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

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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!


ben heliABOUT BEN AVERY 

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.

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Get Obsessed With Making Others Filthy Rich

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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

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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.

5 Tips for Pushing Through When Times Get Tough

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When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Easier said than done. But so very true. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of those tough moments and nothing seems to be going right, you can feel pretty alone and even spiral into a little self-pity. No one has it as hard as you do, right?

Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re not alone. I’m not alone. Building a business is hard (as thousands of people who have gone before us have experienced!). As you start to gain traction and new levels of success, your problems just intensify. They never go away. And would you really want them to? The challenges and problem-solving is half the fun!

To my point, a couple of weeks ago, a good friend, and well-respected fellow business owner in a different industry emailed me and asked, “What are your go-tos when times get really challenging for you and you feel the doubt, negativity, and lack of confidence? What tools do you use to push through strong?” So, I’ll share with you all, what I shared with him.

My Top 5 Tips for Pushing Through When Times Get Tough:

  1. Exercise. As most of you know, exercise is an integral part of my daily routine, however, it’s so easy to say “f*!k it” when you’ve got people wanting your time and a million fires to put out. Do not sacrifice your standards. During these tough times, exercise becomes even more critical for clarity, focus, and let’s be honest, to blow off some steam! Whatever you do, whether it’s Cross Fit, running, spinning, or yoga, just move. Sometimes I even like to just hike solo, it gives me time to think. Focus on moving your body and I guarantee you’ll not only feel better, but you will have some of your best ideas and breakthroughs.
  2. Meditate. Again, something I do every day to build my emotional fitness, and something I refuse to sacrifice especially when shit is hitting the fan. I need my twice daily meditation practice to expand my mind and create a better mind, body, and soul integration, which in turn enables me to be a better leader. Take time to just sit quietly with your thoughts, breathe, meditate, and get centered. Clear mind equals clear, instead of reactive, decision making.
  3. Journal. Journaling for me is another daily practice (do you see a pattern here?). Journaling clears my mind, connects me to my family (since I have a journal for each of my family members), makes me reflect on what I have accomplished and reignites my vision and passion for everything I still want to do. Journaling connects me with my big why every day. For me, journaling is also rooted in gratitude – the good, the bad, the ugly – I write it all down and am purposeful in my expression of gratitude for all the experiences I have. It’s impossible to be grateful and be afraid at the same time. Journaling enables me to be grateful even in the toughest of times.
  4. Connect. But not with just anyone. Connect with friends and mentors who get it. Those that have gone before you and weathered the storm. I always caution my employees, coaching clients, and friends to be careful who they take advice from. Make sure who you are listening to and emulating are people who are actually living (not just talking about) the life you want. Some of the best mentors can be found in books. I always have one or two personal development or leadership books going – the ones that tell a story about how hard building a business is are some of my favorites (i.e. Shoe Dog, Steve Jobs, Built from Scratch, Elon Musk, The Power of Broke, etc). Or, I’ll watch videos from some of the greats like Tony Robbins or Wayne Dyer. All of those books and conversations remind us that it’s really frickin hard to go out and do something big. But that is what life is all about.
  5. Take Action. Most importantly, when I am feeling stuck, I make a decision and execute. You may not be able to see the entire path ahead of you or the exact steps that you need to take, but you will be able to see the first step. Take that one step and then you’ll be able to see the next. And from there, the next. Keep moving… If it’s wrong, you make another decision – just don’t sit idle! That’s the danger zone. Inaction for too long can lead to paralysis and before you know it that tough moment has turned into a tough year (or more). If you’re going through hell, keep going. Recalculate. Make a new decision. Keep pushing forward and take another step.

These tips are not just things I do when times are tough. In fact, I have built up these daily habits and routines over years of practice so that I am emotionally fit to handle any challenge, law suit, or emergency that comes my way. My mind, body, and soul are all conditioned to respond at peak performance. If you haven’t started a daily emotional fitness practice, I encourage you to start today. It doesn’t have to be perfect – start small. Just incorporating daily exercise or journaling can start you on the path to a more centered existence. Build a foundation now for daily strength and continued growth and when the tough times hit, you’ll be ready.

And as I reminded my friend, what he and I (and you!) are going through, someone else has already gone through and become stronger from it. Just remember, life is happening for us, not to us. You already have the tools and strength inside you to push through, now it’s time to get purposeful on bringing them to the surface and living in that strength every day.

 

 

Guest Blogger Cari Heibel – When Everything is Going Right, Make a Change

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My kids are back at school, the leaves are starting to change, and Summer is slowly fading into Fall. This time of year always causes me to pause and reflect. Recently, I was thinking about the professional moves I’ve made over the last 15 years in the real estate industry and I noticed something interesting. Each time I decided to make a move, two things were true.

First, each opportunity that I decided to take advantage of was one I needed to take a financial step back for, knowing it would bring me much further long term. And each time, I was excited to take that short term risk because I was able to see the long term benefit very clearly!

Secondly, each professional change came when everything was going exceptionally well and I was very content in my role. Somehow, despite being happy and successful, I was open to opportunity and ultimately, excited for a change.

So, it got me thinking, why do people decide to make a professional change or a life shift? It just so happens (and science shows) that change stimulates your brain, broadens your perspective, and boosts your performance!  And if you make the change at unexpected times, like when everything is running smoothly, it can be especially powerful! Who knew? It was what I was craving and I just didn’t know it!

Here is what I know today, I am a completely different person than I was 15 years ago, and much of it has to do with the challenges, experiences, and growth I had during these times of change. I am forever grateful I took the opportunities and that I embraced these times of change as they have stretched me and helped me reach levels of achievement that I didn’t even know were possible.

And as easy breezy as that story is, I get it, you probably aren’t always jumping for joy when thinking about making a change. After all, change is a bit scary and definitely pushes you outside of your comfort zone. These are the challenges that come with change.

Remember – what you focus on expands!  So I am going to give you something else to focus on… change prevents you from getting stuck or losing steam. It takes your skills to the next level and boosts your confidence!

For example, after a year or so at your job you tend to feel a sense of competency and steadiness that is reassuring. Gradually, though, your work starts to feel routine and you become comfortable. This is the time to shake things up and make some changes because you will be doing it while you are a high level of mental fitness and confidence. This type of forward-moving change will help you evolve, grow, succeed, and ultimately get you to reach your highest levels of achievement!

In fact, according to Laura Vanderkam, a productivity expert and author, “The most successful and happy people are constantly evaluating themselves and their circumstances and are looking to make changes that will help them grow.”

You too, can embrace change, and benefit in a big way!  You see, the number one thing that holds people back from pursuing a positive, productive life shift or change, is doubt. We worry about things not working out or making our life or career worse. So, instead of allowing doubt to creep in, realize you are in control. You are choosing the change, you are doing so on your own terms, and it is going to work out in the best possible way for you because of this. You are making the change when you are competent, confident, successful and ultimately, empowered!

Here’s the truth – you are more flexible and adaptable than you give yourself credit for. Of course you can handle a change. In fact, there are no limits to the amount of changes you can make! Don’t underestimate your abilities. Don’t cheat yourself out of personal and professional growth by avoiding change! Embrace it, look for it, choose it at the most unexpected times, and watch who you will become along the way!

Cheers to your journey!

 


cari heibelCari Heibel was a Top Producing Real Estate Agent in the Twin Cities for 10 years prior to becoming the CEO of the Maple Grove office of Keller Williams. During those four years, the Maple Grove office became the number one office in the state of Minnesota in closed transactions. Cari has recruited over 500 real estate agents and assisted in the growth of over 50 real estate teams in the past four years.

As Director of Growth for Hergenrother Realty Group, Cari recruits and coaches all expansion Regional Directors and CEOs and assists them in growing their teams through recruiting and increased productivity.

Cari is also a coach and trainer for Adam Hergenrother Training Organization. Her next online course, Recruiting Without Limits, starts on October 24. Click here to register.

Connect with Cari at cari@herggroup.com.

From Fat Kid to Freedom – How I Got Started in Business

grand opening party with Gov Scott

I get a lot of question from other entrepreneurs and business owners, but especially from the young guns – college seniors or recent graduates – about how I got started in real estate and development, and in general how I built multiple businesses. So, I figured I would take you all on a little journey down memory lane and show you exactly where I started and some of the pivotal moments and decisions that led me to where I am today.

This is a long one, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine (Mine? Pinot Noir), and get comfortable. It’s story time.

[1993] I’m going to take you back about 24 years to when I was in 6th grade. Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s interesting now to look back and see that even then, I was a bit of a rebel. My mom found these forms that I had her fill out for me (i.e. leverage). Even then, at 12 years old, I refused to have anyone put a limit on my thinking. Cowboy? Model? Astronaut? Hell no. I was going to be a business owner.

[1996] School was never my favorite place to be (and that is definitely an understatement). I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs, smoking cigarettes heavily, and using food as a way to numb my feelings and escape from this life that I was living, but hated. I hated the way I was living for a long time and in the process ended up over 100 lbs overweight, failing classes, and driving a POS car. My self worth was non-existent, I was in a dark place in my life, and was completely unsatisfied by how my life was going. Enough was enough.

One day, when I was 15, I came home from school and just started crying. My dad found me like that in my room and said, “You have two choices. You can accept where you are or you can change.” There is that moment, and you know it when it happens and I’m sure you’ve had moments like this before in your life, when you’ve wanted to change, but nothing really happens. And then you’ve had those moments when you said, “F*$k it. No more.” And in that moment, your life changes forever. You are fully committed to the new direction and you cut ties, burn bridges, and leave behind the old you for good. That’s what I did that day. I stopped caring what other people thought of me. I stopped hanging out with my friends who turns out weren’t really friends after all (Quick side story: These “friends” broke into my car and stole all of my belongings which erupted into a series of fights over the next couple of weeks. My big brother had to come down from college with some of his friends, things got physical, and the police got involved. It was a total shit show. But I never backed down. I was committed to this new life. And eventually, they started bullying someone else.) I stopped letting other people dictate who I should be. From that moment on, I was determined to never let anyone put a limit on what I could do or who I could become. I was writing my own story.

[1997-1999] A year after one of the lowest points in my life, I was 100 lbs lighter – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I really started getting into sports at that point, hockey, snowboarding, and eventually settled on football. My Junior year we won the state championship and my Senior year I was Captain of the team along with a couple other guys. What a difference those friends were from the ones I was hanging out with before. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, right? Well, today, I am in business with two of those former football Captains. Pretty cool…

[2000] School and tests still weren’t really my thing. I wasn’t good at taking tests, so my SAT scores sucked. Combine that with the fact that my grades my Freshman year of high school were terrible. College was an option, but only in the guaranteed admissions program at the University of Vermont (UVM), which meant that I had to get a 3.0 my first year of college to be fully accepted as a student there. Challenge accepted. There were five people from my high school who did the guaranteed admissions program, but I was the only one to be accepted as a full time student. 3.2 GPA my first year. I’m really proud of that, because I had a clear vision and was going to work harder than anyone else to get there.

[2000] During my Freshman year at UVM, I had a friend who crashed on my couch, but didn’t actually go to school there. We all had one of those, right? He was selling cars and had this great opportunity for me to make a little extra money. We bought a car for $1000 – $500 cash in, each. It was all the money I had at the time (he was a good salesman!). So he bought the car, fixed it up, and sold it a week or so later and we doubled our money. What!? All I had to do was hand over some cash, do nothing else (I never even saw the car), and two weeks later my $500 was $1000. It was the first time I experienced leverage in the business world. But I would never have had that experience if I hadn’t been willing to take the risk. No risk, no reward. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me, so I kept putting the money I made back into more car purchases with my buddy. After about six months and grossing about $40,000 each, he didn’t need my capital contributions anymore and was going to move forward on his own. And that’s when I learned about the value of an agreement – putting this shit in writing! Though really, shouldn’t they be called disagreements? The only time you need that piece of paper is when you don’t agree.

[2003] So, I took my cash and bought a condo with my brother. It was a pre-construction unit (part of a large new condo complex) that we bought for $160,000. Brand new, spacious, great location… and once it was complete, we rented it out. Meanwhile, I was living in a basement (literally). I’d seen it before with the cars, so I understood how important it was to put money into the business or business deal first. Personal comfort be damned! Everything was going fine until 2005 when our note was pulled and we were forced to sell (yeah, we weren’t supposed to be renting the unit and the bank found out). I thought it sucked to have to sell when everything in real estate was booming! But, that peak, meant we ended up being the highest sale in that development for almost 10 years. Not a bad deal. Life was happening for us, not to us.

[2004] When I graduated college, I started working as a commercial underwriter. That only lasted six months. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say I was fired for sticking up for my mom. So there we were, both my mom and I, without jobs. But I just kept going. I found a great job with the help of my professor (Build relationships with your professors! They can do a lot more for you than you know!).

[2005] The new job was great. I was still a recent college grad, making $42,500/year, I had an assistant, and an 1.5 hour lunch break where I went to the gym (I wasn’t going to give up that habit!). I stayed there for about a year and a half. But there were limits that came with working for someone else, at least at that organization. I needed to be free to think and explore and experiment with my own ideas, my own business. I needed to be in control of my life.

[2006] So I did what every sane person would NOT do in late 2006, during one of the biggest, if not the biggest, real estate bubbles in history, I quit my job, became a Realtor, and started building a real estate team. Everyone thought I was crazy, including my parents, and they were right. Don’t get me wrong, they supported me, but they still thought I was crazy. I think Steve Jobs said something about the crazy ones changing the world, so it’s all good. Still, everyone tried to talk me out of the making this move and to go back to a stable job. I just said, “F*!k you,” as nicely as possible and just kept doing my thing and allowed their doubts to fuel the fire inside me.

[2006] My Papa really came through. He let me borrow $8000 to start my real estate business and I took $4000 of it and immediately flew to a Howard Brinton sales conference with my wife Sarah (who was my girlfriend at the time and was also getting back into real estate). Yup, I spent 50% of borrowed cash to invest into us and our education. It paid multiples. I remember being at the conference for about an hour and saying, “I’m good now,” because I had gotten so much info in such a short period of time. But we stayed, made connections, took a ton of notes and I started dreaming about being on stage like one of those top producing Realtors one day.

When I was back in Vermont, I put three homes under contract in my first 30 days of business. At the time, we didn’t even have an office yet and nobody knew who we were. Sarah and I worked from a 450 square foot apartment. I would lead generate for 10-13 hours a day, every day, until I had set one appointment. That’s why I never understand people who tell me that they lead generated for three hours and checked it off their to-do list. Well, did you set an appointment? If not, then you’re not done. We shouldn’t reward ourselves for the activities, but for the results! We just didn’t quit. We put our heads down and did whatever needed to be done to hit our goals. Our next step was getting an office and within a few months we hired an assistant. We still had very little money and I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to pay them, but I knew that we had to leverage out the administrative work, so we could go sell real estate and grow our business. I went through about five assistants in five months (that was a learning experience!) and hired a dear friend as my first Buyer Specialist who still works with me ten years later at KW Vermont and owns multiple other successful businesses.

[2009] I had a lot of success quickly. Within my first couple of years of real estate, I was the REMAX Associate of the Year, the NVBR Rookie of the Year, we had one of the top teams in New England, and I was named one of the nation’s Top 30 Under 30 Realtors by Realtor Magazine. The awards were great. People definitely knew who we were now. But it wasn’t enough.

top 30 under 30

[2010] I wanted more freedom, more growth, and more opportunity for myself and for those I was in business with, so I decided to open up the first Keller Williams Realty office in Vermont. The challenges with all of that definitely warrants a separate blog post! We had the fastest office launch in New England history. Brian, my business partner for KW Vermont, and I recruited 40 people in less than 3 weeks in a rented building with nothing but a folding table and a couple of rickety chairs. With only 400 Realtors in our entire real estate board (in about a 3 hour radius), I would say we did a damn good job! Anything is possible when you have a clear vision and are willing to do the work. Seven short (and long) years later, we are the largest real estate company in Vermont.

 

[2011] I founded Hergenrother Realty Group, currently the #28 real estate team in the country, with teams in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Idaho, and California, as well as Vermont.

[2012] I partnered with my brother, Tom, to start BlackRock Construction – a residential construction, commercial construction, and development company. We also partner with investors on several of our projects and host seminars on how to build wealth through real estate and development. BlackRock Construction was just ranked #42 on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of companies.

[2016] After training and teaching leadership and business classes around the country for years, I founded Adam Hergenrother Training Organization to reach an even wider audience through live training events, online webinar series, and one-on-one coaching. This month, we partnered with Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering to provide even more professional development opportunities through our organization.

Owning a real estate franchise, along with my real estate team, was the foundation for the rest of my entrepreneurial journey. From an early age, I was willing to take risks, reinvest my money into my business and into my training and education, and leverage jobs to other people. Several years ago I also learned the value of working ON the business, rather than IN the business and that is when I ultimately found freedom. I didn’t want to have a job, so before I started any new business, I always found a WHO first – someone else to run the company or research a new business venture. Freedom is what drives me. It drove me when I was 15 years old and I wanted to be free of the physical weight holding me down and free to create the life I desired. Freedom continues to drive me – financial freedom (the freedom to give by richly blessing other people’s lives), physical freedom, spiritual freedom to truly embrace other people’s growth and success, social freedom to experience the journey of life with other people when and where I choose.

And for all those young, aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners who want to know my secret to success? It’s simple – there is no secret – you’ve got to do the work, put in the time, do the activities (consistently), say no to late nights out and yes to early mornings of exercise and working on your personal development. Do. The. Work. There are no limits, except for those you impose on yourself. Either accept where you are or make a change. I chose to make a change and haven’t looked back.

AHC logo

 

What is Life?

family

Over the summer, my brother and I (and our better halves) threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my Mom and we flew our grandmother (Nanny) in from Texas. She was flying in from Dallas and I was on my way back from a business trip in Austin, so I had the privilege of meeting up with her in Atlanta and helping her get to Burlington, Vermont. We had a bit of a layover and some time on the plane, so I asked her… What is life?

I love asking that question to people who have much more wisdom and experience than I do. I mean, really, what is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of life… what is life? You may ask yourself that question from time to time (probably when you are going through something tough), but we really should be asking that question every day and then actually listening to the answer.

Which is exactly what I did with Nanny. When I asked her, “What is life?,” she paused for a while and responded with one word – family. But she then went on to explain: Life goes by in a flash, so enjoy all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because that is life. Never settle. Be grateful for what you have in the moment and the best part is that happiness can be found in any experience, it’s just our job to find it.

I think she was spot on.

Have you ever gotten a killer deal online for a $99 week-long vacation on a beautiful beach and the photos made it seem like it was the deal of the century and too good to be true? Turns out, it was. The place was a dump. But you had the best time ever anyway. Has that ever happened for you (see what I did there? It happened FOR you, not TO you). And why did you have the best time? Because you were surrounded with the right people – laughter, engaging conversations, adventure – those can happen anywhere, anytime. On the flip side, you can have everything money can buy in life and still be miserable because you are in relationship with the wrong people or missing a relationship with the right person.

Life is a journey, an experience, an experiment.

We all get so caught up in the BS of life that we forget to actually enjoy it and just live! There are moments of joy when life turns out exactly the way you wanted it to, but why can’t we enjoy it when it doesn’t? Most people are still trying to GET something from life instead of realizing that life is something we experience. And it’s the relationships that are the key – which is why Nanny first said FAMILY when I posed the question. Now, that doesn’t always mean that family or relationships are going to be prefect. Relationships will come and go, which is why the second component of experiencing it all (and not placing any judgement on it) is so critical. Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly – just like Nanny said. Don’t let life pass you by without embracing every moment.

Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile,
you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

So, what is life to me? Life is an experience that we witness to help shape us for our next celestial journey.

And let me just leave you with this. My man, Tony Robbins, always says that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions that you ask. So make sure you are planting incredible questions into your own mind every day and asking great questions to those in your world.

What is life for you? Take it even deeper. Ask yourself, “If I died today, would I be happy with all that I gave and with the legacy I am leaving behind?” If the answer is no, change your life today.

 

 

What Emotional Wake Are You Leaving Each Day?

wake

Last week I was in the wild woods of Canada on vacation with my family. No WiFi and limited cell phone service (except for this one spot on the edge of the woods where if I stood just right I could get a few bars). There is nothing like being basically off the grid, using solar power, to help you unplug and decompress. If nothing else, it gives you a lot of time to think!

I thought about family. I thought about my business. I thought about systems and controls. I thought about integrity. And, because we we weren’t distracted by TVs, email, or iPad games, we did a lot of face-to-face communication. So, I thought a lot about the power of words.

If you’ve ever read Fierce Conversations, you know that two of the core concepts are that the conversation is the relationship and that you must take responsibility for the emotional wake you leave.

Simply put, words hold a tremendous amount of power. Are you wielding that power responsibly?

Words leave a ripple effect on the person you are communicating with, just like the wake of a speed boat. Every comment, every email, the tone of your voice, etc. leaves an emotional wake – and it can change a person’s life, positively or negatively.

You get to decide what effect you want to leave on others. It’s your choice. You can either be careful or careless with your words and either one can spiral. Let me give you two examples:

  1. You walk into a gas station and someone opens the door for you, you walk right through and don’t even say thank you. You’re short with the cashier as you purchase your coffee and fail to make eye contact as you’re scanning your phone. That cashier, impacted by your rudeness, is short with the next customer in line. That customer walks out the door and doesn’t hold the door open for the couple behind him. As the door slams in that couple’s face, the man mutters something derogatory under his breath and then gets into a fight with his wife because she doesn’t like it when he talks like that… You see where I’m going here. One comment, one rude interaction on your part, sets off a whole chain reaction.
  2. You walk into a gas station and someone opens the door for you, you thank them and smile as you walk up to the cashier to pay for your coffee and gas. You ask how they are doing and thank them before walking out. The cashier, uplifted by your kindness and the fact that you actually made eye contact and connected with them, is pleasant to the next customer in line. That customer walks out and holds the door for the couple behind him who thank him and reach for each others’ hands as they walk towards their car… Again, one comment, one positive interaction on your part, sets of a whole chain reaction.

It can go either way. It’s your choice. You can’t control other people’s reactions or actions. But you can control your own and be committing to making a positive impact with your words. In one moment you can changes someone’s attitude. In one moment you can change someone’s life. Will you choose to be kind or to tear someone down?

As you grow in a leadership role, your emotional wake continues to increase. Your words will carry more weight. Every word needs to be thought about before you speak or press send on an email. In times of stress or challenges, this becomes especially critical. As a leader, you cannot allow yourself to blow up – not in public, not in private. Hurtful words, half-truths, bulldozing, evasive maneuvers, etc. will be with people forever. It’s not always the word itself, but the meaning that the individual you are speaking to associates with that word. If you aren’t speaking the same language (i.e. different meaning for different words) and you aren’t conscious of the impact your words have on others, you can do some major damage to your kids, your friends, your family, your team, and your business partners. But if you are conscious of the power of words, you can do some serious good!

What type of emotional wake do you leave every day? Be honest with yourself. I’m sure you can do better. We all can. The first step is awareness. So know this, every word you speak can change someone’s life – just make sure it’s in a positive direction.

 

 

Winners Want the Process, Not the Prize

sumit

“The summit is for the ego, the journey is for the soul.”

You know when you’ve had a long day, or an argument with a family member, or even when you’re celebrating a promotion and you circle around the dessert table and after about seven minutes you pick up a brownie and take a bite and then you keep eating it and you don’t even know why and you don’t taste it anymore (it doesn’t even taste good!) and you’re only feeling pissed at yourself for having taken that first bite in the first place!?

You know what I’m talking about. And you know why you get so pissed eating that brownie? Because you let your mind win! You had goals, needed to stick to your nutrition or training plan, and you talked yourself out of it. You gave in. You didn’t earn it. You broke.

We live in a world of instant gratification and overnight successes. There is an illusion that the faster, easier, less complicated way is better. But it’s not. I guarantee that if I gave you all $1 Million right now you might appreciate it for about an hour (okay, maybe a week); you will think your dreams have been realized and that you got the feeling of success you were after – but that’s just not true. You didn’t earn it. If you don’t earn it, it doesn’t feel nearly as good. In fact, you may even get depressed or frustrated by being handed what you thought you wanted. What you were really after was the growth, the learning opportunity, and the experience, not the cash!

Let me give you a couple of examples. Did you know when people win the lottery, that they are in a worse off financial position after 10 years than before they won!? It’s because they did not earn the right, they did not become who they needed to be in order to handle that kind of money. The same happens to professional athletes. Have you noticed how many go bankrupt? They are handed million dollar contracts without having gone through the girt and grind of building a financial model or the financial knowledge in order to manage it properly.

Whether you eat a brownie that you weren’t supposed to, had an unexpected windfall, or took off three unplanned days of workouts, it might feel good in the moment, but you are going to be kicking yourself later.

Being handed what you think you want is never really what you want.

Success is hard; it’s a struggle. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this, but I think it bears repeating. Those “overnight” successes? They worked their asses off. You have to choose your struggle. Choose what you will say no to, and consequently, choose what you will say yes to. When you look back ten years from now and see the struggle, the grind, the success, the failure, the results, the setbacks, etc. that you had along the way you will be thankful for those experiences and the journey. I never fear losing money or going bankrupt, because I know that I have the knowledge and skills to build it back up again, no matter how fall I’ve fallen. Because I’ve done it before. If success had just been handed to me, I wouldn’t be able to say that, nor would I have the confidence to go out there, take risks, write checks, and break necks.

You’ve got to earn the right to success. Sure, it gives you more credibility in the marketplace, but more so, it gives you the confidence you need to get shit done and to weather the storm. On your journey you must find models (and role models), systems, and rules to guide you which all starts with daily habits and activities. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing really worth having ever is. Find the biggest and best habits to support your journey, your struggle, your growth, so that when you do get there, when you do earn that right, you’ll be able to enjoy every bite.

 

Lessons From the Finish Line: What I Learned From Completing My First Ironman

Well, my first Ironman has come and gone. Nine months of discipline and training for 10 hours, 50 minutes, and 43 seconds of pure execution. People keep asking me what it felt like to cross that finish line. Did I feel relief? Or euphoria? Or pride? Or a sense of accomplishment? Or joy? I guess I felt a little of all of those things. I was honored to be able to run into the oval and see my coach, John Spinney, my beautiful wife, Sarah, my parents, my brother, and my friends. But as I stepped over the finish line, and before I even clicked STOP on my watch, I mostly felt like I needed to sign up for another Ironman. I feel like I have more to do, more to accomplish. I’m not done with Ironmans, yet. And yes, I’ve already registered for the Lake Placid 2018 Ironman.

So, let me take you on a little journey through Ironman #1 and what I learned along the way.

PRE-RACE PREP —> All around me people were crazy nervous getting ready to plunge into Mirror Lake. Right before the swim, I sat down to stretch my feet and the kid next to me was shaking. Nervous energy comes out in weird ways for people and was pouring off the people around me. I stayed calm. I actually slept really well both nights prior to the race and was just grateful to be there, to be racing with all these incredible athletes, to just be physically able and ready to compete. I credit a lot of my calm state to my mediation practice. I’ve been practicing TM for several years now and it not only helps clear your mind and calm your body before you put your face in the water to swim 2.4 miles, but it helps in any business or life situation. Meditation helps you stay calm, which enables you to gain clarity and solve problems faster. We all know that when life hits, it’s about how you overcome those obstacles – either on the race course or in the board room, it doesn’t matter. Ironman training has given me a unique structure to push me to the next level of my emotional fitness, which ultimately just makes me a better father, husband, leader, person.

SWIM —> My swim time sucked and I’m committed to improving it for Ironman #2. I got caught in the middle lane and got slapped around a bit, but generally it wasn’t too bad except for when my goggles got kicked off on my second lap and I had to stop. Don’t ever stop in the swim lane! I learned that real quick. It was hard for me to get back into a rhythm on my second lap, but I just kept grinding and pushing through. Because that’s just want you do. I was very excited to get back on land where humans belong.

BIKE —> The first transition is long, but a great little run to get your legs ready for the bike. The bike ride was amazing – not much wind, perfect conditions, and closed to traffic. I felt super strong on both laps of the course and the time flew by. I had 3 or 4 bad patches during the hour and 20 minute swim, and only one bad patch during the five hour and 20 minutes of biking. Not bad! I was anticipating these bad patches – I knew they would show up and I knew they would go away, so I was able to keep working until I hit a good patch again. That’s such a great analogy for business and life. Rough patches show up and it’s about how we overcome them – do we show up, handle them, and push through or do we retreat and give up? Some days the wind is blowing in our favor and sometimes it’s a shit storm. Are you working constantly on your mental and emotional fitness so that these bad patches don’t derail your business or your relationships? I know I am.

RUN —> I was fired up and feeling strong after the bike and the first 5k of the run is mostly down hill so I was flying. One of the QT2 coaches basically stopped me and told me to slow the f*!k down. I looked down at my watch and I was at a sub 6-mile pace. So, yeah, I had to put on the brakes and back down to around 8 which is what my coach had set for my opening mile pace. Control my speed and maintain. Running a marathon after already swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles can be daunting to think about, so I broke it down into manageable tasks. In my mind – 26 miles just became 26 sets of one mile runs (thank you to Tim Snow for that little piece of advice!). I’m not going to lie, the run hurt. But I just focused on what I had practiced in training and just executed. The training, the practice, and the emotional fitness is what makes a top business leader. It is what makes an Ironman.

Overall, the Ironman was a day of celebration. My mantra throughout the day was, “My fitness will carry me through.” I was saying that a hell of a lot, especially on the second lap of the run when shit got real tough. I wasn’t nervous because I had practiced my emotional fitness, meditated, and put in the time. I knew I wouldn’t give up. It wasn’t even an option. The cool thing with Ironmans is that there isn’t any magic here. You’re not going to show up the day of the race and all of a sudden be a different person or be 10 times better than you were in training. Instead, you create who shows up on race day based on the level of intensity and disruption you create during your training days, weeks, and months. Actually, the biggest mistake people can have at Ironman is trying to be someone they are not on race day – going out too hard, thinking you can go harder than you can, instead of focusing on the execution of each activity. Being able to access your preparation and potential on race day is critical and that happens from mental control and emotional fitness. If you get too hyped up on the big day and put too much external pressure on yourself (like hitting a specific time) you can get paralyzed. It’s about the emotional fitness and the execution.

The emotional fitness and the mental challenge during nine months of intense training is much harder than it ever is on race day. Race day, the adrenaline is flowing, you’re excited, you have your family and 18,000 random people cheering you on, and you are about to compete. This is what it’s all about! The race is the easy part! It’s the six 100+ mile bike rides, the 20 mile runs, the 5000 yard swims week after week that suck. You’re all by yourself. No one is cheering you on. No one is motivating you. Embrace it. It’s a freaking grind and requires extreme amounts of focus, discipline, sacrifice, and time. But that is where athletes are made. They are not made at the finish line. They are made long before that, during the hours of training. Testing your limits, getting outside your comfort zone, experiencing the next level of you is what life is all about.

And by the way, this is what business is all about. It’s the day in and day out of how you show up. The number on your tax return or your next promotion are purely a result of the daily activities that you do. This is the grind, the hustle, the ability to be fearless and relentless, not for a short period of time, but every. damn. day. If you focus on your execution, you’ll be able to access the drive and clarity that you need. You’re not as good as you think you are on your best day and you don’t suck as much as you think you do on your worst day. You are who you are (physically, mentally, emotionally) in that moment based on the person you created through daily habits. You shape and control who you become. It’s easy to see it in the physical world, such as sports, but we sometimes lack clarity or vision to see it show up in our social, financial, spiritual, and professional self. This is why the daily activities, the daily habits are so important. Daily habits are who you are!

Want to know the secret to success in the Ironman, in life, or in business? Focus on the daily habits and activities that you can control. Commit to them and practice them over and over again over a long period of time. And when it’s time to step into the arena – draw upon all of your training and execute.