual Market Centers, we need to have a different logo, rules, signs, websites, lead flow, agent name, etc. in each grid we are associated with. In some states, that can be 15-20 Market Centers. The branding complexities alone, not to mention the additional costs, are incredibly challenging especially as Expansion teams are scaling and building a massive company within a company.
  2. CONTROL OUR ASSET > In addition to the branding advantage, virtual brokerages will allow us to control our asset. Right now, Expansion business owners are at the mercy of each leader of a Market Center based on their often subjective rules, opinions, and uninformed decisions about how Expansion teams should run. Right now, Market Centers have all the control and are able to jeopardize a business in a location in a second. You can’t pour millions of dollars, like we have been, into an organization just to be subject to that type of economic risk. It makes absolutely no sense. Our competition agreed. They have all recruited Hergenrother Realty Group (HRG) and other top Expansion businesses, so we know the pitch and the amount of money (millions) they have offered us to switch brokerages. I’d rather keep it in the family. Virtual brokerages puts us on the same playing field with any Market Center or Regional Owner, with the same legal rights and autonomy to build our business as we see fit. This is a huge win for all parties! Now, we all understand the rules of the game and have a clear system for expanding and taking territory.
  3. MARKET CENTER SUPPORT > Market Center owners and leadership are now realizing that they must encourage these elite Expansion business owners to join their offices and provide a supportive environment. Since the announcement of virtual brokerages at Mega Camp, Regional Owners, Market Center owners, Team Leaders and agents have been calling, emailing, texting, and messaging us on social media asking us to explain Expansion and virtual brokerages (which is why you’re reading this blog) and basically bending over backwards to get us into their offices. I find this slightly comical because it’s as if for the past several years, no one but Gary and a few of us building these companies wanted to pay any attention or give us the time of day. No one wanted to change. No one wanted to learn and understand the value of Expansion. But then companies outside of KW were being created because of our unwillingness to embrace this change! That is unacceptable.As the Chinese Proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The time is now. Suddenly, everyone is waking up and realizing we better get our ass to the dance. Again, this is really a win for all parties, because it is where the industry is headed. Gary and I (and a few other people) have been doing this for almost 7 years. It’s time for everyone else to join the party. I predict that the number of Realtors will decrease from about 1.2 Million to under 700,000. And the company that nails Expansion will end up with half of them.

    Market Centers will continue to play an important role in Expansion businesses (I also own a Market Center and business centers, so I want this to work for everyone). Market Centers will provide the physical space, a cohesive culture, and a platform to build off of. Think of Market Centers as Whole Foods for Amazon. Why did Amazon buy a physical location? Because they realized that technology needs to overlap with physical space. It’s no longer one or the other. The companies that succeed will be the ones that embrace robust technology and layer that with a dynamic physical experience. This is where Market Centers of the future and Expansion will exist. For example, inside a Market Center you may have 200-300 agents, with 15 large teams (each with 20 team members). The Market Center of the future will embrace Keller Command, Kelle, and more to enhance agents’ businesses and allow them to scale with a predictable model.

  4. COMPETITIVE CAPS > Expansion businesses who have earned the right to the virtual brokerage model will have universal competitive cap structures. We are still working through various scenarios, but are excited to launch this soon. This will likely be a fixed cap for the Expansion team leader/CEO and then a very small team member cap. It could also be a single team cap per year, for up to 15 agents. The next block of , say 10 agents, may cost another cap per year per team. This is a major win for Expansion businesses. Market Centers will have the right to offer even more discounts or benefits to get Expansion teams into their Market Centers. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve been offered free caps for the entire team to put an HRG team in a Market Center. This is capitalism at it’s best.

So, why Expansion? Why not just join a traditional brokerage or even join Keller Williams as an individual agent? What is the value of Expansion?

Expansion equals execution in real estate. It is the next level of teams. Amazon is awesome. Amazon Prime is even better. HRG executes. We get agents into production – fast – through our models, systems, technology, agent services, accountability, marketing, training, referrals, and exceptional client care, creating customer loyalty and raving fans of our agents and our clients, through both our on-site and centralized services. We have created a culture where high performers come to be pushed and challenged and to grow even more. We back up that culture with our extreme commitment to personal growth through business success through our training and accountability. Ideas come to us to be vetted and the right ones executed on so that we all grow together.

Expansion, with the help of virtual brokerages, are taking the steps to put the agent’s business back in the forefront, not in the hands of Market Center owners. This has been Gary’s vision his entire life. Gary is an agent first, and so am I. Taking care of agents creates an incredible culture for them, and an incredible experience for customers. Expansion is simply supporting this vision from the inside and making it happen faster.

The opportunities with Expansion are endless. One of the elite Expansion teams (and there are only a few) will be then 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th largest real estate companies in the world. The only reason they will not be #1, is because they already operate inside the number 1 organization – Keller Williams Realty. In this case, I’m okay coming in second.

Interested in learning more about Expansion businesses, virtual brokerages, and how you can join forces with one of the elite Expansion teams, right now? Email hallie@adamhergenrother.com and she’ll connect you with the right resource so you don’t miss out on this real estate revolution!

 

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Guest Blogger Hallie Warner – What Does an Executive Assistant Do?

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Last week I talked to two very successful Entrepreneurs who both expressed interest in hiring an Executive Assistant (EA). Smart move. An EA can work wonders for a busy Entrepreneur. However, both business leaders were unsure exactly what this person would do. Fair enough. The Executive Assistant role is one of the least understood positions, in part because it encompasses so many different responsibilities and can differ greatly depending on the industry or Executive/Entrepreneur. My husband doesn’t even fully understand what I do (and I talk about my work a lot).

In the past five years or so, I have seen significant improvements in both the perception of the position and the training available for this career. Yes, executive support and administration is a career. One, I was happy to discover, that was actually very fulfilling and lucrative, because it was made for me (a Type-A, overachieving, organized, detail-oriented, intrapreneurial leader).

SO, WHAT DO EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS DO? WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Executive Assistants are the ultimate force multipliers and project managers. Their project just happens to be their Executive. From purchasing unique gifts for a business associate, to managing internal and external communication, to preparing speeches, to reorganizing staff roles, to managing social media, to creating business plans, and everything in between, we’ve got it covered. Executive Assistants are problem solvers and fixers. They are some of the most resourceful and connected individuals in your organization. If you have a challenge, bring it to your nearest EA, and I guarantee they will have a solution for you by the end of the day. Executive Assistants are leaders and seeing them as anything else is a complete underestimation of their ability and a disservice to you.

The Executive Assistant position is even more unique when you’re talking about working with a Founder, Entrepreneur, or public figure. Earlier this year, I attended a retreat just outside of Seattle where Monique Helstrom, Chief of Simon Sinek (i.e. Executive Assistant to, and Producer of, Simon), was a guest speaker. She was explaining a bit about her position and told us that she recently was talking to Brene Brown’s Executive Assistant about their respective roles. While, in theory, they are in the same industry (EAs to very prominent authors and public speakers) Monique said their roles were completely different. I think that is perfect illustration of why the role is so hard to define in any real specifics. A job description for Simon’s EA, Adam’s EA, or Elon Musk’s EA could all be very different. The Executive Assistant position varies so significantly depending on what industry you work in, how established the organization is, and the personality and behavior of your Executive.

Last summer, Adam published a blog called The 3 Most Important Things a Leader Must Do. They were:

  1. Casting the vision
  2. Providing focus, clarity, and direction for the team
  3. Removing roadblocks

That is a Leader’s (an Executive’s) 20%. Clear and concise. Well, what about an EA’s 20%? It tends to get a bit murky, but I think this sums it up:

An Executive Assistant’s 20% is ensuring the objectives, goals, and vision of the Executive is executed.

So, in theory, the Executive Assistant’s 20% is the Entrepreneur’s bottom 80%, right? An EA handles all the miscellaneous responsibilities, tasks, and administrative duties that allow an Executive to stay focused on leadership, strategy, and communication. But we all know EAs aren’t just going to focus on the 80%, part of their job is helping their Executive manage their 20%.

Adam has a really great analogy for this concept, that I like to call the 0-10 Principle. As a visionary, Adam has brilliant ideas on the daily. They may not be completely fleshed out, but he has the spark and then sees the end result crystal clear. It is my responsibility to take that idea from a 2 to a 9, bring the idea/project back to him so he can do his final finessing to bring it to a 10. Here’s what that looks like in practice. Adam wants to create an inspirational speaker series that raises funds for his Foundation. Great! That’s at about a 2. I will then take that idea, gather the necessary people, create a timeline, budget, put together a marketing plan, interview speakers, plan the event, and come back to Adam with a final plan, including the speaker line-up. He will offer additional insight, perhaps tweak the speaker order, and come up with an overarching theme for the night. Now we’ve got a 10.

That is how Executive Assistants help their leaders with their 20%. You can apply the concept to almost every aspect of your Executive’s 20%, from drafting a letter to include in the company’s annual report, to revamping their blog, to preparing for a quarterly offsite leadership meeting, to planning a 40th birthday trip for their brother. An Executive Assistant manages the people, details, timelines, etc. to make an idea come to life. This can happen on a large scale like helping them write a book or on a smaller scale like choosing the perfect anniversary gift for their wife. Let’s break this down even further and look at how an EA helps their Executive with their 20%:

FORCE MULTIPLY THE VISION. Communicating the vision is perhaps the most critical component of an Executive’s job. Casting the vision wide and often through strategic communication and branding initiatives generates new business, attracts talent, and boosts employee engagement. Branding and casting the vision go hand in hand.

  1. Schedule regular company updates. These can be in the form of Town Halls, a Letter from the CEO in the annual report, daily blog posts, quarterly video announcements, weekly emails, monthly company meetings, etc. What matters here is that there is a cadence to the communication and that the leader is casting the vision and keeping the team updated and informed regularly. It is the EAs responsibility to schedule these, make sure the cadence is kept and to even prep these letters, meetings, video content, etc. Make sure the CEO’s vision is heard often!
  2. Along with their marketing or brand strategy teams, EAs must specifically reviewing their Executive’s social media regularly to ensure the messaging is in line with the company’s mission and their Executive’s vision. Once the brand is established, EAs must protect it and ensure the messaging is consistent across all channels. How an Executive shows up at church, needs to be the same way he/she shows up on YouTube.
  3. EAs are in a unique position to pitch their Executive for interviews on blogs, national media publications, podcasts, radio shows, etc. They know their Executive’s story, they know their language and how they would answer questions. Submit for awards and as many media mentions as it make sense. EAs are able to craft the message that their Executive wants to be heard, and usually these opportunities lead to even bigger opportunities. Don’t be afraid to start small and build up the brand presence.
  4. EAs can help their Executives write a weekly blog or do a weekly YouTube or Instagram show. The key is consistently delivering the vision and positioning their Executive as a thought leader in his/her industry.

FORCE MULTIPLY COMMUNICATION. Casting the vision means communication with both internal and external stakeholders, so how can an EA enhance these activities to maximize the leader’s reach?

  1. Listen on calls and participate in meetings to listen for anything that their Executive says will be done, delivered, or followed up on. Does their Executive say he’ll make an introduction or get the name of a book to someone? It is an EAs job to ensure that promises made are promises kept.
  2. Managing internal and external relationships is critical. Maintaining a database that houses important, and sometimes seemingly irrelevant, information about people can be a lifesaver. This can be family members, employees, candidates, vendors, community members, former employees, competitors, business leaders, etc. As the EA and their Executive meet with people and conduct research or meeting prep, store any details about the meeting or the individual. Set reminders for anniversaries, birthdays, or important life milestones. I recommend using an inexpensive CRM so you can set tasks and follow-up reminders so you don’t miss an important date. Create a VIP list of people that the Executive wants to either maintain or create a relationship with. Then set up Google alerts that keep you in tune with what these people are doing, awards their company’s receive, etc. It’s a perfect opportunity for the EA to remind their Executive to reach out, call, email, or send a hand-written note. Executive’s will run into these players at conferences or networking and social events. Keep this information handy so it can be pulled out and given to the Executive as a quick refresher before they go to a community event so they don’t forget to congratulate a potential business partner on their recent merger.
  3. The art of the handwritten note is not dead! Incorporate handwritten notes into the correspondence with an Executive’s VIP list. It could be one of the most impactful ways to maximize an Executive’s reach and build relationships. Whether that is thanking someone for coming in to meet with their Executive, or congratulating a competitor on building a new office, handwritten notes get noticed. Pop a business card in there (because not everyone can interpret the Executive’s handwriting and signature like an EA can). To really maximize this, EAs should write thank yous and general notes to vendors or the concierge who went above and beyond helping them book a massage for their Executive when he arrived at his hotel. The more relationships that an EA is able to create will only help them help their Executive. And you never know when a kind word or just knowing the name of the right person at a restaurant will come in handy. Provide value, expecting nothing in return, and it will be returned tenfold.
  4. If an EA travels with their Executive for speaking engagements or hosts training events where their Executive is the keynote presenter, they must pay attention to the audience. What content is resonating? What content could be removed for the next training event? After the event they can update and refresh the Executive’s content accordingly. EAs are the eyes and ears while their Executive is presenting. Watch the room. Who is fully engaged and asking questions? Who is leaving the room every five minutes? Is there talent in the room? After the presentation (especially if it is a day-long event) their Executive is going to be fried, and may need to catch a flight home, and yet everyone is going to want to talk to him. Often an Executive will have a line of people who want to thank him or ask questions. The EA should position herself/himself near their Executive to take business cards, take notes on who to follow-up with, answer questions, or take photos. And perhaps most importantly, to grab their Executive and steer him towards the exit so he doesn’t miss his Uber!

FORCE MULTIPLY FOCUS, CLARITY, AND DIRECTION. This is all about leading and managing up so the Executive is making the right decisions, has the right meetings on his calendar, and is in relationship with the right people in order to achieve the company’s objectives. If one of the Executive’s primary goals is to ensure the team is on track and focused on what must be done that day, week, or month, then that’s the Executive Assistant’s goal too.

  1. When an EA is scheduling or drafting regular communication for their Executive make sure the message is clear and ties back in specific tasks that keep everyone focused.
  2. During key leadership meetings, note all action items and follow up accordingly. If no action items are clear, do not leave the meeting without everyone agreeing to what the next best steps are or what the course of action is and who is doing what.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, when the Executive is getting hit from multiple angles or when they start chasing a shiny object, remind them of what is important and what the team had agreed to focus on that quarter. Entrepreneurs are visionaries and will have endless ideas. Make note of them and if they aren’t part of the overall goals, table them for now. If the Executive asks about them twice, then it’s time to bring them to the forefront and get their buy-in that they should be moved to the 20% for both the Executive and EA to tackle.

FORCE MULTIPLY REMOVING ROADBLOCKS. Once the vision is cast and everyone is clear on what they need to focus on for success, help the team get there!

  1. Research tools and provide cost/benefit analysis to the Executive so they can make the best decision for the team.
  2. Make sure the Executive is regularly available for impromptu meetings. While EAs are often the gatekeeper, do not block access to the “throne”. Schedule in time for the Executive to walk around and check in with people. Do no over schedule them so much that they are not available for a quick question that if unanswered could hold up a project for days.
  3. Be the eyes and ears for the Executive and bring the challenges and solutions to him of issues that if not nipped in the bud could fester and create organizational issues. This could be employee morale, inefficiencies in staffing, or a clunky system. Speak up and help find a solution so everyone can keep moving forward.

An Executive’s 20% is also an Executive Assistant’s 20%. They may complete different tasks to get there, but they are still a part of making it happen. Own it.

Regardless of the exact responsibilities Executive Assistants have, I haven’t met individuals who work harder to accomplish a mission. While I am no longer Adam’s Executive Assistant (I passed the torch to our amazing EA, Amy, last year!), when Adam did travel without me, I didn’t go to bed unless I knew he had arrived. I emailed with him at 2am before he went off the grid to hike Kilimanjaro. I came into the office on weekends to work on a project, prepare for an event, or move offices. I got out of bed more than once to rearrange travel and get him booked on a new flight after delays or cancellations. It needed to be handled. I handled it. I’m sure this is sounding pretty familiar to my fellow EAs (and perhaps many Chiefs of Staff).

For people who don’t quite understand this unique role, they tend to think Executive’s are expecting too much or that these requests are unacceptable or intrusive. But what they don’t know is that very rarely does the Executive actually have to request that these things happen – they just get done of the EAs own volition. I knew what I was signing up for, in fact, I thrive on this. I work for an incredibly interesting and dynamic entrepreneur and I am helping him build multiple organizations; occasionally work doesn’t happen between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. The trade-off? I get to work for an incredibly interesting and dynamic entrepreneur and help him build multiple organizations – the work is challenging, rewarding, and it doesn’t hurt that I have complete flexibility with my schedule and unlimited vacation and time off.

This is just a starting point for those Entrepreneurs who are looking  to hire an Executive Assistant or who want to establish a better relationship with their right hand. The nuances are endless. I have been the Executive Assistant, and now Chief of Staff for eight years with the same Executive, yet my job today looks nothing like it did eight years ago. The only constant is that I am still responsible for, and committed to, ensuring Adam’s vision is implemented.

Since we’re on the topic of the power of the partnership between EA and Entrepreneur, Adam and I are excited to share that we are working on a book about this very topic! Click here to get on the pre-order list and help us choose the title! 


hallie warnerABOUT HALLIE WARNER

Hallie Warner is the Chief of Staff to Adam Hergenrother at Adam Hergenrother Companies. With over ten years of experience supporting the C-Suite, Hallie has mastered the ability to lead and assist by assessing current needs, initiating change, and executing projects. As Executive Assistant, and later as Chief of Staff, Hallie has worked side-by-side with Adam for over seven years, ensuring that Adam’s vision is communicated and executed. Hallie also works closely with the executive team to manage special projects, hire and grow talent, and maximize Adam’s reach through training events and strategic communication. With a focus on business development activities, she works to maintain the company brand and create and manage key internal and external relationships to drive company growth. Hallie is also a coach and trainer through Adam Hergenrother Training helping others to become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally.

For more information on the Leader & Force Multiplier relationship, visit Hallie’s blog: www.LeadandAssist.com.

Creating Your Future Self Today

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Cabin in the woods of Vermont with enough land for ATVs? Check. Beautiful, healthy third child? Check. Build, own, and hold an office building as an asset? Check. These are all things I wrote down on my Future Self worksheet over three years ago that came to fruition in the past couple of years. The Future Self is one of the most impactful tools that I’ve ever used to make my dreams for the future a reality. You can too.

One of the coolest things about the Future Self is that it gets you to think differently and be purposeful about your goals. The Future Self is your North Star, your navigation, that will bring your dreams into clear focus so that you are not simply floating through life with no paddle, and no direction.

The Future Self is about creating the life that you want. Think big! This is not a time to think small or put limits on yourself. Where will you be in three years? What do you want your life to look like by then? The Future Self is your guide for where you are going, for what you’re going to do, what is going to show up, and who you are going to become. The possibilities are endless. It’s your life; you control your destiny.

The Future Self is broken into six categories:

  1. PROFESSIONAL – While this part can be financial, it also includes your career and business. What is your next career step? What do you want your work-life integration to look like? Are you self-employed? Do you need to find a new company that aligns better with your values? Do you want to start a side hustle?
  2. FINANCIAL – How much money do you want to make? Do you want to make a specific amount per month in passive income? How often and how much do you want to invest? Do you need to get out of debt? How much money do you want to give each year? Do you have a net worth goal?
  3. PHYSICAL – How do you want to look and feel? Write down what you are going to DO to achieve that. This can be tied to a weight, body fat percentage, or a physical accomplishment such as running a marathon or attending a yoga retreat. How many days a week do you want to exercise? Do you have specific health goals like lowering your blood pressure or increasing flexibility?
  4. SOCIAL – This is the play part of your life – the fun, recreation, and non-familial relationships. How many vacations do you want to take over the next three years, and more specifically, where? How often do you get together with friends for coffee? How many play dates do you and your kids go to each month? Do you want to start volunteering?
  5. FAMILY – What does your family structure look like? Do you want to have children? Get married (or divorced)? Have a better relationship with your in-laws? Share you family goals with your family! Some of the biggest arguments happen when there is a lack of communication and clarity about what everyone wants out of the relationship or life. Make sure you’re in sync with your partner and your family.
  6. SPIRITUAL – Spirituality goes beyond religion. Spirituality is about understanding that the world is much bigger than you (believe it or not, you are just an insignificant speck in the grand scheme of the universe). There is more to life than you and to the external. Get outside yourself. Will you start a mediation practice? A gratitude journal? How many times will you attend church each month? Do you have a ritual for reminding yourself to keep an open heart?

There are a few best practices to keep in mind as you are creating your Future Self:

  • Think about what you want your life to look like in three years. Three year increments work well!
  • Write your vision out in the present tense, as if you have already accomplished those goals three years from now.
  • Make sure you are using very specific, measurable goals. Bring everything back to a number.
  • Place your Future Self where you can read it every day. Put it in your car, on your nightstand, on your refrigerator, or laminate it and put it in the shower!

By reading your Future Self each day, you bring awareness to where you want to go so your subconscious begins to pick up ways to help you achieve your goals and the life you want. More opportunities seem to show up, momentum builds, and before you know it you’ve accomplished your goals well before the three year mark. Every morning, when you read your Future Self, you have an exact idea of where you are going. This is your life! Take control and set the intention of where you want to go.

As a side note, 45% of our daily habits are unintentional and unaccounted for. That’s almost half of our day where we are just drifting through life, doing the same thing we did the day before because it’s a habit, it’s comfortable. Put your pants on – left leg first. Brush your teeth. Drive to work. We’re on auto-pilot 45% of the time! If you don’t hold your habits accountable and create new, more beneficial habits, then you will stay stuck in mediocrity. Hold your habits accountable by starting with your Future Self.

The Future Self gives you a road map and a flash light. Whenever you get lost, stuck, or frustrated, go back to your Future Self (though you’re reading it daily so you shouldn’t forget, right?) and remind yourself where you are going. If you can sustain the habit of reading your Future Self daily, you’re already ahead of 95% of the population. And before you know it, those ideas that were only words on a sheet of paper, become reality.

But there’s a catch. Just reading your Future Self (for a week, two months, etc.) isn’t enough. You have to do it every day for years so that it becomes ingrained in your subconscious. Opportunities are going to show up. They are going to be uncomfortable. You might not feel ready for them. But you must act! The universe doesn’t just dump success in your lap. You have to set your intention and when pieces of your Future Self start showing up, you have to have the courage to attack it with all you’ve got. If you never stretch (good stress) yourself then you will never grow. You must find the optimal amount of stress and then push hard, recover (grow) and repeat. That’s the growth cycle. Stress, rest, repeat.

One last note: You may read your Future Self for a year or two and feel like nothing major has happened. Stick with it. It could be that last month where everything falls into place. And, there may be three year cycles where you just don’t hit your goal in three years. If they are important to you, you keep them on your Future Self for the next three years, and the three years after that until you achieve them. Life is a journey, not an end point.

Want a blank copy of the Future Self (and a copy of Adam’s Future Self)? Email amy@adamhergenrother.com. Even better, share your Future Self with us! It’s amazing what opportunities seem to magically appear when you are purposeful about reviewing your goals and sharing what you want out of life with others! The more you focus on your Future Self, your future goals, the more real that version of yourself becomes. It will only be a matter of time before you are living the life you imagined.

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?

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?

Why Bad Burnout Happens to Good People

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There is an interesting dichotomy in the professional world right now. On one hand we’ve got the workaholics and on the other we’ve got those individuals in constant search of work-life balance. The workaholics scoff at the idea of “balance” and those who seek balance don’t understand the relentless obsession of the workaholics. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Well, it’s not as simple as that.

The workaholics are driven by and fueled by their chosen profession – it could be their calling, a desire to prove themselves to their family, or simply a need for a certain title or income. It’s about the work and what the work means for them – whatever the reason. Work often comes first and the workaholics are unapologetic about it. They don’t feel the need for a break from work because they typically enjoy what they do and don’t consider it work. Whether they are engaged in a side-hustle, on year 7 of their high growth start-up, training to become a professional athlete, or on the fast-track to making partner – workaholics are driven by their work. It may mean extremely long hours, personal sacrifices, working nights and weekend, but, again, for their own reasons, their work fuels them.

The work-life balance camp are looking for more separation, more boundaries between work and life. And they are unapologetic about protecting their time out of office. Up until around the 1980s, work-life balance wasn’t even part of our lexicon. It was just how the professional world worked. Most of the working population went to work and came home and that was that. Very few took work home with them and unless they were getting phone calls on their land-line or faxes at home, they were largely disconnected once they left the office. For the past 30+ years, as smart phones have gotten smarter and the competitive edge more competitive, the lines between “work” and “home” have become blurred. Workaholics tend to embrace this world. Work any time from anywhere – great! While the work-life balance individuals are rebelling against this new norm. Again, who’s right and who’s wrong?

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I believe there is a time and place for workaholism. In fact, my company is at a place in it’s growth where we need and want workaholics to grow alongside us. Instead of trying to get them to work harder, answer emails “after hours”, or chip in and help out with a project on the weekend, they are already there, sleeves rolled up, ready to get dirty and get the job done. The challenge I tend to have with my team is getting them to leave the office at a reasonable hour or take a vacation. That’s not a bad problem to have in my opinion.

And when it comes to work-life balance, I believe in work-life integration.

Here’s what work-life integration means to me: It’s the daily integration of growing, working, and playing. Now, before you get hung up on the playing part (I’m talking to you, workaholics!), remember it doesn’t mean your play needs to be 7 hours a day, it can be 30 minutes or an hour or two, depending on the day. The key is that each day you are 1) putting particular focus on growing yourself, 2) working hard on the most important task or project that will have the biggest impact on your business or job, and 3) playing and enjoying life. As a leader, it’s my job to make sure that my team is constantly touching all three of these areas each day. Integrating their work, their life, their family, their growth as much as possible day after day until it is a continuous loop of consistent growth. 

After all, there are 168 hours in the week and those people who are after work-life balance, aren’t looking to work 84 hours! And neither am I. I believe that if we are aligned with our natural behavior and doing work that fulfills us (no matter how many hours a week we do it for), we’re not going to feel like we’re a workaholic nor are we going to be searching for more balance. If we’re in alignment, it’s going to feel just right.

Regardless of my take on this whole work-life balance vs. workaholism thing, as leaders, we have to keep an eye on our team. When we work at the pace we do, really for any start-up or high growth company, you have to keep an eye out for burnout of your employees. We must manage our employee’s energy, their work-load, and what they are focused on. We must pay attention to when they need a break and need some rest and recovery time. It’s not as simple as time “on” and time “off” though. Most of my team, myself include, would rather be working than doing pretty much anything else. Who am I to tell them not to do what they like to do!?

But what we do need to watch out for is real burnout. Burnout is defined as the mental or physical collapse caused by overwork or stress. Rest and recovery time are critical for this. Taking time to unplug, exercise, get outside, or watch a Walking Dead marathon, all have their time and place. The piece I want to focus on here is stress.

Burnout doesn’t happen from the number of hours worked or even from the intensity of work. Burnout happens for a couple of reasons:

  1. When you are not growing.
  2. When you are out of alignment with your natural behavior.
  3. When you are not having success for an extended period of time.

So if you’ve got a company or team of workaholics how do you help them avoid burnout?

First, make sure you have a clear understanding of your direct reports’ goals, personally and professionally. Are you meeting with your team regularly. Are you encouraging them to take on a new project and pushing them to get out of their comfort zone? When you’re not growing, you’re dying. If your team members start to feel stagnant, or feel there is no room for them to grow at you company, the work they do tends to become less engaging and can lead to stress, which leads to burnout. Make sure you have a clear growth plan for each of the positions in your company and communicate that often. Not everyone will take you up on it. But knowing that growth is available is often enough.

Do you understanding the natural behavior of each of your team members? Do you know how they respond to stress? Do you know what work environments they thrive in? Do you understand their communication style? If you answered “no” to even one of these questions, it’s time to do a deep dive into your team members’ personality and behavior. There are a ton of free assessments on the internet – check out the DISC or 16 Personalities to start. Once you have a clear understanding of their behavior, you’ve got to ask yourself if they are in the right position in your company to achieve success. For example, if you have a High I personality (see DISC profile), and they are in a data entry position, with little people contact, that is a complete mis-match. Now, any intelligent individual can learn and perform a job. But they are not going to be fulfilled, they are going to be stressed each day operating outside of their natural behavior and if that goes on for too long, it can lead to burnout. Again, burnout isn’t just about numbers of hours worked, but time spent on projects, tasks, or in a job that is not the right fit. Matching natural behavioral styles with the behavior needed to thrive in a position is the cornerstone of our hiring practice. However, occasionally, mismatches occur. If you know your team, you can spot this and avoid burnout by shifting staff or tweaking job descriptions. In my opinion the fastest way to burnout is if people are in a company that they love, but a role they hate. And if your team isn’t aligned with the mission or vision of the company or their leader, then burnout will happen much, much faster. Make sure people are not only aligned with the right position for their behavior, but with where you and the company are going.

Burnout also occurs when an individual is failing over and over and over again. Okay, okay, yes, I am proponent of failure and failing forward. But there comes a point where a team member can just be banging their head against the wall, trying to get through, and nothing seems to be working. Failure like this, for a long time, with no clear wins can be exhausting, deflating, and can cause burnout. This is where you need to step in. Does your employee need to step back and take a day off? Do they need some additional training? Do they need to be taken off the project or have someone else come in to help? Is it simply too much work for one person? Does your employee have the skills to accomplish what you are asking of them? Do they need help re-prioritizing or chunking down the project into bite-size pieces so that they can accomplish one small part and have a victory and then build upon that? Going too long without any success, no matter how small, is discouraging and stressful, which leads to burnout. Help your team member get a win that they can build on.

Burnout can happen to the best of us. And as a leader, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your team, watch for signs of burnout, and mitigate it as much as possible. When your employees are burned out it can have massive financial repercussions for your company in the form of costly mistakes, missed opportunities, or having a skilled employee leave. For your team members, the cost could be even greater with effects on their mental and physical health. When you team members have got their heads down, getting shit done, it’s your job to keep scanning the room, the company, spotting the signs of burnout and redirecting focus for the good of your team and your company.

Have you experienced burnout or seen it show up in your company? What were the warning signs? What are you doing as a leader to mitigate burnout in the future?

 

 

 

 

Do You Have a Lead Generation Problem or a Lead Conversion Problem?

 

leads

15-3. That’s the battle cry of our expansion real estate team, Hergenrother Realty Group. 15 minutes of script practice, followed by 3 hours of lead generation every morning. Well, I say lead generation lightly. We’ve been calling it that for the past 6 years (and as an industry on the whole, we’ve been calling it that for decades!). But our team has been making a mindset shift over the past couple of weeks from lead generation to lead follow-up. Because the reality is, our team doesn’t need more leads. They need to follow-up and convert the leads they have.

Do you have a lead generation problem or a lead conversation problem?

I’ll make it simple for you. 80% of you have a lead conversion, a lead follow-up problem, NOT a lead generation problem. This is not unique to the real estate industry, but any sales profession. Take a look at the number of people in your database. If you have more than 100 names (and I’m sure some of you have more than 1,000 leads between online leads, sphere of influence (SOI), open house leads, etc.), then you don’t need more leads! You need to learn how to master the boredom of extreme follow-up and conversion. Our team isn’t even calling it lead generation any more! It’s lead follow-up. Sure, I would encourage them to lead generate for maybe 30 minutes a day. But the secret to success is in the follow-up. That’s where the money is. 3+ hours a day of follow-up and your career will be made. Don’t commit to 3+ hours a day of follow-up and you’ll continue to ride the sales roller coaster, a few sales one month, and then no sales for several months. That is no way to build a career, a business, or a life.

Let’s break this down:

Lead Generation – The process of procuring new names and contact information for your database. This can be done online, through networking events, sales seminars, product demonstrations, open houses, etc. Yes, you do need to add new names to your database regularly. However, most sales professionals are either on a team or part of a company that generates the majority of the leads for them (through radio ads, online leads, direct mail advertising, etc.).

Lead Follow-Up – The process of calling, texting, emailing, dropping by, Facebook messaging, etc. existing leads between 6 and 12 times in order to connect. And when they tell you no, you put them on a follow-up campaign to reach back out at a later date. It’s never a NO, it’s just a not right now. Be there and be ready for these leads when they do finally raise there hand, because they will.

Lead Conversion – You have made contact! Maybe you’re having several conversations and are starting to develop a relationship (clients for life, am I right?). Time to move them out of the friend zone and into a paying customer. Conversion is all about getting a lead to say yes to whatever you are asking (usually a sale or potential sale). They have committed to working with you and your goals are aligned. This comes with a lot of practice (yes, knowing your sales scripts), but even more importantly understanding your industry and the market backwards and forwards, being a master of practical psychology, and being able to consult with your lead, understand their goals and their challenges, and provide the solution for them. Conversion complete. However, conversion’s not going to happen if you are not relentlessly following-up.

Need even more convincing that lead follow-up is the game you have to play to win? Check out these stats:

  • You must respond to online leads in less than 5 minutes (30 seconds is better). After 10 minutes your qualifying rate drops by 400%.
  • You must attempt contact with a lead 6-12 times before a connection is made.
  • 80% of real estate agents give up after the third contact attempt!
  • Potential buyer/seller leads are entering their contact information on an average of 19 websites. 76% of them will work with the first agent or team that contacts them.
  • Over 30% of leads are never contacted by a sales representative.
  • The best time to call to qualify a lead is between 4pm – 5pm, the second best time is 8am – 9am.
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to qualify leads.

What does that mean for you? You will have a competitive edge by just calling and following up with at lead! Speed to lead is critical. And never, ever, let a lead go untouched.

Your database of leads is your bank account. There could be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars, just sitting there waiting for you to make your move. Forget about generating leads. Make it all about the follow-up, before, during, and after you’ve made the sale. That’s right, just because you’ve made a commission, doesn’t mean you get to walk away from that lead. That was one sale. How about their friends, family, colleagues? Did you get a referral? What about 3 years from now when that client moves? Or two weeks from now when their parents are looking to downsize? Will you be the first person they thing of, the first person they call? Probably not, unless you have developed some sort of post-sale follow-up system. This one lead, could generate 5+ more leads! Check-in regularly, invite them to community events, send them handwritten notes every time they have a milestone in their life, email them discounts or articles of interest – provide value and keep your name in front of them (by the way, most of this can and should be automated). Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

No matter what industry you are in or where you keep your list of contacts, go take a look at your database right now. How many potential clients do you have right in front of you? How many of them have you talked to recently? Following-up is the first step towards conversion. Get after it.