5 Simple Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

So, I have this friend, that whenever he sees a plate of brownies or a big ole chocolate cake, he. just. wants. one. bite. And before he knows it, he’s eaten 3/4 of a cake, one sliver at a time. You know what I’m talking about, right? And at that point, if you’re like the majority of the population, the “what the hell” effect kicks in. You’ve had a ton of cake, what the hell, might as well go for that second glass of wine. You’ve had the wine, what the hell, might as well skip your workout tomorrow and sleep in. Missed the workout? What the hell, guess I’ll order that pizza and just start my workouts again on Monday.
The what the hell effect is real. It’s a cycle when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. And it’s even more intensified around the holidays. There is a family, work, or kid event almost every week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and virtually all of them are underscored by food. And I guarantee your coworker is serving sliders, not salad.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll start eating healthy next week, actually, the holidays are almost here, so I’ll just start that fitness routine next year.” That’s almost thirty days away people! And let’s be honest, it’s not just the new routine you need to start, it’s also managing the temptations and impulse to indulge around the holidays, because, what the hell?
The fact of the matter is, it’s not easy to stick to a plan or your goals or in general live a healthy life, especially around the holidays. Too many people are giving themselves an out and encouraging you to do the same because it makes them feel better! Be strong. The mental victory you’ll get by exercising some control and moderation is a far greater reward than eating an entire cheese plate. Now, if you want to cheat, have a treat. ONE. But don’t let that derail the rest of your day or week. It’s just not worth it in the long run. And you’ll just be regretting it come January 1.
So, what can you do to stay healthy during the holidays? Read on.
  1. Get a smaller plate. —> You all know you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And I get that you may want to indulge a little around the holidays. The operative word being little. A great way to do that is by choosing a smaller plate. Grab an appetizer dish at a party or one of your kid’s plates when you’re going in for leftovers. Size does matter. Just reaching for a smaller plate will cut down on how much food you eat and how much better you’ll feel the next day. Bonus? Take a lap around the buffet table before you dive in, so you’re really conscious about what you’re choosing and so you only get the really good stuff (on your small plate)!
  2. Carry a water bottle with you. —> A good rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day. A 200lb dude should be drinking about 100 ounces of water a day, more if he’s working out. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, bring a water bottle with you. It can help curb hunger, will definitely keep you hydrated, and will stop you from get that 3rd Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks. Here’s my go-to water bottle.
  3. Don’t skip meals. —> The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to go crazy at your sister-in-law’s soiree. If you know you’re going to a party later that night, eat small, frequent, and healthy meals throughout the day. Save up those calories for when you want them, but don’t starve yourself all day. That actually slows down your metabolism and can end up backfiring! Better to stick as close to a regular routine as possible  and grab that smaller plate!
  4. Bring a healthy dish. —> You are probably not the only one who is trying not to gain 20lbs over the holidays. Other guests will appreciate that you brought a healthy/gluten free/dairy free/vegan/paleo/whatever option to the party. It also cuts down on the anxiety you may get about if there will be anything there that you can eat (whether it’s due to lifestyle or an allergy).
  5. Make time to exercise. —> When life gets crazy, the first thing to go is usually something for yourself (i.e. exercise). If you’ve already got a fitness or training habit down – don’t stop! If it’s something you plan on working on in the new year – start now! It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just move. Walk, run, or do some yoga the morning before a big party – something to wake up your metabolism. Make it a family affair. There is nothing better then going sledding before Christmas dinner or going for a long walk after New Year’s Day brunch. Do not make excuses, just make the time. 10 or 15 minutes is all you need!

Most importantly, enjoy! Enjoy time with your friends and family, be gentle with yourself, and be realistic. Do not try to lose 15 lbs or get a new PR during the holidays if you know you are also going to allow yourself some indulgences. Now, if are 110% committed to not having any sweets, not drinking any alcohol, etc. then more power to you (I support you 1000%!). But, if you do plan to do one less workout a week or add a few more drinks then usual, do not expect to have massive results. Focus instead on maintaining and staying in the moment and enjoying each experience.

What are your best tips for staying healthy during the holidays? Comment below!


Hello? Is Anyone Home? How to Stay Present When You’re Drifting


Have you ever been in a meeting or at a family gathering and you can just feel your eyes glaze over and you start thinking about your last marathon or the latest episode of Blacklist? You’re smiling and nodding at all the right spots. You’re body is there, but you are definitely not. Why is that? The meeting you’re in is probably one you requested. You love your family. You’re a great listener and a brilliant conversationalist. So why can’t you seem to stay there, in the moment?

A couple of things can be happening here and they all come down to mindset, focus, and saying no. Let’s work on this through the process of elimination.

Are you in a meeting, hanging out with friends, or conducting an interview, but you’re mind isn’t there? Well, why did you say yes in the first place? Out of obligation? FOMO? Because you’re letting someone else or something else dictate your time and priorities? Because no one else can do it as good as you can? JUST STOP. The first step is saying no and making sure you’re only doing the things and spending time with the people who are going to get you one step closer to your goals. I was listening to Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill a few weeks ago and the Devil made a solid point – business leaders take care with who they surround themselves with because negative mindset, low level conversations, and mediocrity may cause drifting. Now, the Devil was referring to the aimless drifting of an individual, one who never finds or accomplishes their definite purpose in life, but either way – surround yourself with just anybody and you will drift! It may sound brutal, but your time is precious. You’ve got industries to disrupt and lives to change. Ain’t nobody got time for mediocrity. SIDE NOTE: If you haven’t read Outwitting the Devil go read it now! Napoleon Hill was SO far ahead of his time. The book is fascinating. 

Okay, so let’s say you’ve got this part down – you’re surrounding yourself with the best people on the planet and you’re only saying yes to the critical meetings, activities, etc. that will move you forward. So why are you still not present? It’s time to do a mental and physical energy check. Have you exercised that day? Did you eat breakfast? Is it time for a snack? You could simply need to get up, move, grab some water and then you would be able to refocus immediately. Keep these things in mind. It’s why I prime my body every day with exercise and the proper nutrition. If I know I have X number of meetings that day (that I consciously said yes to), then I still need to make sure I’m 100% present in all of them, no matter if it’s 8am or 4pm.

Taking that a step further, how’s your mindset? Are you meditating, journaling regularly, taking time to think and just breathe? These should be regular parts of your routine so that the possibility of drifting away during a board meeting and missing a crucial piece of information is mitigated. But, shit happens and it’s all about how you deal with it. If you are truly not in the right frame of mind or are mentally exhausted from a massive challenge the day before, then reschedule that interview. It would be a waste of both of your time because no matter how great they were, you may not like the candidate simply because you’re not all there. It’s okay to cancel that board meeting if you know you just don’t have it in you to make one more decision. It’s just a different way of saying no. Say no to the meeting so you can say yes to taking care of you, so you are back at it full force the next day. Now, this shouldn’t happen often if you’re working on your mental, emotional and physical fitness everyday, but it does happen and you just need to be prepared. Decision fatigue is real. Anticipate it, plan for it, and do everything in your power to maintain your energy levels in order to be completely there, wherever you are, whoever you are with.

And the best way to do that is by practicing the art of being fully engaged or strategically disengaged, which is definitely not easy with all the daily distractions, Facebook alerts, and people wanting to just “pick your brain for a minute.” Protect that brain! When you’re on, be on and fully present (using some of the tactics above). If work is kicking your ass and you need to just get things done, then double down and be totally engaged at work. Then, when you get home an hour late, strategically disengage and spend time with your family. So many people may get home from work earlier than you do, but they turn on the TV (wait, there is no TV anymore, I mean Netflix), start chatting with people on Twitter, or bust out Call of Duty for 3 hours and totally miss being present with their family. And these same people have the audacity to talk shit about people who work a lot! It’s not the quantity of time, at home or at work, it’s the quality. An hour of uninterrupted, soul time (giving yourself over completely to your kids, your dog, your best friend) is much more rewarding than 4 hours of being a blob on the couch. You can accomplish far more by being full engaged at the office and strategically disengaged with your family. It’s a choice. In fact a lot of people at my company practice this strategy – work hard until family time, spend purposeful hours with them, then shift focus back to working, thinking, writing, etc. after the family is asleep!

You can employ these strategies too. Your family, friends, co-workers, and employees will thank you for it, because no matter how good you think you are at hiding the fact that you’re thinking about where to take your wife for your 10 year wedding anniversary in two years, people know when you’re not really there.

How do you stay in the moment? What keeps you grounded and present during all life’s moments?

How Leaders Can Solve Traffic Jams in Business

traffic jam

If you’re traveling (or just trying to get from one end of the town to the other) for the holidays, I wish you godspeed. People are crazy out there! Rushing around making sure to pick up a Uncle Martin’s favorite cranberry sauce, texting their wife while driving, “Where am I picking up the kids?,” speeding down the interstate to catch a flight or that must-have Black Friday special, the iRobot Roomba 614 vacuum on sale for $199 (regularly $299). It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? It can be, if you keep yourself, your family, and your team focused. But it can also be disastrous for your business if you let procrastination, distractions, temptations, and overall lack of focus and clarity get in the way.

Here’s where you come in. I want you to think of yourself as a traffic director. And what you are directing is people and their energy.  You’ve got to be clear on the destination (the goal or result) and then get to work by focusing yourself and your team on the daily activities or a specific project that will get you there. Along the way, you’ll be keeping an eye on the traffic patterns, anticipating traffic jams, removing roadblocks, and keeping the flow of traffic, well, flowing. You’ll have to reset the course when needed, find different roads, maybe even build a bridge. You need to do whatever is necessary to keep your employees and team members moving in the right direction, with their full energy and full focus so they can reach their destination. And then do it again and again. You will need to do this shifting and course-correcting and focusing throughout your day to ensure the end goal is reached. That is your job as a leader.

Sounds a lot like micro-managing, doesn’t it? But let me clarify. Micro-managing only occurs when the desired outcome is not being met, repeatedly. When you’ve gone several days with your sales team not hitting their targets or your marketing division failing to deliver on a project, you’ve got to realize there is a traffic jam and get in there and see what’s up. There is something preventing you or your team from getting shit done. It will feel a lot like micro-managing at the time, but as a leader, you have to know when to jump into the street and start managing the traffic and inspect (sometimes closely) what you expect until the flow of traffic is restored.

Just a quick note: If you are being micro-managed all the time, it might be a good time to look at your role, your contributions, your passion, your results, and evaluate whether or not the position you’re in is the right fit for you. Are you the chronic micro-manager? Then maybe it’s time to evaluate your team. If they are continually missing their goals and you constantly have to be jumping back in, then there is a disconnect. Might be the classic case of right people, wrong bus. Or could simply be the wrong people. Evaluate and move forward. 

So, the fastest way to remove roadblocks for your team is by identifying them (what can sometimes feel like micro-managing) and then asking really great, disruptive questions. You don’t need (or want) to go in there dictating all the answers, because how will your team ever learn to drive themselves? Asking great questions will lead to self-discovery and the ability for your employee to see the roadblock or pothole next time and turn the wheel in time to avoid impact.

I give my leadership team a heads-up that they’re going to feel the pressure and feel micro-managed when their goals aren’t being met. Once we are back on track (which can be as simple as a quick conversation or reviewing the numbers and bringing those numbers to the attention of the group or a few individuals), I will go back to decentralized management. Don’t be shy about it! Let your leaders know what to expect and they, in turn, can employ this strategy with their team.

Our job as leaders is to continually monitor the traffic and let our team members know when we see a traffic jam and getting so good at identifying these roadblocks that we can remove them before they are even set up. But if you do run into a roadblock or traffic jam, you better be ready to quickly bring awareness, focus, and clarity so that your team can move forward and execute! That is your job on a daily basis. That is your job as a leader.

3 Tricks to Stay Grounded When You’re Out of Control


I know you’ve been there before. You feel like you’re speeding down a winding road, cliff on both sides, the brakes don’t work, the windshield is dirty, and you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders (hell, you’re not even in the driver’s seat!). Your business is growing and you have to make sure cash flow keeps up, your children are getting older and have more and more extracurricular commitments, your employees are counting on you for a massive vision that inspires them to follow (and, a paycheck). You feel like everyone wants a piece of you, and you don’t have any more to give. So how do you handle it all without going off the cliff? Better yet, how do you manage your life, energy, and mental fitness, so that these out of control episodes are just fleeting moments that you experience and move on from in minutes, not months? Mental fitness.

We’ve talked about mental fitness before, but can we really talk about it too much? It’s the foundation of how I’ve designed my life and built five businesses over the past ten years. It’s the core concept that I teach in all of my business and leadership courses. It’s part of who I am now and the more people I can teach about mental fitness, the better. We have to train our mind, just as often as (if not more than) we train our bodies.

Here are some great tricks for gaining control, when you are feeling out of control (tricks I’ve used while racing, but apply to all areas of life):

  1. Count to 100. When we feel like we are spiraling and are caught in an endless cycle of panic, doubt, and uncertainty, what we are looking for is stability and control. The fastest way to change our state is to control our thinking. Counting to 100 serves multiple purposes – it is a distraction from your overwhelming thoughts, it gives you something to focus on, and it puts you back in control right away. It anchors you and allows the bad thoughts or feelings to pass, clears your mind, and gets you into a mindset of clarity so you can take action.
  2. Give. Give someone a high-five, give money, hold the door open for someone, smile, give someone your undivided attention, send someone a thank you note or shoot a quick text and let someone know how awesome they are. Just give of yourself, provide value, and spread love to others. It can be simple, it can be big. The trick is when you are out of control and feeling all the negative feels, finding it in your heart to come out from behind yourself and spread joy to someone else. And you know, that no matter how hard it is in the moment, you will immediately feel in control and happy. It’s impossible to be selfless and give and be fearful at the same time. Just try it!
  3. Be Grateful. When I’m racing and the going gets really tough, I move towards gratitude. I start making a mental list of everything I’m grateful for – my fitness, my health, the volunteers, water, my breath, my family, the other racers, the weather (yes, even if it’s cold, sweltering or raining), the view, anything that can occupy my mind. Again, focusing on gratitude prevents me from focusing on the pain (or any out of control feelings) and puts my mind somewhere else until I’m back in my groove.

And then, of course, the best way to keep these out of control thoughts and feelings at bay is by creating a daily routine of meditation, gratitude, exercise, giving, etc. to prime you for the challenges ahead. You can try my tricks above or create your own go-tos. But no matter what, when challenges show up, you have to make sure you have your practiced methods of breaking free of the thoughts that are holding you back.

With practice comes calm, clarity and control. But you have to be self-aware, disciplined, and practiced, so you can call upon your mental fitness whenever you need to. What are you go-to methods for developing your mental fitness?

Aim. Fire. Learn. Reload.


Last week I was hunting in the wild woods of Kentucky (aka freezing my ass off). If anyone out there hunts, you know that it’s just a waiting game. You gear up and pack up for the day, hike out to your tree stand, climb said tree stand and wait. And wait. And wait. I think I’ve only shot a deer a couple of times (and I go hunting 2 or 3 times per year). Each time, I donate the meat to a local food shelf. It’s not about the hunt for me, it’s about the experience and the quiet and being removed from my every day surroundings so I can think. And think I did. Specifically about failure.

Building a business is hard. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Right now. Building a business is hard. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of mind and spirit. It takes hunger, drive, grit, passion, focus, discipline, and a whole lot of heart. Because you will fail and fail often and fail hard. The only ones who survive are the ones that can take those failures (and take them like a champ) and learn from them.

Aim. Fire. Learn. Reload.

AIM —> You need your target. You need to know the vision and you need to understand where you are going (and why!). You must clearly see the target in your sights. The clarity you have will spread to your team.

FIRE —> Stop thinking and shoot! Just pull the trigger. You’ve already set your sight on the goal, so pull the trigger, take action, and move. Don’t remain idle. Ever.

LEARN —> So you missed your target? So what? It’s not failure. It’s learning. And learning and failure is how we grow. That’s what business is. Therefore, in order for us to grow, we must fail, and we must learn from our failure.

RELOAD —> Failed? Good. Get your ass back in the arena and face whatever fear you have and own it.

Aim, fire, learn, reload. Know where you are going, take action, and fail forward. That’s the only way you’re going to learn and the only way you’re going to make significant progress. The faster you can aim, fire, learn, and reload, aim, fire, and learn again, the faster you will get to your goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be completely ready. If you wait too long before you fire, you run the risk of stalling progress, talking yourself out of it, or missing an opportunity.

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, came up with the 40/70 rule that explains this concept. This rule states that leaders should make decisions when they have between 40%-70% of the information needed. If you make a decision with less than 40% of the information you’re shooting from the hip. But, if you wait until you have more than 70% of the information you could get stuck, overwhelmed and you may risk the productivity and effectiveness of your entire organization. You can read more about the 40/70 Rule in this article.

So what’s a leader to do? Set the vision and continue to communicate the goals clearly and consistently. You’ve got to know what you’re aiming at. Next, take action! And if the first arrow you shoot doesn’t work, pull another one out of your quiver. Do not give up. Your shot will not hit the target every time and that’s okay. Sometimes you’ll be a few marks off and sometimes your arrow will end up in a woods a few hundred yards away. Pause (briefly) and figure out what went wrong and why you failed. It’s what you learn here, that you then apply to your next move, that is critical. Then you reload and try again.

In the words of the great Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

When life is knocking you down, do you have the courage to get back up?

Transforming Lives On My Way to South Africa

A couple of weeks ago I was just finishing my 4th Ironman, this time in Tempe, Arizona. A race that would qualify me me for the 70.3 World Championship Ironman in South Africa. It’s hard to believe that only one year ago I was just learning how to swim (okay, I knew how to swim, dogging paddle really, but I didn’t know how to SWIM). My first TT (time trial) bike ride was in December of last year (I had only ever mountain biked before), and my first long run ever (more than a couple of miles) was in October 2016. For all intents and purposes I was starting at ground zero.

So why did I do? What started me down the path of becoming a triathlete? Between owning and leading five companies, building a new house, and spending time with my family, what was I thinking committing to this? I’ll tell you. It came from a deep desire to inspire others to move, make fitness and health a priority, and more importantly to just push themselves in any area of their life. I remember at our company Advance last October, I told everyone I was committed to training for my first Ironman and that I was doing it for them, not for me. And that is what drove me every day. My relentless drive to grow just 1% each day and to inspire others to join me in a journey for growth of their own.

To date, I have gotten 15 people (or more!) to register for either marathon or Ironman training (including my wife who has run several marathons now and my brother who is currently in training!) and at least five of these people will be joining me in Lake Placid, NY next year for the Ironman. Countless others have committed to healthier habits, controlling their time, being more purposeful in their business in order to be more present at home, etc. That’s what started me on this journey and has kept me going. Because let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy.

And that’s the funny thing. People think I LOVE to exercise and workout. Do I love getting up at 3am to ride for several hours? Do I love 8 hour training days on Saturday? Do I love running in the rain? Do I love jumping into a freezing pool at 5am? No. No. No. No. But I do love the feeling I get when I beat my mind. I love the endorphins and energy flow after the workout is done. The struggle is real though. Any athlete will tell you that. But the magic happens when you develop the ability to master you mind and overcome the voice in your head that says no. When you can do that, whether when training, in business, or in your every day life, you will win.

So, on October 22nd, almost a year after I jumped into a pool for the first time to learn how to really swim and ran my first 5k, I competed in the Ironman Arizona 70.3. The swim was held in Tempe Town Lake. Going into the race, I had some execution goals and some time goals. Though, because of weather, people, and the landscape of the course, it really should be more about placement in the group, rather than time. Those factors can increase people’s pace or slow them down. For instance, my swim time was 38 minutes and when I got out of the water I was pissed. I’d been swimming hard for months, day in and day out, improving my swim technique. But, come to find out, the swim was actually 1.55 miles, instead of 1.2, likely because a buoy drifted. Despite that hiccup, I ended up swimming the fastest I’ve ever swam and nearly 30 seconds faster per 100 meters than my first open water swim earlier that year. I’ll take.

Ironman, triathlon, or marathon training has so many parallels to business. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. The mental and emotional fitness you have to cultivate, is nothing compared to the physical. Day in and day out the challenges of the course or the challenges of running a business require the same ability to remain calm, neutral, strong, confident, and decisive. There is no question that by training for the Ironman I have become a better leader.

Let’s get back to the race. The bike was right about where I thought I would be, 2 hours 28 minutes for the 56 miles with about 2,000 feet of elevation. But the run was harder than anticipated given the 95 degree temperature in Arizona (I’m a Vermont boy and am used to training in balmy 60 degree weather) and I was seeing sideways towards the end of the run. The run is by far the hardest part. At this time, your body is beat up from the swim and bike. The second lap or second half of the run is the hardest. This is where you have to draw upon all of the emotional fitness you’ve practiced every day. I like to break the run down into sets. If I have 13 miles to go, I know I have 13, 1 mile sets to complete. I can run to the next aid station, is my mantra. Then if it gets really bad, and it will, I start counting to 100 to get through that rough patch, because a good one will always come. I finished the half marathon in 1 hour 41 minutes which wasn’t my fastest time, but not too far off.

Managing those rough patches during a race is just like dealing with a WFIO (We’re F’ed It’s Over) moment in business. One bad meeting or seemingly catastrophic financial report can be followed the next minute by a great conversation or interview. Take full advantage of the good times and lean into them!

At Ironman Arizona 70.3 I placed 3rd in my age group, which earned me a spot at the World Championship in South Africa. Over the past year, there are times where I wanted to quit, races where my pace was just completely off, weeks when I just wanted a day off.  Not every training day has been perfect, not every race has been great, but each trial, each failure has fueled me to keep going. I knew that if I could just get better at the swim by 1%, get better on the bike by 1%, get better on the run by 1%… I was making progress.

In the end, it’s not about the race or whether or not you make it on the podium, it’s the relentless pursuit of progress which will then leak into all areas of your life and take your life, your career, your business to a level you may not have thought possible.

Want to know more about how I did it? The short answer is models, systems, and coaching. The longer answer will be released early next year. Yup, that’s right, I’m writing a book. The lessons I’ve learned (and who I have become) on my path from newbie to Ironman to World Championship qualifier are just too good not to share. I have become a better leader, father, husband, brother, son, business owner, and friend on this journey and I feel compelled to help anyone I can begin their own journey of personal growth. In the meantime, if you want a sneak peek into my daily routine and fitness training, send me an email and I’ll get you the info.

Keep pushing. Keep challenging yourself. If I can inspire just one person to transform their life by telling my story, then I’ve done my job. And remember, if I can be heading to South Africa next year to race against pro athletes (after just one year of training), you can do anything you set your mind to. Fight forward!


Guest Blogger Kemener Whalen – It’s All About the Balance Sheet, Not the Benjamins

bwl live mastermind

The beauty of Adam Hergenrother Companies is the collaboration, the exchange of ideas, and our ability to challenge each other’s perspectives and thinking so that we all grow. Last week, BlackRock Construction’s VP of Development took over the blog, and this week, our CFO, Kemener Whalen, is chiming in with a few thoughts of his own on being rich vs. being wealthy. Take it away, Kem! 

Everyone wants to make money.  Most of us want to make a lot of it.  We say things like “I want to be rich” or “I want to be a millionaire (or billionaire)”, but how often do we think about what that means?  Most people probably don’t define what that means, and rarely give it any thought.  People recognize that to grow personally and professionally they must set goals.  Setting a goal of “being rich” without defining (or understanding) what that means is not goal setting – it is simply wishing to be rich.  As has been said many times “a goal without a plan is a wish”.  The same can be said of an undefined goal – it is nothing more than a wish – undefined and unachievable.  How many people say “I wish I was rich”?  At some point in our lives we have likely all said it – but those of us who define what that means, and make a plan to MAKE IT HAPPEN are the ones who get there.

Do we really understand what we are saying when we make a goal of being rich?  For most people that answer is “No”.  But not for me.  I DON’T WANT TO BE RICH. I want to be WEALTHY.  I know the difference – or at least have defined the difference for myself personally.  In order to set, strategize, execute, and ultimately achieve a goal we need to define for ourselves what that means.  Let’s explore what being rich vs. being wealthy means (to me).

Being Rich

There is nothing wrong with being rich, but it’s not my goal. It’s definable. It’s achievable.  It’s measurable.  Being rich provides the opportunity to live an amazing life.  Each of us has his/her own lifestyle choices.  But all of us want to do the things we like to do as frequently as we can.  Being rich means you can afford to live the life you want to lead.  You can write a check, use the AMEX black card, pull out a wad of $100s for anything.  Dinners, clothes, trips, jewelry – there is no limit.  This is how I define being rich – when you don’t have to worry about the cost of doing, eating, drinking, buying or wearing the things that you want. Your available cash does not restrict. In essence your personal Profit and Loss Statement (have I mentioned I am the CFO of one of the subsidiaries of Adam Hergenrother Companies?) is very robust.  Sounds pretty amazing, right? It is, without question. So why is it not my goal? Being rich means you are only as good as your last paycheck. Being rich means if the “music stops” – so does your lifestyle. Being rich means working hard for your money, instead of your money working hard for you. Being rich doesn’t give you freedom. Being rich restricts your freedom. You are tied to your work. Tied to your personal P&L. Tied to the performance of the industry you work. Tied to market forces beyond your control. You become a slave to your job, your team (if you own a business), or whoever it is that signs your paycheck (if you don’t own a business). You aren’t free. You can buy anything – the big house, the new car, but you end up working to pay for those things. It creates a perpetual cycle of needing to earn more to buy more (because your new car stops being new after a few years) – needing to work harder and longer. So while being rich provides for an amazing lifestyle, it does not provide the freedom from adverse outside impacts nor does it provide freedom and control over your time (time is one of the most underappreciated and undervalued assets – but that is a blog for the future). Being rich does not let you take a month off, it does not let you stop working – being rich ties your bank account to your job. Your bank account may be huge – but without your job or business where would that leave your bank account?

Being Wealthy

Being wealthy looks very much like being rich. You can buy anything, do anything, eat or drink anything, or travel anywhere. So what’s the difference? Being wealthy means you are not tied to your paycheck, commission check, or any other check you receive for working. You aren’t beholden to a boss, a team, clients or anyone else. You are free to use your time as you wish.  You are free to have the material items that being rich affords, but you are also free to enjoy them anytime (even all the time). When you are wealthy if the “music stopped” there would be no adverse impact on your lifestyle. Wealth isn’t measured by a personal P&L –  its measured by assets – your personal Balance Sheet (remember I’m a CFO). When you are rich your personal Balance Sheet has one account – your bank account.  When you are wealthy your personal balance sheet is robust, diversified, and healthy. In essence your balance sheet has non-cash assets. What does this mean? It means your cash is working for you, and will reward you over time. You worked hard to earn your cash – make sure it works as hard for you as you worked for it. Cash is great, but cash is not a great investment. Rather use your cash to invest to build your personal wealth. Use your cash to invest in passive income generators. Passive income is the secret to building wealth. Reinvest that passively earned income to earn even more. Wealth compounds. Cash gets spent. Wealth is generational; real estate assets, stocks, bonds, precious metals, and various alternative investment asset classes can (and should be passed on). Being rich you can live a massive life, but are you setting up your great-grand-kids for a head start?  Being wealthy gives you the ability to create a legacy. Being wealthy is freedom to control your time. Being wealthy breaks the ties to market risk, to time in your job, and to factors out of your control.

So what’s the difference?  Freedom.  Both allow you the freedom to spend.  But being wealthy allows you the freedom over your time. When you are rich you must give your time to clients, staff, vendors, business partners. When you are wealthy you are free to use your time as you wish. You are free to live your life when you want to live it – not just during down time at the office. Being rich gives you the freedom to buy things, being wealthy gives you that same privilege, but it also gives you the freedom of your time and the ability to create a legacy.  So, how do you do it? Read my next blog!


Kemener, CFO at BlackRock Construction, uses his passion, energy, and analytical mindset, to bring tremendous value to people, projects, and companies on a daily basis. He particularly enjoys helping people recognize and achieve their true potential. Kemener’s experiences in commercial finance, collaboratively working to grow and manage a nearly $100 million portfolio, serve as a tremendous asset for both investors and investments.

Kemener lives in Essex, Vermont with his beautiful wife and two children. When not furthering the vision of BlackRock Construction, he spends time with his family, as well as enjoys time on picturesque Lake Champlain.


Guest Blogger Ben Avery – How To Live An Extraordinary Life TODAY!

lake champlain

Lake Champlain Sunset (Photo by Ben Avery)

I’m so excited to have one of my employees and friends take over the blog this week! I’m proud of my team for stepping up and sharing their words of wisdom and even more proud of them for living a life by design. I love hearing their different perspectives about how to create a life and career that they love. Take it away Ben! 

An extraordinary life. What does that even mean? Is it about wealth? Is it about time? Is it about personal satisfaction? The answer is… YES! However, many people make the mistake of thinking it’s about one of these things and chase it exclusively (often times wealth), when in actuality, the magic is in the moderation and combination of all of them.

I am a very active social media user and enjoy recording and sharing my life with family and friends. Comments I get from others on a regular basis often surround being asked how do we do it? Specifically, how do we do it ALL? I am an executive at an Adam Hergenrother Companies subsidiary, my wife is the Vice President of a tech company and we have four kids (our entire existence is a “redline”), yet we always seem to be everywhere we want to be, all the time, and from a life experience standpoint, we leave nothing on the table!

Now don’t get me wrong, hard work and professional success is the foundation (in my opinion). Anyone who works for Adam can attest that leaning in at 120% is the standard and from that effort comes freedom – both financial freedom and freedom with our time. We’ve all hear the term “work hard play hard”, but many of us lose sight of the fact that the “play hard” part of that is supposed to be somewhat proportionate.

Let’s break down the three pillars of an extraordinary life:

Wealth —> This is often the one that I see people get wrong. Chasing a number is just that – most people who chase numbers never actually catch them. While blue sky thinking is critical to growth, it’s also just a fundamental reality that we can’t all be billionaires. Sure, we all sometimes put crazy stuff on our vision boards, but I would challenge you to rethink that goal or idea into one that you can strategize how to get (maybe instead of dreaming about the Gulfstream 650, you should prioritize your lessons and flight hours starting TODAY, while browsing the internet for the cost of a used Cessna 180). This thinking will help you actually get ON the path of your goal, while matching today’s budget. Oh yeah, and instead of talking about it, you will be DOING it (using the above example, any pilot will tell you, flying is flying).

Don’t get me wrong, you need to have financial goals and you need to make every effort required to meet them. I am just a proponent of matching those financial goals to realistic and executable dreams and ideas that can enrich your life today as well as tomorrow. Most financial advisers (and our CFO) would shoot me for even suggesting this, but if you look at spending 10% of your income on enriching your life TODAY (FYI you should be saving 10% or more for the future as well), you might find yourself doing the things you want to (scaled to income of course) and chipping away at your bucket list starting today, not 30 years from now. This can mean travel, athletics, boating, fishing, whatever! I do this and it has obviously grown over the years, but my wife and I consider it a cost of doing business, a baseline for extraordinary!

How do we cover that cost offset? Well, we make compromises in other parts of our life about what we really need and what is important. Probably the number one area to evaluate is shelter and transportation. Being “house poor” and or capping that decision with a brand-new Lexus can quickly eat up the ability to chase those extraordinary dreams. Unless of course your goals are to sit in that beautiful home while looking at the Lexus in the driveway, then you’re winning! For example, we have a beautiful home, that we have been in for 15 years and renovated (out of pocket) along the way. It’s not new, but the annual cost of it is less than 10% of our income. I still have the Mercedes, but did you know that when you buy one a few years old with 50,000 miles on it you get a roughly 70% discount? Moderation is the key… I could easily eat up my lifestyle budget with a bigger house and brand new car, neither of which I really need.

Time —> This one is critical! While many of us can create some kind of budget, few actually take the TIME to do the things they want to do. We spend a ton of professional time figuring our scheduling, allocation, prioritization and all of the things that go into effective time management. Then when we go home, what happens? Many people will procrastinate, make excuses, be lazy… if we did that at work we would be in trouble! Why are we willing to do it to ourselves? So many people I know will make up excuses of why they can’t do something on the weekend because of menial tasks (clean out the garage, a trip to Costco, etc…).  If you become purposeful about those tasks, you can create the time to get out in the world and experience the things that you truly want to do! Power through Costco on a Tuesday after work, make the garage a purposeful family task at 7am on a rainy Saturday, don’t waste the warm sunny weekend when you could be at the lake! Another big family excuse is kid’s sports. I can’t tell you how many times people let a 1 hour soccer game eat their day. I’m not saying quit soccer, I am saying be purposeful about how you approach the day and you might find that you can actually do brunch with friends, catch the game and make it for sunset on the boat all in the same day (trust me, accomplish that and your friends who haven’t figured this out will look at you like a hero). If budget allows, create time by hiring a housekeeper and/or a lawn service. The 4-6 hours a week that is freed up can be spent taking a hike, or a bike ride, or enjoying lazy afternoon cocktails with friends – anything. Those are just a few examples, but basically speaking, there is a “business” and a “pleasure” side to our personal lives, get purposeful about the business part!

Ok… So now you’ve created the time and budget, now how to execute. PULL THE TRIGGER!!! The concept here is to DO things, not think about them (that’s what you used to do). My wife is terrible about this, which is why I am the planner and I execute. Enter Google alerts for low price airfare, choose easy locations, actually USE the airline miles and hotel points as opposed to hoarding them, where can you drive to in under 5 hours? So much of what we chase is right at our fingertips, yet we don’t grab it. If you are coming from a place like Vermont, a long weekend at the beach is very good for your Vitamin D and your marriage, or a weekend in New York or Montreal can be an exciting adventure!

The long weekend is a magical thing. I have numerous friends that blow $5,000-$10,000 on a big summer vacation (I find the big vacation stressful, but that’s another blog post). For that budget I can take a long weekend every other month all year long! These little nuggets accomplish the goal of recharging your batteries without really having to disconnect from the rest of your world. My thing is Florida in the Winter. I book a 4:00pm flight on Wednesday then plan to work remotely from say 6am-10am Thursday and Friday mornings to keep things moving along professionally. Now I have really only lost a day of work (maybe) and I’m home late Sunday and back at it Monday morning. I’m not going to Disney or staying at the Delano, but wow do I feel relaxed and recharged! Another secret is the “staycation”. We are huge advocates of this, in part because you don’t lose travel days and it’s easy to control costs. In the summer it is endless days on our boat with family and friends and in the winter its condo rentals at our home mountain (we are avid skiers). Since we already have passes and we can hit Costco before checking in, our winter “ski” vacations are VERY economical, we split with another family and often have a 5 day rental for less than $500 on our end. Be creative, think local and don’t get caught up in the big complicated trip! The memories you make by maximizing the time will enhance the experience, especially for the kids!

Our rule of thumb is called the 50/50, 50 days a year on the ski slopes and 50 nights a year on the boat. Sounds crazy, but we almost always exceed that and our lives are so much richer for it. Vacation for us isn’t yearly, or even monthly… its WEEKLY! That is the goal… We make the time, we execute on the plans and subsequently, we are always where WE want to be!


Personal Satisfaction —> What would you do? How could your life be extraordinary? The engine for this is the byproduct of time and budget. But your dreams are the driver for how to shape those goals. Many people spend a disproportionate percentage of their time doing things they feel that they need to do. While that does bring some satisfaction, it’s not really the same as breaking through and focusing on the things that you WANT to do! The trick is to make decisions to balance that out.

It truly is different stroke for different folks. I work with one woman who just loves being in the office and working on smaller projects over the weekend. She derives a ton of pleasure from that and it is fulfilling for her, so go for it! As many of you know, Adam is a health and exercise master and pushes it to the limit, most recently as a successful Ironman competitor. His training time is his focus and those accomplishments bring him tremendous personal satisfaction. For me it’s the boat and the mountain. We are all different and what you must do is look inside and identify what it is that drives you, what gives you a complete sense of satisfaction and makes you smile. What is going to release those endorphins and how do you get started on it TODAY!

As I am writing this another team member poked his head in my office to ask me about skiing for his family (where is best to go, etc…). I gave him the best advice I had for his family of 7 (yikes!) as he is very excited about the idea of creating family memories on the slopes in the winter and exploring that lifestyle. As I am sure he will read this, I can honestly say his energy in TALKING about it was outstanding, I challenge him to EXECUTE!

My dad passed away when he was 57 and left a long bucket list behind. I was only 32, but it changed me in a way that took a while to articulate. While I am not advocating irresponsibility (Dad would not have liked that), I am advocating attacking life and identifying the things you really want to do on a scale that is manageable and can grow with your professional success. If you can find a way to live the life you want today, and everyday, then you will be living your dreams as opposed to chasing them!

You will get all of the rest you need when you’re gone. Get out there and make it count. My family and I have an extraordinary life (we really do!). Go get yours!


As Vice President of Development, at BlackRock Construction, a division of Adam Hergenrother Companies, Ben manages the development and permitting teams for both internal and client based projects. Ben’s mission is the evaluation and creation of projects and opportunities for BlackRock Construction and its clients. Overseeing development projects from the initial negotiation through the permitting process, to construction start, while creating win-win situations for all stakeholders is his overall goal. Ben’s focus on these values makes him an asset to any type of project and an excellent advocate for our clients.

A native of Rochester, NY, Ben has resided in Vermont for the better part of the last 20 years. He has a strong entrepreneurial background including 15 years in food service including multi-unit management and franchise/wholesale ownership. For the past five years he has been a consultant to small to mid-sized businesses in the greater Burlington, VT area in the fields of general strategy, restructuring, and development. As a function of many of these roles, Ben has worked with clients in the areas of commercial investment, residential development and management, as well as redevelopment of underutilized assets. He takes an objective and fair approach to transactions and is very adept at negotiations on high value properties, permitting coordination, and complex transactions.

Ben lives in Williston, VT with his wife, Michelle, and their four children. Contact Ben at ben@blackrockus.com.

Get Obsessed With Making Others Filthy Rich


I just finished Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone. That dude is a little crazy and yet I felt like the guy was speaking to my soul. Forget the haters and forgive the naysayers. Mediocrity is just not in my DNA. And for those of you who, like me, have been told to slow down, stop working so hard, take a vacation, that you don’t need any more money, to just be satisfied with what you have… DO NOT LISTEN.

I find it fascinating that society as a whole is so obsessed with balance. Isn’t balance just another word for middle of the road or mediocre? I think so. And I think all of this stems from fear. Fear of not feeling good enough. So if Joe Schmo sees that I’m pushing, driving, striving, and accomplishing my big goals, then he better reign me back in and make sure that I stay down on his level. Some of the people closest to you are unintentionally stifling your obsession because they just don’t get it and are worried about you. They don’t want you to burn out or be stressed. Well, what they don’t realized is people like me, people like GC, get stressed by not producing and working and thinking and growing.

But here’s the misconception I want to dispel. Just because I’m obsessed with success doesn’t mean it’s only focused in one area. You hear obsessed and you think: okay, he’s obsessed with making money. Greedy bastard. Well, what if I told you that my obsession to make money is simply because I want to give as much as possible? What if I told you I’m obsessed with taking care of my health and training like an athlete (yes, that takes money)? What if I told you I’m obsessed with being a great father and husband? What if I told you I was obsessed with making other’s filthy rich? If people have a problem with that relentless drive towards excellence in multiple areas of my life, then they are just not my people.

The insatiable hunger to do more and be more doesn’t go away and why should it? What good does it do to try to cage the beast inside of you? You just have to learn how to direct that energy, that obsession, towards particular areas that will serve you. It would be just as easy for me to be obsessed about drinking or adventure races or silent retreats. But those don’t serve my ultimate goals of building a big business and a big world in order to make other’s filthy rich.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders understand what I’m talking about. If they weren’t obsessed about an idea they wouldn’t be taking the risk to build a business in the first place. But again, channeling that energy is the key. And for me, that key is making it about others. I will never succeed at the level I want to without getting into business with the best people on the planet and then getting obsessed about my team’s success. Sure, could I get obsessed about health or their time with their family? Of course. But what really gets me fired up is helping my people make a ton of money. Why? Because then they get to use their checkbooks as a weapon and make the best decisions for themselves and their families. When you’re not worried about money, hell when you are filthy rich, imagine what you could do – travel more, volunteer more with your favorite charity, give more money… be free. That is something I will always stand behind.

Money is only good for the good money can do. And I want to do a lot of good. Which means I better make a lot of money. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing my team members realize their dreams. Money is a tool. It is not money itself that I’m obsessed with. It is what it can do for my staff, my family, and the world at large. The secret to living is giving. It’s selfish not to want to make a lot of money, so get obsessed with being successful, so you can make others filthy rich.

The World Isn’t Going to Run Out of Success

candle success


This week my team and I hosted an incredible two-day event with some of the top real estate business leaders in the country. We had people come in from Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Maine, Virginia, Omaha, Connecticut, Phoenix, Boston, and more. Building a business is hard (no matter what industry you are in) and these attendees just got it. The conversations were at another level, the vulnerability was real and raw, and many of the connections will last a lifetime. What really struck me is that the room was packed with very successful people who were all hungry to learn more, do more, and be more. They are all competitive and they all wanted to be even more successful then they already are. Awesome. The world is not going to run out of success any time soon.

Refreshing to hear right? My success was not dependent on anyone else in the room being LESS successful. Success in life is abundant. It’s not a win-lose situation. If I win, if I’m successful, you can be too.

So drop your ego. Stop comparing yourself to others and really embrace other people’s successes and accomplishments. They can be yours too with enough hard work.

Imagine your friend from high school started an online business three years ago and just got featured in Success Magazine for their innovative approach to the client experience. Are you happy for them? Purely, unconditionally happy for them? Or, did you get excited for them and then quickly start running through all the reasons they landed on the page next to John Maxwell. They must know someone at the magazine. Their parents gave them money for the business. Their former professor helped them with the user interface. The article wasn’t that big anyway… Check yourself. Do you justify other’s success because in order for you to be successful, they can’t be? Or are you really, truly happy for them?

Here’s the cool thing. Success is a renewable resource. You just have to tap into it. You were successful five years ago and now you’re not? That’s okay. Get to work and you’ll find success again. Your coworker is successful today? No problem. You’ll be successful tomorrow.

The trick is mastering that inner voice that says you have to lesson someone else’s success (or somehow justify it) in order to shine. Think about kids. They are just so happy for other kids on the playground who are brave enough to go down the slide or even give praise to adults for the things they do (like making dinner when your wife is out of town). No ego. They see good they speak good. What a world we would live in if we could all do that!

Remember, embrace other’s successes. Tell them how great they are doing. Be truly happy for them. Unconditional joy for another is a gift we are really giving ourselves. Raising someone else up, acknowledging their accomplishments, giving them a shout-out for their success is inspiring to others and just feels damn good. Be hungry, but be humble.

“A candle loses none of its light by lighting another.” – Rumi

We live in an abundant world, especially when it comes to success. I guarantee the people at our conference the past two days know this. Actually, I believe that part of their success stems from the fact that they believe their success is dependent upon making other people successful. It’s one beautiful, virtuous cycle that you can be a part of if you check your ego (and limiting beliefs) at the door.