ABoR Forum Recap: Brand Building with Professional Development

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ABoR’s auditoriums were filled with members excited to hear from two top-dogs in the industry. Both speakers shared background stories, discussed the principles of success, and how to set yourself apart in a competitive real estate industry.


Former Football Pro Transitions into Real Estate

Johnnie Johnson, a University of Texas graduate and former Los Angeles Rams player, opened the forum by sharing his transition from professional football to real estate. Johnson, who holds the following quote close to his heart, “Be better today than you were yesterday,” told himself that after he retired from the NFL, he would produce at least 100 transactions a year. Little did he know, the average REALTOR® at that time produced about six. However, he didn’t doubt his success and knew he could reach his goals if he worked hard enough—and that’s exactly what he did. In the first quarter of that same year, Johnson surpassed his goal by closing on 121 transactions.

Families across the nation are constantly going through a transition of change, whether it’s for a new job or the search for a better school system for their children. Johnnie believes that as a REALTOR®, you play the important role of the quarterback. Your role isn’t just about finding a “dream home” for moving families but to find a community and provide comfort during a possible difficult transition.

Johnson stated that most professional sport coaches move an average of 12 to 16 times during their careers. While Johnson wasn’t a coach, he played several years of professional football, putting him in a position to understand how a move, either local or far, can be tough on a family. That’s where the Moving Families Initiative comes in.

The Moving Families Initiative

Powered by HSF Affiliates’ Home Connections, the Moving Families Initiative is an international plan focused on serving, protecting, and meeting the needs of parents moving or relocating with children ages 19 or younger. Its focus is to help children as they change neighborhoods, schools, and friends. Annually more than 10 million children move or relocate throughout the United States, but that high number isn’t stopping Johnson from helping all of them.

“By October 5, 2022, we will be serving every single one of those children,” said Johnson.

Johnson concluded by encouraging the audience to improve themselves each day and to remember that there is no goal out of reach.

“You have a very unique opportunity to do 2 things: really identify and understand what the true needs are for families that are moving with kids and take steps daily to be the very best you can be,” said Johnson. “When those two merge together, there is no goal that’s going to be out of reach for you.”

How Gino Became a Top Industry Leader

After, Gino Blefari opened up the floor by answering a question that he says most people want to know - Have you ever met Warren Buffet?

The answer is yes. At a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Leadership Conference, Blefari had the honor of meeting the famous billionaire and asked for his vision on how the Berkshire Hathaway operating companies can work closer with the other Berkshire Hathaway companies.

For Gino, it all began with yardwork. At the age of 15, Blefari founded his first company, B&M Enterprises, in which he mowed and watered lawns throughout this neighborhood. At the age of 23, he was Director of Golf at the Cherry Chase Gold & Country Club in Sunnyvale, California, where he worked throughout his college career at San Jose State University.

Blefari was first exposed to real estate when a developer purchased the golf course, where he was employed, to build homes around the property. One day at work, he came in contact with a sharp-dressed man, driving a cool BMW, who was showing model homes to interested buyers. Blefari said in that moment, he knew he needed to obtain a real estate license.

But it wasn’t always easy for Blefari. In fact, for a period he wasn’t selling homes and had sank into depression. His luck later changed when he found himself closing on transaction after transaction in the Silicon Valley. After being crowned a top producer for Contempo Realty, he became Senior Vice President for NRT, the largest real estate company in the world. In 2002, Blefari’s entrepreneurial juices started flowing and he founded Intero Real Estate Services, which was later labeled the fastest growing real estate company in 2003 and 2004. By 2013, his company was the 7th largest real estate company in the country.

Fast forward a few years later, Blefari is a leader for the 2nd largest real estate company in the country, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Warren Buffet purchased Blefari’s real estate company, Intero prior to Blefari’s move to Berkshire Hathaway.

The 7 Principles of Success

Blefari shared his seven principles of success, which got him where he is today:

  1. Play full out
    • If you want to have a fulfilling life, you have to have fulfilling work. Put your whole self into the job.
  2. Have a good morning routine
    • “If there was one thing that helped me more than anything else, this was it,” said Blefari.
  3. Be humble
    • Smile, laugh, have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously. “Once you think you know it all, your slide to mediocrity has begun,” said Blefari.
  4. Build a great team
    • You may like your position and job now, but you’d enjoy it even more with a great team around you.
  5. Provide extraordinary service
    • “This is what gets you in the game,” said Blefari.
  6. Read
    • Be relevant with technology and make sure you’re up to date with industry trends.
  7. Continuous Improvement
    • Work harder on yourself than you do at work.

You can never learn too much.

Despite the ongoing success of Johnson and Blefari, they both prove you should never stop learning. Both meet weekly for breakfast to mentor one another and brainstorm new ideas. The same can be said for REALTORS® when it comes to getting back into the classroom. Once you feel like you know everything about the industry, it’s time to learn something new. The real estate industry is ever-changing— new trends arise, new rules get implemented, and new lessons are created to be learned.

The forum’s speakers left us feeling empowered to do anything, because ultimately, you can. Whether your goals include reaching a certain amount of transactions, gaining new referrals, or making friends with other agents, push yourself harder than usual to achieve them. Your success depends on your mindset, so be sure to keep it positive and unstoppable!


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